Glyphosate is a herbicide that is most commonly used as a weed killer. First introduced by Monsanto as the active ingredient in their herbicide, Roundup, the product is used by many, including farmers on crops and home gardeners in their backyards.
In Canada, glyphosate can be sprayed on numerous crops after they have started growing, including wheat, barley, oats, and chickpeas among others. Scientific studies have shown that when glyphosate is used on plants in their early growth stages, glyphosate residues accumulate in the seeds of the crops. Runoff from farmers’ fields can spread residue into our waterways and through entire ecosystems.
This means glyphosate can be found in our food, our water, and where our children play.
Glyphosate poses an unacceptable risk to human and ecosystem health. A recent review of scientific studies found strong experimental evidence, in animal models and in vitro studies, of glyphosate toxicity in reproduction and development as well as related metabolic and disease consequences. Several of these studies show significant health consequences for mothers, fetuses, and offspring, even several generations after exposure. Despite these concerns, glyphosate continues to be used widely in Canada and around the world.
In April 2017, the Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) released its re-evaluation on glyphosate which failed to consider its impact on human health — including evidence submitted by our clients and Safe Food Matters (a non-profit corporation dedicated to protecting the health of humans and the environment).
In response, environmental and health organizations – including Safe Food Matters and our clients David Suzuki Foundation, Environmental Defence, and Friends of the Earth Canada – requested Health Canada strike an independent review of the PMRA’s decision on glyphosate, stating that the PMRA failed to properly consider all the relevant human health and environmental impacts in its decision-making process.
Health Canada refused all requests to review its decision. In response, Safe Food Matters launched a lawsuit challenging this decision. However, this judicial review was dismissed by the Federal Court.
In February 2022, the Federal Court of Appeal overturned the lower court’s decision, ordering the PMRA to reconsider Safe Food Matters’ objection to its approval of the pest control product glyphosate. Ecojustice represented the David Suzuki Foundation, Environmental Defence, and Friends of the Earth Canada as intervenors in the appeal to support Safe Food Matters and advocate for an open, accessible independent review process.
Following this victory, Ecojustice submitted a letter on behalf of our clients to federal Minister of Health, Yves Duclos, once again asking for an independent review panel to reconsider the health concerns the groups raised in their previously submitted notices of objection, as well as new evidence that has come to light related to glyphosate’s impact on reproduction and the human microbiome.