Monsanto and the Rise of Roundup

Monsanto’s signature chemical weed-killer, Roundup (glyphosate), was a groundbreaking discovery and a boon to agriculture, and, therefore, a boon to society when it was first introduced to the consumer market in 1974. By 1980, it was one of the best-selling herbicides on the market. Roundup was so successful that today it is used on nearly every acre of crop and soy grown in the United States; Monsanto profits from Roundup net the company billions annual in the Unites States alone, some of which Monsanto spent on studying the potential harm of their own product.

Monsanto appeared to be innovative, successful, and socially responsible in the sale and distribution of their product. With North American crops safe from weeds, billions in revenue, and their own research in hand, Monsanto officials declared Roundup “safer than table salt” and completely non-toxic to humans and pets in the 1990’s.

Monsanto’s Roundup and Independent Research

However, not everything was as it seemed. Different research groups were coming to wildly different conclusions about the safety of Roundup. By 2001, a clear pattern had developed: Monsanto-backed research consistently found glyphosate to be safe, and independent research consistently found that glyphosate was linked to sharp increases in cancer risks with particular cancers. In 2015, The World Health Organization (WHO) declared that glyphosate was “probably carcinogenic” while Monsanto continues to maintain the product is safe today. As of this writing, glyphosate is currently being re-evaluated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) with respect to glyphosate’s safety.

Regardless of the EPA’s determination, it is likely that a jury will eventually determine who is being truthful. To that end, it is worth noting that WHO is arguably the most reputable and objective organizations in the medical/scientific community.

If you have any questions about a particular form of cancer (regardless of whether it is listed here), or a question about you or a loved one’s exposure history, please inquire. The science and legal issues are evolving every day and are present here.

Quotes of industry officials/scientists

“It is commonly believed that Roundup is among the safest pesticides… Despite its reputation, Roundup was by far the most toxic among the herbicides and insecticides tested. This inconsistency between scientific fact and industrial claim may be attributed to huge economic interests, which have been found to falsify health risk assessments and delay health policy decisions.”

R. Mesnage et al., Biomed Research International, Volume 2014 (2014) article ID 179691

“Pesticides are used throughout the world as mixtures called formulations. They contain adjuvants, which are often kept confidential and are called inerts by the manufacturing companies, plus a declared active principle, which is usually tested alone. We tested the toxicity of 9 pesticides, comparing active principles and their formulations, on three human cell lines. Glyphosate, isoproturon, fluroxypyr, pirimicarb, imidacloprid, acetamiprid, tebuconazole, epoxiconazole, and prochloraz constitute, respectively, the active principles of 3 major herbicides, 3 insecticides, and 3 fungicides.  Despite its relatively benign reputation, Roundup was among the most toxic herbicides and insecticides tested. Most importantly, 8 formulations out of 9 were up to one thousand times more toxic than their active principles. Our results challenge the relevance of the acceptable daily intake for pesticides because this norm is calculated from the toxicity of the active principle alone. Chronic tests on pesticides may not reflect relevant environmental exposures if only one ingredient of these mixtures is tested alone.”

Biomedical Research International

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