Glyphosate is one of the most widely used herbicides with applications in agriculture, forestry, industrial weed control, lawn, garden, and aquatic environments. Sites with the largest glyphosate use include soybeans, field corn, pasture and hay.
Some plants have been genetically engineered to be resistant to glyphosate. Glyphosate-tolerant soybeans, corn, cotton, and canola are examples of such plants.This fact sheet does not address glyphosate-tolerant crops.
Uses for individual products containing glyphosate vary widely. Always read and follow the label when applying pesticide products.
Signal words for products containing glyphosate may range from Caution to Danger. The signal word reflects the combined toxicity of the active ingredient and other ingredients in the product. See the pesticide label on the product and refer to the NPIC fact sheets on SignalWords and Inert or “Other” Ingredients.
To find a list of products containing glyphosate which are registered in your state, visit the
Mode of Action:
In plants, glyphosate disrupts the shikimic acid pathway through inhibition of the enzyme 5-enolpyruvylshikimate-3-phosphate (EPSP) synthase. The resulting deficiency in EPSP production leads to reductions in aromatic amino acids that are vital for protein synthesis and plant growth.
Glyphosate is absorbed across the leaves and stems of plants and is translocated throughout the plant.It concentrates in the meristem tissue.
Plants exposed to glyphosate display stunted growth, loss of green coloration, leaf wrinkling or malformation, and tissue death. Death of the plant may take from 4 to 20 days to occur.
The sodium salt of glyphosate can act as a plant growth regulator and accelerate ripening of specific crops.
The shikimic acid pathway is specific to plants and some microorganisms. The absence of this pathway in mammals may explain the low toxicity of glyphosate to non-target organisms.
Studies indicate that the surfactant polyoxyethyleneamine or polyethoxylated tallow amine (both abbreviated POEA), used in some commercial glyphosate-based formulations, may be more toxic by the oral route to animals than glyphosate itself.
The mechanism of toxicity of glyphosate in mammals is unknown, but it may cause uncoupling of oxidative phosphorylation. However, this hypothesis has been disputed.