In 2015, the International Agency for Research on Cancer[IARC] a part of the World Health Organization, published its findings after looking into the carcinogenicity of five common pesticides. One of the pesticides examined – glyphosate – is a primary ingredient in Roundup – a pesticide made by Monsanto that anyone with a garden knows about – and likely uses. Those gardeners may want to rethink that.
The IARC Report concluded that plyphosate is probably carcinogenic to humans. Not surprisingly, regular users of Roundup who also suffered from cancer, began filing lawsuits. Lots of lawsuits. Currently there are 800 cancer patients suing Monsanto. They are claiming that Monsanto failed to warn users about the cancer risk affiliated with glyphosate. Monsanto of course denies any proof and points to a separate study by the Environmental Protection Agency’s Cancer Assessment Review Committee that declared that glyphosate is not likely to cause cancer in humans. But the credibility of the EPA report is very much in question. First, it appears the EPA didn’t even consider the IARC report, as the EPA report was issued months before the IARC published their findings. And there have been allegations in some of the legal proceedings that Jess Rowland, the former Head Honcho of the EPA Pesticide Programs was involved in efforts to “kill” ongoing glyphosate studies linking it to cancer. Even more troubling are allegations that Rowland, shortly before leaving the EPA indicated to Monsanto that he “…could be useful to Monsanto as we move forward with ongoing glyphosate defense.” The EPA, it would seem, should be interested only in assessing whether certain herbicides cause cancer – and if so making the public aware. Playing “defense” on behalf of a herbicide manufacturer certainly raises some serious questions.
Tim Litzenburg’s law firm represents more than 500 of the patients suing Monsanto. He said that most of the patients had no knowledge of the link with glyphosate until the IARC came out with its report. And he noted that the lawsuits do not allege simply that that glyphosate alone caused the cancers. Litzenburg explained that “Roundup contains animal fats and other ingredients that increase the carcinogenicity of the glyphosate.” Let me break that down a bit. The plaintiff are alleging that not only did Monsanto manufacture a pesticide that included a cancer-causing agent. Monsanto added other ingredients that increased the carcinogenic impact of that agent.
Monsanto of course claims that glyphosate has a long history of safe use and does not pose any unreasonable risk to human health when used properly. And they cite to hundreds of studies demonstrating that glyphosate is safe.
I would be interested in knowing precisely how many Monsanto executives currently use Roundup in their well-tended gardens. I would bet not very many. Probably just coincidence.