Using herbicides for invasive plant management

Spot-treating invasive milk thistle on Catalina Island with a backpack sprayer.

Cal-IPC supports the judicious use of herbicides as an important and appropriate tool in the Integrated Pest Management (IPM) toolbox for controlling invasive plants in natural areas.

Invasive plant management projects should be strategic, for instance by removing small infestations of invasive plants before they spread further (and require more extensive intervention in the future). Unlike the use of herbicides for agriculture or landscaping, applications in natural areas are typically small in scale, of limited duration, and aimed at protecting biodiversity.

Glyphosate is the most-used — and most-studied — herbicide in the world. To date, scientists and regulatory agencies have predominantly agreed that it is safe. However, recent court cases have found for plaintiffs who believe that their extensive use of glyphosate over decades led to their cancer.

Cal-IPC is tracking new studies that add to the already immense literature on glyphosate’s impacts. Our current position statement is linked below. In short, we believe that glyphosate use for strategic invasive plant management, applied in accordance with its label and with appropriate personal protective equipment and best practices, is low-risk for wildlife, applicators and the public and should remain a tool in the IPM toolbox for natural resource managers.

Cal-IPC’s Position Statement on the Use of Glyphosate for Invasive Plant Management (including background)

Cal-IPC’s Position on Integrated Weed Management

Cal-IPC’s BMP Manual for Protecting Wildlife When Using Herbicides for Invasive Plant Management (with herbicide risk charts)

National Association of Invasive Plant Councils webinar on glyphosate

University of Michigan Risk Science Center video: Glyphosate risk and what “probably causes cancer”means