Meat & Livestock News

Revisiting Glyphosate: A Comprehensive Review Underway in New Zealand

Thai farmer prepare chemical to sprayer tank before spray to green young rice field

Opening Remarks

The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) of New Zealand is currently scrutinising the utilisation of glyphosate, an essential element in numerous weed killers, including the renowned brand Roundup.

This scrutiny has been initiated by a formal request from the Environmental Law Initiative (ELI), which argues that fresh scientific evidence points to considerable negative impacts on both human health and the ecosystem.

Glyphosate’s Regulatory Journey in New Zealand

Before the enactment of New Zealand’s Hazardous Substances and New Organisms (HSNO) Act in 1996, glyphosate had already received approval for use.

In a 2004 regulatory shift, substances containing glyphosate were incorporated into the HSNO framework, where they underwent evaluation and were allocated specific guidelines and hazard categories.

The Approval Process

The HSNO Act has seen a series of applications for the manufacturing and importation of products containing glyphosate.

These applications are meticulously assessed, taking into account a multitude of factors such as environmental repercussions, public health concerns, and the cultural significance to the Māori community. Notably, these reassessment applications are not disclosed to the public, prohibiting any public commentary.

The Catalyst for Reexamination

ELI’s Director of Legal and Research, Matt Hall, has highlighted that since the last comprehensive review in the 1970s, new scientific data has surfaced, indicating significant health and environmental hazards associated with glyphosate.

ELI has compiled and submitted a robust set of independent scientific studies, asserting that this new data provides the legal foundation for a complete reevaluation.

Ongoing Surveillance by the EPA

The EPA is committed to staying abreast of international research on hazardous substances, glyphosate included. At present, the agency is scrutinising a recent report by the European Food Safety Authority, as well as hazard classification recommendations from the European Chemicals Agency.

The International Viewpoint

It’s noteworthy that glyphosate has been prohibited in 28 countries across the globe, either at a national or regional level. While the regulatory landscape varies from one nation to another, Hall has expressed reservations about potential industrial influence in these regulatory decisions.

A specialised committee will weigh the evidence submitted by ELI and the EPA’s ongoing studies to determine if a full-scale reevaluation is warranted.

The current reexamination of glyphosate usage in New Zealand is a landmark event, particularly in light of emerging scientific evidence about its potential risks to health and the environment. The findings could have far-reaching implications, potentially influencing herbicide policies not just in New Zealand but globally.