After reading a recent opinion piece titled Why Is Roundup Still Used In Hawaii? I wanted to correct some of the misinformation contained in the article.

Glyphosate is the active ingredient in many Roundup-branded weed control products, as well as many other weed control products marketed under different names by different companies. It is used by homeowners, gardeners, farmers, businesses and government agencies to control a lot of different weeds.

Weed control is important. Weeds can cause farmers to lose yields, harbor insect pests, be invasive, create hazard along roadways and be a pest in landscaping.

To be clear, glyphosate is not a “cousin” to Agent Orange, as the article stated. They are not chemically similar. Glyphosate has nothing to do with an Environmental Protection Agency Superfund site in Kunia, as the piece seems to suggest.

Glyphosate specifically inhibits an enzyme that is essential to plant growth. This enzyme is only found in plants, and not in humans or animals. After it does its job, glyphosate degrades over time in the soil into naturally occurring substances like carbon dioxide.

Glyphosate does not kill all microbial life. Rather, glyphosate is broken down by soil microbes, and the large majority is broken down in the growing season after it is applied.

EPA Approved

Importantly, before companies can sell pesticides, these products undergo comprehensive evaluations by regulatory authorities. The EPA only approves products that can be used safely per label instructions. More information is available at

Like all pesticides, regulatory authorities around the world routinely review the latest safety data on glyphosate. Most recently, in December 2017, the EPA reaffirmed the safe use of glyphosate:

The draft human health risk assessment concludes that glyphosate is not likely to be carcinogenic to humans. The Agency’s assessment found no other meaningful risks to human health when the product is used according to the pesticide label. The Agency’s scientific findings are consistent with the conclusions of science reviews by a number of other countries as well as the 2017 National Institute of Health Agricultural Health Survey.

In November 2017, the U.S. Agriculture Health Study, conducted by the National Institutes of Health and  the largest study of the real-world use of pesticides and health risks, published new findings showing no connection between use of glyphosate-based herbicides and cancer.

Glyphosate based products have been commercially available for more than 40 years.   

In that time, numerous regulatory agencies, both in the U.S. and worldwide, have reviewed and re-reviewed glyphosate. The overwhelming conclusion of experts and regulatory reviewers worldwide has been that glyphosate can be used safely.

The answer to the question “Why is Roundup still used in Hawaii?” is because it is an efficient and effective product that can be used safely to control weeds in a variety of settings.   

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