Glyphosate herbicide is currently the best-selling herbicide in the world. Monsanto had the patent until 2000 when it expired and became public domain. Because there is no patent, this product is generic and can be produced by any chemical company. Due to this, there is a lot of competition and its price is very economical compared to that of other herbicides.
What is glyphosate for?
The molecule known as glyphosate (N-phosphonomethylglycine), with chemical formula C 3H 8NO 5P is a broad spectrum herbicide. Glyphosate is used to eliminate herbs, trees and shrubs. It is usually applied on the leaves of the herbs, although it can also be injected directly into the trunk to dry trees or shrubs.
Glyphosate kills plants by inhibiting the EPSPS enzyme (5-enolpiruvilshikimato-3-phosphate synthase). It is important to know that EPSPS is only synthesized by plants and certain microbes, does not affect the metabolism of mammals.
Why ban glyphosate?
It is clear that the biggest beneficiaries of the glyphosate ban would be the large chemical companies that have other herbicides registered under the patent.
The big harmed would be the farmers, who would have to acquire other herbicides at a higher price. Or failing to return to traditional plowing techniques, more damaging to the crop and the environment.
Glyphosate in the European Union
The European Union had long postponed the decision to ban or not glyphosate. On November 27, the authorization was renewed until 2022.
It is cornered between two pressure lobbies: On the one hand, the large chemical companies and environmental groups. On the other hand, the European agricultural sector.
So far scientific studies prove the right to farmers. Glyphosate is a safe product and there are no studies that show with certainty its relationship with cancer.
It is true that the WHO includes the Glyphosate among the possible carcinogens. But that of possible is very relative and indicates the lack of consistent studies that determine that in fact it is a carcinogenic product.
However, different bulos on glyphosate and studies of doubtful credibility have been published. These bulos try to relate glyphosate to cancer.
Glyphosate license renewal
On November 27 the renewal of the authorization on the use of Glyphosate in the European Union was voted.
The result was 18 votes in favor and 9 against.
As a consequence, it will be possible to continue applying glyphosate until year 2022.
The following countries voted in favor of the renewal of the glyphosate license: Spain, Germany, United Kingdom, Sweden, Netherlands, Romania, Poland, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Ireland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Denmark, Hungary and Finland.
The countries that voted against are Italy, France, Greece, Belgium, Croatia, Austria, Cyprus, Luxembourg and Malta.
Benefits of Glyphosate
Applying glyphosate has several advantages or benefits over other herb control systems.
- Reduce erosion.
- Decrease CO2 emissions into the atmosphere.
The alternatives to glyphosate are mainly tillage since the exorbitant price of other herbicides limits its use.
Glyphosate resistant plants
In my cultivation area the blue button (Jasione montana) and the Conyza bonariensis are very widespread, both are glyphosate resistant plants.
The blue button grows earlier and hinders coniza germination.
Jasione montana has several advantages as a green roof:
It hardly competes with the water resources of the olive grove, since the root is not very potent and ends up drying at the beginning of the summer.
The blue button is a source of nectar and pollen for bees and other pollinators.
Organic remains provide organic matter to the soil and reduce runoff.
Consequences of applying Glyphosate herbicide
In my area of cultivation, the consequences of applying glyphosate are beneficial if we compare them with other herb control techniques (tillage).
An application of glyphosate at the beginning of spring eliminates winter herbs and favors the growth of the blue button. A second application later results in a blue button cover (resists the herbicide well) favorable to pollinating insects and slows the birth of the dreaded summer herbs.
Does glyphosate cause cancer?
In principle the enzyme that inhibits glyphosate is not synthesized by mammals on that side it should be harmless. However, commercial products not only include Glyphosate, other compounds are also added. Some of these compounds have proven to be carcinogenic and have been replaced by others.
In my opinion, depending on the use, the probability that it can cause cancer is different.
For example, when applying herbicide on an olive cover during spring, the product never comes into contact with olives. Therefore, it could be said that it is impossible for this to pass into the food chain. In this case the application would be completely safe for the consumer.
In contrast, in genetically engineered plants (transgenic) to be resistant to the herbicide, it can be applied directly to crops and the risk of exposure is greater. However, in these cases it is difficult to determine if the herbicide used is the carcinogen or if it is the transgenic culture.
The Glyphosate 36% is one of the most popular in the market can currently be found at a price range of between 3.50 and € 6 / liter, depending on the brand and the quantity supplied. It is the most commonly used for olive tree care. Herbicides for the control of olive stitches usually contain glyphosate + MCPA.
Taking into account these prices and that an application per hectare can result in a product expense of between 3 and 10 liters, depending on the indicated dose. The expense of product per hectare is only an average € 25.
A price that is greatly rewarded with the increase in production achieved by avoiding the competition of the herb with the crop. In addition, the cost of herbicide treatment is cheaper than to apply tillage or clearing techniques.
These are the names of some of the commercial products that contain Glyphosate herbicide in different doses.
Spasor Plus, Roundup Ultra Plus, Herbiton, Police, Roundup Xxi, Herbolex 360, Atila, Spasor Plus N, Tomcato, Buggy Bax, Taifun 360, Runrud, Karda, Glyfocal 36, Glyfos Progress, Orlador, Green Piton, Green Verdys, Boom Efekt, Glyfoon, Glifochem, Barbarian Super 360, Hercampo Green, Touchdown Special, Termino Plus, Touchdown Premium, Buggy 360 Sg, Accelerator Progress, Barbarian Xtra 450, Winner Coop. Plus 45, Glyfos 45 Agrodan, Helosate Plus, Roundup Energy Pro, Verdys Supreme, Piton Supreme, Roundup Ultimate, Spasor Pro, Credit 540, Roundup Power and Glyfos Titan.
The glyphosate herbicide began to be used in the early 1970s, under the trade name Roundup®. In the 80’s, its use was already very popular and since its patent expired in 2000, glyphosate has been widely used.
Therefore, this herbicide has been used for about 50 years.
If the product is as bad as they paint it Why haven’t they been able to prove it?
Does any study show that new herbicides are less carcinogenic than glyphosate?
If glyphosate is finally banned in the European Union Will the purchase of agricultural products from countries that continue using this herbicide also be banned?
Personal opinion on glyphosate
In my personal opinion, the Glyphosate ban would be error, for the following reasons:
- There are no solid studies to confirm that glyphosate is carcinogenic.
- Techniques alternatives such as tillage, are a higher cost and have great inconveniences.
- Glyphosate has been used for about 50 years as a herbicide, enough time to prove its supposed danger.
- If properly applied it can favor the presence of beneficial insects over other techniques such as tillage.
We have translated the information on our website from Spanish to English. Note that some words may have seen their meaning altered during their translation.