PARKES MP Mark Coulton and Dubbo Councillor John Ryan are at loggerheads over the banning of the chemical known as Roundup (glyphosate).
The Federal MP who was a farmer for 30 years before he entered Parliament says banning glyphosate will only add to the angst of farmers who are already battling the effects of drought.
The Dubbo Councillor says the council needs to apply the ‘precautionary principle’ when it comes to the application of glysophate, especially in more heavily populated areas such as the CBD.
Mr Coulton believes those calling for a ban of the chemical known as Roundup are misguided.
“Farmers in my electorate are currently dealing with the devastating impacts of a longstanding drought and certainly don’t need the extra worry of another emotion-charged campaign,” Mr Coulton said.
“Glyphosate is one of the most commonly used farm chemicals and to ban it would jeopardise the livelihood of farmers right around Australia.”
Mr Ryan said he has had many discussions with Mr Coulton about this issue over many years.
"Mark’s a good man and a good local member and I appreciate his point of view and understand how difficult it would be for many landholders to farm without Round-Up,” he said.
“But Council must ensure it’s not causing any harm when it comes to residents and there’s growing concern from researchers around the world that glyphosate isn’t as benign as initially believed, so it’s our duty as councillors to look into all the alternatives, including steam.
“I spoke to senior staff at the council in the late 1990s to make them aware of emerging European research which indicated that glysophate residues had been found in soils where there should have been zero traces of the chemical and reported back then that it was an issue which council needed to be aware of.
“In the early 2000s, I again approached senior council staff when I first saw trials using steam generating machines to wipe out weeds with no toxic after effects and urged council to look into this technology - to no avail.
“The recent 4Corners program illustrates that corporations Monsanto should not be the arbiters of what is safe or not, they are players with huge money at stake and of course will do whatever it takes to protect profits - we saw this for decades with tobacco companies which used ‘paid-for’ science to get the scientific proof they wanted - he who pays the piper plays the tune.
“Many farmers have turned their back on chemical-Industrial agriculture and are working out how to regenerate their soil fertility and create a new era of profitability without being forced to use expensive inputs, just like all farmers were able to do a few generations ago."
Mr Coulton said in his 25 years using glyphosate he saw positive changes on his farm near Warialda in North West NSW.
“Through the use of glyphosate, farmers can practise minimum tillage – a step away from the more invasive cultivation practices of past times. Minimum tillage protects soil structure, moisture and nutrients, and ultimately increases the storage of soil carbon.
“I saw a huge change in the health of the soil on my property as a result of using glyphosate, including the return of micro and macro organisms like the common earthworm.
“We were also able to retain important topsoil that would otherwise be lost.”
Mr Coulton believes glyphosate is integral to the Australian farming landscape.
“If Aussie farmers are to continue to be the efficient, innovative and productive operators they are today, glyphosate must play a leading part.
“There is an enormous number of studies that prove glyphosate is a safe product, but like any chemical, label instructions must be followed.
“I stand for glyphosate and for farmers right around Australia.”