FFNZ response to EPA’s call for information on glyphosate: summary for website

In early 2021, the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) called for information from users, suppliers and producers of glyphosate products on how this agrichemical was being used in New Zealand. 

Federated Farmers ran a members’ survey, based on the EPA questionnaire and information they were requesting, from 23 July to 6 August 2021. The members’ survey received 1,568 responses, with around 93% of respondents saying that they used glyphosate. 

The replies to the survey have informed the Federated Farmers’ response, with the key points from the response being: 
  • Although this was a call for information, Federated Farmers were clear in our response that we do not support a reassessment or reclassification of glyphosate. The majority of respondents to our survey were users of glyphosate and supportive of continuing status quo use and regulation.
  • Respondents who use glyphosate were also emphatic that restricting or prohibiting the use of glyphosate would mean that they would be unable to farm to the same quality or quantity as they currently are. Concern was also expressed as to what this would mean for the wider value chain, with farmers and growers being suppliers of food and fibre to both New Zealand, and internationally; respondents felt that without glyphosate delivering high quality and affordable products would not be possible.
  • The data gathered through our survey demonstrates compliant use of glyphosate products. Through the responses, our members have indicated that they adhere to label recommendations, take measures to protect theirs and other’s health, along with minimising environmental impacts, such as the likelihood of spray drift.
  • Further, the respondents were also clear in their comments that they were thoughtful as to the use of glyphosate in terms of considering wider environmental impacts. In this respect, glyphosate was seen as a necessary and currently irreplaceable tool that allowed them to carry out practices such as minimum or no-till drilling. These practices are accepted means of keeping soil disturbance to a minimum and were cited by members as having environmental benefits, such as less top-soil loss and less release of soil-bound carbon than would occur should cultivation be used. In electing to use glyphosate, respondents considered that there was no viable alternative currently available in terms of cost, efficacy, and low toxicity. Alternative products, such as Paraquat, were discounted by respondents due to human health concerns.
  • In terms of the risk presented by glyphosate, members considered this to be overblown by propaganda and misinformation. Respondents considered the health risk presented by glyphosate to be low when used correctly. Although the majority of the respondents did not think that glyphosate should become a professional user only agrichemical, there were concerns repeatedly expressed in terms of unsafe and over-use by domestic users.
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