Toxicity of Roundup and other Glyphosate Products:

Extensive studies have linked glyphosate, the active ingredient of Roundup and its many generic versions, to cancers, reproductive harm, thyroid disorders, respiratory illnesses, chromosome changes, and many other ailments.

A 1993 UC Berkeley study found glyphosate to be the most common cause of pesticide-related illness among California landscape maintenance workers, and the third most common cause among agricultural workers.

Roundup Toxicological profile by Californians For Alternatives to Toxics

Glyphosate Toxicological profile by Northwest Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides scientist Caroline Cox

Glyphosate Toxicological profile by Greepeace

New evidence of Roundup Dangers, article by Chee Yoke Heong of the Third World Network

Pesticides also contain so-called "inert" ingredients, which are kept undisclosed, protected as "proprietary" by trade secret laws, and are frequently even more toxic than the "active" ingredients listed on the label, and are specifically designed to interact synergistically to achieve greater toxicity than each chemical by itself.

Unidentified Inert Ingredients in Pesticides: Implications for Human and Environmental Health Cox and Surgan (pdf)

Chemically Induced Diseases: Synergistic Effects and Cumulative Injuries caused by Toxic Chemicals Alexander

The Impacts of Chemical Mixtures - Our Stolen Future

One of the undisclosed, proprietary "inert" ingredients of Roundup is POEA, a surfactant which is contaminated during manufacturing by 1,4 dioxane. Metabolites and breakdown products of glyphosate also include formaldehyde. Both 1,4 dioxane and formaldehyde are recognized as carcinogens under Proposition 65.

List of Proposition 65 chemicals

The dangers of chemical exposure are commonly downplayed with statements that the quantities of their poison are miniscule, with pesticide manufacturers and legislators going to great lengths to agree on just how much poison is legally acceptable to let loose on our environment. But in addition to synergistic and cumulative effects of chemical mixtures, some chemicals have a "nonmonotonic" dose-response, where reducing the dose of the chemical does not result in a reduction, but an increase in toxic effects.

The Low Down on Low-Dose Endocrine Disruptors

Toxic chemicals can persist and accumulate in our bodies for years, as has been shown by numerous body burden studies.

Body Burden Articles in the Oakland Tribune

Body Burden Study by the Environmental Working Group

Symptoms of Poisoning:

Symptoms of acute poisoning in humans after ingestion of Roundup include gastrointestinal pain, vomiting, swelling of the lungs, pneumonia, clouding of consciousness, and destruction of red blood cells. Workers have reported eye and skin irritation from working with glyphosate. Other reported symptoms after exposure to glyphosate include nausea, dizziness, headaches, blurred vision, heart palpitations, fever, and weakness.

Emergency Information in case of pesticide exposure

Doctors are required to report both known or suspected pesticide-related illness within 24 hours, by filling out a Pesticide-Related Illness Report form.

Pesticide-Related Illness Report Form


Inspite of industry claims to the contrary, glyphosate has been proven to be mobile in soil, is measurable up to 3 years after application, and is spread by rain water run-off. It has been found in watersheds, groundwater, and even drinking water.

Roundup leaching into ground water in Denmark

Denmark bans Roundup

Roundup drift is well established in agriculture, and while industry concerns do not revolve around the health of workers and neighbors, what is referred to as crop "injury" demonstrates that drift happens, and does so frequently.

Arkansas Rice Fields Damaged by Roundup Drift


If you are insistent on a more controlled aesthetic, drought resistant ground covers are the way to go. They crowd out other plants that may not be desired, while looking pleasant, and requiring little care.

If a complete lack of vegetation is required, sheet mulching with layers of tightly overlapping, plain cardboard, and a thick layer of wood chips, suppresses vegetation, without destroying the soil and the organisms that keep it healthy.

Sheet Mulching Photo Tutorial

We recommend a combination of mulching and diverse plantings, and making friends with the occasional unexpected "weeds" that volunteer, as well as rethinking how we classify vegetation as "weeds" and "invasives" in general.

So-called "weeds" serve a purpose in nature. They volunteer where damaged soil cannot support any life except the hardiest. They signal a first step towards a return to healthy soil. Pesticides work against you because they suppress natural processes, which are not being given their proper time to work.

There are other nontoxic options for more conventional "weeding", including hand-pulling, which is best timed after rains which make it easier to pull out roots, using a weed wrench on woody plants, steam (any portable steam cleaner will do the trick, though agricultural versions are also available), or radiant heat weeder.

Weed wrench

Radiant Heat Weeder

Vegetation Management by Public Agencies:

Many municipal Public Works agencies use Roundup. Oakland, California, has a pesticide ordinance thought of by many as a pesticide "ban", but the Public Works Department is one of the ordinance's many exemptions, and is permitted to use pesticides throughout the city. Roundup is one of the herbicides used especially in median strips here.

You don't need to live in Oakland to make your voice heard. Visitors are also at risk of exposure.

Oakland's Wildfire Prevention Assessment District attempted to add yet another exemption to the city's pesticide ordinance in 2005, but we stopped them.

The East Bay Regional Park District is attempting to launch a similar project in our parks, proposing pesticide use under the guise of "fire mitigation". One of the pesticides proposed is Roundup. In October 2009 we submitted our comments in response to their Draft Environmental Impact Report:

Our comments on the EBRPD Draft EIR for "fire mitigation"

Much to the concern of parents whose children attend the Mount Diablo Unified School District in Contra Costa County, the district uses a generic version of Roundup, applications of which were planned on Fair Oaks Elementary school grounds to begin Wednesday, March 25, 2009. 

Our flyer about glyphosate applications at Fair Oaks Elementary School (Contra Costa County) March 25, 2009

According to correspondence with the company, Quali-Pro "The glyphosate in Quali-Pro is 'essentially similar' (based on strict EPA criteria) to that of Monsanto. Monsanto is the basic producer; Quali-Pro is a generic."

Quali-Pro Glyphosate T&O Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS), which is produced by the company, and highly biased. While it downplays and claims ignorance of the dangers of the product, it does admit that glyphosate is "harmful" when inhaled.

Quali-Pro Glyphosate T&O Label

As residents of Meiners Oaks in the Ojai Valley are coping with the onslaught of pesticide assaults on their neighborhoods by the CDFA's gypsy moth program with Btk beginning March 9, 2009, their watershed is simultaneously scheduled to be contaminated further with glyphosate by Ventura County and many other agencies beginning again on April 6, 2009. The Matilija Dam Project is a program expected to continue for several years.

For up to date information about the spraying of the Ojai River Watershed, please contact
Pesticide Free Ojai Valley (805) 646-4772 or pesticidefreeojaivalley@gmail.com
PFOV meetings are held the 1st and 3rd Monday of every month at 7pm

Pesticide Free Ojai Valley flyer about glyphosate applications April 6, 2009

While our collective is largely active in California, most specifically in the East Bay of the San Francisco Bay Area, we believe in organizing across regional boundaries. The effects of pesticides know no borders, and the pesticide industry reaches far across the globe.

When we learned that the Te Henga Wetland in New Zealand was to be sprayed with glyphosate in February 2010, we sent a letter of protest, as well as encouraged local activists to print out toxicological profiles from this page and make sure they are entered into the official record.

Our letter to Kubi Witten-Hannah, Chairperson of the Waitakere Community Board

Residents of the area, rightly concerned about their health and about maintaining the integrity of their organic farms, secured an injunction, halting the spraying at least for the remainder of 2010.

The World According to Monsanto:

A common argument to support safety claims of pesticide products, is that it they are registered by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), but EPA scientists themselves have been protesting for years that chemical industry funding is compromising their work.

Chemical Industry is Now EPA's Main Research Partner

Monsanto, the manufacturer of Roundup, has a long history of dishonest practices, and has been fined repeatedly because of false claims about Roundup and other products' safety, most notoriously Agent Orange. In 2007 Monsanto was fined in France for making the exact same false claim, that Roundup is biodegradable, for which they were already fined in New York 10 years prior. 

Monsanto: A Checkered History by Brian Tokar

The World According to Monsanto (movie - YouTube)

Glyphosate is used by the U.S. Government as part of the "War on Drugs" to douse one of the most biodiverse forests in the world, causing much suffering for the people of Colombia:

Shoveling Water (video - Vimeo)

Links to many many more articles about Monsanto and glyphosate

Page last updated: 2/11/10