Should Glyphosate Be Banned?

By - November 8, 2018
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Is it time to ban glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup?

It is the most used agricultural chemical of all time. And mounting scientific evidence from many sources suggests that it could be the most devastating to human, animal and environmental health.

The EPA has been conducting its mandatory 15-year re-registration review of the chemical since 2009. The agency was expected to approve or ban glyphosate by the end of 2015. It was assumed that glyphosate would get another stamp of approval while Obama was still in the White House.

But in March 2015, the WHO and its panel of cancer experts – the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), performed its own review of new science on glyphosate. The IARC panel of 17 agreed on a unanimous basis to reclassify the chemical as a probable human carcinogen.

The IARC finding forced the EPA to look more carefully at its glyphosate review. That slowed the entire process. Now the decision is being made by President Trump’s EPA.

Effort to Ban Glyphosate Is Still Alive and Well

Under Trump, the EPA is being controlled by pro-business types, including the recently resigned Scott Pruitt, who had a close relationship with Monsanto, one of his major campaign funders in the past. That said, efforts to ban Roundup is having success around the world. And in the US, even with a pro-business EPA, there is still plenty of activity ongoing to ban glyphosate.

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For example, the group Non-Toxic Neighborhood’s campaigners are trying to get local governments to stop using Roundup in parks and playgrounds. Testing shows that glyphosate in some types of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream and other ‘natural foods’ has started a movement to get these products out of our food stores. This would mean getting the chemical entirely out of the US food supply chain. Some local hardware stores in the United States have been dropping Roundup and introducing 100% organic weedkillers in their product lines.

Where Glyphosate Is Currently Banned

While there is progress ongoing in the US to ban the chemical, some cities, states and countries have made major strides in restricting or banning glyphosate. The following countries have issued outright bans, imposed major restrictions or issues statements of intention to ban or restrict the herbicide:

  • Argentina: More than 30,000 healthcare professionals in Argentina have encouraged a glyphosate ban after the IARC’s report on the chemical, which concluded it is a likely human carcinogen. More than 400 towns and cities in this country have passed laws restricting its use.
  • Australia: Many cities and school districts are testing other herbicides to try to curtail the use of glyphosate. Some are using steam technology to control weeds on streets and other public spaces.
  • Belgium: This country has banned the individual use of glyphosate. In 2017, the country voted against renewing the license for the chemical in the EU. The country was one of six in the EU to sign a letter to the EU Commission that called for an exit plan for the use of the chemical in agriculture. Brussels has banned glyphosate in its territory; it has a zero pesticides policy in effect.
  • Bermuda: The island nation has outlawed the private and commercial sale of all glyphosate-based herbicides. In 2017, the government relaxed the ban on the chemical and allowed the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to import lower concentrations of glyphosate to manage weed overgrowth on roadsides.
  • Brazil: In 2018, a federal judge rules that all new products that contain glyphosate could not get registered in the country. Existing regulations regarding glyphosate also were suspended. This is pending a reevaluation of toxicology data by the country’s health agency. In September 2018, a court in Brazil overturned a federal judge’s ruling. It is unclear in 2018 if glyphosate will be banned or not; this is significant because September is soybean planting season, and the success of the crop is highly dependent upon killing weeds and pests.
  • Canada: Eight of 10 provinces have some type of restriction on using non-essential pesticides, including glyphosate. Vancouver was the first city to ban public and private use of glyphosate, other than from the treatment of invasive weeds.
  • Denmark: The Danish Working Environment Authority declared the chemical to be a carcinogen for humans and has recommended changes to chemicals that are less toxic. Aalborg, one of the country’s largest cities, has issued a ban on private use of glyphosate as of September 2017.
  • England: After the major $289 million Monsanto Roundup verdict in the US in August 2018, Homebase, one of the largest DIY retailers in the country, announced that it would review the marketing and sale of Roundup. Several townships, such as Brighton, Frensham, Hammersmith, Bristol, Glastonbury, Frome and Erewash, have also also voted to restrict glyphosate and other pesticides.

Is Glyphosate Banned in Europe?

As the above examples indicate, some countries have brought legislation to ban or restrict the use and sale of glyphosate, or restrictions on spraying it in public areas. As for the entire European Union, the chemical is not banned at this time.

That said, public opinion in the European Union has been leaning towards a gan on the chemical. A poll in 2016 of the five biggest EU countries found that 66% wanted a glyphosate ban. More than 1.3 million people signed a petition in 2017 that called for a ban of the chemical. This public outcry got the attention of many members of the European Parliament. They have cited that petition as the basis to introduce a ban.

However, in November 2017, EU member states did vote narrowly to relicense glyphosate for five years. The vote was controversial; German Ag Minister Christian Schmidt put a yes vote for Germany but did not consult with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. His vote disregarded the Environment Minister for the nation, who told Schmidt to not vote. With Germany’s vote, the measure passed and glyphosate got a new license for five years.

Is Glyphosate Banned in the US?

Despite the IARC report in 2015 that called the chemical a probable human carcinogen, the EPA has said that glyphosate is not likely to be a carcinogen to humans. So, the chemical is not banned here.

See also Erin Brockovich Blasts Glyphosate Weed Killer in Op-Ed

Roundup can be easily purchased anywhere in the US. but not everyone agrees with EPA’s ruling. Some cities, counties and even one state have issued restrictions and bans on the chemical.

Is Glyphosate Banned in California?

There is no statewide ban here. But in July 2017, California did become the first state in the US to issue a glyphosate warning by adding the chemical to its list of Proposition 65 chemicals that are known to cause cancer. Roundup is not currently required to carry a warning label in California due to the actions of a single federal judge that overturned a court ruling on the matter.

References

Michael Bennett

Michael Bennett is Editor-in-Chief of WeedKillerCrisis. Since 1999, he's worked across a multitude of areas of consumer protection including defective products, environmental issues, identity theft, predatory lending and more.

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