The Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) has updated the glyphosate page on its website in response to a report from the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC).
The APVMA’s current assessment is that, provided products containing glyphosate are used as per the label instructions, they are safe to use.
Glyphosate is an important tool for the nursery industry, used in the on-farm management of weeds.
The IARC is part of the World Health Organisation, and last year classified glyphosate as ‘probably carcinogenic to humans’.
Also in that category are emissions from burning wood and high temperature frying indoors, and consumption of red meat. Agents classified by IARC in the highest category (carcinogenic to humans) include all alcoholic beverages, sunlight, and diesel exhaust.
The IARC assessment looked only at the intrinsic toxicity potential or ‘hazard’ of the chemical glyphosate as a cancer-causing agent.
The APVMA approach to chemical risk assessment is broader, with consideration of the full range of risks (not just cancer), but also how human exposure can be minimised through instructions for use and safety directions.
The website explains the processes underway, both in Australia and internationally, to assess the findings of the IARC report. Results of these assessments are expected in mid-2016.