Glyphosate and glyphosate based herbicides – there is still need for more research


Photo: MegWallacePhoto/

Photo: MegWallacePhoto/

Glyphosate and glyphosate-based herbicides are the most widely used herbicides in the world. They are used in modern agriculture and also in gardens.

Glyphosate is an efficient herbicide due to its inhibition of the 5-enolpyruvyl-shikimate 3-phosphate synthase (EPSPS) pathway in plants, algae, bacteria and fungi (Banta et al 2009).

Although it is promoted as having little environmental impact and with low toxicity (Duke and Powles, 2008, Giesy et al., 2000), health related effects of glyphosate and glyphosate based herbicides has been questioned.

Questions regarding the safety of glyphosate and glyphosate based herbicides has been raised the recent years due to the increase in use of these herbicides through agriculture using more and more gene modified plants that are tolerant to glyphosate and glyphosate based herbicides like RoundUp.

Studies have been done with glyphosate on terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems showing negative effects (Blackburn and Boutin, 2003, Solomon and Thompson, 2003). Glyphosate has also shown cytotoxic effects in human placental, embryonic kidney and liver cell lines (Havenaar et al., 1992, Duke et al.2003, Gasnier et al 2009). In addition, glyphosate has effect on certain microbes, like Enterococcus spp. promoting imbalance in gut and thus favourising growth of bacteria’s like Clostridium spp (Krüger et al 2013, Shehata et al 2013).

The recent reports by the International Agency For Research on Cancer (IARC) and European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has come with different conclusions as to whether glyphosate and glyphosate based herbicides are safe or not. IARC has concluded that “glyphosate probably cause cancer in humans” while EFSA has concluded, “glyphosate is unlikely to pose a carcinogenic hazard to humans and the evidence does not support classification with regard to its carcinogenic potential”. The reason maybe due to that while EFSA has only focused on the glyphosate, while IARC has looked at the glyphosate and the product used together with it in herbicides.

Due to the difference in conclusions by these two “bodies”, it is clear that more research needs to be done on glyphosate and glyphosate based herbicides use before it can be stated that they do not have unwanted adverse effects on health and the environment. In GenØk studies it has been shown that glyphosate residues in GM soy affect the life-cycle of Daphnia Magna ( It is also highly relevant to study the accumulation of glyphosate and glyphosate herbicides in genetically modified plants and if there is any anti microbial activity connected to glyphosate and its connected chemicals.

See also…/debate-rages-over-herbicide-s-cance…