SUPPORTERS and opponents of controversial weed killer glyphosate continue to do battle, each pointing to separate pieces of evidence to back up their arguments.
Proponents have hailed a European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) report from last month, saying an 11,000 page review on this subject concludes that glyphosate remains safe to use.
However, those with concerns are highlighting a study by US medical professor Dennis Weisenburger which said there was 'compelling' evidence that glyphosate could contribute to people catching the disease non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
This is the same claim made by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) back in 2015 and has been a major point of controversy ever since.
Dr Matt Landos, an aquatic veterinarian who has become a strong critic of glyphosate in recent years, was blunt in his assessment.
"It's causing cancer, US courts have ruled on that, the time for change is now," Dr Landos said.
"I don't blame the farmers for doing what agronomists have been telling them to do, but we must acknowledge now, the advice was wrong," he said.
"The toxicity of the collective use of pesticides at label rates including glyphosate exceeds human, animal and insect tolerances," he said.
"Few farming systems only use glyphosate based herbicides, but regulators only consider its toxicity in isolation."
However, CropLife Australia chief executive Matthew Cossey said the EFSA ruling was yet another confirmation that the herbicide was safe.
"EFSA maintains glyphosate remains safe to use following that comprehensive review, it is another one in a long list of reviews and reassessments by the world's leading independent science and evidence based regulators that specialise in this area," Mr Cossey said.
He poured scorn on Dr Weisenburger's paper.
"This paper is a small review of only a small subset of papers which has cherry picked data and has clearly been designed to mislead the public," Mr Cossey said.
"Papers like this do not provide new independent epidemiology data," he said.
"Instead they offer statistical manipulation which is at odds with the extensive body of science, over 40 years of real world experience and the conclusions of every single modern world leading independent regulatory assessment agency."
Mr Cossey said the EFSA findings were in line with what the US Environmental Protection Agency, along with a federal judge in California had found regarding the safety of glyphosate, although Dr Landos argued the courts had found the product was carcinogenic.
"It is not a carcinogen, they concluded that there are no risks of concern to human health when glyphosate is used according to the label," Mr Cossey said.
"We must not allow sensationalised non-credible documents to warp and mislead the communities understanding in these important issues."
Dr Landos was resolute that science should drive cautious public health policy, but said new data must be considered.
"What we coarsely assessed 40 years ago, should not gazump emergent knowledge," he said.
Referring to papers by other scientists that have made similar findings to Dr Weisenburger he said there was a body of literature supporting the case glyphosate was carcinogenic.
"There remains a difference in so called regulatory science, which Mr Cossey lauds, and academic science," Dr Landos said.
"Regulatory science has built in flaws in the models of risk assessment, it cherry picks data, frequently relying heavily on studies supplied by the registrant, without requiring independent academic study verification," he said.
"These flaws are what have sequentially brought us the now accepted as unsafe organochlorines like DDT, Dieldrin, organophosphates, like malathion and fenthion and neonicotinoids like imidacloprid."
Dr Landos said farmers needed to move away from chemical-dependent farming systems.
"There needs to be a radical overhaul of farming, to shift away from the deep pesticide dependency to regenerative agriculture," he said. "The future is poorly served by those who peddle the fantasy that we have no alternative, or that without glyphosate we'll all starve."
Meanwhile lobby groups, such as the US-based Environmental Working Group continue to pressure Bayer, a major producer of glyphosate, to drop the product.
The group said Bayer was under pressure due to the vast amount of lawsuits it faced in the US with people suing claiming glyphosate caused their cancer, along with the product being banned in a number of European nations.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.