Permaculture blog

Probable carginogen in our bread

Published by Sam Page on 29 July 2015

Ask UK bread manufacturers and retailers to stop using wheat sprayed with glyphosate

Image Glyphosate is the most widely sold weedkiller in the world, you might know it as the active ingredient in Roundup and Weedol. The big chemical companies advise farmers to spray their wheat crops with glyphosate a few weeks before harvest - to kill the crop and remove weeds to make it easier for them to harvest. Government figures show its use in UK farming has increased by a shocking 400% in the last 20 years. Nearly a third of UK cereal crops (over 1 million hectares) were sprayed with glyphosate in 2013.

In a recent EU research study, 7 out of 10 UK city dwellers had traces of glyphosate in their urine.But, this chemical doesn’t break down immediately, and can follow the grain into food manufacturing processes. Tests by the Defra committee on Pesticide Residues in Food (PRiF) have found that as much as 30% of UK bread contained this weedkiller. UK wheat will also be used for lots of other foods including biscuits.

We don’t think this is right. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (part of the World Health Organisation), have identified glyphosate as a probable carcinogen to humans - do we really want this weedkiller in our food?

Outside the UK, there are moves to ban the sale and use of Roundup – which Dr Robin Mesnage of the Department of Medical and Molecular Genetics at Kings College in London revealed tests showed as being 1,000 times more toxic than glyphosate alone. Denmark, Switzerland, Germany and France have all imposed restrictions.

The Soil Association has called for an immediate ban on pre-harvest use of glyphosate on crops, but we must do more to get this chemical out of our food.

Please sign the Soil Association's Petition here...

Our local Waitrose supermarket is selling various forms of glyphosate, called 'Roundup' and 'Weedol' to gardeners - the Permaculture Group has recently written to Waitrose's Head Office asking for both of these toxic herbicides to be withdrawn, in accordance with advice from the World Health Organisation.  Here is part of their response:

"For the time being we will continue to sell the products and it'll be down to the consumer to make an informed decision whether or not to purchase this weed killer. 

We appreciate that this will not be the response you'd all of been hoping for, though I can assure you that this has been taken seriously. We do sell a number of Bee and insect houses to protect our wildlife and this is important to us. I actually have a number of them in my garden and do all I can to provide a safe environment for Bees."

It is actually children and elderly people who are most a risk from pesticide poisoning, nevertheless, Wiltshire Council's contract gardeners regularly spray glyphosate on weeds around schools and play areas in Marlborough. Read more here...