Agriculture in the UK post Brexit

Text: The dust has certainly been stirred up in the UK agriculture sector following the Brexit result of last Thursday. In my last blog post the big issue was the fate of Roundup and glyphosates in the EU – the renewal of the licence for these being delayed and a decision will rest on further study of potential negative effects of glyphosate in the food chain. A significant role, from an agroecological perspective, that has been played by the EU is the regulation of GMO’s and many member states have opted out of growing GMO’s. It remains to be seen what emerges in a Brexit UK. The NFU states on their website that farmers in the UK have been frustrated by an “excessive use of the precautionary principle” (see – article of 24.06.2016). Now that the vote has been cast what does this mean for consumers, who will want to be sure that developments in agriculture continue to be carefully scrutinized?

Glyphosate ban?

Photograph: Denis Balibouse/Reuters

It is reported in the Guardian this week (Recall of Monsanto’s Roundup likely as EU refuses limited use of glyphosate; Monday June 6) that a renewal of a licence for Roundup and other glyphosate-based weed killers is not going to be as straightforward as it’s producers would hope. There is growing concern about the hazards of glyphosates for the environment and indications of potential toxicity for humans, which is contributing to the potential that it will have to be withdrawn from sale and use. From an Agroecological perspective it is high time we took seriously more sustainable approaches to agriculture – shifting from those based on manipulation to those with an ethos of stewardship. Perhaps it is also time to redirect some of the vast amounts of money invested in chemical, industrial scale agriculture into some of the options that are better for both the environment and people?