Glyphosate Facts

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


Have you heard that glyphosate causes cancer? It is wrong!

Since 1974, glyphosate has become the World’s most widely used weed killing substance and with a long history of safe use, it is currently approved in over 160 countries.

Most recently, in March 2017, the European Chemical’s Agency (ECHA) concluded that glyphosate is not a carcinogen, not a mutagen and not toxic for reproduction. That makes it consistent with countries such as Japan, USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

So does glyphosate cause cancer?

Quite simply, no. In fact, no regulatory agency in the world considers glyphosate to be a carcinogen.

In evaluations spanning four decades, the overwhelming conclusion of experts around the world has been that glyphosate, when used according to label directions, does not present an unreasonable risk of adverse effects to humans, wildlife or the environment.

All labelled uses of glyphosate are safe for human health and supported by one of the most extensive worldwide human health databases ever compiled on an agricultural product.

Why do people believe that glyphosate is a carcinogen?

In 2015, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified glyphosate as a “probable human carcinogen”, making it the sole anomaly of numerous multi-year, comprehensive assessments conducted by hundreds of scientists worldwide who are responsible for ensuring public safety.

IARC’s findings are even inconsistent with the three other WHO programmes to have reviewed glyphosate: In May 2016 experts from the U.N.'s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and World Health Organization (WHO) notably agreed that glyphosate is "unlikely to pose a carcinogenic risk to humans" exposed to it through food.

This is hardly surprising given that unlike other regulatory reviews that comprehensively examine all available data over an extended period, IARC makes its conclusion on a limited data review during a meeting that lasts one week.

IARC moreover provided no new research or data on the issue, nor did it establish a causal link between glyphosate and an increase in cancer.

While the media and certain NGOs have latched onto this one conclusion, regulatory agencies around the world have been reviewing all the key studies examined by IARC – plus many more – and continue to arrive at the overwhelming consensus that glyphosate does not cause cancer.

Carcinogen classifications in context

Despite all scientific evidence to the contrary, let’s imagine IARC’s evaluation were accurate and put this classification in perspective:

IARC’s classification of glyphosate in Group 2A as a “probable carcinogen” means that they found limited evidence in humans. According to IARC, other “probable carcinogens” include:

  • Dry cleaning
  • Very hot beverages
  • Red meat
  • Working as a hairdresser
  • Working night shifts
  • Frying food

This makes everything in the above classification less carcinogenic than sausages, red wine and bacon, but in the category just above “possible carcinogens” like aloe vera, coffee and pickled vegetables.

In fact, of the over 980 substances evaluated by IARC, only 1 item has ever been found to be “probably not carcinogenic”: And that’s a chemical used in the manufacturing of yoga pants.

With these every day substances deemed to cause cancer by IARC, its major failure is that it doesn’t address the fact that toxicity depends on dosage. Evidently almost everything can be dangerous if consumed in large quantities.

With that in mind, glyphosate has been scientifically proven to be:

  • Half as toxic as table salt
  • 25 times less toxic than caffeine
  • And 500 times less toxic than vitamin D

This is because as an herbicide, glyphosate targets an enzyme not present in humans, but in plants.


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Last update: 03 July 2017