Weed killer war waged

Headshot of Geoff Vivian
Geoff VivianMidwest Times
Ian Blayney said banning Glyphosate would hurt farmers. File picture.
Camera IconIan Blayney said banning Glyphosate would hurt farmers. File picture. Credit: The West Australian

Mid West farmers turned politicians are having a war of words over the herbicide glyphosate.

Member for Geraldton Ian Blayney said agriculture and horticulture across WA would be dealt a blow if the McGowan Government was persuaded to ban the chemical in WA.

But Agricultural region member Darren West said the WA Government had no power to ban glyphosate. “This is a matter for the Federal Government,” he said.

Their comments came after Member for Belmont Cassie Rowe expressed concerns in Parliament last Friday about use of the herbicide, sold under brand names such as Roundup and Zero.

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Mr Blayney said her concerns about the use of glyphosate were “alarmist, misinformed and not supported by scientific findings”.

“The International Agency for Research on Cancer reported glyphosate poses as much of a risk to humans as eating red meat or drinking a coffee,” he said. “Preventing the use of glyphosate would have significant financial implications as treating weeds without herbicides decreases efficiency and massively increases production times.”

Mr West said Mr Blayney appeared confused about the use of glyphosate in Western Australia.

“Glyphosate has not been banned and is available for use in accordance with the requirements on the label,” he said.

“Our customers around the world are beginning to express concern about the use of glyphosate and as such, CBH now segregates barley where glyphosate has been used as a desiccant.

“It is common sense to begin the discussion about alternatives should these concerns escalate.”

Materials Safety Data Sheets for glyphosate class it as a non-hazardous chemical. However, they say mishandling and overexposure can irritate the mucous membranes, skin, eyes and respiratory tract, and swallowing it can result in nausea, vomiting and irritation of the gastrointestinal tract.

According to the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authoritythe herbicide probably does not cause cancer when used correctly.

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