Nationals' outrage over herbicide comments

Call to protect glyphosate use: Member for Roe Peter Rundle called on politicians to end debate over the safety of the product. Photo: Supplied.
Call to protect glyphosate use: Member for Roe Peter Rundle called on politicians to end debate over the safety of the product. Photo: Supplied.

Debates over the use of glyphosate resurfaced in state parliament on October 24, after the Member for Belmont questioned if it could be the "asbestos of our time".

Premier Mark McGowan said the government did not have any plans to ban its use, noting its importance to the agricultural industry.

Glyphosate is a herbicide that allows farmers to control weeds from above ground and has been widely proven as safe to use.

Member for Roe Peter Rundle condemned the suggestion and said agriculture and horticulture across the state would be dealt a blow if the product were banned.

"Preventing the use of glyphosate would have significant financial implications as treating weeds without herbicides decreases efficiency and massively increases production times," he said.

"The Member's concerns were alarmist, misinformed and not supported by scientific findings and comparing it to asbestos is quite frankly outrageous.

"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."

Agriculture and Food Minister Alannah MacTiernan said the member's comments were directed to the use of glyphosate by local governments in built-up metropolitan areas.

"The State Government does not regulate the registration, label, conditions of use of pesticides - that is the role of the national regulator, the Australian Pesticide and Veterinary Medicines Authority," she said.

"Glyphosate is central to much of the farming practice in WA and the APVMA's advice is that glyphosate can be used safely.

"We are seeing countries in the European Union and Asia ban glyphosate products, and we are concerned about how that may impact on WA's agricultural exports.

"It is important that we look at our farming systems and how we could adapt to changing market requirements in our export markets."

PGA western graingrowers committee chairman Gary McGill condemned debates over the future of glyphosate and said without its use harsher chemicals would need to be used more frequently.

"Glyphosate has helped WA's ancient soils by allowing the introduction of minimum tillage, that increases soil cover and builds the organic matter that is so important to soil health," he said.