New figures released this week by leading economic research house Oxford Economics and agriculture specialists The Andersons Centre, in partnership with the Crop Protection Association, show the potentially devastating impact of a ban of common herbicides to the British economy and the agricultural sector.
The study has concluded that a ban by the European Union on herbicides containing glyphosate could have several harmful economic consequences, it would:
r Lead to a reduction in farm output of £940 million
r Reduce tax revenues generated by agriculture and its supply chain by £193 million, equivalent to the annual salaries of over 7,000 nurses.
r See wheat production fall by 20%
r An EU wide ban could even push up food prices.
The report’s authors explained that Glyphosate is an active substance in the production of herbicides, and has been safely used by the majority of British farmers for weed control over the past 40 years. Use of glyphosate has facilitated faster preparation of land prior to planting, increased the number of crop rotations possible, and led to higher yields than other weed management options. It is key to the agricultural sector, without it modern British farming as we know it could disappear, the report adds.
The European Union routinely reviews active ingredients in pesticides and member states could ban glyphosate by the end of 2017, despite the overwhelming majority of scientific evidence proving glyphosate is safe.
Ian Mulheirn, Director of Consulting, Oxford Economics, commented: “Our report’s findings are very clear, a glyphosate ban will negatively impact UK GDP and agriculture, at a time of real uncertainty for British farmers.
“If glyphosate was not approved for use in the UK but remained available in the rest of the world, this would place domestic production at a considerable disadvantage. An EU-wide ban could even push up food prices for consumers.”
Farmer Andrew Ward responded to the findings:
“The report reveals what we have long feared, a glyphosate ban would reduce yields for some key crops and push up our costs. This could tip struggling farms over the edge. Reckless politics by the EU is threatening to put British farmers out of business,” he added.
“A ban would also be really bad for the environment. We’d have to use bigger vehicles and do more ploughing which would mean greater carbon emissions and less biodiversity.”
Sarah Mukherjee, Chief Executive, Crop Protection Association, commented: “The debate around the use of glyphosate is more about politics than science.
“Glyphosate is and always has been safe, with over 40 years of robust scientific evidence showing no risk to safety.
“Clearly the UK government should continue to champion a science-led approach to decision making in Europe and vote to renew glyphosate’s licence.
“Failure to do so risks damaging the economy, the environment and the agricultural sector.”
The Crop Protection Association commissioned Oxford Economics and the Andersons Centre to make an independent assessment of the potential economic impact of a ban on glyphosate.