A number of cities, counties, states and countries throughout the world have taken steps to either restrict or ban glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup weed killer.
The following countries have issued outright bans on glyphosate, imposed restrictions or have issued statements of intention to ban or restrict glyphosate-based herbicides, including Roundup, over health concerns and the ongoing Roundup cancer litigation:
- Argentina: Over 30,000 health care professionals advocated for a glyphosate ban following the International Agency for Research on Cancer’s (IARC) report on glyphosate, which concluded the chemical is probably carcinogenic to humans.
- Malta: Malta began the process of instituting countrywide ban of glyphosate. However, Environment Minister José Herrera backtracked in January of 2017, saying the country would continue to oppose glyphosate in discussions but would fall in line with the European Union and wait for further studies. In November of 2017, Malta was one of nine EU countries to vote against relicensing glyphosate. The country also signed a letter to the EU Commission in 2018 calling for “an exit plan for glyphosate…“
- Slovenia: Slovenia was one of six EU member states to sign a 2018 letter to the European Commission citing “concerns” about the risks associated with glyphosate. The letter called upon the Commission to introduce “an exit plan for glyphosate…”
Why is Glyphosate Banned?
Most of the glyphosate restrictions or bans throughout the world were introduced following the 2015 IARC report on glyphosate. The IARC report concluded that glyphosate is a “probable human carcinogen.”
According to the report, the cancers most associated with glyphosate exposure were found to be non-Hodgkin lymphoma and other hematopoietic cancers. The report further concluded that glyphosate exposure caused DNA and chromosomal damage in human cells, as well as genotoxic, hormonal and enzymatic effects in mammals.
Other glyphosate studies have linked the chemical to a number of health issues, including, but not limited to ADHD, Alzheimer’s Disease, Autism, Birth Defects, various forms of cancer, Celiac Disease, Colitis, Heart Disease, Inflammatory Bowel Syndrome, Kidney Disease, Liver Disease, and Parkinson’s Disease.
Is Glyphosate Banned in Europe?
As you can see above, some individual countries have introduced legislation to ban or restrict private sales of glyphosate, or restrictions on spraying glyphosate in public spaces. As for the whole of the European Union (EU), glyphosate is not currently banned.
However, EU public opinion is leaning in favor of a glyphosate ban. In a 2016 poll of the five largest EU countries, over 66 percent of respondents said they favored a glyphosate ban. Over 1.3 million people signed a petition in 2017 calling for a European ban of glyphosate. That public pressure caught the attention numerous Members of European Parliament, who have cited the petition as the foundation for instituting an EU ban.
In November of 2017, EU member states narrowly voted to relicense glyphosate for a period of five years. The vote was not without controversy; German Agriculture Minister Christian Schmidt (CSU) entered a ‘yes’ vote for his country without consulting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) on the matter. His unilateral vote disregarded Germany’s Environment Minister, who had instructed Schmidt to abstain from voting. With Germany’s vote, the measure narrowly passed and glyphosate received a new license.
Following the scandal, six EU countries sent a letter to the European Commission, calling for an exit plan for glyphosate. France and Italy have stated they will carry out glyphosate bans by 2020, and Germany announced in 2018 that it will also issue a glyphosate ban.
Is Glyphosate Banned in the United States?
Despite the IARC report’s 2015 conclusion that glyphosate is a probable human carcinogen, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) maintains that glyphosate is not likely to be carcinogenic to humans. As such, glyphosate is not banned by the U.S. government; Roundup and other glyphosate-based herbicides are readily available for purchase throughout the country.
However, not everyone agrees with the EPA’s conclusion on glyphosate. A number of cities, counties and even one U.S. state have issued bans, restrictions or warnings on glyphosate as a result of the ongoing health concerns.
Is Glyphosate Banned in California?
California has not issued a statewide ban on glyphosate. However, on July 7, 2017, California became the first state in the nation to issue a warning on glyphosate by adding the chemical to the state’s Proposition 65 list of chemicals and substances known to cause cancer.
California’s decision to warn consumers about glyphosate was pursuant to the requirements of the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act, better known as California Proposition 65, a ballot initiative approved by voters in 1986 to address toxic chemical exposure concerns. Prop 65 requires California to publish a list of chemicals known to cause cancer, birth defects or other reproductive harm.
U.S. Cities to Restrict or Ban Glyphosate
- Carlsbad, California – The City Council voted unanimously to adopt a policy that makes organic pesticides the preferred method for killing weeds. “Asked to choose between aesthetics and public health…I’m going to choose public health every time,” said Councilwoman Cori Schumacher.
A growing number of Connecticut towns, including Branford, Cheshire, Granby, Essex, Greenwich, Manchester, Plainville, Roxbury, Watertown, and Woodbridge have adopted bans or restrictions on glyphosate use. The state also has Public Act 09-56 to eliminate the use pesticides in K-8 schools.
- South Portland, Maine – Passed a pesticide plan that discourages property owners from using certain pesticides and herbicides.
New Jersey has State and local ordinances encouraging Integrated Pest Management programs to eliminate or drastically reduce the use of pesticides. At least 15 city school districts and over a dozen other parks and recreation departments in the state have enacted IPM programs.
New York’s Park and Recreation Department has measures to eliminate or reduce pesticide and herbicide use in areas under its control.
- Cuyahoga County, Ohio – Local ordinance prohibits the use of pesticides on county-owned land, and established the adoption of an Integrated Pest Management program for county-owned properties.