Glyphosate most widely and heavily used weed-killer ever

Glyphosate-based herbicide is now the most widely and heavily applied weedkiller in the history of global chemical agriculture.

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This was according to the recently published research paper, ‘Trends in glyphosate herbicide use in the United States and Globally’ by Dr Charles Benbrook, a research professor at Washington State University.

US-based non-profit environmental research organisation Environmental Working Group (EWG) said that 8,6 billion kilograms of glyphosate had been used globally to date following its introduction by Monsanto in 1974.

Global glyphosate use increased almost 15-fold after genetically modified and glyphosate-tolerant maize, soybean and cotton, also developed by Monsanto, were introduced in 1996.

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“The dramatic and rapid growth in overall use of glyphosate will likely contribute to a host of adverse environmental and public health consequences,” said Benbrook.

The EWG said that in 2015 “17 of the world’s top cancer researchers voted unanimously to elevate glyphosate’s cancer profile on behalf of the World Health Organisation”.

“After the panel of experts reviewed all of the publicly available research, the WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer classified the weed-killer as ‘probably carcinogenic to humans’,” the EWG said.

On its company blog, Monsanto responded to Benbrook’s paper by writing that he “omits important context and significantly misrepresents the safety of glyphosate-based herbicides”.

Monsanto also responded that glyphosate safety was supported by one of the most extensive worldwide human health, crop residue and environmental databases ever compiled on an agricultural chemical product.

“In evaluations spanning four decades, the overwhelming conclusion of experts worldwide has been that glyphosate, when used according to label directions, does not present an unreasonable risk of adverse effects to humans, wildlife or the environment. Indeed, the overall safety profile has contributed to the increased adoption of glyphosate-based herbicides around the world,” Monsanto said.

Read Benbrook’s full research paper.