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NOFA/Mass Statement on Glyphosate

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This article comes from the NOFA/Massachusetts 2019 January Issue Newsletter

December 8, 2018

NOFA/Mass envisions a commonwealth of people working together to create healthy landscapes that feed our communities and restore our environment. The indiscriminate use of toxic and persistent chemicals on landscapes, be they schools, playgrounds, municipal properties, community gardens or farms, is not compatible with that vision. We call for an end to the use of glyphosate in our communities and in our food supply.

Glyphosate poses unacceptable risks to human health, as well as to the health of non-target soil microbiology, insects and pollinators. This broad-spectrum herbicide, the most commonly used in the United States, is not just an herbicide, it is a biocide (life-killing). Glyphosate has been determined by the World Health Organization to be a probable human carcinogen.[1] Converging lines of evidence also associate glyphosate with endocrine disruption,[2] liver disease,[3] birth defects, reproductive problems,[4],[5] and disruption to gut microbiota.[6] It has also been shown to impact populations of earthworms and microbes in soil[7],[8],[9] and to damage the gut microbiota of honey bees.[10]

In August 2018, a California Superior Court ruled that Monsanto knowingly and deliberately suppressed research that found that glyphosate-based weed killers (including Roundup®) increase the risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, a cancer of the lymph system. The proceedings and evidence from this lawsuit have been collected and published by the plaintiff’s legal team and U.S. Right to Know as The Monsanto Papers.[11] There are currently an estimated 9,300 lawsuits pending against Bayer (which recently acquired Monsanto) alleging that the plaintiffs’ exposure to glyphosate caused their or their loved ones’ non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

Glyphosate is often assumed to be a necessity, both agriculturally and in the control of invasive plants. However, people were growing food and controlling invasive species before the product was introduced in 1975. Because of its widespread overuse, as of 2013 more than 70 million acres of U.S. agricultural land were burdened by glyphosate-resistant weeds, often resulting in the use of even more deadly chemicals[12].

The overuse of glyphosate and other biocides is a major factor in our national and global health and ecological crises, from the loss of biodiversity to rising levels of cancer and autoimmune disorders. They must be phased out wherever possible, and we should aspire to support regenerative organic solutions instead.

We do not need to wait for the government to take action: we have the power to stop buying food grown using glyphosate, to promote alternative management of invasive species, to pass local policies banning its use on school playgrounds and parks, and to educate our municipal governments about how to manage their lands without it.

[1]Guyton, K.Z., et al. on behalf of IARC. 2015. Carcinogenicity of Tetrachlorvinphos, Parathion, Malathion, Diazinon, and Glyphosate. The Lancet Oncology.doi:10.1016/S147-2045(15)70134-8.

[2]Gasnier, C., et al. 2009. Glyphosate-based herbicides are toxic and endocrine disruptors in human cell lines. Toxicology, 262(3), pp. 184-91. doi:10.1016/j.tox.2009.06.006.

[3]Mesnage, R., et al. 2017. Multiomics reveal non-alcoholic fatty liver disease in rats following chronic exposure to an ultra-low dose of Roundup herbicide. Scientific Reports, 7, 39328. doi:10.1038/srep39328.

[4]de Araujo, J. S. A., et al. 2016. Glyphosate and adverse pregnancy outcomes, a systematic review of observational studies. BMC Public Health, 16, 472. doi:10.1186/s12889-016-3153-3.

[5]Benachour, N. & Séralini, G. 2009. Glyphosate Formulations Induce Apoptosis and Necrosis in Human Umbilical, Embryonic, and Placental Cells. Chem. Res. Toxicol, 22, 1, 97-105. doi: 10.1021/tx800218n.

[6]Claus, S., et al. 2016. The gut microbiota: a major player in the toxicity of environmental pollutants? npj Biofilms and Microbiomes, 2, 16003. doi:10.1038/npjbiofilms.2016.3.

[7]Newman, M., et al. 2015. Glyphosate effects on soil rhizosphere-associated bacterial communities. Sci. of the Total Envt., 543, A, pp. 155-60. doi:10.1016/j.scitotenv.2015.11.008.

[8]Zaller, J., et al. 2014. Glyphosate herbicide affects belowground interactions between earthworms and symbiotic mycorrhizal fungi in a model ecosystem. Scientific Reports, 4, 5634. doi:10.1038/srep05634.

[9]Soil Association. The impact of glyphosate on soil health: The evidence to date.

[10]Motta, E., et al. 2018. Glyphosate perturbs the gut microbiota of honey bees. PNAS, 115, 41, 10305-10310. doi:10.1073/pnas.1803880115.

[11]U.S. Right to Know, The Monsanto Papers: Roundup (Glyphosate) Cancer Case Key Documents & Analysis,

[12]Global Agriculture, 2017. “Herbicide-resistant superweeds on the rise in U.S. Midwest, university report”


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