University of Nebraska Extension Educators and Weed Specialists want to make you aware of recent developments regarding the herbicide Roundup™. While variations on the Roundup name have been used for a variety of different herbicides marketed by Bayer (formerly Monsanto), this article discusses only the Roundup formulations that contain glyphosate as their active ingredient. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA), in its glyphosate interim registration review, published in January 2020, found “that there are no risks to human health from the current registered uses of glyphosate and that glyphosate is not likely to be carcinogenic to humans.”
In 2021, the European Union’s (EU) Assessment Group on Glyphosate (AGG) determined that when used according to label directions, “a classification of glyphosate with regard to carcinogenicity is not justified.”
Other regulatory agencies have come to similar conclusions, indicating that when used properly and according to directions, glyphosate poses little risk to human health.
Over the past several years, however, glyphosate has been the subject of much litigation after the International Agency for Research on Cancer found it to be “probably carcinogenic to humans” in a hazard assessment that did not consider real-world exposure levels.
Bayer has recently announced steps it plans to take in an effort to put Roundup litigation behind it:
• Petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court in August to review Hardeman v. Monsanto, in which the plaintiff was awarded monetary damages after alleging Roundup caused his non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. If the Court were to grant review, it would likely render a final verdict sometime in 2022.
• Plans to replace its glyphosate products in the lawn and garden market with products containing alternative active ingredients. According to Bayer, “This move is being made exclusively to manage litigation risk and not because of any safety concerns.” The company expects this process to begin in 2023. Glyphosate formulations for the professional and agricultural sectors will remain available. This means that while Bayer will stop selling glyphosate products at the average box store, the chemistry will still be available to farmers and trained professionals.
As a crop protection tool, glyphosate is invaluable. To continue the safe and effective use of Roundup products in the market, Bayer plans to hold discussions with US EPA regarding labels to assist consumers in making informed decisions when purchasing and applying Roundup products. The company will also set up a new website with scientific studies regarding Roundup and its safety. Bayer is exploring a Scientific advisory composed of scientific experts that are not affiliated with Bayer to review scientific information on safety regarding Roundup.
Bayer provides an announcement regarding this situation at the links listed below.
Bayer Provides Update on Path to Closure of Roundup™ Litigation https://www.media.bayer.com/baynews/baynews.nsf/id/Bayer-Provides-Update-on-Path-to-Closure-of-Roundup-Litigation
Five-Point Plan to Close the Roundup™ Litigation - https://www.bayer.com/en/roundup-litigation-five-point-plan
Information provided by Jennifer Weisbrod and Greg Puckett, Assistant Extension Educators and Amit Jhala, Extension Weed Management Specialist with University of Nebraska – Lincoln.
Stacy Campbell is an Agriculture and Natural Resources agent for Cottonwood Extension District. Email him at email@example.com or call the Hays office, 785-628-9430.