Roundup is one of the most widely used herbicides in the world. It is sprayed on millions of acres of farmland in the United States alone, and is a staple for many home gardeners. Yet in 2015, Roundup’s active ingredient was determined to be a probable carcinogen by an entity of the World Health Organization, and has been linked to deadly forms of blood cancer in numerous studies published in the last 15 years. The following will help you learn more about this potentially dangerous herbicide and why lawsuits are forming against its manufacturer – the 5th most-hated company in America.
What is Roundup?
Roundup is an herbicide used to kill weeds and grass on home lawns, in gardens and on agricultural fields. The product was first introduced to the consumer marketplace in 1976 by Monsanto Company and has since been used by millions of consumers and industry professionals alike.
What is Roundup used for?
Roundup is a weed and grass killer. It is used to control unwanted pests in gardens and on lawns at home, and is also used on agricultural fields to keep weeds from overtaking crops. There are even Roundup Ready seeds that are genetically engineered to be resistant to the herbicide, allowing farmers to spray Roundup directly onto crops and kill only the weeds around them.
Roundup At Home
There are more than a dozen Roundup Weed & Grass Killer products available for use at home. Roundup can be used to kill unwanted weeds:
- in gardens
- along walkways and patios
- around driveways
- along fence lines
- around shrubs or trees
- along foundations
It can also be used to clear grass from lawns before planting a new lawn or laying a new patio or walkway.
The makers of Roundup suggest not using the herbicide to kill weeds on lawns, unless clearing large areas of grass is the goal. Roundup will kill virtually all plants that it touches.
Roundup On The Farm
Roundup is used on farms and other agricultural operations to kill unwanted weeds from crop fields. In 1996, Roundup’s manufacturer Monsanto introduced Roundup Ready crops – genetically engineered seeds that were resistant to the herbicide. This means farmers could spray Roundup directly onto Roundup Ready crops during the growing period and only the weeds would be killed.
The company first introduced RR soybean and corn seeds, but soon cotton, alfalfa, canola and sugar beet seeds came to market.
Monsanto has also experimented with RR wheat, but discontinued trials even after gaining approval in 2004 from the Food and Drug Administration, which said the seeds were as safe as conventional wheat for humans and animals.
Much controversy has surrounded the use of RR crops and other genetically modified organisms, or GMOs. There are few long-term studies to show the safety and efficacy of GMOs in the human body and environment. GMO crops have also led to an increase in the use of pesticides across the United States, with one study estimating an additional 500 pounds of pesticides were used on America’s farmlands since the introduction of herbicide-resistant seed technology.
Roundup Weed & Grass Killer is used to keep weeds at bay in areas other than at home and on the farm. Roundup is often used by commercial nurseries and golf courses to control pest populations and to clear unwanted growth.
How does Roundup work?
Roundup works by targeting and inhibiting a specific enzyme found only in plants. Roundup’s active ingredient, glyphosate, inhibits this enzyme and prevents the plant from making certain proteins needed for growth. Roundup is absorbed mostly through the plant’s leaves and is effective in killing a wide variety of plants.
Who makes Roundup?
Roundup is manufactured by Monsanto Company, a St. Louis-based sustainable agriculture company. It employs more than 21,000 people worldwide, nearly half of whom are based in the United States. Monsanto brought in about $15 billion in revenue in 2015.
Monsanto has a notoriously bad reputation, thanks in part to its GMO seeds, which have been banned in 38 countries around the world due to fears of potential adverse health effects in humans. In 2016, Monsanto was ranked as the 5th most-hated company in America based on the Harris Poll’s Reputation Quotient, which ranks the nation’s 100 most visible companies as perceived by the general public.
Is Roundup safe?
Roundup Weed and Grass Killer is the most widely used herbicide in the world and its toxicity has been a widely contested issue for years.
Roundup is sprayed on millions of acres of farmland each year in the United States, and studies suggest its use has been increasing. Residue from the herbicide’s main ingredient glyphosate has been found in air, water and soil samples taken by the U.S. Geological Survey, as well as numerous food samples, giving rise to the question: Is Roundup safe?
Glyphosate was determined to be “probably carcinogenic to humans” in March 2015 by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, part of the World Health Organization.
Drawing on published reports in scientific literature from independent researchers, IARC specifically linked exposure of Roundup and glyphosate to non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) and several other blood cancers, including B-cell lymphoma, a subtype of NHL. The European Food Safety Authority, on the other hand, concluded the same year that glyphosate was unlikely to pose a carcinogenic threat to humans.
Roundup can persist in the soil for days or even months, risking a buildup of the herbicide in the environment and further exposing people to the substance. Roundup binds tightly to soil and has been shown to remain for up to 6 months depending on the climate and soil type, according to the National Pesticide Information Center.
Monsanto’s own studies have shown Roundup to have a wide-ranging half-life, depending on conditions. Soil samples taken around the US by Monsanto in the 1990s produced half lives ranging from less than 2 days to more than 140 days.
The National Pesticide Information Center also suggests Roundup is not likely to get into groundwater because it binds so tightly to soil, however, samples taken by the U.S. Geological Survey have tested positive for glyphosate.
Is there a link between Roundup exposure and cancer?
Dozens of studies have been published since the late 1990s analyzing the safety of Roundup’s main ingredient, glyphosate. Many of these studies link the weed killer to a deadly form of blood cancer called non-Hodgkin lymphoma and its subtypes.
A 2002 study published in the journal Leukemia & Lymphoma pooled results from two case-control studies and found people exposed to glyphosate were at a three-fold increased risk of developing NHL or a rarer subtype called hairy cell leukemia.
A 2003 study published in the BMJ’s Occupational and Environmental Medicine pooled data from three case-control studies of NHL conducted in the Midwest by the National Cancer Institute in the 1980s. The study found that men who lived or worked on a farm as adults had a 10% increase in risk for developing NHL compared to men who did not. The study also found that exposure to glyphosate in particular doubled these individuals’ risks for developing NHL.
More recent studies have also linked glyphosate to an increase in risk for NHL and its subtypes.
A Swedish study published in 2008 in the International Journal of Cancer found exposure to glyphosate increased a person’s risk for developing NHL by more than double and increased a person’s risk for developing a subtype of NHL, called B-cell lymphoma, by 87%.
In 2014, a study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health found people exposed to glyphosate at work had a two-fold increased risk of developing B-cell lymphoma.
Even a study sponsored by Monsanto, published this year in the Journal of Environmental Sciences and Health, found a 40% increase in risk for B-cell lymphoma and a 30% increase in risk for NHL when exposed to the herbicide. The authors of the Monsanto-sponsored study were quick to point out that no “causal relationship” has been found between glyphosate exposure and NHL, meaning they could not necessarily prove it was the glyphosate that caused the increased risk in NHL or its subtypes.
Many of these studies found a dose-dependent relationship between exposure to Roundup and the development of NHL. This means the more Roundup people were exposed to, the more their risk increased for developing NHL.
What is non-Hodgkin lymphoma?
Non-Hodgkin lymphoma is a serious and potentially deadly side effect of exposure to the weed killer Roundup.
NHL is a form of cancer that begins in the body’s lymphatic system, a part of the circulatory system and an integral part of the immune system. In NHL, tumors form from lymphocytes – a type of white blood cell – and can spread to other parts of the body.
NHL can begin in the body’s B cells, which help fight infections by producing antibodies, or the T cells, which kill foreign invaders directly. The most common subtypes of NHL, diffuse large B-cell lymphoma and follicular lymphoma, involve the B cells. Determining where the NHL originated can help determine treatment options.
Survival rates of NHL can depend on the type and stage of the cancer and the treatment options available. More than 72,000 new cases of NHL are expected to be diagnosed in the United States in 2016, and about 20,000 people are expected to die from NHL the same year.
Symptoms of NHL
Symptoms of NHL often mimic those of other diseases, so it is important to speak with your doctor about any persistent signs or symptoms that worry you.
Symptoms of NHL may include:
- Painless, swollen lymph nodes in your neck, armpit or groin
- Abdominal pain or swelling
- Chest pain, coughing or trouble breathing
- Night sweats
- Weight loss
How are people exposed to Roundup?
Roundup is prolific in the environment. It has been sprayed on millions of acres of farmland since Roundup Ready seeds were introduced in the late 1990s and has been used by millions of Americans at home since the 1970s.
The use of Roundup has increased 10-fold in the past 20 years, according to a Consumer Reports article published shortly after IARC announced its assessment of glyphosate in March 2015. When pesticides like Roundup are applied to fields or yards, their residues can wind up in our drinking water and our food. That means virtually everyone is at risk for exposure, though some may be more at risk than others.
Exposure to Roundup and its active ingredient glyphosate can occur in several different ways, including inhalation, direct contact with skin, and ingestion.
When Roundup is sprayed onto a field or the home garden, those applying it are at risk of breathing in some of the product.
But those spraying the product may not be the only ones at risk of inhaling it.
Nearly two-thirds to 100% of air samples taken in Mississippi and Iowa during the 2007 and 2008 growing seasons tested positive for glyphosate, according to a U.S. Geological Survey. This means people and communities in the vicinity of farms using Roundup could be exposed to the carcinogen.
Roundup can be absorbed through the skin, so any direct contact of the product with the skin could result in exposure. For example, as Roundup is sprayed onto a field, workers in the vicinity may come in contact with the product even if they are not the ones spraying it. People handling soil contaminated with the weed-killer can also be exposed through direct skin contact.
Even people living in communities in close proximity to farms using Roundup may be exposed to glyphosate. The same U.S. Geological Survey that tested air samples in Mississippi and Iowa also tested rain samples and found nearly two-thirds to 100% tested positive for the herbicide.
People may be exposed to Roundup through the water they drink and the food they eat. The same U.S. Geological Survey found glyphosate residue in streams and surface water, and glyphosate residue has been found in honey, soy sauce, infant formula, and even breast milk, according to an article from Reuters.
There is a reason Monsanto chose to produce Roundup-resistant soybean and corn seeds: soybean and corn products are in the vast majority of processed foods available in America. From salad dressing to cereal, coffee creamer to cookies, soybean or corn products are sure to be an ingredient listed on the nutrition label.
Even crops that aren’t Roundup Ready are being sprayed with Monsanto’s herbicide in the late stages of growth. Beginning in 2006, farmers began dousing wheat and barley fields shortly before they were harvested to kill weeds and speed up the drying out process. This practice may put consumers at an even greater risk for ingesting glyphosate residues in foods.
Who is at risk for exposure to Roundup?
Occupations that require workers to handle Roundup directly or indirectly may be most at-risk. A few examples of these occupations include:
- Crop farm workers and laborers
- Nursery or greenhouse workers
- Agricultural equipment operators
- Soil scientists and surveyors
You don’t have to work on a farm to be exposed to Roundup. Glyphosate residues are found in the air and drinking water near agricultural fields where they are applied, putting whole communities at risk.
Roundup is a popular herbicide to use at home, as well. Americans have used the product since it was introduced in the mid-1970s to control weeds and other pests in their gardens and on their lawns.
Glyphosate residue has also been found in food products, giving rise to the concern that virtually every American could be exposed to the probable carcinogen at some point in his or her lifetime.
Monsanto lost its exclusive patent rights for Roundup’s main ingredient glyphosate at the turn of the new millennium. This opened the door for new products to be manufactured with the weed-killing ingredient.
Other products containing glyphosate include Rodeo, AquaNeat and AquaStar.
Are there lawsuits against the maker of Roundup?
Since IARC made the determination that Roundup is probably cancer-causing to humans, lawsuits have been filed against Monsanto on behalf of individuals who were diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma or any of its subtypes.
In September and October of 2015, lawsuits were filed in California and Delaware state courts against Monsanto. These lawsuits allege clients suffered exposure to Roundup in crop fields, commercial nurseries and at home, and that prior to IARC’s evaluation, they did not know or could not have known about the cancer-causing danger of glyphosate and Roundup.
I was exposed to Roundup and was diagnosed with NHL. Can I file a lawsuit?
If you or someone you love was exposed to Roundup and were diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma or another blood cancer, you may be entitled to compensation. The legal team at National Injury Help is ready to answer your questions and help you determine if your case qualifies for a Roundup Cancer Lawsuit.
Call National Injury Help today at 1-800-214-1010 for a free case evaluation or use the form on the bottom of your screen.