This week has seen the debate on glyphosate weed killer being reopened by the Eu, with plans to extend the pesticides licence by 10 years.
Ireland is against the extension of the licence, which a town in Wicklow recently voting to ban the product for use. The move to ban its use was proposed by the bloc’s health commissioner, Vytenis Andriukaitis, who said that thorough assessments found that the chemical holds potential dangers and has links to cancer.
The proposal, which has to gain approval from a majority or EU countries, would see the company permitted for use for the next ten years. Although for it to succeed it would need France, Germany and Italy to be onboard, as they represent the majority of the EU’s population.
There have been calls by farmers to grant the licence for 15 years rather than the recommended 10.
The recent calls for its banning derived from studies/research carried out by the World Health Organisation found the substance to be “probably carcinogenic to humans” although the European Food Safety Authority refute these claims saying its “unlikely” to cause cancer.
A bloc chemical agency review was carried out last year and it found that "the available scientific evidence does not meet the criteria to classify glyphosate as a carcinogen".
With the stories breaking which said the company who produce the weedkiller were behind recent studies released in the US which found the product to be safe, Mr. Andriukaitis said "It would be strange that all those agencies would be in the hands of industry. Sorry friends, it's a very weak argument,". The decision now rests with the European Commission who will decide whether or not the companies licence is granted again.
Although there has been no concrete proof as of yet as to the dangers of the product, I think the risks greatly outweigh the rewards. If we think about it logically we use these chemicals on crops and pastures to control weeds, this chemical then seeps into our soils, or is ingested by animals to be sold for the meat industry. This therefore means we are in turn ingesting the chemicals present in this product. And although as I said there is no concrete proof yet I can’t see how the risk would be seen as worthwhile.
According to the Irish Cancer Society as of January this year, Ireland has 40,000 new cases of cancer found every year. They predict by 2020 this number will rise to include one in two Irish people being affected by the disease. They also tell us that the disease is Ireland’s second biggest killer in recent years, making up to 30% of the yearly death total. They also say that over 9,000 people die every year in Ireland from the disease and that this equates to one person every hour.
They list on their website that smoking is still the leading cause of cancer in the country, due mainly to them being filled with over 60 chemicals known to be carcinogenic. That brings me back to my earlier point, if we know that this product is made from strong chemicals which kill even the most durable weeds, why would we roll the dice and wait until it’s too late.
Ireland is supposedly in a period of time where the number of smokers is at an all-time low, with more people now quitting than smoking. Surely if anything this should make us stop and think about what we put into our bodies. If smoker levels are at an all-time low why are cancer levels still so high? There obviously another factor out there causing cancer, maybe it’s not glyphosate, maybe it is who knows. All I know is that I really don’t fancy taking the risk.