Article Summary: The glyphosate herbicide and Roundup debate presents a variety of viewpoints from different regions. Some praise its efficacy in weed control, claiming its safety when used correctly and emphasising its economic importance in agriculture. Some countries express concerns about potential health risks, particularly the alleged link to cancer, as well as environmental consequences. It is also weighing the benefits against potential drawbacks and exploring sustainable alternatives. The piece delves into the dichotomy of glyphosate's role in enhancing agricultural productivity versus the alleged environmental and health risks, highlighting the ongoing legal and scientific battles.

Are you an organic farmer, or do you rely on herbicides to care for your pastures and keep invasive species at bay?

Becoming more sustainable and chemical-free on your farm is probably on your radar. Still, it’s not always possible to do, depending on where you are located, the size of your business, the factors you have to contend with, and your socio-economic status.

Glyphosate, despite being among the most widely used and most effective weed killers in the world, is being limited or banned by multiple countries. It's been under discussion for a while for its carcinogenic properties, labelled as a herbicide that affects not only farmers' lives but also their crops. The World Health Organization's cancer agency stated in 2015 that the primary component found in numerous generic herbicides was "likely to cause cancer."

What is glyphosate

Glyphosate is a chemical product crucial in many herbicides, including the well-known brand Roundup. Glyphosate is primarily used in agriculture as a powerful tool for weed management and elimination, playing an essential role in crop health and productivity.

It inhibits the activity of a plant enzyme required for growth.

It is used extensively in farming, forestry, and gardening, from small backyards to large farms and has recently sparked debate because some believe it may be linked to cancer. There is even a major legal case about it going on right now in Australia.

What's it Used For?

Glyphosate, also known as Roundup, is a versatile herbicide. It is widely used for various agricultural, planting, gardening and field purposes. Its primary application is in agriculture, where it is master in controlling and eliminating weeds and grasses that block crop growth. 

As a farmer, you may greatly rely on glyphosate to keep your pasture healthy and productive and to ensure water and nutrients are given to the intended crops rather than invasive plants. It’s important to note that glyphosate is not limited to farming; it is also used in global forestry management to help maintain balance.

It is also used in lawn and garden care, assisting homeowners and landscapers in keeping their outdoor spaces free of unwanted weeds and hazardous growth. Glyphosate's widespread use demonstrates its efficiency in managing plants across various environments, from vast agricultural fields to the smaller spaces of private gardens.

Why has it been banned in some countries?

Due to health concerns and the emerging risk of cancer, glyphosate has been banned in several countries. Belgium, France and the Netherlands have banned it for household use. On the other hand, Germany, which is widely known as the house of chemicals, has also forbidden glyphosate from being used publicly. It also plans to ban this herbicide by the end of 2023.

The reason behind the ban is that according to the Cancer Agency of WHO, this herbicide can cause cancer. This year, individuals with non-Hodgkin lymphoma filed a lawsuit against glyphosate manufacturers, including Roundup. Experts have discussed the potential carcinogenicity of glyphosate in a recent nine-week trial. In January 2024, the case’s closing statements are expected. This lawsuit seeks to address health issues associated with glyphosate exposure.

What is the controversy?

The controversy stems from the alleged link between glyphosate and health risks, including worries related to carcinogenicity. While some studies indicate a connection, others contend the evidence is weak and patchy.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer of WHO categorises glyphosate as "likely to cause cancer in humans." This declaration sparked heated debate among agricultural scientists.

Which countries are continuing to use it? Why?

Despite the controversies, many countries are still using it. The reason behind this usage is that there is a lack of evidence proving it is cancerous. Secondly, it is a potent herbicide that helps farmers and gardeners to protect their plants and crops effectively. 

Sri Lanka also uses glyphosate after trying to ban it in 2015; however, it cancelled the ruling due to weak evidence in 2021. Canada, the USA, China, Brazil, some countries within Europe, and Argentina are among the countries that use these herbicides the most.

Why did Europe extend the use of this herbicide despite Germany wanting a ban on it?

Europe has been debating over the danger of glyphosate for years but has not banned it altogether. Despite knowing that Germany wants to ban it entirely by the end of 2023, the European Commission is allowing the usage of glyphosate for another ten years. Both Austria and Luxembourg have attempted but failed to ban glyphosate.

Although this herbicide is banned in some parts of Europe, scientists have reviewed its safety and increased its authorisation.

What are both sides of the argument?

In support


Glyphosate is a highly effective and efficient herbicide that provides you with a critical tool for effectively managing weed growth. 

The herbicide's persistence in soil and water could lead to long-term environmental damage.

It not only improves crop yields but also contributes to agricultural productivity.

It could cause harm to non-target plants, animals, and ecosystems.

It is safe when used according to recommended guidelines.

There are victims of glyphosate who filed a case on it after being diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma. 

The alleged health risks, including the rumoured link to cancer, are not supported by strong scientific evidence.

According to the countries that have banned it, there could be environmental hazards of using it. 

Are there other alternatives?

It’s important to focus on achieving farming success by being as sustainable and organic as possible to avoid harmful chemicals entering the food chain. However, some of us farm in areas with invasive species. So, what can you do?

You can adopt organic farming practices, integrated pest management, and other environmentally friendly approaches. Hand weeding, mulching, and spreading weed-eating bugs are some organic and safe alternatives. You can find more information on how to ensure sustainable success on your farm here.

The verdict is still out in the vast field of glyphosate debates. 

Roundup has both ardent supporters and vocal detractors. While some countries wave it goodbye, others remain steadfast. As the world navigates its stance on using these herbicides, it’s up to farmers to understand your legislation and weigh up the benefits and drawbacks while keeping an eye on the changing landscape of agricultural practices.

Until we meet again, Happy Farming!

- The Dedicated Team of, 2024-01-09