In the world of modern agriculture, the use of herbicides and pesticides has become commonplace to ensure bountiful crop yields. One such herbicide, Roundup, has garnered significant attention due to its active ingredient, glyphosate.
While glyphosate has been celebrated for its effectiveness in weed control, concerns have been raised about its potential health risks. This article delves into the health risks associated with Roundup exposure and the ongoing debate surrounding its safety.
Understanding Roundup: What It Is and How It’s Used
Roundup is a brand name for a widely used herbicide, or weed killer, produced by the agricultural company Monsanto (now owned by Bayer). Its active ingredient is glyphosate, which is a broad-spectrum herbicide that kills a wide variety of plants, including both grasses and broadleaf plants.
Roundup and other glyphosate-based herbicides are used in various applications, including agriculture, landscaping, and home gardening. Here’s a basic understanding of what Roundup is and how it’s used:
Glyphosate is the primary active ingredient in Roundup. It works by eliminating a particular type of enzyme that is essential for plant growth. Due to the lack of this enzyme, the plants ultimately die. Glyphosate is systemic, meaning it is absorbed into the plant and travels throughout its vascular system. This makes it effective in killing both the leaves and roots of weeds.
Roundup is available in various formulations, including liquid concentrates, ready-to-use sprays, and dry granules. The specific product you choose depends on your intended use and the target plants.
Farmers use Roundup and glyphosate-based herbicides to control weeds in crops like corn, soybeans, cotton, and wheat. This reduces competition from weeds and can increase crop yields.
Roundup is used in landscaping to control weeds in lawns, gardens, and ornamental plantings. It’s often used to clear areas before planting new vegetation.
In forestry, glyphosate-based herbicides are used to control competing vegetation and promote the growth of desirable tree species.
Industrial and municipal use:
Roundup is used in non-agricultural settings to manage vegetation along roadsides, railroad tracks, and other areas where weed control is necessary.
However, there are risks associated with exposure to this chemical. This is especially true if you’re exposed to it through your food or drink or by touching Roundup containers directly. Roundup contains about 40% glyphosate together with various adjuvants, which increase its active capabilities, according to released data.
The Controversy Surrounding Roundup
Roundup has been associated with cancer, primarily non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. And it said to stay in the body of people for very long. In fact, many studies have found Roundup’s presence in many urine samples.
Recently, the weed-killing chemical has been detected in more than 80% of urine samples in both adults and kids. A recent survey found glyphosate in at least 1,885 of 2,310 urine samples from a large test sample.
Several animal studies have also linked glyphosate exposure to cancerous tumors and other diseases. Some research has shown links between Roundup exposure and developmental disorders like autism spectrum disorder (ASD), Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, etc.
With the results of such studies coming out, the controversy around Roundup started. People are filing cases against Monsanto to seek compensation for the damages they have suffered. A recent Roundup lawsuit update shows that a man, Mike Dennis, was awarded $332 million as compensation.
He sued Monsanto and Bayer, stating that his non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma was a result of Roundup exposure. The same was proven in the court, and he received the compensation accordingly. Some other settlements are also made in Roundup lawsuits. For example, a plaintiff was granted $1.25 million in St. Louis, and another one was granted $175 million in Philadelphia.
Potential Health Risks
While Roundup is widely used for weed control, there has been significant concern over the potential health risks associated with its use. Here are some of the key health risks and concerns associated with Roundup:
Glyphosate is classified as a “probable human carcinogen.” This classification was based on studies that suggested a possible link between glyphosate exposure and non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL). However, other regulatory agencies, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), have not reached the same conclusion.
A recent Canadian study showed that the use of glyphosate for two or more days per year was associated with a 2.12-fold increase in the risk of NHL. This was with reference to users who were exposed to it for 1-2 days per year or unexposed.
Some studies have raised concerns that glyphosate may disrupt the endocrine system, which regulates hormones in the body. Disruptions in the endocrine system can have a wide range of health effects, including reproductive and developmental issues.
Residue in food:
Residues of glyphosate can be found in some foods due to its use as a pre-harvest desiccant on crops like wheat and oats. Although regulatory agencies set maximum residue limits, there are concerns about chronic, low-level exposure to glyphosate through diet.
Toxicity to bees and wildlife:
Glyphosate can harm non-target organisms, including pollinators like bees and aquatic life in bodies of water where the herbicide may run off.
Allergies and skin irritation:
Prolonged or repeated skin exposure to Roundup can cause skin irritation or allergic reactions in some individuals.
Roundup lawsuits have garnered significant attention in recent years due to concerns about the herbicide’s potential health risks. Numerous individuals, often farmers, gardeners, and agricultural workers, have filed lawsuits against Monsanto, the company behind Roundup, and its parent company, Bayer.
The primary allegation in these lawsuits is that exposure to glyphosate has been linked to an increased risk of cancer. Plaintiffs argue that Monsanto failed to adequately warn consumers about the potential health risks associated with using their product. Several high-profile cases have resulted in significant financial awards to the plaintiffs, further highlighting the seriousness of the issue.
Bayer, recognizing the mounting legal challenges and public apprehension, has taken steps to address the issue. The company has announced plans to settle many of the Roundup lawsuits. It aims to establish a fund to compensate those who have suffered health issues they believe are linked to the herbicide.
Monsanto has already settled over 100,000 Roundup lawsuits and paid $11 billion till May 2022. Still, 30,000 lawsuits were pending. According to TorHoerman Law, many of these cases are being consolidated into multidistrict litigation (MDL). In fact, around 4,000 cases have already been consolidated into an MDL in California.
The website also states that while the use of glyphosate is unlikely to be banned, EPA is taking measures towards its safe use. The agency has created a panel of federal law scientists and chemical industry consultants to ensure glyphosate’s safe use.
The study done by this panel concludes that the weed killer is unlikely carcinogenic. This means that although very conclusive evidence was not found, it can likely cause cancers.
When you’re exposed to Roundup, your body absorbs the chemicals it contains. These chemicals are toxic and can cause serious health problems like cancer and birth defects. If you have been exposed to Roundup or other herbicides, contact a lawyer today to learn more about your legal options.