Greens (WA) agriculture spokesperson Diane Evers has applauded moves by grain marketers Co-operative Bulk Handling to segregate barley that has a residue of glyphosate.
CBH confirmed last week that it will bring in a new class for feed barley that has been desiccated with a pre-harvest application of the chemical. It will fetch around a $10/t discount.
The practice, known as crop-topping, involves the late application of herbicides to prevent weed seed-set.
Ms Evers said the move followed a review of chemical residue results by CBH and the National Residue Survey, both of which showed an increased detection of glyphosate in barley samples.
“CBH has acknowledged that there is a growing concern with food safety and with chemical residues entering the food chain,” she said.
“I am pleased that CBH understands its responsibility to maintain market access for barley and facilitate WA’s strong reputation as a provider of clean and safe grain.
“When farmers crop-top for weeds such as emerging ryegrass, chemical residue could be left on the grain, as it’s usually applied close to harvest. It is reasonable for consumers to be concerned about that.”
Recently, a landmark court case in the US ordered global chemical giant Monsanto to pay $US289 million to a former school gardener who is dying of cancer, after a jury in California found Roundup (which contains glyphosate) contributed to his illness.
Roundup is the world’s most widely-used herbicide and is applied liberally in Australian farming practices.
“While national regulator the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority states that APVMA-approved products containing glyphosate can continue to be used safely according to label directions, consumers are getting more health-conscious about the foods they eat,” Ms Evers said.
She said like the glyphosate-tainted barley, genetically-modified canola also fetched a lower price per tonne than non-GM crops.
“WA farmers who want to retain their clean, green farming reputation, and the premium price it demands, deserve our support,” she said.
“The current State Government position on GM crop farming does not provide certainty to organic or GM-free farmers, whose livelihoods continue to be threatened by the spread of GM canola.
“That is the main reason why I tabled a petition in the WA Legislative Council last year calling for laws to compensate farmers who lose money due to GM contamination.”
Submissions are still being heard in the inquiry into the issue of mechanisms for compensation for economic loss to farmers from GM crops.