Monday, 23 February 2015

Our brand is toxicer

Recent arguments over our food safety / pesticide testing regimes have pointed to the glyphosate-based herbicide market.* Since glyphosate came off patent in 2000, any of Monsanto's competitors can mix up their own brews of glyphosate-based herbicides.

I'll get to the price and volume effects later.

More interesting at this point are the marketing lines pitched to farmers by producers of all these Roundup knock-offs. To my eye, they are focussed around one central theme: toxicity. Here are a few examples.

  • Ravensdown's advertising for Glyphosate 360 says it "works better with" an adjuvant called Accelerate which is sold separately.
  • Nufarm sells its own glyphosate-based formulation called WeedMaster TS540, a "premium herbicide" offering "outstanding results on difficult to control weeds".
  • Dow, who Taranaki will remember well, sells something called Glyphomax without overtly revealing its marketing line, though the "max" bit is clearly signalling toxicity.
Prompted by that scurrilous rogue Professor Seralini, I've been trying to figure out if the extra toxicity claimed or implied on such products has been subject to safety testing of full formulations including adjuvants recommended for farmers to add later.

So far, it's been a wild goose chase at best. I have therefore sought under the OIA further information about how we do it in NZ and shall report in due course.

* this is just one example: similar concerns exit for other pesticides.

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