Thank you very much.
I think it is important to emphasize that studies reviewed by independent bodies such as the World Health Organization and its International Agency for Research on Cancer are studies that have been conducted by independent researchers and not by industry.
However, recently, a very well-known researcher conducted an analysis to try to understand why the United States Environmental Protection Agency, EPA, has data that is completely contradictory to that of IARC. The answer is relatively simple and here is an excerpt:
“In the core tables compiled by EPA and IARC, the EPA rely mostly on registrant-commissioned, unpublished regulatory studies....”
In 99% of cases, studies done by industry are negative. In comparison, studies validated by the scientific community are positive in over 70% of cases.
However, I would remind you that the analyses do not necessarily cover the same things. I have already explained that no farmer puts only glyphosate in the fields. Instead, the farmer applies glyphosate-based herbicides, but they also contain other elements such as heavy metals, which has been reported in several studies. In addition, in Canada, the spread mixture may contain up to 20% POEA, the permitted limit. In addition, several independent studies confirm that the co-formulants contained in the spread mixture can be up to 1,000 times more toxic than glyphosate alone. However, if only glyphosate is analyzed, the results will not necessarily be the same as if the whole mixture applied by farmers is analyzed. It makes sense.
Independent research work is therefore essential. This was the argument we pointed out [technical difficulties] to highlight what we thought was abnormal, that is, that there has been no systematic review of the recent literature on these issues to arrive at a research-based decision. This is the kind of problem that arises.
That being said, I would like to point out that the criticism is not directed at farmers at all. I think the Canadian public is well aware of the very serious challenges facing farmers. Your committee was right to highlight the high rates of psychological distress, even suicide, among farmers. According to an OECD report, public support for Canadian agricultural producers was four times higher 30 years ago. In comparison, this aid has only halved in the United States, Europe and OECD countries.
So I think we should look for more on this. In addition, glyphosate-based herbicides are not the only ones making headlines in Quebec. There is also the whole issue of neonicotinoids. Indeed, for the past two years, there has been frequent mention of the lack of independence of public research in this field.
The Quebec media regularly reports all these data. In particular, there have been several articles mentioning a worrying series of resignations within the Grain Research Centre, the CEROM, among researchers working on neonicotinoids in particular. You also know, since it has been widely discussed, that a reputable agronomist was fired for reporting interference from pesticide producers and companies. This question has been extensively documented for a large number of centres.
The agronomist, who is currently running for president of the Ordre des agronomes du Québec, also pointed out that the quantities of fertilizers recommended by Quebec are three times higher than in Ontario and up to six times higher than in American states. However, according to him, Quebec is “the only province where industry representatives sit and vote on the committee responsible for fertilizer recommendations”.