wheat crop

A call from the Soil Association for British bread to axe the use of wheat treated with glyphosate could lead to waste and is little more than an attempt at “headline grabbing”, according to the Federation of Bakers.

The Soil Association’s policy director, Peter Melchett, this week wrote to the UK’s leading supermarkets and bakery brands to ask they “take responsibility for the quality of your own supply chain” and “ensure that all of the flour you source from this year’s wheat harvest in the UK comes from wheat crops that have not been sprayed with glyphosate immediately before harvest”.

But Federation of Bakers director Gordon Polson said he expected the broad-spectrum herbicide and crop desiccant would continue to be used “if absolutely necessary” to maintain wheat’s quality for bread and prevent it becoming “surplus to requirements”.

“It’s clear from testing that glyphosate is only in a small proportion of bread,” said Polson, who added that the issue of chemicals in grocery products went far beyond the bread category, but the Soil Association had focused on bakery “as a means of headline grabbing”.

In his letter to brands and retailers, the association’s Melchett said he was “disappointed” the EC had recently extended its authorisation of glyphosate used until December 2017, claiming it was “not the benign chemical that you were led to believe”.

Grocery retailers moved to allay fears, saying they worked closely with suppliers to ensure pesticides in products were within statutory limits.

A spokesman for the British Retail Consortium added:  “Limits are agreed through a robust regulatory system and reviewed periodically, taking account of available scientific evidence.

“Glyphosate has recently been approved following this process and official sampling of food is undertaken in the UK quarterly. These results have not shown any glyphosate presence of concern to human health.”