Widely circulated claims that glyphosate is the cause of a host of adverse effects are not supported by reliable science and in many cases are directly refuted by the large body of knowledge about this herbicide. In fact, for more than four decades, glyphosate has undergone extensive testing and assessment to evaluate its safety for a wide range of herbicidal uses. Companies that sell glyphosate have produced six complete data sets according to internationally accepted standards to support government reviews alongside thousands of publications in the peer-reviewed literature. This is an unprecedented amount of data.
Allegations about purported harms caused by glyphosate surface from time to time and they sometimes receive more attention than the studies indicating a low risk to human health and the environment. Reports that glyphosate is an endocrine disruptor, accumulates in milk, causes kidney disease, disrupts intestinal bacteria, irreversibly binds soil minerals, causes a host of disorders and diseases and disrupts honey bee learning have all been circulated through traditional and social media in recent years. There are also claims that the surfactants used in glyphosate-based herbicides are more harmful than originally believed. By carefully considering each of these claims it is possible to understand that none of these reports is based on reliable science.
Glyphosate’s exceptional safety profile makes it one of the most versatile tools for weed control both within and outside of agriculture. Its low toxicity to humans and wildlife along with its low potential for adverse environmental effects permit a range of uses and reduces the need for special precautions. Much of the information addressing short term and long term toxicity, carcinogenicity, effects on wildlife and environmental fate has been summarized in a collection of publications. Taken together, the data support a conclusion that glyphosate exhibits low toxicity, is not a carcinogen and does not accumulate in the environment.
The consistent conclusion of every regulatory agency or authoritative body that has reviewed glyphosate has been that glyphosate can be used safely for many applications without causing significant risks to human health.
For a deeper dive and other perspectives on glyphosate: