When we think of herbicides and weed killers, most of us think of RoundUp. It’s become such a household name that the term RoundUp is often used as a general term for herbicide.
But the same herbicide that farmers and agricultural workers have been using since the 1970s to keep weeds off their crops may also be hurting us. According to multiple class action lawsuits that have recently been filed against Monsanto, the manufacturer of RoundUp, the herbicide may cause cancer. The lawsuit alleges that the main ingredient in RoundUp, glyphosate, may be to blame for the rise in incidents of non-Hodgkins Lymphoma and other cancers in agricultural workers with heavy exposure to the herbicide.
Although Monsanto managed to engineer crops that were resistant to glyphosate, the weeds that get sprayed have developed their own immunity to the herbicide, requiring agricultural workers, landscapers, and turf managers to use more and more RoundUp, thereby increasing their own exposure to what the World Health Organization (WHO) has called a probable carcinogen.
But it’s not just the land workers who are getting exposed to these chemicals. Recent studies have found traces of RoundUp in U.S. breakfast cereals, snacks and even honey.
In early 2015, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) a division of the WHO, published their findings on glyphosate in The Lancet Oncology. They studied the effects of RoundUp on mice and compared their findings to the results of previous studies on glyphosate. They found a correlation between RoundUp exposure and a variety of cancers, including non-Hodgkins Lymphoma, skin cancer, pancreatic cancer, renal cell carcinoma, as well as damage to DNA and chromosomes. It did not look at a relationship between RoundUp and Parkinson’s, although other studies have found a link there as well.
Monsanto has denied these findings and most U.S. and European regulators have stated they don’t believe RoundUp to be a human carcinogen.
But numerous plaintiffs suing Monsanto say otherwise. They are alleging that Monsanto failed to thoroughly research glyphosate before putting it on the market. Once it was out there, they failed to properly warn users, the medical community, or the agricultural community about the potential hazards of using RoundUp. The plaintiffs claim that, if they had been aware of the risks involved in using RoundUp, they would have used a different herbicide, and many cases of cancer may have been avoided.
In California, consumer advocates are working to get new laws put in place that would require Monsanto to include cancer warnings on the labels for all their glyphosate-based products. The labels would be based on the IARC’s findings, and a California judge recently allowed this initiative to move to the next step in the process.
The IARC’s findings still need confirmation, but if they succeed in attaining that confirmation, the number of cancer cases that could potentially be traced back to RoundUp exposure might be too many to count. Not only has it been found in the air after an area has been sprayed, but it has also made its way into food and water. The amount of exposure needed to create a cancer risk has yet to be determined.
If you or someone your love has suffered serious side effects, or even death, due to the use of RoundUp, you need an experienced personal injury attorney on your side.