Glyphosate

Glyphosate has attracted a great deal of attention in recent times, largely prompted by reports identifying it as a possible carcinogen.

This brief note prepared by the independent chairman of the Amenity Forum seeks to summarise the position.

Before coming to market, any chemical for use in weed, pest and disease control has to go through an extensive approval process under EU regulations which considers every aspect of the safety of the product and the risks of using it as well as its effectiveness. Indeed the process is much more thorough than that applied to many other products such as cleaning agents for example. If approved, the product has to be reviewed on a regular basis and certainly within a set time period. This process is overseen by the EU pesticide review programme.

In June last year glyphosate was already due for review when the stories relating to its possible carcinogenic effects were publicised. The German regulatory authority took the initial lead in assembling all the information, consulting experts, commissioning research etc. Following this, both the German regulatory authority and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), concluded that glyphosate was safe to able to be continued to use. The EU review was extended/broadened from its original schedule to include a review of the IARC work which first raised the possible carcinogenic link but this did not result in any changes to the EU’s findings. So, on the basis of all known facts, we can at this point in time say that, even the extremely conservative/precautionary EU regime views glyphosate as being able to be used without unacceptable risks to people or the environment.

Glyphosate is indeed a very important active in products such as Round Up which helps maintain our amenity areas as safe and healthy places, fit for purpose. Following agreed European protocols, glyphosate will be reviewed again at the end of December 2017. There have been recent debates in the EU Parliament and elsewhere expressing a range of opinions on both this and pesticide use generally. However it is important to always look at these matters based upon the science and evidence. Nobody could support unsafe use of chemicals but, as described, a due process of review of all pesticides is thoroughly undertaken on a regular basis.

The Amenity Forum is the voluntary initiative for the amenity sector recognised by Government which promotes best practice and an integrated approach to weed, pest and disease control and ensuring all methods and options are considered for any specific situation. Pesticides, including glyphosate and others, used correctly and according to recommendations are important elements in ensuring safe and sustainable amenity areas and proper control also results in significant environmental benefits.

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