Four Nebraska farmers are now suing the agricultural giant Monsanto because they believe the herbicide Roundup has caused them to develop cancer. The farmers feel that Monsanto did not give them accurate information about the safety of Roundup and that their non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is directly linked to daily exposure to the chemicals in the herbicide.

Glyphosate is one of the main ingredients in Roundup, which is made to kill weeds in fields without damaging the crops. Roundup is so common that up to 90% of soybeans in the U.S. are routinely sprayed with the herbicide. Although Monsanto claims that Roundup is safe, there are many questions about whether this is actually the case.

Studies have indicated that people who were regularly exposed to glyphosate were at an increased risk for developing non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. [1]

In 2015, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) of the World Health Organization (WHO) did its own study on glyphosate, using only publicly available studies, and found it was a “probable” human carcinogen. The link was not called “conclusive” because glyphosate is found in trace amounts in many foods and in drinking water, but individuals who consume glyphosate in small amounts don’t appear to have higher instances of cancer.

In response, Monsanto had a team of scientists investigate the matter. The Monsanto-hired researchers concluded that glyphosate does not cause cancer, even if someone is exposed to the chemical in very high amounts.

While the farmers are suing for damages, a Monsanto representative says, “While we have sympathy for the plaintiffs, the science simply does not support their claims.”

However, representatives for the farmers do not agree, stating,

“Monsanto championed falsified data and has attacked legitimate studies that revealed Roundup dangers.”

The lawsuit further states:

“Monsanto led a campaign of misinformation to convince government agencies, farmers and the general population that Roundup is safe. Its continuing denial extends to the date of this Complaint.”

The Guardian gives more insight:

“Professor Alan Boobis, who chaired the UN’s joint FAO/WHO meeting on glyphosate, also works as the vice-president of the International Life Science Institute (ILSI) Europe. The co-chair of the sessions was Professor Angelo Moretto, a board member of ILSI’s Health and Environmental Services Institute, and of its Risk21 steering group too, which Boobis also co-chairs.

In 2012, the ILSI group took a $500,000 (£344,234) donation from Monsanto and a $528,500 donation from the industry group Croplife International, which represents Monsanto, Dow, Syngenta and others, according to documents obtained by the US right to know campaign.”

You can read more about the conflicts of interest here.

Sources:

Medical Daily

Newser

The Guardian

[1] EWG


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Post written byAnna Scanlon:
Anna Scanlon is an author of YA and historical fiction and a PhD student at the University of Leicester where she is finishing her degree in modern history.