Weekly News Bulletin - A Roundup on Roundup 19/02/16

This week... We give a summary of the Pesticide 'Roundup' being used in Tanzania, the chair of our board, Dr. Mwatima Juma, met the Minister for Agriculture and see where Tanzania ranks in the world for organic agriculture.


Roundup is a trade name of the herbicide Glyphosate that was brought to the market by Monsanto in 1974 after the banning of DDT. Its application surged in the 1990s following the development of genetically engineered seeds for growing crops that could tolerate high doses of roundup. With the introduction of these new GE seeds, farmers could now easily control weeds on their corn, soy, cotton, canola, sugar beets and alfalfa crops—crops that thrived while the weeds around them were wiped out by Roundup. In most developing countries such as Tanzania where genetically modified crops have not been officially introduced, farmers use roundup to kill weeds before sowing the seeds. Farmers use roundup because it seems to be cheaper than other methods of farm preparation like slushing and tillage. Although roundup seems to be cheaper than other means of weed control, it’s longterm effects are costly. The following are long term effects of roundup:

i)Development of super-weeds: The most common super-weeds are resistant to glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s popular herbicide Roundup, but resistance is appearing to herbicides used with other GMO crops as well. Today, more than 61.2 million acres of U.S. farmland are infested with weeds resistant to Roundup, which has been the world’s best-selling weed killer for more than 30 years. A 2012 survey by Charles M Benbrook showed that 49 percent of U.S. farmers reported finding super-weeds in their fields. As weeds became resistant, growers have applied still more herbicides to try to control them. A recent study on the Impacts of genetically engineered crops on pesticide use in the U.S. -- the first sixteen years found that over the 16 years from 1996 to 2011, the use of GMO crops increased herbicide use by 527 million pounds, putting consumers and the environment increasingly at risk.

ii) Cause of pesticide related illness: Glyphosate (Roundup) is one of the most toxic herbicides, and is the third most commonly reported cause of pesticide related illness among agricultural workers. Products containing glyphosate also contain other compounds, which can be toxic. Glyphosate is technically extremely difficult to measure in environmental samples, which means that data is often lacking on residue levels in food and the environment, and existent data may not be reliable. 

Conclusion: The long term risks of using roundup outweighs the benefits, therefore, farmers are advised to use other ecological friendly means of weed control.



Chair of the TOAM board, Dr. Mwatima Juma (pictured, Right) has been in Rome, Italy, with the IFAD General Council. Also attending the council was Tanzanian Minister of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries, Hon. Mwigulu Nchemba. Dr. Mwatima took the opportunity to enlighten attendees on the organic agriculture sector in Tanzania, and shared some policy advocacy messages.

Download the PDF version of this Bulletin below: