Roundup has been in the headlines lately as debate continues over whether the weed killer's active ingredient, glyphosate, is carcinogenic.

Bayer, the company that manufacters Roundup, says that not only is glyphosate safe to use, it is also environmentally sound and will be used in agriculture for years to come.

Dr Bob Reiter, Bayer Head of R&D Crop Science told The Country's Jamie Mackay:

"There's no evidence at all that Roundup is carcinogenic. There's over 800 studies that have been conducted and regulators around the globe have looked at it repeatedly and with over 40 years of assesment of this product it's very clear that it is not carcinogenic."


Reiter says it is "critical" that farmers have access to glyphosate as it is instrumental in no-till or minimum tillage agriculture, a practice that disturbs soil as little as possible, therefore protecting it from erosion.

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"It has been the key piece of helping to create a more carbon neutral crop production system. It's the foundation of no-till or minimum-till practises around the world."

Glyphosate is the most widely-used herbicide in the world "because it's so effective and it is used in so many ways on our farms," says Reiter, who does not currently see any replacement for the chemical.

"The other herbicides that could be available and used by farmers are not as effective and would be more cost and would likely not be as safe environmentally as something like Roundup and glyphosate."

The importance of no-till or minimum-tillage is crucial in underdeveloped countries where soil quality is degraded. Reiter says Bayer is working with farmers in Africa to try and mitigate the problem, where they "suffer from lack of good quality soil health."

"Being about to have your crop planted into a minimal or no till situation ... leads to an overall more productive and sustainable system for that farmer."

Mackay asks if there is a future where no till agriculture can take place without chemical input.

"I never say never ... but I think it's one of those [things] that I feel would be pretty unlikely," says Reiter, "I think chemicals still have a really important place to play."


"[Roundup] has been around for 40 years and we think it will be around for a lot longer than that."