What is Glyphosate?

Glyphosate is a broad-spectrum systemic herbicide and crop desiccant.  It is an organophosphorus compound, specifically a phosphonate. It is used to kill weeds, especially annual broadleaf weeds and grasses that compete with crops.

Glyphosate a synthetic amino acid which does not exist in nature.  It is a small glycine molecule with a phosphoric acid molecule attached to it.

Farmers quickly adopted glyphosate, especially after Monsanto introduced glyphosate-resistant GMO Roundup Ready crops, enabling farmers to kill weeds without killing their crops.

By 2007, glyphosate was the most used herbicide in the United States’ agricultural sector and the second-most used in home and garden, government and industry, and commerce.  By 2016 there was a 100-fold increase from the late 1970s in the frequency of applications and volumes of glyphosate-based herbicides.

Glyphosate is Everywhere

Glyphosate was the first Billion Dollar Pesticide – expected to be $8.79 billion by 2019.   More than 280 billion pounds of Glyphosate are used annually.


Glyphosate Patent History

  • Glyphosate was first synthesized in 1950 by Swiss chemist Henry Martin, who worked for the Swiss company, Cilag. The work was never published.
  • Stauffer Chemical patented the agent as a chemical chelator in 1964, used to descale boilers and pipes, as it binds and removes minerals such as calcium, magnesium, copper and zinc.
  • Monsanto patented Glyphosate as a herbicide in 1974, under the RoundUp brand name, which expired in 2000.
  • In 1996, Monsanto introduces RoundUp Ready Soybeans.
  • In 2010, Monsanto patented Glyphosate as a parasitic control type antimicrobial, or antibiotic, proposing to be used as a treatment for microbial infections and parasitic control of various diseases such as malaria.

Glyphosate in our Food

Roundup Ready crops are crops genetically modified to be resistant to the herbicide Roundup.

  • In 1996 genetically modified soybeans were introduced that are resistant to Roundup. Current Roundup Ready crops include soy, corn, canola, alfalfa, cotton, and sorghum, with wheat under development.
  • Because the crops are resistant to Roundup, the herbicide can be used in the fields to eliminate unwanted weeds.
  • Crops produced from Roundup Ready seeds are sterile. Each year, farmers must purchase the most recent strain of seed from Monsanto.
  • Worldwide, 282 million acres are planted in Monsanto’s GM crops, up from only 3 million in 1996, according to Food and Water Watch. Forty percent of U.S. cropland, or 151.4 million acres, are planted in Monsanto’s crops. Monsanto owns 1,676 seed, plant and other applicable patents.

Glyphosate is also applied to a crop shortly before harvest to prevent uneven crop growth.  Pre-harvest desiccation allows for:

  • More even ripening and harvest can be conducted earlier
  • Weed control is initiated for a future crop
  • Earlier ripening allows for earlier replanting
  • Desiccation reduces green material in the harvest putting less strain on harvesting machinery

Glyphosate residues are highest on Non-GMO desiccant treated crops, which include Wheat, Barley, Oats, Sugar Cane, Lentils, Peanuts, Peas, Potatoes, Grapes (wine), Cantaloupes.  Glyphosate cannot be washed off before human or animal consumption.

Recent testing shows that Glyphosate is present in a multitude of common foods, including cereals and other foods served in school cafeterias.

Glyphosate IARC and Prop 65 Warning

In 2015, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer, classified Glyphosate as a possible carcinogen.

In 2017, OEHHA added Glyphosate to California’s Proposition 65, a law requiring the state to publish a list of chemicals known to cause cancer or birth defects.

On August 15, 2018 California’s Supreme Court rejected Monsanto’s challenge to the state’s decision to list glyphosate as a potential carcinogen under the California’s Proposition 65.

How has Monsanto deceived the public?

On August 10, 2018, a jury awarded a former school groundskeeper $289.2 million. Dewayne “Lee” Johnson’s job required him to spray Monsanto’s Roundup weedkiller on school properties.  He is terminally ill with non-Hodgkin lymphoma, which has been linked to the use of glyphosate-based weedkillers.  Not only did the lawyers in the case of Dewayne Johnson v. Monsanto Co, make clear that Monsanto’s flagship weedkiller, RoundUp, caused Mr. Johnson’s cancer, but they also presented evidence that Monsanto had known for decades that Roundup could cause cancer, but that the company failed to warn consumers about that risk.  The lawyers showed Monsanto went as far as ghostwriting numerous published journal articles, lying to the public of RoundUp’s real dangers.  Since then two other lawsuits have been won against Monsanto (Bayer) for causing cancer, and there are thousands more plaintiffs that will file suit against Monsanto in the coming years.

So what do Unbiased Scientific Studies on Glyphosate Show?

There are more than 2000 peer reviewed scientific studies showing glyphosate:

  • Causes chronic kidney disease
  • Causes irreversible liver damage
  • Alters the expression of more than 4000 liver and kidney genes
  • Causes gut damage, antibiotic resistance and gut dysbiosis, by altering the gut microbiome
  • Disrupts the Endocrine System, leading to hormonal issues
  • Is probably cancer causing, including the onset of Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma and breast cancer
  • Causes reproductive issues and birth defects
  • Leads to Parkinson’s disease
  • Leads to Mitochondrial Issues
  • Disrupts sulfur metabolism, causing glutathione deficiencies

Other Resources

National Pesticide Information Center:

Scientific Studies on Glyphosate