Since the beginning of time, farmers have always battled weeds. Weeds can take over their fields and choke their crops, which in turn leads to small production yields. In the modern world, agribusiness is big business and killing weeds is paramount. Farming is a nation-wide industry and in 2012, there were "2,100,000 farms in the United States... American agricultural products are being exported around the world and in the 2010 exportation was worth $115 billion." The United States is one of the world's largest producers of sugar, corn, fruits, and wheat as well as dairy products and cattle.
In the mid-1970s, Monsanto came up with a solution to weeding. They created a glyphosate-based herbicide and called it Roundup®. In order to maximize production of crops and eliminate weeds, farmers have generally turned to Roundup® for four decades.
According to Monsanto, "All Roundup® brand products contain the active ingredient Glyphosate, which targets an enzyme found only in plants, not in people or pets" After proven efficacy, Monsanto has developed several Roundup® products for both commercial and domestic use and for generations, Roundup® has been used by farmers, commercial landscapers and home gardeners alike.
It can be applied to plants with a hand-held sprayer often attached to a backpack or a large drum and is generally used year-round. Roundup® is the weapon of choice to destroy weeds. The active ingredient in Roundup® is glyphosate and the other ingredients, known as inactive ingredients, make up the Roundup® mixture.
WHAT IS ROUNDUP®?
In 1974, Roundup® weed killer was first commercialized in Malaysia and the United Kingdom. By 1976, it was commercialized in North America and Monsanto touted it as being safe for use around humans. Roundup® became a global product and a universal answer. In fact, the agribusiness giant eventually genetically modified seeds so they can withstand heavy doses of Roundup® weed killer.
According to Monsanto, "The original Roundup®® product also seemed to be the perfect environmental solution at the perfect time. It was found to decompose into natural products - carbon dioxide, phosphoric acid, and ammonia - and was also found to be safe for humans and wildlife. Environmentally speaking, the original Roundup®® herbicide proved to be one of, if not the safest, herbicides in history."
Glyphosate currently has the highest global production volume of all herbicides. Dr. Nathan Donley, a staff scientist with the Center for Biological Diversity states "More than 250 million pounds of glyphosate are used each year in the United States, and the science is clear that it's a threat to public health and countless wildlife species. It's long past time to start reining in the out-of-control use of glyphosate in the United States." That correlates to nearly one pound of glyphosate per person in the United States!
For decades, Monsanto has consistently and aggressively denied any claims that Roundup® is harmful to human health. The company continues to promote its herbicide as a safe product for both people and pets. This is misleading and is endangering the health and welfare of millions.
During the period from the late 1970s through mid-1980s, several animal experiments were performed on behalf of Monsanto to test the acute and chronic toxicity of glyphosate. Results of these studies indicated cellular level changes happened to rats' kidneys, which indicated tumor growth.
However, Monsanto presented evidence to the EPA in 1982 which minimized the effects and muddled the facts, knowing that if there was evidence of its toxicity, their bottom line could be harmed. Monsanto requested their research be withheld and handled as Trade Secrets. Thus, the EPA accepted Monsanto's data which ultimately led to their determination that glyphosate was unlikely to be dangerous.
Makers of herbicides are required to divulge only the chemical structures of their "active" ingredients which is glyphosate in Roundup. This means they can conceal the inert co-ingredients as confidential and proprietary trade secrets. Therefore, these chemicals have evaded scrutiny for decades because they have been concealed as trade secrets.
However, it is now believed the cocktail of both active and inert ingredients make Roundup® more harmful than if they were not together. In December 2008 , a French study concluded, "Roundup® formulations are not inert. Moreover, the proprietary mixtures available on the market could cause cell damage and even death around residual levels to be expected..."
DOES ROUNDUP® CAUSE CANCER OR NOT?
There is an ongoing battle back and forth in the scientific community as to whether or not glyphosate is a carcinogen. In March 2015, an alarming report was issued in France. Roundup® was designated as a probable human carcinogen by the cancer research branch of World Health Organization (WHO) called International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). Seventeen experts from eleven countries met and reviewed Roundup® independent scientific research around the world and determined the bestselling agricultural and domestic weed killer is "probably carcinogenic to humans." This means that there is evidence based on animal studies which indicates a substance can cause cancer in humans. This is tremendously significant because glyphosate is ubiquitous in farming across the nation and millions have been exposed.
Glyphosate's toxicity is a much debated subject. When IARC released their report, many other organizations released findings countering IARC's. For instance, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) issued a report concluding glyphosate is "unlikely to pose a carcinogenic hazard to humans." However, it is likely EFSA's report differs from IARC's since they included studies of the effects of only glyphosate. Further, IARC reviews independent studies whereas EFSA included information from unpublished industry-submitted studies.
EXPOSURE TO ROUNDUP
Chemicals have different toxicity and studies have shown that Roundup®, even, in small doses, is toxic to human health. Everyone is different and the exposure will impact each person in a different way. There are three ways you could have been exposed to this herbicide.
1. Skin contact: This occurs when gloves or protective gear is not worn while handling the chemical.
2. Inhalation of the vapors: This occurs when the compound is sprayed and the mist and vapors are released into the air and you breathe them in.
3. Ingestion: This occurs, while less frequently, by eating food or drinking water tainted by glyphosate.
KNOWLEDGE IS POWER
Glyphosate has been deemed a probable human carcinogen in the 1980s and has been studied for many years with new information coming to light every year. In 2012, the journal, Archives of Toxicology revealed that Roundup® is "toxic to human DNA in dilutions 450-fold lower than used in agricultural applications. This finding could not be anticipated from the known toxicological effects of glyphosate alone. The likely explanation is that the surfactant polyoxyethyleneamine within Roundup® dramatically enhances the absorption of glyphosate into exposed human cells and tissue." So at even small doses, human health can be harmed.
Other cancers and serious health conditions may be caused by exposure the Roundup®, but science hasn't made that causal link yet. Other types of cancer that are potentially caused by exposure and use of Roundup® products are:
- Bone Cancer
- Colon Cancer
- Hodgkin's Lymphoma
- Kidney Cancer
- Liver Cancer
- Multiple Myeloma
- Pancreatic Cancer
- Soft Tissue Carcinoma
- Thyroid Cancer
Monsanto continues to promote Roundup® as safe for farmers, farm workers, landscapers, commercial spray applicators and other person who frequently is exposed to Roundup®. By claiming it is safe, safety precautions are known to or being followed by those using the weed killer. If Monsanto had been honest, people could have limited their exposure to Roundup.
If you are a farmer, farm worker, landscaper, commercial spray applicator or someone else who has used Roundup® for more than eight hours, you may be able to sue Monsanto for your injuries, particularly if you have been diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma.
Vititoe Law Group is actively investigating claims against Monsanto for Roundup® use and exposure by ranchers, agricultural workers, landscapers, commercial spray applicators and others. But if you suspect you are ill from using Roundup® you should contact us now.
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma, colon cancer, kidney cancer, liver cancer, melanoma, pancreatic cancer or thyroid cancer after being exposed to Roundup®, contact would like more information about whether you might have a potential legal claim against Monsanto for Roundup® use and exposure, please contact a Vititoe Law Group immediately.