Glyphosate Facts

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

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No cancer risk and lots of environmental benefits – the scientific facts in favour of a re-approval of glyphosate

Glyphosate has undergone more thorough toxicological testing than almost any other active substance used in pesticides. As part of the latest risk assessment, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) evaluated more than 3,000 studies. They found no indications of nerve damage or of carcinogenic or mutagenic properties. Nor is glyphosate associated with reproductive toxicity.

The public had been concerned, among other things, by a classification of glyphosate as a “probable carcinogen” (category 2A) by the IARC, the WHO’s cancer research agency. However, the IARC does not look at actual risks to consumers, but at theoretical considerations. It does not consider how the assessed substances are handled, or look at actual exposure to them in everyday life. This explains why the same body has classified sausages and sawdust as “carcinogens” (category 1A). 

More information:“Have you heard that glyphosate causes cancer? It is wrong!”

The relevant authorities in the EU member states, including the BfR in Germany and EFSA and, at international level, the Joint WHO/FAO Meeting on Pesticide Residues (JMPR), agree that there are no indications that glyphosate residues in food are carcinogenic. New Zealand’s Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) and the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) came to the same conclusion at the end of 2016. In March 2017, ECHA, the EU’s chemicals agency, finally brought clarity to the issue: glyphosate does not cause cancer.

More information:“European Chemicals Agency: Glyphosate does not cause cancer”

Lots of environmental benefits

It is not only the absence of health risks that points to glyphosate being re-approved: it has been one of the most important active ingredients in herbicides for more than 40 years, and its unique mechanism promotes soil-conserving cultivation methods and ensures good harvests. Without glyphosate, yields of some crop plants would fall by between 5 and 40 per cent, and farmers would have to start ploughing more intensively again to control weeds. This increases soil erosion six-fold and doubles CO2 emissions through increased humus breakdown and more tractor journeys. In other words, environmental factors also indicate that glyphosate should be re-approved.

 

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Last update: 18 July 2017