Glyphosate the most used herbicide-new report

Monsanto's Glyphosate now most heavily used weedkiller in history - nearly 75 per cent of all Glyphosate ever sprayed on crops was used in the last 10 years, a new report has flound.

Peter Melchett
Peter Melchett


A new paper out on 2 February 2016 published in Environmental Sciences Europe, confirms there has been an increase in the total volume of glyphosate applied to crops across the world.

The paper, Trends in glyphosate herbicide use in the United States and globally, Charles M. Benbrook, reveals that globally, glyphosate use has risen almost 15-fold since so-called "Roundup Ready," genetically modified (GM), glyphosate-tolerant crops were introduced in 1996.  Over 70 per cent of the total volume of glyphosate sprayed world-wide over the last 40 years (1974 to 2014) has been sprayed in the last 10 years. 


Peter Melchett, policy director at the Soil Association said: "This research reveals that Monsanto’s Glyphosate is now the most heavily used weed-killer in history, and use is sky-rocketing – nearly 75 per cent of all Glyphosate ever sprayed on crops was used in the last 10 years. This huge increase in chemical spraying is what we can expect if GM crops are ever grown in England.  As  well as being identified as a probable human carcinogen, the research notes that recent studies have made the connection between glyphosate exposure and a number of serious health effects as well as cancer, including the degeneration of the liver and kidney, as well as non-Hodgkin lymphoma. The research rightly questions the safety of using Glyphosate on crops destined for people to eat just before they are harvested – a growing practice in the UK, which must end."

Monsanto said: "Consistent with his previous papers, the latest from Charles Benbrook, titled "Trends in glyphosate herbicide use in the United States and globally," omits important context and significantly misrepresents the safety of glyphosate-based herbicides. Unfortunately, the result will no doubt be another wave of unwarranted confusion and concern among consumers about an agricultural tool with a 40 year history of safe and effective use.

"Most importantly, glyphosate safety is supported by one of the most extensive worldwide human health, crop residue and environmental databases ever compiled on a pesticide product. In evaluations spanning four decades, the overwhelming conclusion of experts worldwide 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. Indeed, the overall safety profile has contributed to the increased adoption of glyphosate-based herbicides around the world. 

"Benbrook references the IARC panel’s classification of glyphosate in Category 2A. For context, IARC classified red meat in the same category. Furthermore, regulatory agencies have reviewed all the key studies examined by IARC – and many more – and arrived at the overwhelming consensus that glyphosate poses no unreasonable risks to humans or the environment when used according to label instructions. In fact, after IARC announced its classification of glyphosate, regulators in both Europe and Canada once again reaffirmed their long-standing, science-based conclusions that glyphosate is safe when used as intended.

"Benbrook also references the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) intention to add glyphosate to the state’s Proposition 65 list. The sole basis for this proposed listing is the IARC panel’s erroneous classification of glyphosate and would even contradict OEHHA’s own science-based assessment from 2007.

"Benbrook fails to mention the fact that glyphosate has helped enable farmers around the world to adopt no-till farming, which has significant environmental benefits. With no-till farming, farmers don’t have to turn over their soil as much to control weeds, which helps reduce emissions and soil erosion.

"Still, when it comes to protecting crops from weeds and other pests, there’s no silver bullet. Fortunately, today’s farmers have multiple options. When farmers do use glyphosate and other pesticides, they do it with precision – applying them in the right place at the right time, in just the right amounts. In fact, after a farmer mixes a custom pesticide application, the spray is mainly water.

"Farmers need a wide range of tools to help them sustainably grow enough for our growing world. Glyphosate is one very important tool that has been widely adopted by farmers and other users over the past 40 years due to its proven effectiveness and safety profile."

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