Glyphosate ‘safe to use’

Minister cites findings of European chemical and food safety bodies.

Sligo News File

Glyphosate it’s been claimed, doesn’t pose a threat to public health.

Michael Creed, Minister for Agriculture.

Responding to a written Dail question which referred to findings of the DeWayne Johnson court case in California, Agriculture Minister Michael Creed replied that both the European Foof Safety Authority the European Chemicals Agency had concluded, “on the basis of extensive reviews involving public consultation, that glyphosate can be used safely without putting consumers or users at risk.”

The EFSA review, he said, “included an assessment of potential dietary exposure that could result from pre-harvest use and concluded that this use does not pose a risk to human health.”

He continued to be guided by the findings of the two European bodies, he said.

He added, however, that his Department “will continue to monitor international peer reviewed scientific evidence and the guidance provided by EFSA and ECHA.”

A councillor who called at a meeting of Sligo County Council for the product to be banned in public areas was told there was no other weedkiller that was as effective.

Leitrim County Council has already imposed a ban on its use.

Monsanto brought glyphosate to market for agricultural use in 1974 under the trade name Roundup.

Monsanto merged with Bayer, a German multinational pharmaceutical company, in 2018.

Critics have been pushing for a label that would warn consumers of cancer risks.

Garden Organic, the working name of the Henry Doubleday Research Association, a registered charity in England, Wales and Scotland states that glyphosate “is not acceptable in organic growing.”

They list 10 things they say people need to know about glyphosate:

  1. Glyphosate is rarely used on its own, but as part of a chemical cocktail, for instance with the trade name Roundup or Weedol.
  2. These formulations are potentially far more dangerous. Dr Robin Mesnage of Kings College London, writes “We know Roundup, the commercial name of glyphosate-based herbicides, contains many other chemicals, which when mixed together are 1,000 times more toxic than glyphosate on its own.” Recent research has show these other chemicals include arsenic, chromium, cobalt, lead and nickel.
  3. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) says that glyphosate is safe. However, most of their research is provided by the industry which created the herbicide. They haven’t tested the various individual commercial formulations. And regulation safety tests on mammals cover a short period, maximum 90 days. No-one knows the effect of long-term exposure to these toxic chemicals.
  4. This is worrying, because independent research indicates that glyphosate is not only possibly carcinogenic, but that it also affects the body’s endocrine system – causing problems in the liver and kidneys. Industry testers dispute this, but interestingly have declined to reveal all the results of their safety tests. See Corporate Europe report.
  5. Over 30% of the bread in the UK contains traces of glyphosate. While not necessarily toxic in small amounts, this gradual and persistent intake could create a health risk.
  6. This recent paper explores the effect of GBHs (glyphosate based herbicides) on the human gut. Interference with gut enzymes gives rise to many diseases such as gastrointestinal disorders, obesity and diabetes.
  7. Glyphosate is the most widely and heavily used agrichemical worldwide, in agriculture, parks and amenities as well as in gardens.
  8. Recent research shows that glyphosate formulations destroy the micro organisms in healthy soil, and affects earthworms. (For a full review of the research of glyphosate on soil ecosystems, see this 2016 report from the Soil Association.)
  9. Glyphosate producers claim it is rapidly inactivated in the soil. However, the chemical is very persistent in soils and sediments, and in colder, seasonal climates, such as the UK, residues have been found in the soil for up to 3 years. It also inhibits the formation of nitrogen-fixing nodules on clover for up to 4 months after treatment.
  10. Again, makers of glyphosate claim that it is unlikely to pollute the water (ground or surface). However, a recent paper from San Paulo State University, Brazil, shows that glyphosate formulations profoundly affect the algae in fresh water. Researchers have found traces of glyphosate in wells, ground waters and reservoirs across Europe and the UK. Water contamination is probably as a result of drift from spraying, or from soil run off and erosion.