Report Shows Roundup Products Cause Harm to Bumblebees

The Center for Food Safety reported on Friday that a study published in the Journal of Applied Ecology earlier this month found that some Roundup products, including those which are available widely, “contain undisclosed ‘inert’ ingredients” that can be very toxic to bumblebees. 

The study reportedly compared multiple products that used glyphosate as the active ingredient and tested the harm they caused to bees. One Roundup product without glyphosate reportedly killed 96 percent of the bees within 24 hours by preventing the bees from breathing, other Roundup products with glyphosate showed a 94% mortality or a 30% mortality.  Some of the herbicides tested, however, did not kill any bumblebees. The press release said that there are 1,102 registered herbicide solutions that contain glyphosate as the active ingredient, as it is the most widely used herbicide, but each has separate proprietary inert ingredients. 

The study said that its “mortality results demonstrate that Roundup products pose a significant hazard to bees, in both agricultural and urban systems, and that exposure of bees to them should be limited.”

According to the Center for Food Safety, the inert ingredients are not required to go through certain tests by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) despite how dangerous they could be to bumblebees. These inert ingredients are used for multiple purposes, including to help the products mix or to allow them to stick to plants.

“The researchers’ finding that the various inert ingredients added to each formulation played a significant role in mortality rates suggests that the EPA’s current practice of just looking at the impacts of active ingredients fails to provide adequate protections,” the press release said. 

The Center for Food Safety has been involved in some lawsuits against the EPA for various herbicide and pesticide registrations and concerns; the press release cited one petition filed in 2017 by the Center for Food Safety alleging that the EPA should require pesticide producers to provide safety and environmental information to farmers and homeowners, but they EPA has not acted on the petition yet.

“EPA must begin requiring tests of every pesticide formulation for bee toxicity, divulge the identity of ‘secret’ formulation additives so scientists can study them, and prohibit application of Roundup herbicides to flowering plants when bees might be present and killed,” said Bill Freese, science director at the Center for Food Safety. “Our legal petition gave the EPA a blueprint for acting on this issue of whole formulations. Now they need to take that blueprint and turn it into action, before it’s too late for pollinators.”

The press release also cited that the EPA determined that glyphosate would be likely to either injure or kill 93% of the animals listed as endangered species. This is in addition to many allegations that glyphosate causes harm to humans, which led to a large consolidated lawsuit discussing the safety and liability relating to Roundup products.