glyphosate, Roundup

The popular herbicide glyphosate, also known by its brand name Roundup, appears to be headed for a warning label in the state of California. This chemical has been controversial for years.

Does Roundup Cause Cancer?

Scientists have been arguing about whether or not Roundup can cause cancer in humans. A few years ago, the International Agency for Research on Cancer labeled it a probable human carcinogen. But an expert committee for assessing chemical risk for the European Union determined that there is inadequate evidence to classify this weed killer as a carcinogen.

What Is the Status of Roundup in California?

Soon, however, California will add glyphosate to its list of potential carcinogens. Proposition 65 requires such a list, and the state has looked closely at the IARC decision and supporting data. Manufacturer Monsanto has promised a tough fight. Whether the listing by the state’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment will eventually result in a warning on the label is still unclear.

Roundup in Food?

Last year the FDA announced plans to start testing food for residue of the pesticide. Late in the year, however, the agency placed this testing program on hold. Corn and soybeans are the “Roundup ready” crops most commonly treated with glyphosate and might have the highest residues. When the agency does begin testing, it will be evaluating soy, corn, milk and eggs.

A study published in 2014 found that chronically ill people had higher levels of the pesticide in their urine than healthy people (Krüger et al, Journal of Environmental and Analytical Toxicology, March 2014). This does not show cause-and-effect, of course, but the link is troubling.

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  1. Lynn
    Sarasota, FL

    I am still getting adds from chemical companies…I cannot get rid of one from Radium One that is pushing an algicide for our pond. We DO NOT use this stuff & it runs counter to all of the information that you are providing.

  2. Townes V. Z

    Probably best to leave these determinations to people with Ph.Ds who actually understand chemistry and cancer instead of stoking fear and encouraging people with no qualifications to make the determinations themselves based on their feelings. Also…look up the first principle of toxicology (“the dose makes the poison”).

  3. Cindy M. Black
    Seattle, WA

    I think that for many meds, the question “Does it cause cancer?” (or diabetes, or whatever) is analogous to car ads emphasizing “We’ve got more headroom than the other car!”. People pick one thing that’s easy to point a finger at, easy to measure, easy to keep statistics on, then try to build their argument on that. The LARGER picture, made up of numerous subtle aspects of health, vitality and acuity, is — over and over — overlooked!

    I’ve read ZILLIONS of articles about glyphosate and Round-up and other toxins… and I can tell you for a FACT that, cancer statistics or no, these chemicals are absolutely toxic to the health and vitality of living creatures in all kinds of ways. It infuriates me that our planet is being blasted with this horrible toxin to a greater extent every year, thanks to weeds getting immune to the effects of Roundup. THANK GOD California is at least looking askance. It’s a start.

  4. Robert Milota

    This is very important as Roundup is being banned in many countries. The evidence is overwhelming, this lethal weed killer is not needed. Monsanto and their U.S. govt buddies keep trying to suppress or ridicule the research around the globe.

  5. Virginia

    Regardless of scientific evidence, it cannot be good for anything on earth, especially in the amounts used world wide. We need to be more cautious if nothing else.

  6. Dushan41

    I agree with California placing a warning label on Roundup. I prefer to be safe rather than sorry that it wasn’t done. Tests that show that glyphosate is found in chronically ill people’s urine is vitally important to know. I’ve been using Roundup sparingly in my garden for many years. I may decide to find another way of getting rid of weeds.

    Seems that the public has no choice when they buy corn and products with soybeans which may wreak havoc with a person’s health. The FDA should proceed to test all crops using glyphosate. They should have been doing this a long time ago. Monsanto only cares about profits. They’ve been spending millions of dollars through their lobbyists to prevent testing and placing glyphosate on warning labels. I’ve been keeping abreast of Monsanto with their heavy-handed tactics in defending the use of Roundup and some of their hybrid seed products.

    In addition, I’ve also lost a degree of confidence in the FDA. Seems they’ve had too close of a relationship with corporations and their influence regarding products that come under their review and testing. This is not news. The public has become aware of the FDA and how politics have affected this government organization in recent years. The public should always have a priority regarding any product that enters the markets. Safety should always be paramount over other interests.

  7. Mary

    I have read that even rain now can have glyphosate in it. Other pesticides may also be there. California, go for it!!

  8. Ray

    I think correlation is not a panacea in research. There has to be more than linear correlation to justify a verdict. If so, the sun rises every morning, what absurd correlations can we derive from that fact? We need complete research visiting all areas that may be problematic included.

  9. Marc

    Thanks for the article and we need more studies to help get this product out of our environment and the food chain.

    Last I heard, this product is classified as a herbicide and not a pesticide.

    • Joe

      Pesticides is the general umbrella which includes; herbicides, miticides, algaecides, insecticides, fungicides, etc.

  10. Judy

    I recently read this article in Mother Jones, not exactly an apologist for Monsanto or agricultural chemicals.

    It says: “According to a new Reuters investigation, Aaron Blair, the scientist who led the IARC’s review panel on glyphosate, had access to data from a large study that strongly suggested that Roundup did not cause cancer after all—but he withheld that data from the RoundUp review panel. Weirder still: Blair himself was a senior researcher on that study.”

    I’m not an apologist for Monsanto either, and I’m perfectly willing to believe it causes other problems, though I’d have to be shown good studies. But the campaign to ban Roundup and announce it causes cancer is obviously political, not scientific.

  11. Mary
    Virgin Islands

    My neighbor used Round Up like water on the sides of our private development roads for only 4 years and has thankfully been stopped. The loss of rare native medicinal plants, frogs, lizards and the damages to the reef below from the runoff after rains is significant. Lived here for 35 years and even if Round Up doesn’t cause cancer in human’s (I’ve read other sources that supports this) it devastates the environment on so many other levels. What even disturbs me more is the ad for Bayer/Monsanto in the middle of this article showing 2 sickly, smiling dudes shaking hands asking the reader to look closer at this corporate merger. Huh? This journalism is being paid for by whom? Protecting what? I now question the integrity of the “People’s Pharmacy” with their thoroughness and biasses in their reporting.

    • Terry Graedon

      Mary, thanks for alerting us to that inappropriate ad. We ban pharmaceutical ads from our website, but hadn’t thought ahead to include chemical companies as well. Now we
      ll try to ban them as well.

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