August 11, 2021

Controversial plans in Canada to allow higher levels of pesticide residues in foods have been put on hold by the country’s government following opposition from organic groups.

Officials have put “a pause” on proposed increases in maximum residue limits (MRLs) for chemicals including glyphosate, sold under the brand name Roundup and described as the world’s most-used weedkiller.

A consultation had been launched on the possibility of increasing MRLs in crops such as oats and bran, lentils, peas, beans and nuts – in some cases almost a quadrupling of the permitted amounts.

Proponents of organic agriculture – which does not permit glyphosate use – were concerned that increasing the pesticide residue limits would lead to greater use of the chemical and, as a result, more contamination.

Roundup is described as the world's most popular weedkiller, but it has raised concerns over pesticide residues.
Roundup is described as the world’s most popular weedkiller, but it has raised concerns over pesticide residues.

As a result of the latest decision on pesticide residues, announced last week by Health Canada, a government department, there will be no increases in MRLs until Spring 2022 at the earliest.

At the same time, the Canadian government announced it was putting an extra Can$50 million (€33.8 million) into Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency.

The money will be used to, among other things, improve the availability of independent data about pest management decisions.

Glyphosate is sometimes used to kill crops, as this makes harvesting easier as it causes the plants to dry out, while it is also employed to kill weeds among crops genetically engineered for resistance to the herbicide.

Possible links between glyphosate and cancer have been demonstrated in some studies, although evidence is not considered definitive.

As reported recently by Sial Paris Newsroom, India has recently been pressing the European Union to loosen its rules on fungicide residues.

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