WB01343_.gif (599 bytes)  Pesticide and Environmental Update

Glyphosate May Harm Beneficial Mites and Parasites

112,000 tons of glyphosate were used worldwide in 1998!


  Glyphosate may pose a significant risk to various predatory mites
and parasitoids, according to a yet-to-be-released European
Community (EC) report on the herbicide. Documents submitted to the
EC show that even when correctly applied for intended uses,
glyphosate may harm beneficial organisms. Because of these
potentially significant impacts, widespread use of this broad
spectrum herbicide may have adverse consequences for non-target
beneficial species and biodiversity.

The detailed report, produced by the German government as part of an
extensive review process to determine which pesticides will be
allowed for use in the European Union (EU), was completed in
December 1998. It is currently being discussed by member state
regulators and has not been released to the public. Early next year,
regulators and the EU should decide whether glyphosate will be added
to the list of approved pesticides. However, the report calls for
the decision to be postponed pending further studies.

Since only a handful of pesticides have gone through the review
process, individual countries' regulations are currently still in
force. Eventually, any pesticides not included on the list will
effectively be banned for use across Europe.

Monsanto is the world's major producer of glyphosate (the active
ingredient in Roundup), with manufacturing sites in the U.S.,
Belgium, Malaysia, Brazil and Argentina. For the past several years,
sales of Roundup have increased about 20% per year -- related in
part to growth in the number of acres planted with Roundup Ready
crops (crops genetically engineered to be tolerant to Roundup).
Preliminary data indicate that approximately 112,000 tons of
glyphosate were used worldwide in 1998.

Recently, additional concerns surfaced regarding glyphosate's
possible impact on human health. Two Swedish studies found an
increased risk of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma linked to exposure to
glyphosate. According to Professor Lennart Hardell, the studies'
principal investigator, exposure to the herbicide increases the risk
of this cancer by a factor of three. While Professor Hardell
acknowledges that the sample size (four) in each study is low and
that the risks of contracting non-Hodgkins lymphoma are small, he
believes the risks are sufficient to warrant extensive additional

There have also been reports that weeds are becoming resistant to
the herbicide. The latest case of glyphosate-resistant ryegrass in
Australia has raised some concerns about the possibility of
widespread resistance because it occurred even though the farmer was
using a rotation system previously thought to be effective in
preventing herbicide resistance.

The Pesticides Trust (a United Kingdom non-governmental
organization) has called for greater transparency in the EC
pesticide review proceedings and release of pesticide review
documents early in process.

Contact: The Pesticides Trust, Eurolink Centre, 49 Effra Road,
London SW2 1BZ, UK; phone (44-171) 274 8895; fax (44-171) 274 9084;
email pesttrust@gn.apc.org; website
Sources: Agrow: World Crop Protection News, January 29, March 12,
and August 27, 1999. "Glyphosate," full transcript, Channel 4 News,
UK, October 12, 1999. The Independent, October 12, 1999.

Pesticide Action Network North America (PANNA)
49 Powell St., Suite 500, San Francisco, CA 94102 USA
Phone: (415) 981-1771
Fax: (415) 981-1991
Email: panna@panna.org