By Kenny Burgamy and Jennifer Whittaker, Georgia Farm Bureau
The herbicide glyphosate poses no risks of concern to human health when used according to label instructions and it is not likely a carcinogen, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says after an exhaustive study.
Glyphosate is used to kill broadleaf weeds, grasses and woody plants on farms, residences and commercial settings. It’s the active ingredient in the herbicides Roundup, Rodeo and Eraser.
The EPA’s January announcement comes after more than 40,000 lawsuits alleging that glyphosate causes cancer were filed in recent years against Bayer, the maker of Roundup.
Farm Monitor Co-Host Kenny Burgamy interviewed EPA Assistant Administrator Alexandra Dunn in November as the agency was wrapping up its review of glyphosate.
“Our science says that this product can be used safely, has been used safely for a long time. Under the law we take a look at these pesticides every 15 years to make sure that they are as safe as possible, because we are always getting new information,” Dunn said. “And so, this spring we will be putting forward our final decision to re-register glyphosate.”
The EPA did note glyphosate could present a potential risk to land and aquatic plants and birds and low toxicity to honeybees but concluded the benefits of using the herbicide outweigh the risk. EPA is requiring glyphosate products be labeled with spray drift management procedures for farmers to follow to reduce off-target spray drift and protect non-target plants and wildlife.
“What we do propose are what we call management measures. We want to make sure that glyphosate, particularly not the homeowners, but people that are using it large scale, for agriculture, are looking at wind speed, droplet size, buffer zones,” Dunn said. “We want to make sure that we're being protective of what we call off-target impacts. We want that glyphosate to go where that weed is and stay there. And there are lots of ways to do that safely.”
Since 2015, UGA Cooperative Extension and the Georgia Department of Agriculture have worked together to train Georgia farmers and pesticide applicators how to prevent spray drift when applying herbicides.
EPA also reports that glyphosate has low residual soil toxicity and allows farmers to grow crops using no-till and low-till planting methods that prevent soil erosion.
The EPA finding is the conclusion of a periodic review the agency began in 2009 of glyphosate’s original 1974 registration. The EPA findings on human health risk are consistent with those of science reviews by agencies in other countries including: the Canadian Pest Management Regulatory Agency, the Australian Pesticide & Veterinary Medicines Authority, the European Food Safety Authority and the German Federal Institute for Occupational Safety & Health.
Visit www.gfb.ag/glyphosate to watch the Farm Monitor interview with EPA Assistant Administrator Alexandra Dunn about glyphosate.