Used in more than 160 countries and approved for residential, commercial, municipal, and agricultural applications, Roundup is arguably the world's most popular herbicide. Developed by Monsanto in the 1970s for use in small-scale residential settings, use of the product has soared dramatically in recent years, thanks to the introduction of Roundup Ready crops—plants that have been genetically modified to withstand the effects of Roundup's active ingredient, glyphosate.
Roundup Ready crops make it possible for farmers to spray entire fields to control weeds, without having to worry about damage to the crops themselves. These genetically modified, Roundup-friendly crops account for the majority of the corn and soybeans grown in the United States today.
Despite Roundup's widespread popularity, reports linking glyphosate to non-Hodgkin lymphoma and other health problems have caused some to halt their use of the herbicide. Some former users who were diagnosed with cancer after long-term use of the product have even filed lawsuits against Roundup's manufacturer, Monsanto, alleging that the company manufactures, markets, and sells an unsafe product.
How Does Roundup Work?
A broad-spectrum herbicide, glyphosate—Roundup's active ingredient—inhibits the EPSP synthase enzyme, preventing plants from producing the proteins they need for healthy growth. Without the ability to produce proteins and other nutrients, plants usually shrivel and die within days of the Roundup application.
Because most plants require the EPSP synthase enzyme for growth, Roundup is capable of killing most types of plants except those that have specifically been genetically engineered to be “Roundup Ready.”
Glyphosate Safety in Question
For decades, Roundup and its active ingredient glyphosate enjoyed a reputation as the safest herbicide on the market. However, that reputation may have been undeserved, as studies going back as far as the 1980s seem to suggest a link between exposure to Roundup and various types of cancer.
Glyphosate was even designated a “Category C oncogene” by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Toxicology Branch in 1985, which categorized Roundup as a non-food product with cancer-causing potential. After reevaluating the herbicide in 1991, the EPA reversed its decision, declaring glyphosate safe for use.
However, the biggest challenge to Roundup's perceived safety came in 2015, when the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC)—a division of the World Health Organization (WHO)—added glyphosate to a list of agents that it says are “probably carcinogenic to humans.” According to the report from the IARC, exposure to glyphosate caused cancer in laboratory animals and damaged the DNA in human cells.
In addition to non-Hodgkin lymphoma, Roundup has also been linked to the following cancers and other health problems:
- Hodgkin’s lymphoma
- Soft tissue carcinomas
- Liver damage
- Kidney damage
- Kidney cancer
- Breast cancer
- Pancreatic cancer
- Thyroid cancer
- Liver cancer
- Bladder cancer
- Bone cancer
Monsanto currently faces dozens of lawsuits from former Roundup users who claim that exposure to the herbicide caused them to develop cancer. The lawsuits also allege that Monsanto knew glyphosate could cause cancer but failed to warn users and continued to market the product as safe. As a result, the plaintiffs are seeking compensation for injuries, as well as punitive damages.
Due to the large number of similar lawsuits, Roundup-related product liability cases were consolidated into a multidistrict litigation (MDL), with cases to be heard in the San Francisco area, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.
Do You Need Help Pursuing a Roundup Cancer Lawsuit?
Farmers, landscapers, and others who were exposed to glyphosate on a regular and long-term basis are most at risk of developing herbicide-related health conditions. If you were diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma or another type of cancer after working with Roundup, you may be eligible for compensation. Contact Holton Law Firm today to schedule an appointment for a free, no-obligation initial case consultation.