Soil Association publishes review of soil research ahead of glyphosate vote

The Soil Association has published a review of the scientific research on the impact of glyphosate on soil and soil life.

The body argues that evidence suggests the agricultural chemical may not be safe for soil life. The Soil Association is calling on the EU to ban the use of glyphosate on crops immediately before harvest and to ban all use in public spaces and gardens.

Industry bodies argue glyphosate is safe with the NFU, Crop Protection Association, British Crop Production Council and others including Monsanto citing research of the chemical's proven track record.

The next EU vote is on 23 June.

Emma Hockridge, head of policy at the Soil Association said; "There is another very important vote taking place on Thursday. Given how long glyphosate has been in use, its extraordinary how little is known about its environmental impact. This ignorance – and indications of potential new problems – adds weight to the demands for a ban on glyphosate based on the threat it poses to human health.  Our soils are vulnerable and threatened – any potential threat to soil health needs to be taken very seriously.

"As a minimum, we are calling on EU Member States to implement the recommendations of the European Parliament, and ban the use of glyphosate on crops immediately before harvest, and to ban all use in public spaces and gardens."

Meanwhile, the European Union has twice failed to agree to authorise it’s continued use. The licence for the use of glyphosate in the EU expires at the end of June.

Crop Protection Association chief executive Nick von Westenholz said:

"Typically, the Soil Association are cherry picking their arguments to support their ideological opposition to the use of conventional pesticides, however safe and useful they are – and glyphosate is both very safe and very useful.


"They talk about a review of the evidence on glyphosate’s impact on soil health, but it is clearly highly selective in supporting their established opposition to glyphosate. They refer to calls for a ban on the grounds of human health, referring to a WHO study last year listing glyphosate as a probable carcinogen, but ignore the WHO’s own affirmation last month that glyphosate is unlikely to pose a carcinogenic risk, not to mention countless other studies that have found it safe to use – indeed, no regulatory agency in the world classifies glyphosate as a carcinogen. They appeal to the positions of France and Sweden on the issue in support of the rationale for a ban, but ignore the fact that the last vote saw 20 Member States vote in favour of re-approval, 7 abstain, and just one (Malta) vote against.


"In agriculture, far from being damaging to soils, glyphosate helps maintain soil quality by controlling a broad spectrum of weeds and therefore reducing the need for ploughing. This protects soils from degradation and reduces greenhouse emissions and energy consumption. Glyphosate is a cornerstone of sustainable, productive agriculture which regulators are more than satisfied can be used safely


"Glyphosate has proved invaluable across an enormous range of applications, whether in farming, in domestic gardens, or in keeping streets, railways and public spaces clean and secure. The Soil Association are wrong to campaign against it in the face of overwhelming scientific consensus that it is safe."

The Soil Association cites, as anti glyphosate evidence published this month:

Environmental Audit Committee, Soil Health, 2 June 2016, HC 180 2016-17 [Available online at]

All Party Parliamentary Group for Agroecology, soil health and protection inquiry reports, 12 June 2016 [Available online at]  

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