The Herbicide Glyphosate and Its Apparently Controversial Effect on Human Health: An Updated Clinical Perspective

Endocr Metab Immune Disord Drug Targets. 2020;20(4):489-505. doi: 10.2174/1871530319666191015191614.


Background: Glyphosate (G) is the most common weed-killer in the world. Every year tons and tons of G are applied on crop fields. G was first introduced in the mid 1970s and since then its usage has gradually increased to reach a peak since 2005. Now G usage is approximately 100 -fold what it was in 1970. Its impact on human health was considered benign at the beginning. But over the years, evidence of a pervasive negative effect of this pesticide on humans has been mounting. Nonetheless, G usage is allowed by government health control agencies (both in the United States and Europe), that rely upon the evidence produced by the G producer. However, the IARC (International Agency for Research on Cancer) in 2015 has stated that G is probable carcinogenic (class 2A), the second highest class in terms of risk.

Objective: In this review, we explore the effect of G on human health, focusing in particular on more recent knowledge.

Results: We have attempted to untangle the controversy about the dangers of the product for human beings in view of a very recent development, when the so -called Monsanto Papers, consisting of Emails and memos from Monsanto came to light, revealing a coordinated strategy to manipulate the debate about the safety of glyphosate to the company's advantage.

Conclusion: The story of G is a recurrent one (see the tobacco story), that seriously jeopardizes the credibility of the scientific study in the modern era.

Keywords: Glyphosate; chemical toxicity; endocrine disruptor; genotoxic damage; herbicide; oxidative stress..

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Environmental Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Environmental Exposure / analysis
  • Environmental Exposure / prevention & control
  • Food Contamination* / analysis
  • Food Contamination* / prevention & control
  • Glycine / adverse effects
  • Glycine / analogs & derivatives*
  • Glycine / chemistry
  • Health Status*
  • Herbicides / adverse effects*
  • Herbicides / chemistry
  • Humans
  • Weed Control / trends*


  • Herbicides
  • glyphosate
  • Glycine