As the active ingredient in many weed-killing products, the chemical called glyphosate spells billions of dollars in sales for companies each year as farmers around the world use it in their fields and orchards.
Ubiquitous in food production, glyphosate is used not just with row crops like corn, soybeans and wheat but also a range of fruits, nuts and vegetables.
Though considered for years as among the safest of agrichemicals, concerns about glyphosate have been growing after the World Health Organization’s cancer experts last year classified it as a probable human carcinogen, based on a series of scientific studies.
There are other concerns as well—mounting weed resistance to glyphosate, negative impacts on soil health and a demise in the monarch butterfly population tied to glyphosate use on forage that young monarchs feed on. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is currently finishing a risk assessment for glyphosate that examines the range of issues.
The EPA is still trying to determine just how worrisome glyphosate is or isn’t. In the meantime, it’s worth a look at how widespread the use of glyphosate is in our food supply.