Last June it was news that WHO (World Health Organization) didn’t consider anymore caffeine as carcinogenic to humans, because they could not prove it. In a previous list, the organization had classified it as a possible carcinogen … recently, they have included in the list as possible carcinogen, hot drinks …

It is this list, on which allegedly are based many of the articles appearing in the media and many of habitual queries or complaints of private citizens- that come to us as traders and pesticide applicators, especially when dealing with applications of herbicides containing the active ingredient in green areas in urban environment and / or gardening.

Several municipalities in Catalonia have been declared “free of glyphosate” (see the attached map) and more and more frequent consultations by professionals on what alternative there is, as total herbicide, in the scope of parks and gardens.


In the same list in which WHO which includes glyphosate as probably carcinogenic to humans, are also listed as probably or possibly carcinogenic products: red meat and processed (it had its impact in the media), firefighter -profession-, Aloe vera (leaf extract), petrol, fried products (exposition), hairdressers (profession), hot drinks …

If you want to consult the full list

In short, following the same criteria, we should also make a campaign to avoid eating red meat and sausages, should we? … prevent our children to be future firemen, please! … forbidden to plant Aloe vera, although its medicinal properties, the remedy could be worse than the disease! … how do we manage to live without petrol? Stop going to the hairdresser and… infusions and Christmas soup, must be drunk cold !! …

Until last June then, when someone said that he/she didn’t want to use glyphosate ‘because it causes cancer’, taking a cup of coffee, I thought one could not avoid to give a hint of smile-…

We know that the last statement is much demagoguery, it is clear that it is !! but it serves in an attempt to put into context the campaign against glyphosate, it is still -in part- quite demagogic too !! Let’s explain everything.

We don’t put into question WHO, it deserves respect as an independent institution and we understand that it does not follow efsaany interested guidelines. However, let’s talk about EFSA (European Food Safety Agency) too. This agency also deserves respect and we also understand that it is an independent institution that is not due to any guideline. EFSA concluded that ‘glyphosate does not show carcinogenic or mutagenic properties, glyphosate is unlikely to pose a risk of cancer for people and…’

 If you want to read the statement:

The problem with glyphosates (plural because there are different manufacturers and many commercial products that contain the same active ingredient in different percentages, alone or mixed with others, and they differ in adjuvants, surfactants or penetrating substances, especially ethoxylated Tallowamina, it has been proven that it was the most toxic component of the formulation -even more than glyphosate itself- and has already been replaced in the new formulas of glyphosate launched into the market -We can see an example here) has been demonstrated that it is more an issue of media, public perception and political and/or economic interests, rather than real legality.

Glyphosate is authorized today as herbicide in agriculture and in gardening , and it is completely legal to use any commercial and registered product based on glyphosate, in parks or gardens to weeding a particular area, fulfilling -of course- all the requirements set by Decree 1311/12 for such applications.

The truth is that there is a lot of demagoguery about Glyphosate (we’re not saying it’s not true what they say, but they do not say everything that is there). This situation of conflicting assessments on the same substance from official intitutions generates in the population, fears and doubts. At least, this is what we find in our daily work on field.

What we can assure is that it is registered and is 100% legal to use it today as herbicide.

Alternatives?  Herbicides “organic”, “bio”, “natural”?

We fully understand and share the need to find an alternative; the need to educate ourselves as citizens. Nothing happens if we have a natural meadow where there was an untained grassy island or some weeds next to a wall or a road … but what we know is that, nowadays, legally, there is nothing doing the same job with weeds but Glyphosate.

We can study the effectiveness, ability to be implemented in real areas in municipalities -with all its variability-, and the cost of different thermal treatments: hot water, flame, or even eliminating them by manual or mechanical means, etc …

However, some alternatives of products circulating now in the market are becoming fashionable as herbicides “bio” or “natural”, such as the use of dilute acids: vinegar, humic and fulvic acids -products of organic origin-, … are alternatives without registration today as phytosanitaries (herbicides). We insist, they have no registration as herbicide, so use them as herbicide, is it legal? Or possibly, “alegal”?   We include here a link to a brief article published a year ago in France Deux-Sèvres, considering that we have to be careful when we talk about a herbicide “Bio”. Specifically mentions a product appeared in France based on pelargònic acid, which was marketed as “bio” because it is a molecule naturally found in the environment, but as used as herbicide it should be authorized and registered as any other on the market … in fact, has some dangerous characteristics that require instructions for users. Here the link to the article.


Lately we have been sent information about a product sold several years ago as “herbicide” with the name of Nat One, which is registered as a plant extract (no herbicide registration). In the SDS in section 11 -toxicological information- no data available … Such products act primarily by burning the aerial part, as they tend to have a very acidic pH (as if you throw acid to a plant or a living being, they burn). The herbicide effect is due to the pH, and … yes, it burns green leaves but weeds sprout again after few days, because those products do not have any root level action.


The conclusion we reached is that using glyphosate as herbicide, it is completely safe for people. Of course, taking all measures and manipulating it and / or applying it according to the instructions sheet and label, and always following the guidelines of RD1311 / 2012, on the sustainable use of pesticides . As a registered herbicide it has had to overcome all filters and tests of the strictest European regulations (and especially because of the pressure of public opinion, it had to be reviewed and re-quarantined multiple times). It is for this reason that glyphosate gives us more security than a product that we do not know exactly what it is, how it acts within the plant, if it has undesirable side effects, how it affects the auxiliary fauna, how is its degradation in the environment, if there is any contamination of groundwater, or directly, does not have data on the toxicological information …




Xavier Salvi


T. 637.536.418