Glyphosate is the world’s most widely used weed killer. Some claim it is completely harmless, others say it is a serious health hazard for man and animals. A topical investigation into a controversial substance.
Glyphosate is the world’s most widely used weed killer in farms and gardens. German soil was treated with six million kilograms in 2012 alone. Glyphosate is cheap and readily available at all wholesale garden stores. Some claim it is completely harmless, while others say it is a serious health hazard for man and animals. Large-scale studies of the herbicide have only been carried out by the industry itself. Such studies would be far too expensive for individual authorities. But glyphosate so far only has a limited licence in Europe, and this year, the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment in Germany is responsible for extending it. Now, the WHO has suddenly announced it is calling for an all-out ban on glyphosate, right in the middle of the decision-making procedure. A WHO cancer research team considers the herbicide produced by Monsanto, Syngenta and BASF to be absolutely toxic and probably carcinogenic. More and more people and animals that are exposed to the substance become ill – and there are a large number of unexplained miscarriages and deformities in humans in South America, especially in areas where glyphosate is used on large monocultures. Critical scientists have been warning of the long-term damage for years. But their studies have not been recognised by the authorities. We ask how a substance without a tested licence in Germany has been extended for test operation since 1974, even though there has been evidence of its toxicity for the past 10 years. The film sets out in search of sick animals and humans and asks how the WHO has reached these new conclusions and what action the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment is taking.