As of 2018, over thirteen thousand lawsuits have been filed against the commercial herbicide RoundUp. The suits claim various health impacts, most prominently cancer and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. So far, three court cases in California have ruled in the plaintiff’s favor, determining that RoundUp herbicide had caused the plaintiff’s health issues. Specialized RoundUp cancer lawyers exist, signifying that these lawsuits aren’t going away.
Being that there is now growing concern that RoundUp exposure could have a negative health impact, here is a list of possible avenues of health concerns related to the herbicide:
Earlier studies conducted by the World Health Organization (WHO), Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), European Commission (EC), Canadian Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA), German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment, and the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority all concluded “labeled uses of glyphosate have demonstrated no evidence of human carcinogenicity.”
A new study by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) in 2015 declared that glyphosate, the active ingredient in RoundUp, is “probably carcinogenic.” A 2016 edition of the UK’s Cancer Research journal stated that “There is some evidence that people exposed to higher levels of glyphosate as part of their job, for example in industry or through farming, may be at slightly higher risk of cancer.”
In August 2017, Bloomberg Business Week reported about the review of glyphosate’s carcinogenic potential, prompted by the IARC report. In that matter, Bloomberg intercepted emails by plaintiffs’ lawyers who are suing Monsanto and reported that “Monsanto scientists were heavily involved in organizing, reviewing, and editing drafts submitted by the outside experts.” Allegations like this and other claims have cast a shadow of doubt on earlier studies on glyphosate’s effects.
In February 2019, a meta-analysis published in Mutation Research/Reviews in Mutation Research reported a link between glyphosate-based herbicides and non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
In March 2019, an International Journal of Epidemiology study of 30K farmers and agricultural workers in France, Norway, and the U.S. reported links between glyphosate and diffuse large B-cell lymphoma.
In April 2019, the U.S. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry reported increased cancer risk from glyphosate exposures.
Other Health Concerns
Notwithstanding cancer, other published findings have surfaced suggesting health risks.
Indiana University in 2017 published a birth cohort study which found detectable levels of glyphosate in more than 90% of the pregnant women. The levels were significantly correlated with shortened pregnancy lengths.
The National University of Cordoba in 2018 published an ecological and population study finding a link between exposure to glyphosate and certain reproductive problems.
Aside from glyphosate, RoundUp also contains polyethoxylated tallow amine (POEA). This is used as a wetting agent to make the spray more effective. While POEA itself has been found to be less toxic than aspirin, it has been implied the combination of these and other chemicals in RoundUp might cause more serious health effects than glyphosate alone.
Deliberate concentration and ingestion of glyphosate have proven fatal. Exposure to RoundUp outside of recommended usage can cause skin and eye irritation, chemical burns, respiratory discomfort, shock, renal failure, and impaired consciousness. Various laboratory tests on mice, rats, rabbits, and goats have shown toxic effects from force-fed ingestion.
Environmental and Passive Effects
Beyond direct exposure to the product, there is concern over environmental contamination. Some of this may stem from the misuse of the product. For instance, there’s a common practice amongst farmers to spray down crops with glyphosate immediately prior to harvest to desiccate the crops to make them easier to harvest. Product misuse might have been spurred by advertising claims, such as Monsanto’s claim that glyphosate was “safer than table salt,” for which the New York State attorney general sued Monsanto in 1996, forcing them to withdraw the claim.
FDA studies in 2016 found traces of glyphosate in US consumer-level foods, including honey, oatmeal, baby food, cereal, and crackers.