Sunday, November 12, 2017

Victories: EU Sidelines Glyphosate in History-Making Vote and the UK Bans Neonics

EUROPE

The battle over whether or not to renew the permit to sell glyphosate in the EU took another decisive turn this week as the European Union failed to pass a motion to continue sales of the herbicide in Roundup this past week.

France and Italy voted against renewal, while Germany and Poland abstained, thus preventing a majority vote in favor of the renewal.

For full coverage, read the New York Times account here.

On other fronts, the British voted to ban neonicotinoids in the UK. The insecticides have already been banned in the EU on a temporary basis since 2013. A full ban in the EU is expected. Read more in The Guardian.

CALIFORNIA

In California, the state government's agricultural agencies have worked to decrease the amount of toxic chemicals through implementing IPM (which stands for integrated pest management) and the wine industry has formed its own sustainability programs to wean growers away from wasteful practices - including consuming fewer natural resources - and other goals. (See values here.) (Sustainability programs do not mandate or directly address reducing use of toxic chemicals.)

However, the statistics from the California Dept. of Pesticide Regulation show little to no decrease in the use of the most dangerous substances overall.

CHARTS TELL THE STORY ON ACRES TREATED

The charts below taken from the state's annual report how acres treated (and not the amount of the chemicals used) which is useful to consider.



(Note: Sulfur is considered safe to use and is used in both conventional and organic farming.)

HERBICIDES

More than 700,000 pounds of glyphosate, now officially labeled as a carcinogen in California, were use in 2015, the last column of this chart.




NEONICS

Imidacloprid continues to be used in ever increasing amounts. The good news here is the increased use of oils, which are permitted in organic farming.



MORE BAD NEW ON NEONICS

A new Canadian study this week found that neonics makes birds lose weight and distorts songbirds' sense of direction. Read more from CBC news here.

US WINE INDUSTRY IMPACTS

California wineries have not yet begun to address publicly what the effects of the European bans will be on wine sales from California wineries. Here is the latest tweet on this subject from UK bee expert, Dave Goulson, an international authority whose scientific work has shown the connection between bee health and imidacloprid.



It would be great to see California vintners take a leadership position in decreasing their use of toxic chemicals, a move that may protect their position in the market, in view of their European competitors' next moves. It's hard to see how being glyphosate-free is not going to be part of future European wine marketing campaigns.