Should the EPA Ban Roundup?
Vote to see how others feel about this issue
by Causes | 8.16.18
Last Friday, a court ruled against Monsanto and awarded $289 million in damages to a man who said the company’s Roundup weed killer caused his cancer.
The ruling prompted Greenpeace to call for sales of the weed killer to be restricted.
The following Monday, stock in Bayer – Monsanto’s new parent company – dropped more than 10 percent, suggesting investors are concerned that this case could harken further challenges to Roundup’s safety.
On Wednesday, an environmental group published a report indicating that traces of glyphosate – the chemical in Roundup – are in dozens of everyday foods, from cereal to granola bars.
Why it matters
Last week’s trial outcome didn’t necessarily mean that glyphosate causes cancer. Indeed, that’s a matter of considerable debate. Rather, the jury found that Monsanto intentionally withheld information about glyphosate’s potential harms.
Glyphosate is the world’s most widely used herbicide. Its trade names include Roundup (Monsanto), Rodeo (Dow Chemical), and Pondmaster (PBI-Gordon Corporation).
Cornell University’s Pesticide Management Education Program (PMEP) calls glyphosate a “moderately toxic” herbicide that can cause severe eye irritation; exposure tests with rats, dogs, mice, and rabbits in studies lasting from 21 days to two years did not show, with few exceptions, easily observable or cellular changes.
On its impact on humans and animals, PMEP says that glyphosate “is poorly absorbed from the digestive tract and is largely excreted unchanged by mammals,” while it is shown to be “only slightly toxic to wild birds” and “practically non-toxic to fish.”
The IARC examined only the narrow question of whether a substance might cause cancer in some circumstances, but left evaluation of the chemical’s risks and benefits up to national regulators. Furthermore, the IARC found no evidence at all from human studies. It also found no evidence of increased risk of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, which is the cancer the plaintiff in this latest case developed.
Other possible harms
Aside from the question of whether glyphosate causes cancer, it has been linked to other harmful impacts on the environment and human health, including the decline of the monarch butterfly population.
One study also concluded that chronic exposure to glyphosate “at an ultra-low, environmental dose can result in liver and kidney damage with potential significant health implications for animal and human populations.”
A recently published study found that glyphosate “may serve as one of the drivers for antibiotic resistance,” and that it may contribute to “the proliferation of plant and animal pathogens.”
Many in the scientific community say that we don’t know enough about the ecological and health effects of glyphosate, and that more research is necessary.
What do you think?
Should the U.S. ban glyphosate? Increase funding to scientific research into its impacts? Why or why not? Hit Take Action to tell your reps what you think, then share your thoughts below.
—Sara E. Murphy
(Photo Credit: iStock / NoDerog)
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