Glyphosate is the active ingredient in many RoundupTM brand weed and grass killers. Glyphosate-based herbicides are used to manage weed growth across a variety of applications beyond agriculture, including eliminating harmful and unsightly weeds from lawns, gardens, patios, driveways and more.
When it comes to glyphosate-based lawn and garden products like those with the RoundupTM brand, we want to be transparent in helping you understand what glyphosate is, how it works and its impacts on health and the environment.
What is Glyphosate?
Introduced as the active ingredient in RoundupTM in the 1970s, glyphosate is a non-selective herbicide, which can eliminate almost any type of weed or grass. It serves as the main active ingredient in most RoundupTM brand weed and grass killer products.
So how does it work? When the herbicide comes in contact with a weed, it targets an enzyme that is essential for plant growth.
Label instructions indicate how, when and where RoundupTM products can be used.* And after application, people and pets can re-enter the area as soon as the spray has dried.
Products in different countries may have different label directions. Always read and follow label directions for the specific product, use and geography in which you are using the product.
There is an extensive body of research on glyphosate and Bayer’s glyphosate-based herbicides, including more than 800 rigorous studies submitted to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and European and other regulators in connection with the registration process, which confirms that glyphosate-based herbicides can be used safely and that glyphosate is not carcinogenic. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA)1, the U.S. EPA2 and other regulatory authorities around the world have comprehensively and routinely reviewed glyphosate and glyphosate-based herbicides for more than 40 years, and their conclusions consistently support the safety of glyphosate and glyphosate-based herbicides such as RoundupTM products when used as directed.
No pesticide regulatory authority in the world currently considers glyphosate to be a cancer risk to humans at the levels at which humans are currently exposed.
The Impact of Glyphosate and Glyphosate-Based RoundupTM Products on the Environment
Regulatory authorities such as EFSA1 and the U.S. EPA2 conduct comprehensive evaluations to ensure glyphosate and RoundupTM brand glyphosate products pose no unreasonable risk to the environment. As part of this process, the regulatory authorities specifically evaluate the potential for effects on non-target organisms, like honey bees, and other wildlife.3 This extensive testing has found that glyphosate products do not result in acute or chronic adverse effects to honey bees4,5,6 and do not pose a threat to the health of animal wildlife. 7,8
In fact, glyphosate is an important tool that can help preserve the environment and biodiversity.
Additionally, glyphosate has a unique combination of qualities that allow it to bind strongly to the soil, making it unlikely to leach into groundwater. And, it degrades into naturally occurring substances like carbon dioxide, nitrogen and phosphate.9
The Importance of Glyphosate-Based Herbicides for Homeowners
Weeds can be unsightly, and they compete with desirable plants for water, sunlight and nutrients, making it hard for them to grow. But beyond just aesthetics, glyphosate-based herbicides like many RoundupTM brand products can help control noxious, invasive and nuisance weeds that can be harmful to other plants, people and animals.
What are noxious weeds? Noxious weeds are a category of plants that are harmful, poisonous or otherwise very unpleasant. Noxious weeds include plants like poison ivy, poison oak, poison sumac, kudzu and wild blackberry.
Some of these weeds can grow at shockingly rapid rates, have complex root structures and produce toxins, making it virtually impossible to eliminate them by hand and even dangerous to do so. For more than 40 years, glyphosate-based herbicides have provided a highly-effective, safe solution.
At Bayer, we aim to provide safe and effective solutions today, and leave the planet and our communities in better shape for our children and the generations to come. In addition, we have a robust stewardship program in place to understand and minimize any potential negative impact of our products on human health or the environment.
When a new product like a glyphosate-based herbicide is introduced to the market, regulatory agencies closely scrutinize not only the effects that product has on its target, but also the peripheral effects it may have on non-target areas, pests, animals, people and more. Only after a thorough assessment of each of these categories is the product made available to consumers. And, most importantly, in most countries this scrutiny is recurring, as regulators routinely review such products and the scientific literature supporting their safety profiles.
In the past 40 years, thousands of studies have been conducted on glyphosate and glyphosate-based formulations and then reviewed by the EPA as researchers work to identify potential negative effects on humans or the environment. Based on their reviews, those researchers continue to approve products such as RoundupTM brand herbicides for lawn and garden use.
Label instructions indicate how, when and where RoundupTM products can be used safely. Following label instructions is the best way to ensure you’re using any RoundupTM products as safely and effectively as possible.
4 Ferguson, F. 1988. Long term effects of systemic pesticides on honey bees. Bee keeping in the year 2000: Second Australian and International Beekeeping Congress, Surfers Paradise, Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia, July 21-26, 1988. Editor: John W. Rhodes. Pages: 137-141.
5 Burgett, M. and Fisher, G. 1990. A review of the Belizean honey bee industry: Final report prepared at the request of The Belize Honey Producers Federation. Department of Entomology, Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon.
6 Thompson HM, Levine SL, Doering J, Norman S, Manson P, Sutton P, von Mérey G. (2014) Evaluating exposure and potential effects on honeybee brood (Apis mellifera) development using glyphosate as an example. Integr Environ Assess Manag. 2014 Feb 25. doi: 10.1002/ieam.1529.