N-(Phosphonomethyl)glycine; formula: C3H8NO5P ; CAS Registry Number: 1071-83-6
Structure of glyphosate
Source: PubChem
Identifier: CID 3496

Widespread herbicide whose risk potential for health and the environment is currently under discussion

Glyphosate is a highly effective herbicide. Since the mid-1970s it is the active ingredient of numerous broad-spectrum herbicides such as Roundup. Glyphosate is used worldwide in large quantities both in agriculture and in private households against all kinds of weeds. The widespread use of glyphosate leads to a substantial loss of biodiversity in the environment. Moreover, it promotes the emergence of glyphosate-resistant weeds which requires the application of other often more toxic plant protection products.

Glyphosate binds tightly to soil particles and leaching into the groundwater is usually low. Main metabolite of glyphosate is Aminomethylphosphonic acid (AMPA). Its degradation in soil depends strongly on the respective soil properties and varies between a few days and several months.
The acute toxicity of glyphosate to animals is relatively low because the substance specifically acts on an enzyme found only in plants, fungi and some bacteria. However, long-term studies indicate potential effects on vertebrates such as liver and kidney toxicity and endocrine effects. Moreover, there is evidence that the incidence of certain cancers in humans is related to glyphosate.
The environmental behavior of glyphosate may be altered by other ingredients of glyphosate-containing plant protection products such as additives which increase the uptake of glyphosate in plants. The commercial products may therefore be more toxic than the pure active ingredient.

More details


  • Glyphosate
    Very effective herbicide and active ingredient of numerous pesticides
  • AMPA
    Aminomethylphosphonic acid (AMPA) is the main metabolite of the herbicide glyphosate. Its degradation rate in soil is lower compared to glyphosate which often results in relatively higher AMPA concentrations in the environment. The acute toxicity of AMPA is low.


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Sampling area

Sampling period

2001 - 2015

Extended information

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