President Napolitano has issued a temporary suspension of the use of glyphosate-based herbicides at all UC locations, effective June 1, 2019, with specific exceptions to this suspension, including:
- Agricultural operations;
- Fuel-load management programs to reduce wildfire risk;
- Native habitat preservation or restoration activities; and
- Research that requires glyphosate-based herbicides.
This action is largely due to concerns about growing legal and reputational risks associated with use of these herbicides; however, some interests associated with UC have also raised concerns about possible human health and ecological hazards. To explore these concerns, and examine the current science on the issue, the President has formed a UC Herbicide Taskforce to provide further review and guidance on this topic, including long-term approaches to the use of glyphosate-based herbicides and other pesticides. The taskforce includes UC ANR academics and administrative staff among its appointed members, along with representatives from several UC campuses. This taskforce will be presenting a report to the UC President later this year.
UC ANR's mission is research and extension based on the best available science. We provide guidance about how to manage weeds by non-chemical methods as well as how, and when, to use registered pesticides in a safe manner. UC ANR includes information in its publications on how to effectively and safely use glyphosate where it is legal to do so as well as provide options for alternative chemical and non-chemical approaches for managing weeds. This temporary UC suspension of the use of glyphosate does not change UC ANR's recommendations for management of weeds. A team of UC ANR Advisors and Specialists with expertise in weed science has prepared the attached Science Update on glyphosate, which discusses the current scientific information about the risk and toxicity of the herbicide.
While recent public concerns and legal judgements regarding the use of this herbicide has gained momentum, rigorous scientific research suggests a low probability of increased cancer risk. While some research does indicate a possibility of increased incidence of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma due to glyphosate exposure, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA), the regulatory agency that determines how pesticides may be used legally in the U.S., concluded that glyphosate is not likely a cancer risk and recently reaffirmed its registration status. For more information about US EPA's recent registration review of glyphosate, see https://www.epa.gov/ingredients-used-pesticide-products/glyphosate. Nevertheless, the potential legal and reputational risks associated with use of these herbicides must be addressed through a temporary suspension.
UC ANR recognizes that the use of any pesticide carries risks, including in some cases the possibility of acute (immediate), chronic (long term) or carcinogenic effects, to those who may be exposed to them. This is true of any pesticide, which includes herbicides such as glyphosate. It is every supervisor's responsibility to ensure that employees who handle or apply pesticides are trained in their proper use and are provided personnel protective equipment applicable to the materials being applied.
This suspension directs that where UC staff continue to use glyphosate-based herbicides pursuant to an exception, the following restrictions shall apply to any such operations:
- UC staff applying these herbicides shall either possess a valid license or certificate (applicable to the operation in question) from the California Department of Pesticide Regulation or receive appropriate training and/or direct supervision by a person thus licensed or certified.
- UC staff applying these herbicides shall follow all applicable personal protective equipment requirements on the herbicide's label, California pesticide safety regulations, and any additional recommendations of that UC location's environment, health and safety department.
- Application of glyphosate herbicides may continue under the exceptions noted in the President's letter. However, other use of glyphosate on UC ANR properties, such as for landscape maintenance, control of weeds along roadways or paths, etc. must be temporarily suspended, starting on June 1.
- This suspension applies to any UC ANR-owned or maintained properties, including UC ANR sites that are operated or maintained under a lease or similar agreement. Please inform researchers and staff in your unit who may work with herbicides of this temporary suspension for glyphosate use at UC locations and take steps to ensure that alternative methods are used for weed control as needed. Sites where UC is not responsible for maintenance such as weed control, including UC Cooperative Extension offices that are provided by and maintained by the County, are not subject to this suspension.
- In order to assure compliance with this directive and maintain information about glyphosate use, please report any exceptional use of glyphosate at your location to Brian Oatman, Director, Risk & Safety Services (firstname.lastname@example.org).
If you have additional questions about this topic, please contact Jim Farrar, director of the Statewide IPM Program (email@example.com), Cheryl Wilen, area IPM advisor (firstname.lastname@example.org), and/or Brian Oatman, director of Risk & Safety Services (email@example.com).
View or leave comments for ANR Leadership at http://ucanr.edu/sites/ANRUpdate/Comments.
This announcement is also posted and archived on the ANR Update pages.