Glyphosate in northern ecosystems

Trends Plant Sci. 2012 Oct;17(10):569-74. doi: 10.1016/j.tplants.2012.05.008. Epub 2012 Jun 6.


Glyphosate is the main nonselective, systemic herbicide used against a wide range of weeds. Its worldwide use has expanded because of extensive use of certain agricultural practices such as no-till cropping, and widespread application of glyphosate-resistant genetically modified crops. Glyphosate has a reputation of being nontoxic to animals and rapidly inactivated in soils. However, recent evidence has cast doubts on its safety. Glyphosate may be retained and transported in soils, and there may be cascading effects on nontarget organisms. These processes may be especially detrimental in northern ecosystems because they are characterized by long biologically inactive winters and short growing seasons. In this opinion article, we discuss the potential ecological, environmental and agricultural risks of intensive glyphosate use in boreal regions.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Climate*
  • Crops, Agricultural / drug effects
  • Crops, Agricultural / metabolism*
  • Ecosystem*
  • Environmental Monitoring / methods
  • Food Chain
  • Glycine / adverse effects
  • Glycine / analogs & derivatives*
  • Glycine / metabolism
  • Glyphosate
  • Herbicide Resistance
  • Herbicides / adverse effects*
  • Herbicides / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Plants, Genetically Modified / drug effects
  • Plants, Genetically Modified / metabolism
  • Seasons
  • Soil Microbiology
  • Soil Pollutants / adverse effects
  • Soil Pollutants / metabolism
  • alpha-Amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionic Acid / adverse effects
  • alpha-Amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionic Acid / metabolism


  • Herbicides
  • Soil Pollutants
  • alpha-Amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionic Acid
  • Glycine