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‘Between health and harvest’: Europe’s debate on glyphosate use

Glyphosate, the most widely used herbicide ingredient in Europe and globally, is under scrutiny due to potential direct and indirect effects on human health and the environment.

The debate has intensified since the World Health Organization’s International Agency on Research on Cancer labeled it as ‘probably carcinogenic to humans’ in 2015, as Robert FingerNiklas Möhring and Per Kudsk report in this article published in the journal Nature. Their paper provides an overview of the potential economic impacts of a glyphosate ban in European agriculture.

The authors say subsequent assessments by European agencies did not classify it as a carcinogen. The European Commission extended its approval only for an additional five years in 2017, with some European countries announcing future bans or restrictions.

The study reveals that while the economic implications in absolute terms are substantial for high-value perennial crops like fruits and grapevines, they are lower for arable crops. However, in relative terms, the impacts can be significant for both.

The ban could lead to increased costs for alternative weed control methods, potential yield losses, and fundamental shifts in crop management and farming systems.

The study emphasizes the need for rigorous research covering various European countries and farming systems to understand the full economic implications of a glyphosate ban.

Thought-Provoking Questions/Insights

How will the potential ban on glyphosate reshape the agricultural practices in Europe, especially in terms of weed control and crop management?
Given the economic implications, what alternative strategies and technologies can be adopted to ensure sustainable agriculture without compromising on yield and profit?
How will the decisions on glyphosate use in Europe influence global agricultural practices, especially in regions heavily reliant on this herbicide?

Source: Nature. For more detailed insights, you can read the full article here.
Photo: Credit and courtesy Generic Literacy Project (GLP)

Editor & Publisher: Lukie Pieterse


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