One of America’s Most Popular Weed Killers May Cause Cancer
One of the country’s most popular weed killers is the subject of lawsuits from all across America after it was labeled as a carcinogen (cancer-causing compound) by the International Agency for Research on Cancer.
That Agency classified glyphosate, the main ingredient in weed killer Roundup, as a compound that is “probably carcinogenic to humans”.
Roundup is made by controversial agricultural giant Monsanto.
Lawsuits against Monsanto are making their way through courts across the country. The story is making headlines after CBS News told the story of one mother of three named Yolanda Mendoza who “lives every day like it’s her last”.
Mendoza was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma three years ago. Today, she’s healthy and fully recovered. But back then, she thought she only had a few days to live:
“I had only like a few days”, Mendoza said in a statement to CBS News.
Mendoza underwent a five month battle against the disease, during which her children were only allowed one visit per week.
Her cancer is now in remission after intense chemotherapy. But Mendoza’s battle isn’t over yet: she is suing the makers of the popular weed killer that made her sick.
Mendoza claims she used Roundup once a week on her one-acre property:
“I would strap it on and I would walk around spraying,” Mendoza explained.
Mendoza’s lawsuit alleges that the carcinogenic compound in Roundup caused her cancer.
The law firm representing Mendoza also has 30 other clients suing or preparing to sue Monsanto. Monsanto originally discovered the active ingredient in Roundup, glyphosate.
The clients suing Monsanto come from diverse backgrounds, but they all used Roundup on a regular basis. Some used Roundup while doing landscaping work, for example, while others are migrant laborers or farmers.
The other thing that all these clients have in common is that they all have non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer Labels Glyphosate as “Probably Carcinogenic”
The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) is a division of the World Health Organization (WHO).
In a 2015 report, IARC labeled glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic” after it was found to cause cancer in lab tests on animals. Upon closer inspection, researchers observed that the chemical damaged DNA in human cells.
Monsanto Claims Glyphosate is Perfectly Safe
Monsanto isn’t prepared to admit guilt anytime soon: CBS News talked to Dr. Donna Farmer, a researcher who studied the chemical at Monsanto for more than 20 years. She strongly disagrees with the IARC report:
“I can tell you glyphosate is safe. The data that they look at, they cherry pick it and then they interpret the studies completely different than research who actually did it,” Farmer said in a statement to CBS News.
The problem with the IARC report, Farmer explains, is that it contradicts long-term studies done by both Monsanto and independent researchers. None of those studies linked glyphosate to cancer.
Farmer went on to explain that glyphosate works by targeting a specific enzyme in plants that isn’t found in humans or animals.
Farmer is so confident in the safety of glyphosate that she claims there’s no need for masks or gloves while using the weed killer. Farmer also cited a report from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that shows glyphosate “does not pose a cancer risk to humans.”
EPA Measures Risk While IARC Focuses on Hazard Identification
The reason the EPA and IARC have conflicting reports about the safety of glyphosate comes down to their approach to research.
IARC focuses on hazard identification while the EPA focuses on risk. Identifying risk is a more involved process: to demonstrate risk, the EPA needs to see evidence that glyphosate not only causes cancer, but that it’s likely to cause cancer under specific conditions.
The EPA is actively preparing a report on glyphosate – something it does with every chemical every 15 years to ensure safety. They claim the report will be complete by the end of this year – and they’re taking the IARC carcinogen report into consideration.
Stay tuned for more news about the Monsanto weed killer lawsuit and other information as we move forward.