- Modern Australian Agriculture
Our vision for safe and sustainable farming: an open letter on the science of glyphosate
Friday 9th November 2018
There has never been a more important time for innovation in agriculture. Our world faces enormous challenges, from a changing climate, to limited natural resources to a growing population.
For more than 150 years, Bayer has been dedicated to creating products that help people in a changing world. Our focus has been on new treatments for diseases, helping people get well and stay well, and providing farmers with breakthrough innovations to help nourish our growing world and preserve natural resources. We call it Science for a Better Life.
This passion is deeply personal to me. Visiting my grandfather’s farm in Mexico at a young age, I learned the value farmers place on protecting their precious resources to continue to produce bountiful crops each year. These early lessons shaped how I view agriculture and are the same values that inform Bayer’s commitment to delivering better solutions for farmers and more choice for consumers to help them and our planet thrive. As part of our portfolio, glyphosate-based herbicides will continue to play a key role in helping agriculture meet pressing environmental and food security challenges as the global population grows by two billion people through 2050.
Take just one example: The combination of glyphosate with glyphosate-tolerant crops promotes environmentally friendly practices, such as the reduction of fuel use on sprayer passes over the field and the adoption of conservation tillage methods, which reduce the need for plowing the soil. By adopting conservation tillage, farmers can leave their soil intact while the previous year’s crop residue or organic matter acts like mulch on top of the soil, keeping healthy microbes intact and supporting soil health, while preventing runoff into nearby rivers and streams. The combination of glyphosate-tolerant crops with glyphosate-based herbicides results in a substantial reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, a reduction equivalent to taking 11.8 million cars off the road in 2015 alone—or more than five times the number of cars registered in New York City.
Recently, there has been increased media attention on the safety of glyphosate-based products. As a science and innovation company, we feel a deep responsibility—to society and our planet— and want to reiterate our commitment to sound science and the safe use of our products. Glyphosate-based herbicides are among the most rigorously studied products of their kind. Hundreds of government-required studies, peer-reviewed publications and ongoing reviews by regulatory and scientific bodies for over 40 years confirm that glyphosate-based products are safe for use as labeled. The largest epidemiology study on real world pesticide use, which was released in 2018 through the support of the independent National Cancer Institute, followed more than 50,000 pesticide applicators for over 20 years and found no association between glyphosate-based herbicides and cancer.
When it comes to the safety of herbicides, manufacturers like Bayer are subject to strict regulatory requirements and must submit their products for periodic review by oversight authorities around the world. These independent regulatory agencies continue to find that glyphosate-based products can be used safely, and that glyphosate is not carcinogenic—not only the U.S. EPA, but also European Food Safety Authorities (EFSA), European Chemicals Agency (ECHA), German BfR, and Australian, Canadian, and Japanese regulatory authorities, as well as the Joint FAO/WHO Meeting on Pesticide Residues (JMPR). Indeed, glyphosate is currently approved for use in more than 160 countries.
We regularly hear from farmers, consumers and environmental and scientific experts that glyphosate-based herbicides are essential for sustainable agriculture and our planet. We certainly agree. We also understand that some people may have questions about glyphosate or other innovations farmers use in modern agriculture. As consumers, parents, and community members ourselves, we are eager to share our work and want consumers to have the information they need to feel confident about the food they put on the table. Just as my grandfather looked after his farm and its crops for future generations, when it comes to sustainability, we take a long-term view, and prioritize meeting our commitments to sustainability as rigorously as we strive to meet our financial commitments to our shareholders.
Dialogue with consumers is one of our key commitments. We invite you to visit Bayer.com to learn more, and we look forward to continuing to improve lives through excellence in research and innovation.
Head of Agricultural Affairs & Sustainability
Crop Science Division of Bayer