The government of Mexico has moved to block a shipment of glyphosate, the active ingredient in the herbicide Roundup, from entering their country over concerns for human health and the environment. The nation’s environmental ministry, Secretaría del Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales (Secretariat of Environment and Natural Resources), denied a permit that would allow glyphosate to be imported into the country, stating that “Glyphosate represents a high environmental risk, given the credible presumption that its use can cause serious environmental damage and irreversible health damage.”

In taking this action, Mexico joins Austria, Germany, Thailand, Vietnam and a number of other countries that have either banned glyphosate altogether or are in the process of phasing out its use. Like Roundup manufacturer Bayer, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (which allegedly was in the back pocket of Roundup’s original manufacturer, Monsanto) stubbornly continues to defend glyphosate, despite the fact that three major glyphosate lawsuits have ended in multi-million verdicts for plaintiffs.

In a press release, Mexico’s environmental secretary, Victor Toledo, says the recent resolution gives priority to environmental law, placing it above property and industrial rights because of the potential consequences to biodiversity. He points out that studies have demonstrated that agricultural chemicals such as glyphosate, as well as pesticides, have “many lethal effects on pollinators.”

Toledo is also urging the Mexican government to “promote an agroecological public policy that includes suppressing the harmful environmental, social and cultural effects of modern agriculture.” This would involve the ban of over 100 pesticides as well as glyphosate.

Here in the U.S., where federal officials continue to do nothing about glyphosate, local county and municipal governments are moving ahead with their own plans to phase out and ban the use of glyphosate. In 2017, the Chicago suburb of Naperville announced that its park department would abandon the use of glyphosate in favor of more environmentally-friendly alternatives. This past March, Los Angeles County issued a moratorium on the use of glyphosate. Last August, the Las Cruces, New Mexico city council announced that Roundup would no longer be used for weed control on municipal properties.

K.J. McElrath is a former history and social studies teacher who has long maintained a keen interest in legal and social issues. In addition to writing for The Ring of Fire, he is the author of two published novels: Tamanous Cooley, a darkly comic environmental twist on Dante's Inferno, and The Missionary's Wife, a story of the conflict between human nature and fundamentalist religious dogma. When not engaged in journalistic or literary pursuits, K.J. works as an entertainer and film composer.