What is Glyphosate? - Food Dialogues

What is Glyphosate?

Glyphosate is the most widely used herbicide in the country, used to control broadleaf weeds and grasses. It is a non-selective herbicide, which means that is kills most plants and prevents the plant from making proteins needed for growth. Glyphosate has been used as an herbicide since the 1970s. It can be used to control weeds including a variety of fruits, vegetables and other crops, ornamental plantings, lawns and turfs, as well as GM crops.

Glyphosate is used on both farms and consumers’ home gardens and lawns (commonly referred to by its brand name, RoundUp.

Glyphosate is a leading contributor to promoting no-till farming. One unknown effect of glyphosate is its benefit to the environment. Glyphosate reduces greenhouse gas emissions by reducing the time farmers spend in the field because of no-till farming techniques, thus reducing CO2 emissions because of reduced fuel usage.

In March of 2015 IARC (International Agency for Research on Cancer) has classified glyphosate a type 2A “probable” carcinogen. Other substances in the 2a classification include red meat, art glass, burning wood, emissions from high temperature frying and working as a hairdresser/barber. However, in fall of 2016, the EPA issued a report stating that glyphosate is likely not a carcinogen.

Regulatory authorities around the world continually review the safety of glyphosate and have found no evidence of carcinogenicity. Three out of four WHO programs have even agreed on glyphosate’s safety.