It’s OK to use a glyphosate-based herbicide

Jen Listello
Jen Listello

We get it: An editorial about the controversy surrounding glyphosate is great click-bait. And we understand that when you lay out all the facts – the unanimous backing from regulatory authorities, the 40-year history of safe use, the significant benefits to agriculture, etc. – the story loses its intrigue.

With that, my colleagues and I are not surprised by how badly The Bee’s editorial “Maybe just pull those dandelions by hand” (April 10) misrepresents the safety of glyphosate. It follows the increasingly popular and unfortunate trend of sensationalizing the topic. We just hope the following information will help address any concerns.

First, glyphosate does not cause cancer. No regulatory authority in the world considers glyphosate a carcinogen. Any discussion to the contrary stems from one place: a controversial French-based working group called International Agency for Research on Cancer, which, in March 2015, erroneously classified glyphosate as a “probable carcinogen.”

While IARC’s classification has attracted media attention and been used repeatedly as a fearmongering tool by organizations opposed to modern agriculture, regulators around the world continue to support the safe use of glyphosate. In fact, since IARC classified glyphosate, regulatory authorities in the United States, Europe, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Australia and Korea have reaffirmed that glyphosate does not cause cancer.

Scientists at the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment also concluded glyphosate does not cause cancer. Still, OEHHA has proposed adding glyphosate to the Prop. 65 list based on IARC’s flawed classification. The proposed listing is another example of the confusion generated by IARC.

Much of the online chatter would lead you to believe the science is still out on glyphosate safety. The reality is that glyphosate is the most extensively tested pesticide on the market. Over the past four decades, glyphosate has undergone comprehensive and routine evaluations by the Environmental Protection Agency and other regulators. The overwhelming conclusion of experts worldwide has been that glyphosate can be used safely.

Feel free to pick those dandelions by hand, but if you choose a glyphosate-based herbicide, you’ll be OK.

Jen Listello is a molecular biologist at Monsanto Regulatory Affairs. Follow her on Twitter @sciencemomjen.