Glyphosate is arguably the most controversial word in the agricultural world as well as its most popular herbicide.
The World Health Organization through its International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has listed glyphosate as a probable carcinogen. Research indicates potential impacts in increasing crop diseases, changing the composition and functioning of soil microorganism species and ecosystems, and recently published studies are showing a negative impact on earthworms.
Chances are you’ll find just equal amounts of data saying the exact opposite. In fact, it is often argued that ‘organic’ treatments such as copper or sulphur damage the environment more than synthetic sprays.
The science behind one or the other generates controversy and, some argue, is insufficient. But science as a whole requires controversy to move ahead.
As we focus on the facts, countries such as France, Italy, Germany, Mexico have pledged to phase out the use of glyphosate at different paces. Others have banned it already.
The Farm to Fork strategy and the Green Deal have set targets to reduce the overall use and risk of all chemical pesticides (including herbicides such as glyphosate) by 50%.
Numerous wine producers find that the elimination of glyphosate in certain wine regions will end viticulture as a whole. Others are starting to face up to the challenge of phasing it out or stopped using it long ago, compensating it by promoting non-chemical weed management (e.g. crop rotation, mechanical weeding, closer seeding), thus increasing the usage of mechanical equipment and therefore of fossil fuels. Some have never used it. Others are looking for similar alternatives with a different name.
Regardless, climate change is always on the equation, whether it is through an approach that affects the life of soil, fauna and flora or the choice of alternatives focused on the increased usage of fossil fuels.
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- Kwiatkowska, et al, DNA damage and methylation induced by glyphosate in human peripheral blood mononuclear cells (in vitro study) Food and Chemical Toxicology Vol. 105, July 2017, pages 93-98 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.fct.2017.03.051
- Kanissery, et al, Glyphosate, its Environmental Persistence and Impact on Crop Health and Nutrition, Plants 2019, 8(11), 499; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants8110499
- Peillex and Pelletier, The Impact and Toxicity of Glyphosate and Glyphosate-based Herbicides on Health and Immunity. Journal of Immunotoxicology, Vol. 17, 2020, Issue 1
- Kremer, et al. Glyphosate effects on photosynthesis, nutrient accumulation, and nodulation in glyphosate-resistant soybean, Journal of Plant Nutrition and Soil Science, April 2012, 175(2) DOI: 10.1002/jpln.201000434
- Womarans, Swarrt, Influence of glyphosate, other herbicides, and genetically modified herbicide-resistant crops on soil microbiota: a review. South African Journal of Plant and Soil, Vol. 31, 2014, Issue 4, P 177-186 https://doi.org/10.1080/02571862.2014.960485
- Gomes, Juneau, Oxidative Stress in Duckweed (Lemna minor L.) induced by glyphosate: Is the mitochondrial electron transport chain a target of this herbicide? Environmental Pollution, Volume 218, Nov. 2016, P 402-409 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envpol.2016.07.019
- Newman, et.al, Glyphosate effects on soil rhizosphere-associated bacterial communities, Science of the Total Environment, Vol 543, Part A, Feb 2016, P 155-160. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2015.11.008
- Zobiole, et. al, Glyphosate affects microorganisms in rhizospheres of glyphosate-resistant soybeans. Journal of Applied Microbiology, Sept. 2010, https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2672.2010.04864.x
- Bohn, Lovei, Complex Outcomes from Insect and Weed Control with Transgenic Plants: Ecological Surprises? Fronteirs in Environmental Science, Sept 2017, https://doi.org/10.3389/fenvs.2017.00060
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