Glyphosate Facts

Transparency on safety aspects and use of glyphosate-containing herbicides in Europe

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How is glyphosate used?

Glyphosate is used to control a variety of plants in agriculture and gardening, on grasslands and in aquatic environments, and herbicides that contain glyphosate are available in just about every hardware store. More than 300 glyphosate herbicides from more than 40 different companies are currently registered for sale in Europe. Although the main global market for glyphosate is agriculture, glyphosate is also used to improve visibility and manage weed growth on non-cultivated areas such as railway tracks and verges. Non-crop uses also include weed control in the amenity, forestry and in aquatic environments. In addition, glyphosate products are used by many gardeners. Another, minor but important use of glyphosate is the control of invasive weed species, such as Japanese Knotweed, which threaten the survival of native plants.

Glyphosate is used for the cultivation of many crops. One important area of application in Europe is for instance weed management in citrus plantations.(© Hemeroskopion - Fotolia.com)

Glyphosate containing products are used as foliar sprays to manage weeds in a wide range of arable crops. In most European countries glyphosate herbicides are predominately applied after harvest to prevent weeds infesting winter crops (pre-planting) or after sowing before the new crop plants emerge (post planting pre-emergence). The major crops managed with glyphosate in Europe include a wide range of crops including, cereals, vineyards, olives, citrus and nuts for grassland renovation.  However, these after harvest treatments generally include all crops. In Germany eight out of ten oilseed rape fields are for instance treated with glyphosate herbicides.

In some countries such as the UK, glyphosate is also used before the harvest to control weeds (pre-harvest) and to speed up the maturation process of crops (dessication). Crops managed with these pre-harvest methods include oilseed rape and cereals. However, the time, amount and method of application of glyphosate products vary across the EU depending on the crop and the target weed species.

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Last update: 14 November 2013