Roundup is a popular weed killer that has been shown to have links to cancer. So why is it still being sold?
Why is Roundup Still Being Sold?
Roundup is a popular weed killer used to manage invasive and noxious weeds, but it has caused a spiraling effect on the health of many people. Despite connections to cancer being found, Roundup still remains on shelves. Here, we’ll discuss how Roundup is used in the US, the debate about its key ingredient—glyphosate—and what current courts are doing to try and protect victims.
A Brief History of Roundup
Weeds can be harmful to crops and residential gardens because weeds tend to compete with other plants for food, water, and shelter. This harm is one of the main reasons that Roundup is used both by people in their yards and by farmers in their fields.
Monsanto, an agrochemical and agricultural biotechnology company, originally developed Roundup in the 1970s. However, it wasn’t until the 1990s that Roundup soared in popularity. Why? The answer has to do with what Roundup can’t do. Roundup can’t tell the difference between weeds and other crops or plants grown at home.
This means that it kills almost any plant it touches. Monsanto partially remedied this issue with the introduction of genetically modified crop seeds that were resistant to glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup. In 1996, Monsanto introduced the first of these Roundup Ready crops, soybeans. In 2018, global pharmaceutical company Bayer acquired Monsanto.
Does Roundup Still Cause Cancer? The Debate About Glyphosate
In addition to seeing Roundup on store shelves, you have also probably seen it on the news. If you have seen the news stories, you may be wondering, does Roundup still cause cancer? Much of the recent coverage as been centered around Roundup and its possible connection to cancer. At the heart of that question is a debate about glyphosate, the active herbicide ingredient in Roundup.
What exactly is the issue with glyphosate? It depends on who you ask. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says that glyphosate is safe. According to the EPA, “there are no risks to public health when glyphosate is used in accordance with its current label and that glyphosate is not a carcinogen.”
It may be interesting to note that U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue commented on the then interim decision, “If we are going to feed 10 billion people by 2050, we are going to need all the tools at our disposal, which includes the use [of] glyphosate.” While this comment doesn’t address whether Roundup still causes cancer, it does seem to highlight how Roundup’s impact on the agricultural industry plays an important role in the glyphosate debate and why Roundup is still being sold.
However, as the saying goes, “There are two sides to every coin.”
On the flip side, the World Health Organization and other studies have said Roundup is probably carcinogenic. Carcinogenic means that the substance and exposure to the substance can lead to cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, “When a substance or exposure has been labeled a carcinogen, it means it has been studied extensively by researchers, and one or more agencies have evaluated the evidence and determined it to be a cause of cancer.”
Through its research on cancer-causing agents and substances, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), a part of the World Health Organization, has created a classification system for carcinogenicity. After identification and evaluation, the agent and/or substance is placed into one of the following groups:
- Group 1: Carcinogenic to humans
- Group 2A: Probably carcinogenic to humans
- Group 2B: Possibly carcinogenic to humans
- Group 3: Not classifiable as to its carcinogenicity in humans
Since 1971, the IARC has evaluated the cancer-causing potential of more than 1,000 likely candidates. In March 2015, the IARC classified glyphosate into Group 2A: Probably carcinogenic to humans. According to the IARC, “This was based on ‘limited’ evidence of cancer in humans (from real-world exposures that actually occurred) and ‘sufficient’ evidence of cancer in experimental animals (from studies of ‘pure’ glyphosate).”
How Does Roundup Cause Cancer?
To get specific thorough, how does Roundup cause cancer? The answer has to do with your lymphatic system.
Your lymphatic system, which is part of your immune system, is a network of tissues, vessels, and organs. This system moves a fluid called lymph through your body. Lymph performs an important function, namely transporting “infection-fighting white blood cells (lymphocytes).”
There are a number of diseases that can impact your lymphatic system, including lymphoma. Lymphoma is a “cancer of the lymph nodes and occurs when lymphocytes grow and multiply uncontrollably.” Due to glyphosate’s effect on white blood cells within the lymphatic system, Roundup exposure has been connected to lymphoma. There are a number of different types of lymphoma, including Hodgkin’s lymphoma and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
The Supreme Court Rejects Bayer’s Appeal
Big corporations are not always interested in providing individuals with the justice they deserve. Just because big corporations are not on the side of the consumer doesn’t mean that the justice system isn’t on their side.
In at least three trials, the courts have awarded Roundup users tens of millions of dollars against Bayer. In June 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court twice denied Bayer’s attempts to dismiss customer lawsuits alleging that Roundup causes cancer.
In the first instance, the justices left in place a lower court decision upholding $25 million in damages. The damages were awarded to a California resident who proved to the court that he had regularly used Roundup for 26 years and blamed Roundup for his non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Later that month, the justices once again refused to hear an appeal from Bayer. This was an appeal of an $86.7 million judgment awarded to a California couple. The couple similarly claimed that decades of using Roundup caused them to develop non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Bayer faces potentially billions of dollars in damages. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that all claims go to trial. According to Bayer, the company has already settled approximately 107,000 of the approximately 138,000 current cases. Bayer has also set aside an additional provision of $4.5 billion to “manage anticipated claims, through settlement and litigation.
Guardian Legal Network Is Here To Help
Guardian Legal Network helps people who believe they have gotten cancer from Roundup get the legal help they deserve. If you were exposed to Roundup and have been diagnosed with cancer, reach out to Guardian Legal Network for assistance. We will answer your questions and help you determine the next steps for pursuing a claim.
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