Farm Ireland

Thursday 22 March 2018

Tillage: Roundup ban reflects Brussels doublethink

Genetically modified corn.
Genetically modified corn.
Helen Harris

Helen Harris

We seemed to pick the hottest day of the year to go out hand rouging weeds, from crops that we plan to keep for seed. Every crop of certified seed wheat seems to have barley through it.

We also picked wild oats and brome which seems to be a problem again this year. As I was walking up and down the tram lines sweating, I was thinking about how will we be able to control weeds like brome and oats if glyphosate, a key ingredient of Roundup, loses its license. This is a huge worry for all tillage farmers.

How can a product that is described by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), an arm of the World Health Organisation (WHO), as being in the same category, as red meat, in relation to its carcinogenic risk, lose its license?

Should they ban us having a pint or going outside because it's too dangerous? The minority of people that don't agree with its use are not looking at the big picture.

If they believe this will make us all go organic, they are wrong, as we would end up using more chemicals instead of less.

What is really upsetting me about the Roundup debacle, is the complete inaction by the EU.

Why are politicians there, if they won't make tough decisions and in a reasonable length of time? It is exactly the same with the GM debate.

We are importing GM-fed animals into this country but yet we cannot grow the same crop.

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Every time there is a vote in the EU on this issue, they stall and no decision is made.

If they don't want us, or animals, eating GM, then ban it altogether in the EU. If they think its safe for us and animals to consume GM-derived products, then let us all grow GM crops too.

At the moment we are stuck between a rock and a hard place, when we can feed our animals with the imported GM crop that they won't let us grow.

I think it would be very interesting to test all the popcorn in the cinemas that we eat every day to check how much, if any is GM? I remember Teagasc saying they are doing a trial on GM potatoes that were blight resistant and it was met with huge negative press.

If we could eat a GM potato that had little or no spray on it, surely that's a good thing?

It is this inaction, that the British 'Leave' campaign are using to persuade voters to back an exit from the EU.

That should be enough of a sign that we need a properly functioning EU that can make the hard decisions. Even if I don't agree with the decisions, such as the ban on Dursban which was prohibited without any other product being available to control leatherjackets (Crane fly larvae).

It is still better that we move forward and not constantly feel like we are in a stagnant pool of indifference. Okay, that's my rant over for now.

Meanwhile, the warm weather has really pushed the crops on. The yellow flowers are almost fully gone from the oil seed rape.

The winter wheat heads are out and it got Liberix at 1.6l/ha and Bravo at 1l/ha for T2. The beans got Rover at 1l/ha and Falcon at .8l/ha to remove the volunteer cereals. It also got trace elements in four hectares of poor ground. This was to help it along but it may be too little too late. Where we used the liquid urea (40N6S) on the continuous winter wheat, we split the field and used granular urea on the other side.

At the moment we can't see the difference but we will weigh both sides over the weigh bridge when we cut it and see if there is any difference.

Philip and Helen Harris are tillage farmers in Co Kildare. Follow them on twitter P&H Harris @kildarefarmer

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