APVMA response to 60 Minutes story on glyphosate

9 September 2019

Registered products containing glyphosate are safe to use according to label directions.

Label directions, which are regulated by the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA), provide the necessary safety and handling instructions for the use of the product. The content of glyphosate varies from 0.36 per cent to more than 80 per cent in products approved by the APVMA. Safety and handling instructions vary between products based on the content of glyphosate, its other ingredients, and on the expected levels of exposure from the specific use of the product. For many home garden products, which are already diluted and ready to use, there are no special precautions or protective equipment needed for safe use.

Safety data sheets are a requirement under state and territory work health and safety legislation and are intended for use by businesses to assess the risks of almost all hazardous chemicals in the workplace, particularly related to safe handling and storage, managing spills, first aid and transport. They are not regulated by the APVMA. 

The APVMA’s regulatory decisions take account of extensive scientific information, including from the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). The APVMA has reviewed more than 1,200 scientific studies on glyphosate to ensure the accuracy of its assessment.

Our decision on glyphosate is consistent with that of other international regulators, including the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA), the US EPA, and Canada's PMRA.

Before any agricultural and veterinary (agvet) chemical is sold, supplied, or used in Australia it has to be evaluated and registered by the APVMA. State and territory governments are responsible for regulating and enforcing the safe use of agvet chemicals after they are sold.

The APVMA considered the 2015 International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) report, along with many scientific studies, and like other regulators, we determined that glyphosate is safe to use according to our label directions. We continue to monitor the science on glyphosate and the other pesticides we regulate.

It is important to appreciate that the IARC report on glyphosate is a hazard assessment. This does not include risk assessment and risk management, which are steps undertaken by regulators such as the APVMA.

In Australia, we employ a risk-based model to regulate pesticides such as glyphosate products. This model considers both the hazards posed by a product and the likely exposure of humans, animals and the environment to those hazards. The APVMA only registers chemical products where the risks can be mitigated through specific application and safety instructions on the product label. It is then the responsibility of state and territory governments to control the use of these products.

The cost recovery-based manner in which the APVMA is funded bears no influence on our independent regulatory activities. The 2019 Senate Inquiry into the independence of regulatory decisions made by the APVMA noted that the cost recovery system “reflected global best practice, was not an unusual arrangement, and did not allow for undue influence in practice”.

On 24 July 2019, the APVMA offered 60 Minutes a full background briefing on glyphosate. 60 Minutes did not take up the offer.

To protect your privacy, please do not include contact information in your feedback. If you would like a response, please contact us.