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Growing Together Spring 2020

Rounding Up The Facts About Glyphosate

Not only are weeds at risk from Round Up®, now glyphosate itself is under fire. You likely heard the news about the multi-million-dollar verdicts against Monsanto (which have been appealed) and even seen the lawyer solicitations for people who suffer from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma due to glyphosate exposure. Yet to a grower who has used Round Up for years, the cause-and-effect may not be evident.

Glyphosate was first used on crops in 1974, and quickly became agriculture’s most popular herbicide to control stubborn weeds. Even homeowners found the herbicide invaluable to control weeds in the yard.  Glyphosate is one of the most researched agricultural active ingredients in history — a point made by Bob Reiter, Global Head of Research and Development, Crop Science Division for Bayer. “Glyphosate is one of the most studied molecules that has ever been introduced into the agricultural marketplace,” Reiter said, speaking at a fall 2018 Bayer event. “Time and time again it’s shown to have a tremendous safety record.”

With such broad adoption, is glyphosate truly the culprit in the publicized verdicts? The National Pesticide Information Center offers this:

Long-term feeding studies in animals were assessed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other regulatory authorities. Based on these evaluations, they found there is no evidence glyphosate is toxic to the nervous or immune systems. They also found it is not a developmental or reproductive toxin. Furthermore, animal and human studies were evaluated by regulatory agencies in the USA, Canada, Japan, Australia, and the European Union, as well as the Joint Meeting on Pesticide Residues of the United Nations and World Health Organization (WHO). These agencies looked at cancer rates in humans and studies where laboratory animals were fed high doses of glyphosate. Based on these studies, they determined that glyphosate is not likely to be carcinogenic.  However, a committee of scientists working for the International Agency for Research on Cancer of the WHO evaluated fewer studies and reported that glyphosate is probably carcinogenic[1].

CropLife® magazine asked the nation’s top ag retailers: “Given the attacks on glyphosate in 2019, what do you predict will happen next?”

Chart Provided by CropLife[2]

53% of CropLife 100 survey responders believe grower-customers will begin using other herbicides to satisfy those end-users who seek crops grown without glyphosate use (such as planting traditional-bred seeds or utilizing other herbicide-resistant cropping systems, such as glufosinate, 2,4-D, or dicamba). The remaining 36% of CropLife 100 ag retailers think that glyphosate will remain an important tool for agriculture to use “for years to come.” Part of this is probably based on the fact that the vast majority of lawsuits filed against the herbicide come from the consumer sector and not agriculture2.

CropLife 100 suggests that other ag retailers are putting their faith in Bayer to fight hard to keep glyphosate as a viable herbicide. “Monsanto at some point more or less gave up trying to educate the population on glyphosate’s safety,” Liam Condon, President of the Crop Science Division for Bayer, said one year ago at a press briefing on glyphosate’s future. “We have to try to do this going forward.”






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