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:
Brazil: In August of 2018, a federal judge in Brasilia ruled that new products containing glyphosate could not be registered in the country. Existing regulations concerning glyphosate were also suspended, pending a reevaluation of toxicological data by Anvisa, the country’s health agency.
In September of 2018, a Brazilian court overturned the federal judge’s ruling. September marks Brazil’s first month of soybean planting. The country is the largest exporter of soybeans in the world, and as such, has become heavily reliant on agrochemicals. Anvisa issued a statement following the court’s decision to overturn the ruling, saying it will take necessary legal and technical steps in response. Further, Brazil’s Solicitor General’s office has said it is preparing an appeal to the court decision with support from the Agriculture Ministry. Brazil’s health agency concluded a re-evaluation of glyphosate in February of 2019. Based on the agency’s findings, a blanket ban of glyphosate in Brazil is unlikely.
India: In October of 2018, the government of Punjab banned the sale of glyphosate in the state. “All pesticide manufacturers, marketers and dealers in the State shall not sell glyphosate formulations-concentrations with immediate effect. The licensing authorities have been asked to take necessary steps for removal of entries for glyphosate from the licenses issued by them,” said State Agriculture Secretary K.S. Pannu. In February of 2019, the Indian state of Kerala issued a ban on the sale, distribution and use of glyphosate.
Oman: Eng Saleh al Abri, director general of agricultural development in Oman’s Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (MoAF), told a reporter that glyphosate “hasn’t been available in Oman since 2016.” Eng Abri added, “This active ingredient has been banned throughout the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) since last year.” In addition to Oman, the GCC includes Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
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…”
Thailand: In August 2019, Deputy Agriculture Minister Mananya Thaiseth ceased licensing extensions for three hazardous farm chemicals, including glyphosate. Following the announcement, U.S. government officials pressured Thailand to exempt the three chemicals citing a potential threat to the grain trade. But Thailand’s public health minister Anutin Charvinrakul said during a press conference that “our job is to take care of the people’s health.”
Vietnam: Following the jury verdict in Hardeman v. Monsanto Co., Vietnam announced that it would ban glyphosate imports. According to Hoang Trung, Director of the Plant Protection Department under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, “the removal of this substance from the list of pesticides allowed to be used in Vietnam will be done in the near future.”
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.”
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.
In 2020, Kellogg’s announced that it will phase out by 2025 wheat and oats treated with glyphosate as a drying agent. The company made the announcement as sales of cereal declined the previous year by 4%.
According to a study conducted by the Environmental Working Group, all but two of 45 samples of products made with conventionally grown oats contained glyphosate residue, most at higher levels than what the scientists consider protective of children’s health. The researchers also found glyphosate in roughly a third of the 16 samples made with organically grown oats, but at much lower levels.
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.
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.
In January of 2019, a European Parliament report found that EU regulators based their decision to relicense glyphosate on an assessment that was plagiarized from a coalition of pesticide companies, including Monsanto.
The EU Parliament report investigated claims that Germany’s Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) copied and pasted large sections of a pesticide industry assessment of glyphosate literature in its own assessment. The BfR report concluded that classifying glyphosate as a carcinogen is not warranted. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), which relied upon the BfR report, also found that glyphosate is safe for humans and the environment.
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, the EPA is a captured agency, meaning it is dominated by the industry it presumably regulates. Internal company documents now public in the Monsanto Papers demonstrate that EPA prioritizes the interests of corporations like Monsanto or political groups over the interests of the public it is charged with protecting.
“The EPA has got it wrong on glyphosate. We have study after study after study showing that it in fact, does cause a specific type of cancer called lymphoma. And we see it happening in thousands and thousands of people across the country. Currently, this Administration and this EPA will not take action against Monsanto. We’ve seen the internal documents, the text messages, the emails between senior EPA officials and Monsanto employees. And the simple fact is they know that this EPA will not take adverse action against them. It is a travesty that this truth about it causing cancer and this awareness that we are trying to raise has to be done in the context of litigation. We only exist, these lawsuits only exist, because the EPA has failed the American public for 45 years and Monsanto is allowed to get away with reckless conduct with, essentially, impunity…this agency essentially does not work for the American public but works for industry. The fact that the White House is telling Monsanto, ‘We have your back.’ I mean this just tells us that we are going to have to keep fighting this fight and that we are not going to get any support or help from the public agencies that, ironically, are supposed to be protecting the public health.” – Brent Wisner, Roundup Cancer Attorney
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.
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, Oxford, Pine Grove, 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.
Hawaii County, Hawaii – A Hawaii County Council committee approved a bill that would prohibit the use of herbicides like Roundup on public parks, roads, bike routes, trails, sidewalks, and elsewhere. The bill will be taken up by the full council. If passed, the law would take effect in 2024.
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.
King County, Washington – Passed municipal ordinance initiating an Integrative Pest Management (IPM) program to determine if and how pesticides should be used.
Kitsap County, Washington – Passed measure banning the spraying of glyphosate by workers on county-owned and maintained properties. Glyphosate may only be used on noxious weeds as a tool of last resort.