Report examines future without glyphosate

Substantial economic costs would be incurred if herbicide were no longer available.

July 7, 2023

2 Min Read
Report examines future without glyphosate
Straitel/iStock/Thinkstock

The herbicide glyphosate is used on an average of 87% of U.S. corn, soybean, and cotton acres. It has proven to be an effective, cost-efficient weed control tool that’s enabled farmers to add conservation practices like no-till and cover crops—which reduce fuel use and CO2 emissions—to millions of additional acres year after year. However, a recent series of challenges in the U.S. Court of Appeals and ongoing public debate has led many to question what a future without glyphosate would look like. Aimpoint Research, a global strategic intelligence firm, recently released a new report, “A Future Without Glyphosate," exploring the complexities of glyphosate’s impact on our agricultural system, farmers’ livelihoods, the economy, and the environment if the most widely used herbicide in the U.S. was no longer available. Ultimately, the report concluded that U.S. farmers and the agricultural system would eventually adapt, but the near-term consequences to the economy, environment, and farmers would be costly and far-reaching.

“Ongoing public debate about glyphosate has led some to question what the impacts would be if it were no longer available and Aimpoint Research is uniquely suited to develop that future scenario,” said Colonel (retired) Mark Purdy, Aimpoint Research chief operations officer. “We leveraged multiple research methods, including open-source research, economic modeling, subject-matter expert interviews and military-style wargaming techniques to understand the impact of glyphosate on our agricultural system.”

If glyphosate were no longer available:

  • U.S. agriculture would see increased tillage and decreased cover crops, potentially leading to the release of up to 34 million tons of CO2. That’s the equivalent of 6.8 million cars or nearly 36.5 million acres of forests.

  • Farmers would see a 2-2.5x increase in input costs due to limited supply and higher prices of alternative products. The increase would disproportionately impact smaller farms.

  • Increasing tillage would raise production costs by over $1.9 billion.

  • Increased production costs would add inflationary pressure on food prices over the long-term for consumers.

  • U.S. agriculture - and U.S. corn in particular - would become less competitive globally.

  • More alternatives would eventually be available over time but would take several years and significant investment – investment that would likely be slowed by regulatory uncertainty and a vacuum in crop protection innovation.

 

Gregg Doud, Aimpoint Research chief economist, commented: “While markets would adapt to a world without glyphosate, it would be a substantial economic cost to farmers and cause the rapid release of greenhouse gasses, reversing decades of conservation and sustainability gains. This report confirms what many farmers know, glyphosate is currently a core tool in our modern agricultural system, helping keep costs down and promoting increased conservation practices.”

 

 

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