Monsanto Company

Tuesday, 22 June 1999


Residues In Roundup Ready Soya Lower Than Conventional Soya

Recent allegations of large increases in the use of weed killers on genetically modified (GM) crops are wrong and distort the facts.

Glyphosate, which is the active ingredient in RoundupĀ® herbicide (weed killer) is used to control weeds within fields of Monsanto's GM Roundup Ready soyabeans. Conventional (i.e. non-GM) soya crops require a "cocktail" of different herbicides to control weeds growing within the crop. Independent research confirms that the total amount of herbicide required for weed control in Roundup Ready soya is between 10% and 40% less than the amount presently used in conventional varieties.

In Europe prior to 1994 the residue level for glyphosate in soyabeans was the minimum detectable level (0.1 ppm). This level was not set as a result of safety assessments, but at the automatic "default" level, because up to that time Roundup was not sprayed on soyabeans in Europe.

However, a new use of Roundup was developed (initially in the U.S.) in which it was applied to the soyabeans just prior to harvest. Safety evaluations by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) resulted in the establishment of a maximum residue level (MRL) of 20ppm. The U.S. EPA has given Roundup the most favourable rating and it is recognised by the regulatory authorities around the world for its low toxicity and environmental safety.

In 1994 a submission was made both in the EU and to the WHO / FAO Codex Committee on pesticide residues to establish a uniform MRL of 20ppm world wide. This was completed in 1996. Since that time, residues of glyphosate in Roundup Ready soyabeans have been found to be lower than those in conventional soya. The maximum residues found in the Roundup Ready crops were 5.6 ppm, which is 1/3 of the maximum residues found in the conventional soya (16.p ppm) and well below the MRL (20 ppm).

It should be noted that these are extreme levels, and are far higher than those typically found.

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