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18 Apr 2019 < Back

Glyphosate in the Spotlight!

The herbicide Glyphosate has been with us for about 50 years and is often quoted as being the biggest selling chemical active ingredient in the plant protection market. For us it forms the basis of the majority of invasive weed control protocols, because:

  1. It is very effective
  2. Risk assessments usually indicate it is the ‘best option’ from a safety and environmental perspective.

Why then are we seeing headlines suggesting that Glyphosate is harmful, in particular that it causes cancer? To put it mildly everyone, public and professional, is confused!

Glyphosate cancer case in the US

The most recent media interest on this subject follows litigation in the US, where the case against Glyphosate is largely based on a report from a special World Health Organisation (WHO)-funded cancer research unit – the IARC (International Agency for Research on Cancer, based in France).

However, there is a lot of disagreement amongst scientists about the validity of the IARC’s findings. This was best demonstrated when Glyphosate underwent a major review of EU approvals (in 2017) and was cleared for continued use without any additional label conditions. The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) has regulatory authority in the UK and their advice can be found by visiting their page on Issues associated with the use of glyphosate (see Q9 on the page).

HSE is the expert to trust on Glyphosate

The PCA cannot provide guidance on the scientific debate other than to say that the expert opinion of the UK’s independent regulator, the HSE, should be trusted to reflect all the known risks.

HSE is mandated by Government to act in the best interests of consumers, the environment and the professionals that use these, or come into contact with, such products. They are highly regarded, risk-averse and must be trusted to deliver advice and impose regulation that is based on science, rather than emotion.

Proud our PCA members maintain high standards

The PCA will continue to turn to HSE for guidance on the safety of all biocidal products and will ensure members are equipped with the facts – as reported by this esteemed, scientific and internationally respected regulatory body.

PCA members are audited regularly to ensure they maintain high standards in regard to all aspects of invasive weed control, including the safe use of weed control chemicals and this should give further reassurance to clients.



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