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Critical Review of the Effects of Glyphosate Exposure to the Environment and Humans through the Food Supply Chain

Department of Theoretical and Applied Sciences, University of Insubria, 46 Via G.B. Vico, I-21100 Varese, Italy
Laboratory of Chemical and Environmental Technology, Department of Chemistry, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Thessaloniki GR-54124, Greece
Department of Civil, Building and Environmental Engineering, Sapienza University of Rome, Via Eudossiana 18, I-00184 Rome, Italy
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Sustainability 2018, 10(4), 950;
Received: 8 February 2018 / Revised: 8 March 2018 / Accepted: 22 March 2018 / Published: 24 March 2018
(This article belongs to the Collection Risk Assessment and Management)
Glyphosate is a synthesis product and chemical substance that entered in the global market during the 70s. In the beginning, the molecule was used as an active principle in a wide range of herbicides, with great success. This was mainly due to its systemic and non-selective action against vegetable organisms and also to the spread of Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) crops, which over the years were specifically created with a resistance to glyphosate. To date, the product is, for these reasons, the most sprayed and most used herbicide in the world. Because of its widespread diffusion into the environment, it was not long before glyphosate found itself at the center of an important scientific debate about its adverse effects on health and environment. In fact, in 2015 the IARC (International Agency for Research on Cancer, Lyon, France), an organization referred to as the specialized cancer agency of the World Health Organization (WHO, Geneva, Switzerland), classified the substance as “likely carcinogenic” to humans. This triggered an immediate and negative reaction from the producer, who accused the Agency and claimed that they had failed to carry out their studies properly and that these conclusions were largely contradictory to published research. Additionally, in 2015, just a few months after the IARC monography published on glyphosate, the EFSA (European Food Safety Authority, Parma, Italy), another WHO related organization, declared that it was “unlikely” that the molecule could be carcinogenic to humans or that it could cause any type of risk to human health. The conflict between the two organizations of the World Health Organization triggered many doubts, and for this reason, a series of independent studies were launched to better understand what glyphosate’s danger to humans and the environment really was. The results have brought to light how massive use of the herbicide has created over time a real global contamination that has not only affected the soil, surface and groundwater as well as the atmosphere, but even food and commonly used objects, such as diapers, medical gauze, and absorbent for female intimate hygiene. How human health is compromised as a result of glyphosate exposure is a topic that is still very debatable and still unclear and unambiguous. This paper is a review of the results of the main independent recent scientific studies. View Full-Text
Keywords: glyphosate; food chain; toxicity; alternative technologies glyphosate; food chain; toxicity; alternative technologies
MDPI and ACS Style

Torretta, V.; Katsoyiannis, I.A.; Viotti, P.; Rada, E.C. Critical Review of the Effects of Glyphosate Exposure to the Environment and Humans through the Food Supply Chain. Sustainability 2018, 10, 950.

AMA Style

Torretta V, Katsoyiannis IA, Viotti P, Rada EC. Critical Review of the Effects of Glyphosate Exposure to the Environment and Humans through the Food Supply Chain. Sustainability. 2018; 10(4):950.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Torretta, Vincenzo, Ioannis A. Katsoyiannis, Paolo Viotti, and Elena C. Rada. 2018. "Critical Review of the Effects of Glyphosate Exposure to the Environment and Humans through the Food Supply Chain" Sustainability 10, no. 4: 950.

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