Assuring health and environmental safety of herbicides

Marion J. Sheers, Regulatory and Communications Manager, Biotechnology, Monsanto Australia Limited, 600 St. Kilda Road, Melbourne, Victoria 3004, Australia.


The development of a new herbicide is extremely costly and time consuming. Research and development may take 10 years and cost $50-70 million. Safety is the over-riding consideration - a major portion of the time and expense is utilized in determining that the product is effective and poses no threat to health or the environment under intended use conditions.

Once a candidate herbicidal product has been identified by Monsanto, it undergoes a preliminary assessment of safety and environmental compatibility. If it passes this initial screen, efficacy, toxicology and environmental testing continue concurrently. The product may fail to reach commercialization due to adverse findings in any of these facets of testing. A product is subjected to more than 120 separate tests to ensure it will not present any health or environmental concerns.

Health and environmental safety testing is designed to meet the requirements of laws and regulations world-wide, which mandate strict standards that must be met before herbicides can be marketed.


Plant Protection Quarterly (1996) 11 (3) 96-97.