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EPA Regulatory Review: Glyphosate Has No Human Health Risks

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released the results of its regulatory review of glyphosate in January 2020 after receiving and considering public comments. In their interim decision, EPA continues to find that there are no risks of concern to human health when glyphosate is used in accordance with its current label. According to the Interim Registration Review Decision, the agency has thoroughly evaluated the potential human health risk associated with exposure to glyphosate and concluded that there are no risks to human health from the currently registered uses of glyphosate and that glyphosate is not likely to be carcinogenic to humans.

Glyphosate is a widely used herbicide that controls broadleaf weeds and grasses and was first registered in 1974. EPA scientists conducted an independent evaluation of available data for glyphosate and found:

  • No risks of concern to human health from current uses of glyphosate. When used accordingly, glyphosate does not result in risks to children or adults.
  • No indication that children are more sensitive to glyphosate. After evaluating numerous studies from a variety of sources, the Agency found no indication that children are more sensitive to glyphosate from in utero or post-natal exposure. As part of this assessment, EPA evaluated all populations, including infants, children, and women of child-bearing age.
  • No evidence that glyphosate causes cancer in humans. The Agency concluded that glyphosate is not likely to be carcinogenic to humans. EPA considered a significantly more extensive and relevant data set than the International Agency on the Research for Cancer (IARC).

No indication that glyphosate is an endocrine disruptor. Glyphosate has undergone Tier I screening under EPA’s Endocrine Disruptor Screening Program and based on all available information, EPA concluded that existing data do not indicate that glyphosate has the potential to interact with the estrogen, androgen or thyroid signalling pathways.

From 1996 to 2018, herbicide tolerant (HT) crops, such as glyphosate and glufosinate tolerant crops, occupied the largest planting area of biotech crops. In 2018 alone, HT crops occupied 87.5 million hectares or 45% of the total 191.7 million hectares of biotech crops planted globally.

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Bioengineered Late Blight Resistant Potato to Benefit 300,000 Smallholder Farmers in Uganda

In Uganda, stakeholders working on the new bioengineered late blight resistant potato dubbed as the “3R Victoria” are confident of its wide adoption. The yet to be released potato could help 300,000 smallholder farmers in Uganda achieve higher yields at lower production costs and less exposure to chemicals. The stakeholders estimate 40-50% adoption rate for the new variety after its release.

Studies conducted by the International Potato Center (CIP) and National Agricultural Research Organization (NARO) scientists since 2015 have confirmed that 3R Victoria potato is completely resistant to late blight disease and safe for human consumption and the environment.

Dr. Marc Ghislain, senior biotechnologist at CIP and cluster leader for CGIAR Research Program on Roots, Tubers and Bananas said, “An estimated adoption rate of 40 to 50% represents a strong evidence that farmers in this country want to have access to these late blight resistant potatoes and will benefit from them in multiple ways.”

Colombia Benefits Economically and Environmentally from 15 Years of Planting GM Crops

A study conducted by Graham Brookes of PG Economics Ltd. published in the journal GM Crops and Food finds that since 2003, crop biotechnology has helped Colombian farmers grow more food, feed, and fibre, using fewer resources and farm incomes increased by a total of over US$300 million. Crop biotechnology has enabled Colombian farmers to obtain higher yields from better pest and weed control, reducing the environmental footprint associated with the production of cotton and maize.

The study finds that since 2003, about 1 million hectares of biotech cotton and biotech maize were planted in Colombia and in 2018, the technology was used on the equivalent of 90% and 36% respectively of the total cotton and (commercial) maize crops.

The extra production and reduced cost of pest and weed control helped maize farmers attain higher incomes equal to an average of US$294/ha and an average return on investment equal to +US$5.25 for each extra US$1 spent on GM maize seed relative to conventional seed. For cotton farmers, the average increase in income has been +US$358/ha, with an average return on investment equal to +US$3.09 for each extra US$1 spent on GM seed relative to conventional seed. The study also found that crop biotechnology facilitated cuts in fuel use, resulting in a reduction in the release of greenhouse gas emissions from the GM cotton and maize cropping area and contributed to saving scarce land resources

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New Year Message from the Director General

As we start the New Year, the CropLife Africa Middle East team wishes you all a successful 2020.

Looking into 2020 and beyond, I am proud to be a part of an industry that is working to make growth in agriculture in the countries of Africa Middle East a reality. Challenges have dominated agriculture over the past year, the invasion of FAW, locust plagues, climate change and increased activism and media attention on the perceived risks of pesticides to consumers placing science-based decision making under scrutiny. Faced with these challenges, the efforts of CL AME and its national associations remain dedicated to advocate and encourage governments to rely on science-based decision-making.

Before we move onto 2020, let’s look back and reflect on some of the notable achievements of the past year. CropLife AME staff worked diligently to increase the resilience of decision makers, the development of regulatory frameworks focussing specifically on harmonisation and data protection and the effective management of regulatory issues. Our efforts also covered the adoption of CBI guidelines by the EAC Sectorial council and the enhancement on the setting of MRL’s, consumer safety and trade in Africa’s agricultural commodities. We also intensified our dialogue among the regulatory authorities in more than 23 countries through our Sub-regional workshops in the region. Critical topics addressed included: Emergency Registration Procedures – in the light of emerging pests and diseases; changing policy landscape for pesticides, especially highlighting the MRL import tolerances and hazard based regulatory decision making. Also, strides in the implementation of GHS, Protection of Confidential Business Information, Risk Assessment Procedures for both conventional and Biologicals, Mode of Action labelling, Regulations and Quality Assessment in anti-counterfeiting efforts and minor formulation changes and risk mitigation.

We also continued with our commitment on the advancement of sustainability and stewardship across the region. In the past year, we continued to support efforts in container management in 9 countries and advocated on the implementation of Mode of Action labelling. The SSP concept continues to be our main driver in rolling out IPM/RU with partners. Our commitment to contribute in managing the threat of food security posed by Fall Armyworm was a ToT workshop held for West African countries and to ensure the rollout to farmers to fight this pest.

On the challenge of counterfeit and illegal products, we worked diligently to nurture coalitions and stakeholder alliances. These included the likes of USDA-USAID-Michigan State University initiative in West Africa, the US DoJ/ICHIP-USPTO in a joint workshop attended by 12 francophone countries in Africa and REACT in Nigeria and Kenya, INTERPOL in Cape Town, the WCO-JICA in Kenya, the WIPO-Ethiopia IPO and the Ghana Customs (GRA)-SGS. This level of cooperation gave us the opportunity to reinforce and empower our messages to both, governments and the media in the region to address the challenges of the counterfeiting as a collective responsibility.

For 2020, we aim to concentrate our efforts in establishing strategic partnerships in order to provide a common voice through multi-stakeholder approaches. This will help to advance solutions to the many challenges facing our industry in our region. In addition to the above we are committed to:

  • Advocating for an efficient, predictable, and evidence-based regulatory system;
  • Intensifying our promotional efforts in stewardship outreach;
  • Addressing the anti-counterfeiting issue as a collective responsibility;
  • Strengthening our national associations to enhance a favourable environment of the pesticide industry in the countries;
  • Proactive communication and advocacy to be able to provide a media balance.

It’s both a privilege and opportunity to play a part in helping agriculture in Africa Middle East grow and the CL AME team is proud to pursue this mission.

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CropLife undertakes a Trainer of Trainers workshop in the management of Fall Armyworm in East & Southern Africa

Farmers across Africa are struggling with the often devastating spread of Fall Armyworm, an invasive species from the Americas that was first observed in West and Central Africa in early 2016.

In its larval stage, Fall Armyworm feeds on over 80 plant species – including maize, a staple crop in many parts of the continent. As an adult moth, S. frugiperda can fly up to 100 kilometres in a single night. Fall Armyworm is now confirmed in every African country south of the Sahara except for Lesotho (due to its elevation). It has also been found in Egypt and spread into much of Asia.

As Fall Armyworm spread through Africa’s small farms, there was a rush to control the pest, too often using unsuitable products and then in the an incorrect manner. CropLife advocates for the Integrated Pest Management of Fall Armyworm but this requires knowledge of the pest, its ecology and the damage that it does. This is a big ask in terms of information provision, something that we need to be addressing with our partners. In most of Africa, there are not enough agricultural extension agents to educate farmers about pests like the Fall Armyworm.

“The Fall Armyworm is in countries to stay,” said AnneSophie Poisot, an advisor in sustainable agriculture for the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). “It is not a pest that can be eradicated. But it can be brought to a level where it is not seen as a huge threat by farmers. That means that we have to educate farmers, because we cannot solve the problems with a few quick actions.”

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CropLife Uganda Engages on a Sustainability Program

CropLife Uganda in collaboration with the Uganda Seed Trade Association (USTA) and UNADA have started engagement discussions to design a workplan for the three associations to consider strengthening their standing in terms of increasing the livelihood of farmers and growing in self-sustaining for effective operations and management. The 5-year project is being implemented by USAID-Feed the Future-Inclusive Agricultural market activities (IAM). The activity aims at increasing incomes and improving the livelihoods of households through agricultural led inclusive economic growth, through facilitating sustainable market improvements that create opportunities for market actors. This vision is broken into three specific objectives

  • Increase the institutional capacity of Govt of Uganda institutions and agencies.
  • Increase the institutional (leadership, management, technical, adaptive etc.) capacity of the private sector and civil society organizations.
  • Create incentives for agro-industry and agribusiness organizations to respond to changes in the agricultural market system and invest in this.

To use the support of CropLife Africa Middle East to ensure that processes are put in place to guide the suggested activities.

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