A collection of several scientific opinions about the effect of glyphosate on human beings to understand why organic farming is the best option.
What is glyphosate
First of all, glyphosate is an herbicide used to kill both broadleaf plants and grasses and it is applied on the leaves of plants. The sodium salt form of glyphosate regulates plant growth and ripen specific crops.
Glyphosate was first registered for use in the U.S. in 1974. Since then, glyphosate is one of the most widely used herbicides in the United States. People apply it in agriculture and forestry, on lawns and gardens, and for weeds in industrial areas: there are over 750 products containing glyphosate for sale in the United States.
The National Pesticides Information Center states:
In humans, glyphosate does not easily pass through the skin. Glyphosate that is absorbed or ingested will pass through the body relatively quickly. The vast majority of glyphosate leaves the body in urine and feces without being changed into another chemical.
Specifically regarding the connection between the assumption of glyphosate and the development of cancer, the NPIC states that 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), looked for cancer rates in humans and studies where laboratory animals were fed high doses of glyphosate. 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.
The positions of the scientific community and international authorities on glyphosate’s effects
- In 2015 the International Agency on Cancer Research classified glyphosate as probably carcinogenic for humans.
- The European Authority for Food and Safety (EFSA) stated that glyphosate is “unlikely to be carcinogenic for human beings”.
- The European Agency for Chemistry affirmed that “the scientific evidence does not imply necessary criteria to classify glyphosate as carcinogenic, mutagenic or toxic for reproduction”.
- In April 2019 a preliminary evaluation of the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) from the US Health Department confirms the connection between the exposure to glyphosate and the presence of different diseases, included cancer and other development problems.
The study led by Italy’s Ramazzini institute
Italy’s Ramazzini institute led a global study on Glyphosate. The preliminary result of the study was presented to the European Parliament on 16th May 2018.
Specifically, there is an effect between the exposure to glyphosate and the genital development of the rats, both males and females, during their puberty phase.
After that, the researchers launched a crowdfunding campaign to finance a long-term study to clarify the effects of glyphosate that collected 5 billion euros.
European Citizens’ position on glyphosate and EU
The uncertainty of the scientific community caused the uncertainty of politics.
On 6th October 2017 a total of 1,070,865 statements of support from 22 Member States presented the European Citizens’ Initiative “Ban glyphosate and protect people and the environment from toxic pesticides”.
- To ban glyphosate-based herbicides, exposure to which has been linked to cancer in humans, and has led to ecosystems degradation;
- To ensure that the scientific evaluation of pesticides for EU regulatory approval is based only on published studies, which are commissioned by competent public authorities instead of the pesticide industry;
- To set EU-wide mandatory reduction targets for pesticide use, with a view to achieving a pesticide-free future.
The EU replied that:
There are currently no grounds to call into question the scientific assessments and conclusions on glyphosate carried out in the EU. On that basis and given that the scientific assessment of glyphosate by EFSA is favorable with regards to human and animal health and the environment, in November 2017 the Commission submitted to the Member States a draft Implementing Regulation for the renewal of the approval of the substance for 5 years.
Still, in the document, it is clearly affirmed that:
The Common Agriculture Policy supports the implementation of the SUD through measures such as the Farm Advisory Systems (aimed at supporting farmers in the implementation of IPM – integrated pest management -), Rural Development policy and the promotion of organic farming.
Although the topic is controversial and there are several opinions within the international community, there is just one clear position we believe in.
We can clearly affirm with the EU commission, that organic farming avoids the use of chemical pesticides. Consequently, it seems to be the most natural option to avoid the use of glyphosate-based herbicides (GBHs) in agriculture.
“Glifosato. Effetti avversi sullo sviluppo. Nuove evidenze nello recente studio pubblicato dal Ramazzini”. Notizie Scientifiche