Farmers, gardeners, and homeowners who want to rid their crops or greenery of weeds or pests will often turn to Roundup and other herbicides. However, its use could lead to serious health conditions.
Roundup contains glyphosate, originally patented by the Monsanto Company in 1974 and now manufactured and sold around the world.
Glyphosate is the most widely used pesticide or weedkiller in the U.S., according to a February 2016 study. Americans have applied 1.8 million tons along since 1972 and 9.4 million tons have been sprayed worldwide – or enough to spray half a pound on every cultivated acre of land on the planet. In 2016, the United States Department of Agriculture found that detectable pesticide levels were in 85 percent of more than 10,000 foods sampled.
Health concerns, but consensus is not unanimous
The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic to humans” in 2015, after years of reviewing scientific studies, with a specific link between glyphosate and non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Organizations that reached similar conclusions are the California Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Environmental Sciences Europe.
Some research also suggests that glyphosate could be an endocrine disruptor and could kill beneficial gut bacteria and damage the DNA in embryonic, placental and umbilical cord cells. It has sometimes been linked to liver disease, birth defects and reproductive issues in laboratory animals.
However, the United States EPA issued a report in 2016 concluding it was “not likely to be carcinogenic to humans” at relevant doses. The European Food Safety Authority and the European Chemicals Agency came to similar conclusions, but environmental and consumer groups argued those findings relied improperly on chemical industry-backed research.
Sick individuals have filed lawsuits
The Monsanto Company, now owned by the german corporation Bayer AG,is facing over 650 lawsuits as part of a federal multi-district litigation filed by people who allege glyphosate exposure caused them or their loved ones to develop non-Hodgkin lymphoma. About 9,000 similar actions are pending in state courts.
Consumers who believe glyphosate caused adverse health effects can file their own lawsuit and hold the responsible parties accountable.
On March 19, 2019, a federal jury in San Francisco, after hearing all the evidence presented by both sides including testimony from experts, unanimously concluded that Roundup was a “substantial factor” in causing a California man to develop non-Hodgkin lymphoma. The jury has not yet determined damages.