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441-02526 (Agriculture)

Paper petition

Original language of petition: English

Petition to the Minister of Health


  • Glyphosate is Canada's most widely sold pesticide used in agriculture as an herbicide and to kill crops for harvest, in forestry to kill unwanted target trees and vegetation, and as an herbicide on rights-of-way, commercial and residential grounds, golf courses, schools and other landscapes;

  • The result is residents of Canada, including infants and children, consume glyphosate residues in their food and water and are exposed to it while outdoors for recreation, occupational activities, hunting and harvesting;

  • The use of glyphosate harms aquatic and terrestrial species and causes loss of biodiversity thereby making ecosystems more vulnerable to pollution and climate change;

  • It endangers pollinators including wild bees and monarch butterflies and exacerbates wildfires since conifer-only forests burn faster and hotter than mixed forests;

  • In 2015, the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer classified glyphosate as "probably carcinogenic to humans";

  • Glyphosate has been found to cause injuries to human health including harming cellular function and causing reproductive effects, hormone disruption, microbiome disruption and cancer; and

  • The Pest Control Products Act is referred to Parliament for review and Health Canada is conducting a transformation of the Pest Management Regulatory Agency.

We, the undersigned, residents of Canada, call upon the Minister of Health to:

  • 1. Ban the sale and use of glyphosate to protect human health and the environment; and

  • 2. Develop a comprehensive plan to reduce overall pesticide use in Canada.

Response by the Minister of Health

Signed by (Minister or Parliamentary Secretary): Yasir Naqvi

In Canada, pesticides are regulated federally under the Pest Control Products Act (PCPA), which is administered by Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA). PMRA’s mandate and top priority is to protect the health and safety of Canadians and the environment.

While Health Canada authorizes pesticides, it does not decide whether those products will be used. Federal, provincial, territorial and municipal governments have shared responsibilities in regulating pesticides. Provincial responsibilities for pesticides generally include, regulating the sale, use, transportation, storage and disposal of pesticides. Furthermore, the provinces conduct compliance monitoring that complements federal compliance programs, and issue spray licences and/or permits to pesticide applicators, operators and vendors. Provinces and territories may impose further restrictions on the sale or use of pesticides (including glyphosate); municipalities are also entitled to further restrict pesticide uses, provided that they have been granted authority to do so by their province. The federal government recognizes this practice, since it allows these levels of government to respond to conditions within their jurisdictions. In making these decisions, each province or municipality takes into account its own legislative requirements and policies, which may not require such decisions to be made on basis of scientific risk assessment. Health Canada decisions, however, are based on scientific demonstrations of risk.

Before a pesticide is allowed to be used or sold in Canada, it must undergo a rigorous scientific assessment process that provides reasonable certainty that no harm to human health and the environment will occur and that the products have valuable use, when pesticides are used according to label directions. This assessment also takes into consideration sensitive populations, such as pregnant and nursing people, infants, children and seniors.

Health Canada also regularly re-evaluates pesticides that are on the market to determine whether they continue to meet the Department’s health and environmental standards and should continue to be permitted for use in Canada. An extensive scientific re-evaluation of glyphosate, completed in 2017, showed that under the established conditions of use, glyphosate does not pose unacceptable risks to human health or the environment (including negative impacts on biodiversity), and has value in terms of its efficacy to control pests and the social or economic benefits derived from management of these pests. This re-evaluation considered over 1,300 studies including data from manufacturers, published independent scientific studies, and information from other internationally recognized regulatory agencies. Based on the weight of evidence review of high-quality scientific studies for glyphosate, no compelling evidence of potential interaction with the endocrine system was noted.

Regarding potential impacts of glyphosate on pollinators (including bees and monarch butterflies), Health Canada’s environmental risk assessment for glyphosate did not identify any population level risks to pollinators, such as bees and monarchs. Information about PMRA’s work to protect pollinators is available online at

With regards to glyphosate use in forestry, Health Canada has concluded that this use is acceptable, when label directions are followed. These findings were based on an extensive review of the available scientific information on glyphosate. A forest cultivation site would receive one or at most two treatments early on in a 50-to-80-year cultivation cycle.

Through the PMRA's risk assessments, registered pesticides in Canada, including glyphosate, must have proven reasonable certainly to not “cause injuries to human health including harming cellular function and causing reproductive effects, hormone disruption, microbiome disruption and cancer”, whether through diet or non-dietary exposures (such as inhalation) when they are used according to label instructions. This determination by Health Canada and key foreign regulatory partners is based on results of specifically designed laboratory studies that are used to establish the permissible levels of exposure, which are then used to derive label instructions.

These permissible levels for human exposure are set over one-hundred, or more, times lower than the amount that could potentially cause harm. These acceptable levels of exposure also take into account various types of populations who could be exposed to pesticides, including workers who handle pesticides, the general population, as well as sensitive sub-populations such as pregnant people, children, the elderly and immunocompromised individuals.

With regards to concerns surrounding the 2015 findings of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), it is important to note that the following year, the WHO concluded in a Joint Meeting on Pesticide Residues with the Food and Agriculture Organization (2016) that glyphosate is unlikely to pose a cancer risk to humans from exposure through diet. Though strictly hazard-based approaches are used by some organizations like IARC, these do not consider the actual level of exposure to a pesticide. As such, risk-based versus hazard-based approaches can lead to differences in results, which accounts for some of the discrepancies in conclusions reached by different organizations

Health Canada also establishes maximum residue limits (MRLs) for pesticide residues in food. The MRL is the highest amount of pesticide residue that may remain on or in a food when a pesticide is used according to the label directions. MRLs apply to all foods, regardless of whether they are grown in Canada or imported and are set at levels well below the amount that could pose a health concern, when all possible food sources are eaten every day, over a lifetime. Every year, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) tests food products for chemical residues. If any product exceeds the MRLs set by Health Canada, the CFIA takes appropriate enforcement action. Compliance with respect to glyphosate MRLs, based on a 2020 glyphosate food residue study identified a compliance rating of 99.4%.

Biomonitoring data inform the Government of Canada’s assessment and management of chemicals in Canada, including for pesticides (such as glyphosate). While certain studies have found detectable concentrations of glyphosate in urine, it was noted that the levels detected thus far have been very low. For example, the PMRA has confirmed that levels observed in a study conducted by the Maternal-Infant Research on Environmental Chemicals (MIREC) were more than 1000 times lower than the screening level (the level at which further analysis would be triggered) for glyphosate. For more information, visit the interactive Canadian biomonitoring dashboard

Regarding concerns of the potential health impacts of glyphosate on the human intestinal microbiome, Health Canada continues to monitor this issue. In March 2021, the Danish Environmental Protection Agency published results of their scientific research indicating limited effects of glyphosate on intestinal microbiome, further supporting Health Canada’s current position on this matter.

Furthermore, as noted in the fact sheet on glyphosate, glyphosate concentrations declined by 48% and aminomethylphosphonic acid concentrations declined by 51% between 2014–2015 and 2018–2019 in the Canadian population aged 3-79 years. The average levels of glyphosate for the Canadian population were below the biomonitoring screening level. Data from the Canadian Health Measures Survey (CHMS) are also compared with population data from other countries where national biomonitoring studies have been performed, such as the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey in the US. Evaluation of data from existing and future cycles of the CHMS and MIREC studies also allow changes in metabolite levels to be tracked in the Canadian population over time, to help assess the impact of regulatory decisions, and to contribute to future regulatory actions and monitoring priorities, as necessary.

Health Canada, in collaboration with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) and additional local partners, is monitoring the presence of pesticides including glyphosate, at selected freshwater and groundwater sites in Canada. A two-year (2022-23, 2023-24) pilot water monitoring program for pesticides has been completed. The data from this pilot program can be found on the Government of Canada Open Data Portal: National Water Monitoring Program for Pesticides (NWMPP) Data.

The review of the data available from this pilot program suggests that there are no concerns for human health at this time, including for glyphosate. Although glyphosate was detected in some samples, the concentrations found were all below PMRA's Human Health Reference Values

Budget 2024 announced $39 million over two years for Health Canada and AAFC to maintain the pesticide regulatory system, and monitor and promote sustainable pesticide use.

Prior to the recent Budget 2024 announcement, the PMRA undertook a Transformation Agenda (2021-2024) and is currently in the process of integrating these initiatives into its core work to sustain gains and ensure continued progress and improvement within the Agency. Transformation accomplishments include improved transparency and science communication, increased access to data and information supporting decision-making, developing a continuous oversight and proportional effort approach, and increasing real world data through the launch of a water monitoring pilot program and development of a National Water Monitoring Program Framework and development of a Pesticide Use Information Framework. The PMRA will continue to engage interested stakeholders and partners in its efforts towards continuous improvement. As such, individuals and stakeholders who are interested in participating in any upcoming public consultations relating to the federal pesticide regulatory system, can participate by visiting Pesticides and pest management consultations.

The Government of Canada is committed to transparency and protection of human health and the environment in the development and implementation of pest control product regulation. On June 15, 2024, Health Canada published proposed amendments to the Pest Control Product Regulations (PCPR)in the Canada Gazette, Part I. These proposed amendments directly respond to input provided by stakeholders during the 2022 review of the Pest Control Products Act.

The proposed amendments include the facilitation of access to confidential test data for Canadians and clarifying the information needed from applicants to set MRLs on imported foods. In conjunction with the PCPA, the proposed amendments would require the Minister of Health to issue a public notification once an application for an MRL for an imported food product has been accepted for review. This early notification would improve transparency and enable better public participation in the pesticide decision-making process. In addition, the proposed amendments would provide the Minister with the explicit authority to require applicants to provide information on both cumulative effects on the environment and on species at risk.

Health Canada will continue to remain at the forefront of pesticide regulation and continue to monitor for new information related to all pesticides, including glyphosate. This includes continuing to monitor for the publication of new scientific studies and the regulatory status of glyphosate in OECD member countries to determine whether the criteria for initiating a special review of a pesticide (as stipulated under subsection 17(2) of the PCPA) are met. Health Canada will always take appropriate action (e.g., adding mitigation measures, cancelling specific uses or all uses of a pesticide, depending on the outcome of assessment), should a science-based assessment confirm that the use of pesticide is resulting in an unacceptable potential risk to human health or the environment (when label instructions are followed and risk management measures are applied). When all uses of a pesticide are cancelled, the pesticide would be phased-out from the Canadian market.

Presented to the House of Commons
Elizabeth May (Saanich—Gulf Islands)
June 5, 2024 (Petition No. 441-02526)
Government response tabled
July 17, 2024
Photo - Elizabeth May
Saanich—Gulf Islands
Green Party Caucus
British Columbia

67 signatures

Only validated signatures are counted towards the total number of signatures.