By Richard F. Seegal, Ph.D.
Roundup is the most widely used herbicide in the world. In 2013 more than 300 million pounds were used in the United States, primarily to control weeds in large scale farming. Other countries, particularly in South America and Asia, use even more Roundup. The manufacturer, Monsanto Corporation, claims that no credible evidence exists that Roundup is harmful to humans.
But can we believe the assurances of Monsanto, the company that also manufactured PCBs (banned in the late 1970’s) and Agent Orange (the herbicide/defoliant that killed innocent civilians and American servicemen in Vietnam)?
- Roundup generated $4.6 billion in sales for Monsanto in 2015 and is a “cash cow” for the company.
- Monsanto itself conducted or commissioned most of the studies concluding no negative effects of Roundup.
- The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) ruled that Roundup is a potential human carcinogen due to the strong association between exposure and non-Hodgkin Lymphoma. Indeed, there have been several hundred law suits filed against Monsanto by families of farmworkers who died from this disease.
- Roundup is associated with an increase in multiple myeloma and chronic lymphocytic leukemia.
- Roundup exposure is associated with an increase in ADHD and autism in children from farming communities where Roundup was used. This may be due to significant decreases in birthweight in children whose mothers had been exposed to Roundup during pregnancy as well as Roundup-induced alterations in endocrine function.
- At the other end of the age spectrum, exposure to Roundup is associated with increased incidence of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s Disease in older adults.
- Monsanto has hired internet ‘trolls’ to spread ‘fake news’ across the internet, defending the use of Roundup.
- Recently, the Hague International Tribune in Switzerland found Monsanto guilty of crimes against humanity because Monsanto and Roundup adversely affect the world’s access to food, negatively affect human health, and pervert scientific freedom.
- There have also been countless lawsuits filed by family members of those who died from Roundup-associated cancers.
In closing, I wish not to be an alarmist. Judicious use of small amounts of Roundup should not lead to these negative effects, although living next to a pristine lake we should, in my opinion, be concerned about the herbicide’s effect on plants and animals in our waters and on the shores.
In future articles l hope to discuss the effects of Roundup and other herbicides and pesticides on the environment, including the 100 billion bacteria that make up our gut microbiome which influences our thinking and health.