EPA Releases Draft Biological Evaluation for Glyphosate

On November 25, 2020, a draft biological evaluation for glyphosate was issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). In this blog post, we take a look at this controversial chemical. We also review several of the evaluation’s findings.

About Glyphosate

Glyphosate is an organophosphorus compound possessing powerful herbicidal properties. Central to its efficacy in this regard is its ability to inhibit the shikimic acid metabolic pathway by targeting the enzyme, 5-enolpyruvylshikimate 3-phosphate synthases. This prevents plants from making several key aromatic amino acids necessary for growth and survival.


IUPAC NameN-(Phosphonomethyl)glycine
Chemical FormulaC3H8NO5P
CAS Registry Number1071-83-6

With its discovery in 1950, and with the subsequent realization of its herbicidal properties twenty years later, glyphosate has seen extensive use over the past five decades. It has become the most widely used herbicidal chemical in the United States and the world. During this time, more than 1.6 billion kilograms of the chemical have been used in this country. This represents approximately 19% of glyphosate’s use worldwide (8.6 billion kilograms).

Debate on the health effects of glyphosate has existed for a number of years, but the controversy surrounding it has intensified in the last few. In 2015, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer declared glyphosate to be a probable carcinogen. This was followed in 2017 by California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment listing glyphosate in its Proposition 65 list as a chemical known to cause cancer.

Impacting Endangered Species and Critical Habitats

While its application as a herbicide has been widespread, glyphosate has been found to yield harmful effects on a diversity of plant and animal types. The draft biological evaluation for glyphosate concluded that it adversely impacts hundreds of endangered species. It was found that more than 93 percent of endangered species, and 96 percent of their critical habitats, may be harmed by the chemical. If the EPA determines that glyphosate negatively impacts a species or its critical habitat, it will coordinate as needed with necessary agencies, such as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service.

Accessing More Information

More information regarding the recently released draft biological evaluation for glyphosate may be found on the EPA website. Additionally, you can visit the ToxPlanet website and blog regularly for relevant information on new developments. ToxPlanet offers an abundance of authoritative content on glyphosate, as well as on a myriad of other chemical substances. Be sure to contact us and register for a Free Trial to learn how our robust suite of solutions can help address your chemical hazard information needs.