You know its name. You know the health risks linked to it. I’m talking about Roundup — one of the UK’s most popular weed killers used by gardeners and farmers. In fact, the use of this particular herbicide by UK farmers has soared by 400 per cent in the last 20 years.
Back in 2015, we told you about a committee of top cancer experts organised by the World Health Organization (WHO) who officially announced that glyphosate — the main ingredient in Roundup — is “probably carcinogenic to humans”.
Needless to say Monsanto — the global American biotech giant that manufactures Roundup — went on the offensive. In a statement the company said: “As consumers ourselves, safety is a priority for every person who works at Monsanto. In fact, every glyphosate-based herbicide on the market meets the rigorous standards set by regulatory and health authorities to protect human health”.
As much as Monsanto tried, some of the 160 countries in which Roundup is sold took the cancer scare seriously and retailers in countries like Germany and France removed glyphosate-containing herbicides from their shelves. One state protection minister even called for a ban on the use of the chemical by the general public altogether.
However, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had a different stance and as a result glyphosate has not been restricted in the US. The EPA said the chemical has “low toxicity” and recommends people avoid entering a field for 12 hours after crops have been sprayed.
Following this advice could mean that states like California (the leading agricultural state in the US) would have to go into lockdown every time Roundup is applied, because farmers there use glyphosate-containing herbicides on at least 250 different types of crops.
And that is exactly why the state of California went to court and won the legal right to force Monsanto to label Roundup as a possible cancer threat. California will be the first state to order such compulsory labelling if it carries out the proposal.
Needless to say, Monsanto is not happy and said that the labels would have immediate financial consequences for the company. The company’s lawyer added that many consumers would see the labels and stop buying Roundup.
But isn’t that the point of labelling these dangerous herbicides with a cancer warning? To warn consumers about the potential risk? And if they end up not buying the product, well then it is because they’ve made an informed decision about protecting their health.
Of course, this is not the first time we’ve written about the known health risks associated with glyphosate-containing herbicides, which range from being linked to an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease to hormonal disruptions.
So the next time you visit your local nursery to get your garden and lawn ready in preparation for summer, think carefully before you pick up a herbicide that contains glyphosate.
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Disclaimer: Bear in mind the material contained in this article is provided for information purposes only. We are not addressing anyone’s personal situation. Please consult with your own physician before acting on any recommendations contained herein.
“WHO report links ingredient in Roundup to cancer” Reuters, March 20, 2015, The New York Times, nytimes.com
“Monsanto says it’s ‘outraged’ by WHO cancer risk report” Jack Kaskey, March 23, 2015, Bloomberg Business, Bloomberg.com
Roundup weedkiller banned from French garden centres over ‘probable’ link to cancer, published online 15.05.15, independent.co.uk
Court Rules Against Monsanto, Allows California To Put Cancer Warning On Roundup, published online 27.01.17, sacramento.cbslocal.com