Consistent with his previous papers, the latest from Charles Benbrook, titled “Trends in glyphosate herbicide use in the United States and globally,” omits important context and significantly misrepresents the safety of glyphosate-based herbicides. Unfortunately, the result will no doubt be another wave of unwarranted confusion and concern among consumers about an agricultural tool with a 40 year history of safe and effective use.
Most importantly, glyphosate safety is supported by one of the most extensive worldwide human health, crop residue and environmental databases ever compiled on a pesticide product. In evaluations spanning four decades, the overwhelming conclusion of experts worldwide has been that glyphosate, when used according to label directions, does not present an unreasonable risk of adverse effects to humans, wildlife or the environment. Indeed, the overall safety profile has contributed to the increased adoption of glyphosate-based herbicides around the world.
Benbrook references the IARC panel’s classification of glyphosate in Category 2A. For context, IARC classified red meat in the same category. Furthermore, regulatory agencies have reviewed all the key studies examined by IARC – and many more – and arrived at the overwhelming consensus that glyphosate poses no unreasonable risks to humans or the environment when used according to label instructions. In fact, after IARC announced its classification of glyphosate, regulators in both Europe and Canada once again reaffirmed their long-standing, science-based conclusions that glyphosate is safe when used as intended.
Benbrook also references the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) intention to add glyphosate to the state’s Proposition 65 list. The sole basis for this proposed listing is the IARC panel’s erroneous classification of glyphosate and would even contradict OEHHA’s own science-based assessment from 2007.
Benbrook fails to mention the fact that glyphosate has helped enable farmers around the world to adopt no-till farming, which has significant environmental benefits. With no-till farming, farmers don’t have to turn over their soil as much to control weeds, which helps reduce emissions and soil erosion.
Still, when it comes to protecting crops from weeds and other pests, there’s no silver bullet. Fortunately, today’s farmers have multiple options. When farmers do use glyphosate and other pesticides, they do it with precision – applying them in the right place at the right time, in just the right amounts. In fact, after a farmer mixes a custom pesticide application, the spray is mainly water.
Farmers need a wide range of tools to help them sustainably grow enough for our growing world. Glyphosate is one very important tool that has been widely adopted by farmers and other users over the past 40 years due to its proven effectiveness and safety profile.
Lastly, here are a couple good videos explaining how farmers use glyphosate and other pesticides: