Glyphosate Facts

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

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Glyphosate safety profile for human health

Since glyphosate was first introduced nearly 40 years ago it has been subjected to hundreds of laboratory and field research studies to assess its impact on human health and the environment. Because glyphosate has been widely adopted for weed control in agriculture, industry and home gardens, it has become perhaps the most widely studied active ingredient used in herbicidal products, being the subject of hundreds of scientific publications.

(© Woyzeck/ pixelio.de)

In the EU, glyphosate was approved in 2002 for a period of ten years. The human health evaluation was based on the results of over 200 toxicology studies. The overall conclusion from that evaluation was that glyphosate meets all the safety requirements laid down by all relevant EU directives for herbicides and poses no unacceptable risk to human health. This view has so far been confirmed by all subsequent safety evaluations conducted by official regulatory agencies as well as by the new regulatory dossier submitted for the ongoing evaluation process of glyphosate in 2012, which includes new studies carried out to the latest guidelines.

The human safety evaluation of glyphosate was based on the results of oral, dermal and inhalation toxicity studies as well as feeding experiments in rats, mice, rabbits and dogs. Additionally, chronic and genotoxicological studies assessed possible effects of glyphosate on the development and the DNA of mammals. Reviews of these tests 4,7,8,9,10 concluded that:

•    glyphosate has only very little acute toxicity;
•    is not carcinogenic and does not have mutagenic effects, i.e. it does not alter DNA;
•    Glyphosate, when ingested, is not metabolized and is rapidly eliminated primarily unchanged from the body.  It is poorly absorbed through skin and does not accumulate in animal tissues.
•    glyphosate is not detrimental to the reproduction or development of test animals. A number of studies in rats and rabbits found no indication of any specific hazard posed by glyphosate for reproduction or development of the offspring. Although a reduced pup weight was observed in some cases, this was only seen at very high dose levels which were several thousand times higher than the predicted maximum daily intake for humans;
•    glyphosate did not interfere with endocrine (hormone) systems in a wide variety of studies in animals.

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Last update: 25 October 2012