What is glyphosate and how it can affect health

Glyphosate is a type of herbicide that is widely used by farmers around the world to prevent the growth of weeds in plantations, facilitating the growth of the plant being grown.

This herbicide works through a mechanism that prevents the plant from producing the amino acids necessary for its growth and development. Thus, it is not a selective herbicide, that is, when it is applied to the ground, it eliminates any type of plant that is growing. For this reason, this herbicide is used in plantations especially after harvesting or before planting, when there are only weeds that are intended to be eliminated.

Because it has this powerful mechanism of action, and because it is so widely used, glyphosate has raised several questions about the safety of its use. However, as long as applied with protective equipment and provided that all safety measures are respected, there appears to be little risk of toxicity.

Possible health risks

When used in its pure form, glyphosate has a very low degree of toxicity and is therefore considered safe. However, most herbicides use the substance mixed with other products that facilitate their adhesion to plants and that can increase toxicity.

The quickest effect is the appearance of irritation and redness in the eyes, as well as inflammation of the skin. Therefore, during the application of Glyphosate it is very important to use protective equipment consisting of gloves, glasses, mask and protective suit. In addition, if the herbicide is breathed, irritation may also arise in the throat and nose. In case of accidental ingestion, products with glyphosate can cause burns in the mouth, nausea and vomiting.

These effects also apply to pets and, therefore, the place where it is applied should not be accessible to animals.

Can glyphosate cause cancer?

Several studies on laboratory rats indicate that high doses of this herbicide may increase the risk of developing cancer.

However, tests on humans have shown mixed results, and this risk only appears to be present when glyphosate is used in a formula together with other substances, and even under these conditions there does not seem to be any concrete evidence that would lead to product banning.

Thus, its use is regulated by Anvisa and must be done mainly by professionals in a restrictive manner and following all safety rules. As for its use at home, Anvisa regulates that it can only be sold in its diluted form.

How Glyphosate Exposure Happens

The risk of exposure to Glyphosate is greater in people who work directly with the herbicide, such as farmers. The most common forms of exposure include contact with the skin and eyes, inspiration of the product at the time of application and accidental ingestion, which can happen when washing hands poorly after use.

As for the presence of this herbicide in foods purchased for use at home, the food groups that are most likely to have come into contact with Glyphosate, at some point, include:

  • Fresh or frozen fruits, such as orange, grape, olives;
  • Fresh or frozen vegetables, such as potatoes, corn, mushrooms;
  • Fresh legumes, such as beans, peas or lentils;
  • Seeds and oilseeds, such as sesame, sunflower or mustard seeds;
  • Cereals, such as oats, barley, rice or wheat;
  • Tea, coffee or cocoa.

However, the risk of these foods to health remains very low, as there are regulatory bodies that periodically test these foods to assess the maximum level of residues, in order to keep them safe for health.

How to use Glyphosate safely

Since the greatest risk of exposure occurs at the time of application of the herbicide, it is very important to take some precautions such as wearing protective equipment consisting of gloves, glasses and mask and protective suit.

In addition, you should always wash your hands with soap and water, as well as any place on the skin that may have come in contact with the substance.