What is glyphosate and what makes it safe?

What Is Glyphosate?

In recent months, you may have become aware of concerns that the use of glyphosate-based herbicides such as RoundUp®, may have an adverse impact on human health.

Communities rely on the accessible and safe use of public parks, pathways, nature reserves and other facilities for recreational activities, sport, leisure and transport. The maintenance of these facilities often requires the careful and responsible use of approved and registered chemicals such as glyphosate, to effectively manage weeds.

Find out more about the Benefits and Safety of Glyphosate.

Glyphosate safety

As consumers ourselves, the safety of Roundup and any of Monsanto’s agricultural products is a matter we take seriously.

Glyphosate has recorded over 40 years of safe use. Comprehensive toxicological studies repeated over this time have demonstrated the strong safety profile of this widely-used herbicide. Over 160 countries worldwide approve the safe use of glyphosate which is supported by one of the most extensive human health, crop residue and environmental databases ever compiled on a pesticide product.

The overwhelming conclusion of experts worldwide is that glyphosate, when used according to label directions, does not present an unreasonable risk of adverse effects to humans, wildlife or the environment.

IARC Classification

Many of the concerns about glyphosate have resulted from the classification of glyphosate as a probable carcinogen (Category 2A) by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) early last year.

This classification puts glyphosate in the same category as everyday substances such as coffee and aloe vera. To put this in context, IARC classified processed meat as carcinogenic to humans (Group 1).

IARC is one of four World Health Organisation programs to have reviewed glyphosate – the other three World Health Organisation (WHO) programs have concluded glyphosate is not a carcinogen or does not represent a hazard to human health.

This opinion piece, written by Professor of Medicine and IARC panel member, Dr Bernard Stewart, provides important perspective on the use of glyphosate in public spaces.

The IARC report is not a risk assessment. It refers specifically to the chemical active and does not suggest that the use of glyphosate products according to their registered use, poses any threat. This World Health Organisation FAQ answers the question "Hazard" & "Risk": What's the difference?

Independent panel concludes "glyphosate is unlikely to pose a carcinogenic risk to humans". Full study available here.   

Regulatory Oversight

Chemical products such as glyphosate are among the most highly regulated in the world and are periodically reviewed.

Australia’s regulator responsible for glyphosate registration is the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA).

The APVMA’s current assessment is that provided products containing glyphosate are used according to label directions, they are safe to use.

Interested to know more about the APVMA’s response to the IARC Assessment and approach to glyphosate registration? Visit their website or download this factsheet.

In addition to Australia, regulatory and scientific agencies worldwide have reviewed, and continue to review glyphosate, including the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), the US Environmental Protection Agency and the Canadian Pest Management Regulatory Agency, the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) among many others.

In May 2016, the WHO/FAO Joint Meeting on Pesticide Residues concluded that glyphosate is unlikely to pose a carcinogenic risk to humans from exposure through the diet. The JMPR's findings can be found here.

No regulatory agency in the world considers glyphosate to be a carcinogen.

Want to know more about how glyphosate works? Give it a minute.

What Is Glyphosate?