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Kellogg Canada, the maker of packaged foods such as Pringles, Eggo waffles and Corn Flakes, says it will work with its suppliers to phase out use of a popular pesticide — a move that has left the agri-food industry craving more details.
Kellogg's told National Observer its subsidiary, Kellogg Canada, would be following in the footsteps of its parent company, which decided at the end of 2019 it would be working with suppliers to stop them from spraying the weed killer glyphosate on crops before harvest to dry them out.
The company said it would complete this “by the end of 2025" in a post on its "Open For Breakfast" blog.
Kellogg Canada will also “build an action plan with our suppliers” to phase out the pre-harvest use of glyphosate for drying, chief sustainability officer Amy Senter confirmed.
“We have reached out to key suppliers, including those who have Canadian sourcing,” she said.
Canada is a large supplier of cereal grains such as wheat and oats. That has industry group Cereals Canada, which represents both grain producers and agrochemical manufacturers, paying close attention.
“Before I would comment on what the impact would be, I would like to have a chat with Kellogg’s, to see where they’re going with this and what their intent is,” president Cam Dahl said.
More than 25 million kilograms of glyphosate-based pesticides are used every year in Canada to get rid of weeds, kill undergrowth in forests or clear roadways or train tracks. Tests have shown it appears in trace amounts in Canadian food, which industry has maintained represent a very low amount of exposure.
But it has come under public scrutiny in the past few years, as lawsuits alleging a link between the direct use of the weed killer and a type of cancer called non-Hodgkin's lymphoma have multiplied. One prominent case, that of Lee Johnson from California, resulted in a US$78-million award.
In November 2019, a personal-injury law firm launched a $500-million class-action lawsuit in Canada against Bayer, the owner of the company that produces Roundup, the most popular spray containing glyphosate.
Government bodies, however, continue to say the product is safe when used properly. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reaffirmed last Thursday glyphosate “is not a carcinogen.”
Kellogg Canada says it will “build an action plan" with suppliers to phase out the use of a popular pesticide, glyphosate, to dry out crops before harvest.
Health Canada also reaffirmed its decision in January 2019 to approve glyphosate for use, following a "thorough scientific review."
Dahl said modern farming techniques deploy glyphosate as a way to cut down on tilling, which he said allows the soil to sequester more carbon.
“I would hate to see decisions made that would impact those very large sustainability gains, as well as, of course, profitability gains,” he said.
“There have been lots of independent reviews of this product. I would hope that factors into these decisions.”