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Supermarkets - stop using glyphosate!

Supermarkets: stop using glyphosate

Today we have written to all major UK bread companies and supermarkets, to ask them to stop using glyphosate, a probable carcinogen, just before this harvest.

Using glyphosate, and glyphosate-based products, as a pre-harvest treatment is fundamentally wrong, and we are calling for an end to it with our 'Not In Our Bread' campaign. Wheat harvest will start in the next few weeks, and we are asking bread companies to act now and put a stop to glyphosate as a pre-harvest desiccant in their supply chains. The EU has just advised glyphosate use as a pre-harvest spray on food crops should be restricted - but it’s up to individual member states to decide if they want to implement this or not. 

We need to get this weedkiller out of our bread, and out of our bodies. Our Policy Director, Peter Melchett, has written to Tesco, Sainsbury'sWaitrose, Morrisons, ASDA, Co-op, M&S, Warburtons, Hovis, Braces Bakery, Allied Mills,  Bakers’ Federation and NABIM. Below is his letter in full.

Inspired to take action?

We encourage you to write your own letter to these companies and supermarkets and demand action. You can find their contact details in the hyperlinks above.   

Dear X

I'm writing to you about the latest European Commission decisions about the future use of glyphosate. The Soil Association is disappointed that glyphosate’s license has been extended until December 2017, although the fact that the 18 month extension is far shorter than the 15 years originally proposed has come as a huge blow to the pesticide industry.

As you may know, it is for Member States to apply further restrictions on the use of glyphosate, but the Commission made clear that it supports three important curbs on glyphosate use that were recommended by the European Parliament. A Commission spokesman, said on 29th June: “These conditions include the ban of a co-formulant (tallowamine) from glyphosate-based products, obligations to reinforce scrutiny of pre-harvest uses of glyphosate, as well as to minimise the use in specific areas such as public parks and playgrounds”.   Then on 11 July the European Commission announced that Member States had voted in favor of limiting the use of glyphosate, and that experts from the Member States had agreed these three conditions on future use of glyphosate, including ‘increasing scrutiny of pre-harvest use of glyphosate’.  Enrico Brivio, Commission spokesperson for Health and Food Safety confirmed: “The member states today voted in favor of a proposal by the Commission to restrict the conditions of use of glyphosate in the EU” (11 July 2016).

In light of mounting evidence that has found glyphosate is not the benign chemical that you were led to believe, the Soil Association believes all these conditions must be implemented as soon as possible. For users of UK flour, the key step must be to ban the use of glyphosate as a pre-harvest desiccant on crops due to enter the human food chain, to prevent the powerful weed-killer being sprayed on food crops just before they are harvested. As you know, a ban on pre-harvest use of glyphosate on wheat destined for bread has been the focus of our Not in Our Bread Campaign. In view of the controversy surrounding the safety of glyphosate, the Soil Association is calling again for bread manufacturers and flour millers to insist on a glyphosate-free supply of UK cereals destined for human consumption, as there is still time to achieve this before this year's harvest begins.

The response from UK bread manufacturers to our previous requests that you ensure that glyphosate is not used on the wheat that will supply the flour for your bread, has been to say that UK industry is waiting to see what was decided in Europe.  The European decision has been taken. The short term and conditional approval for the continued use of glyphosate has clearly confirmed that there are, at the very least, doubts about the safety of glyphosate, and Member States have just agreed  that there should be restrictions on pre-harvest use of glyphosate. The European Commission has also made clear that implementation of conditions on use is a matter for individual Member States.  You will be aware that politicians in the UK are currently preoccupied with other matters, and it seems to us that as a responsible company producing bread in the UK, you must now take responsibility for the quality of your own supply chain.

Will you ensure that all of the flour you source from this year’s wheat harvest in the UK comes from wheat crops which have not been sprayed with glyphosate immediately before harvest?

Best wishes, 

Peter Melchett

Policy Director

Find out more about our 'Not In Our Bread' campaign.