New paper’s findings have important public health implications, given that glyphosate is a probable human carcinogen
Chuck Benbrook’s new paper on glyphosate use has been published in Environmental Science Europe and is open access.
Phys.org published this article on the paper. A Farmers Weekly article is below.
New findings of the paper are:
* This is the first peer-reviewed paper ever to report agricultural, non-agricultural, and total glyphosate herbicide use in the U.S. from 1974-2014.
* The detailed supplemental tables provide in-depth information on glyphosate use on crops in the U.S. from 1982-2014.
* It is the first paper to report global data on glyphosate use in agriculture, non-ag uses, and overall from 1994 through 2015.
* This is the first paper that clearly documents the dominant role of GE, herbicide-tolerant (HT) crops in driving glyphosate use higher both in the U.S. and globally.
* Genetically engineered herbicide-tolerant crops now account for about 56% of global glyphosate use.
* This is the first paper that reports that glyphosate is the most heavily applied pesticide in history, again both in the U.S. and globally.
* Lastly, it’s the first paper showing that around 2/3 of the total volume of glyphosate applied since 1974 has been sprayed in just the last 10 years. This finding has important public health implications, given that glyphosate is a probable human carcinogen linked to cancers of the lymphatic (blood) system. The latency period of non-Hodgkins lymphoma in humans, a cancer linked to glyphosate exposures in some studies, is 15-20 years.
Report confirms massive rise in farmers’ use of glyphosate
Farmers Weekly, 3 February 2016
The expansion of GM herbicide-tolerant crops has led to a massive increase in the use of glyphosate weedkiller, a study has found.
According to the paper, published by organic proponent Charles Benbrook (see “Extracts from Dr Benbrook’s paper”, below), glyphosate use has increased 15-fold since Roundup Ready genetically modified (GM) glyphosate-tolerant crops were introduced in 1996.
More than 70% of the total volume of glyphosate sprayed worldwide over 40 years, from 1974 to 2014, has been sprayed in the past 10 years, the study shows.
The new figures come against a background of increased use in the UK.
Figures analysed by the Soil Association from government data last year revealed glyphosate use in UK farming has increased by 400% in the past 20 years.
In the last year for which government figures are available, nearly one-third of UK cereals, wheat and barley, were sprayed with glyphosate – a total of just over 1m hectares.
Serious doubts have been cast over the claimed “safety” of glyphosate.
Last year, the World Health Organisation’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), concluded “glyphosate is probably carcinogenic to humans”.
However, glyphosate manufacturer Monsanto has strongly rejected the claims, saying they are not supported by scientific data.
Dr Philip Miller, Monsanto’s vice-president of global regulatory affairs, said: “All labeled uses of glyphosate are safe for human health and supported by one of the most extensive worldwide human health databases ever complied on an agricultural product.”
Commenting on Dr Benbrook’s report, Peter Melchett, policy director at the Soil Association, said: “This huge increase in chemical spraying is what we can expect if GM crops are ever grown in England.
“As well as being identified as a probable human carcinogen, the research notes that recent studies have made the connection between glyphosate exposure and a number of serious health effects as well as cancer, including the degeneration of the liver and kidney, as well as non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
“The research rightly questions the safety of using glyphosate on crops destined for people to eat just before they are harvested – a growing practice in the UK, which must end.”
In November, the European Food Safety Authority (Efsa), the EU’s food safety watchdog, concluded that glyphosate was “unlikely to pose a carcinogenic hazard to humans”.
However, more than 90 global scientists subsequently wrote to European health and food safety commissioner, Vytenis Andriukaitis, strongly challenging Efsa’s decision and the report by German Federal Risk Assessment Institute (BfR) that it was based on.
Extracts from Dr Benbrook’s paper
* An estimated 747m kilograms of agricultural applications of glyphosate were used across 1.4bn hectares of actively farmed arable cropland worldwide in 2014.
* If this volume of glyphosate had been applied evenly, about 0.53kg of glyphosate could have been sprayed on every hectare of cropland on the planet equivalent to about 0.47lbs/acre.
* Global agricultural use of glyphosate soared following adoption of genetically engineered herbicide-tolerant crops in 1996. The total volume applied by farmers rose 14.6-fold, from 51m kilograms in 1995 to 747m kilograms in 2014.