By: Marion Werner – University of Buffalo, Annie Shattuck – Indiana University, Ryan Galt – UCLA. Article published originally in www.theconversation.com
As the US enters its peak summer growing season, gardeners plant and weed, and groundskeepers mow parks and playing fields. Many are using the popular weed killer, Roundup, which is widely available at [American] stores like Home Depot and Target.
Recently, three US juries awarded multimillion-dollar verdicts to plaintiffs who asserted that glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, gave them non-Hodgkin lymphoma, a cancer of the immune system. Bayer,a German chemical company, bought Roundup’s inventor, Monsanto, in 2018 and inherited some 125 000 pending lawsuits, of which it has settled all but about 30 000. The company is now considering ending US retail sales of Roundup to reduce the risk of further lawsuits from residential users, who have been the main source of legal claims.
As scholars who study global trade, food systems and their effects on the environment, we see a bigger story: generic glyphosate is ubiquitous around the globe. Farmers use it on the majority of the world’s agricultural fields. Humans spray enough glyphosate to coat every acre of farmland in the world with half a pound [almost 250g] of it every year.
Glyphosate is now showing up in humans, but scientists are still debating its health effects. One thing is clear, though: because it’s an effective and very cheap weedkiller, it has become pervasive. Research on glyphosate’s possible human health effects has been inconclusive, but concern is rising over its heavy use worldwide.