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What every farmer should know about glyphosate-based herbicides

In the U.S., thousands of people have filed lawsuits against Monsanto alleging exposure to Roundup caused them to develop non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

However, the U.S. District Judge presiding over all federal Roundup cases has agreed to push back several important deadlines in the bellwether process.

Removing unwanted weeds is one thing, but preventing weeds from coming back can often be a great challenge for agricultural workers.

Methods of weed control are many and varied, but the use of herbicide is sometimes the only practical and selective method. Herbicides are commonly used to eliminate and prevent all susceptible plants, not just weeds.

One of the most popular weed killers used by farmers is Roundup, with glyphosate as the main ingredient. First introduced by Monsanto in 1974, glyphosate is now the active ingredient in many weedkillers and the world's best-selling chemical herbicide; more than 750 products contain it.

It is commonly used in agriculture, but also in the forestry industry, cities, and private homeowners in fields, lawns, and gardens. To be sufficiently clear, glyphosate may be used almost anywhere, whether in non-urban areas or in towns and cities.

Why does agriculture need to phase out reliance on Roundup ready crops?

The systemic, broad-spectrum herbicide is usually used in agriculture, on lawns, and forestry, but it can be also used to control weeds in gardens and non-cultivated areas. Glyphosate-containing herbicides are considered important for the production of genetically modified herbicide-resistant crops.

For example, Roundup Ready soy, corn, and beets grow from seeds that have been genetically modified to grow even when glyphosate weed killer is applied to them.

Genetic-tolerant crops were developed because they were thought to not only eliminate the burden of weed management for farmers but also reduce the overall amount of herbicides sprayed. In fact, Roundup-ready crops increase the use of herbicides and trigger the development of glyphosate-resistant crops.

Glyphosate works by inhibiting a specific enzyme called EPSP synthase that plants need in order to grow. Without EPSP synthase, plants are unable to produce proteins essential to growth, so they die over the course of several days. Glyphosate kills plants as antibiotics kill bacteria.

Independent studies have found that glyphosate-tolerant plants accumulate glyphosate residues at unexpectedly high levels, and thus, the residues are passed on to consumers. Roundup and its active ingredient glyphosate disrupt the endocrine system and the balance of gut bacteria causing mutations that lead to cancer.

Farmers should look for ways to grow crops using sustainable agricultural practices in order to restore and uphold food security. It is best for the agricultural biotechnology industry to proceed with caution to avoid causing unintended harm to human health and the environment.

Has Monsanto acknowledged that Roundup could be deadly to herbicide applicators?

For years, Monsanto has perpetuated the myth that glyphosate is safe, biodegradable, and unlikely to pose any carcinogenic risk to people. But there is a wealth of evidence that glyphosate poses serious health hazards such as possible endocrine disruption, cell death, DNA damage, cancer, birth defects, and neurological disorders.

The first assessment of glyphosate's carcinogenic potential was undertaken in 1985, by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. In 2015, based on limited evidence in humans and sufficient evidence in experimental animals, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, found that the weed-killing agent glyphosate, the main ingredient in Roundup is "probably carcinogenic to humans" and has been associated with cases of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

In order to protect their image, the Monsanto Corporation vilified IARC's work as a selective "cherry-picking" of data, based on an "agenda-driven bias."

The commercialization of Roundup turned Monsanto into the largest producer of pesticides in the world. Currently, glyphosate is marketed under numerous trade names by more than 50 companies in several hundreds of crop protection products around the world.

Over 160 countries have approved the use of glyphosate-based herbicide products. The agribusiness giant Monsanto has rejected any link between cancer and top-selling Roundup herbicide, affirming that 40 years of research and scrutiny by regulatory agencies around the world confirm its safety.

Today, glyphosate is still promoted as "safe" despite clear evidence of the ever-growing threat to humans, ecosystems, and the environment.

If I used Roundup, am I at risk of developing cancer?

Many people exposed to Roundup most frequently, usually as part of their jobs may be at increased risk for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Some occupations that require using roundup herbicide include:

  • Farmer workers
  • Nursery employees
  • Forestry workers
  • Municipal weed-control workers
  • Groundskeepers
  • Landscapers
  • Professional gardeners
  • Herbicide applicators

Glyphosate can affect people when inhaled or swallowed. Direct contact can irritate the eyes and the skin. Prolonged exposure to glyphosate can affect the body's endocrine system causing problems in the liver and kidneys.

Clinical studies have shown that glyphosate-exposed herbicide applicators have a higher incidence of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, a form of cancer that starts in lymphocytes, which are white blood cells and part of the body's immune system.

Generally, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma develops in the lymph nodes and lymphatic tissues and it has many subtypes which are either slow-growing or fast-growing.

If you've been diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, you and your doctor need to think about the treatment and the risks or side effects. When deciding the treatment, your healthcare team will consider the stage of cancer, your age, and your overall health.

You may be offered a combination of the following treatments like chemotherapy, radiation therapy, immunotherapy, target therapy, stem cell transplant, or surgery.

Farmers and related workers are entitled to seek compensation

Farmers, landscapers, and nursery employees are primary targets of the risk of developing cancer when they spray the chemical and via eating food that has been contaminated with this ingredient.

If you have been diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma after being regularly exposed to Roundup or glyphosate, let our compassionate team of experts review the specifics of your case.