In 2015, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) changes its outlook on cancer risks related to Roundup. It warned the planet that Roundup is likely a carcinogen for humans. Several studies done around the world led this respected international agency to conclude that Roundup exposure through farming, landscaping, and gardening can result in the following types of cancer:
- Non-Hodgkin lymphoma
- Multiple myeloma
Some experts contend that cancer from Roundup can occur after just eight hours of exposure to the herbicide. Even with a Roundup cancer warning from the WHO, research findings in The Lancet, and cancer warnings and bans around the world, Monsanto is still insisting that Roundup is not a danger for cancer.
As of 2018, glyphosate is still being reviewed by EPA to determine if it meets their definition of a carcinogen. It stated at the end of 2017 that the chemical is not likely to be carcinogenic to humans, but study is ongoing.
Who Is At Risk?
Extensive research shows that Roundup cancer happens in those who use the dangerous herbicide for landscaping, gardening or farming. Researchers think that the cancer risk is due to a chemical reaction between glyphosate and tallow-amines in the product. Gardeners, landscapers and others who are exposed to Roundup have been shown to have higher rates of cancer, including non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Also, people who are exposed to Roundup have been found to have traces of the product in their urine and blood, according to recent research.
Cancer Dangers from Roundup
Based upon their analysis of several studies, the IARC classified Roundup as a carcinogen for humans. The major risk for cancer is with landscapers, gardeners, farmers and others who regularly work with the product. It is believed that cancer risk increases with only eight hours of exposure. Roundup that is absorbed into crops is not thought to be a serious risk for cancer at this time.
Several clinical studies done around the globe have increased our understanding of the risk of hodgkins lymphoma from Roundup exposure. Today it is known that anyone who has used the herbicide with any regularity could develop lymphoma. Those who use this glyphosate herbicide directly have a higher risk.
But research has indicated that those who live in areas where the product is used often on crops also have a risk of developing cancer or lymphoma. Research shows that chromosomal DNA changes have been seen in the general public which shows that people who are exposed to glyphosate in the environment could be at risk of developing forms of cancer.
Monsanto is continuing to deny that Roundup does not present a risk for cancer. Many Americans are familiar with Monsanto and find it hard to believe the company would subject people to harm. But over the years, Monsanto officials have been investigated by the Department of Justice and FDA for being allegedly involved in fraudulent scientific studies that may have reported fake evidence of the safety of Roundup.
In the 1970s, the company hired Industrial Bio-Test Labs to do cancer research for Roundup. A federal investigation in 1976 led by FDA found the lab was guilty of regularly falsifying data in its testing on Roundup products. Three top executives of the company were convicted of fraud in the early 1980s.
In 1991, Monsanto also worked with Craven Labs to examine how safe Roundup was and the validity of cancer claims.
A subsequent DOJ investigation showed that Craven used fake data in research and made up results that favored Monsanto. The owner of the company and several of its employees were convicted of fraud in their testing related to Roundup.
In 1996, the AG’s office in New York made fraud claims against Monsanto. They alleged false advertising of Roundup products. Monsanto had to cease and desist its deceptive marketing claims in New York. The company is no longer allowed there to advertise its products as safe for human use. But in most states, Roundup can be advertised as it likes.
How Concerned Should You Be?
Given that much is still unknown about the risk of cancer with Roundup in consumers, many experts say you should not be too concerned about what you are eating at your table. Some say they would hesitate if they consumed a GMO product with grain in it. But some say there is still cause for concern. Part of the reason is that long-term studies about the safety of Roundup products are needed because the ways it is used and how we are exposed to it continues to change.
Over time, weed species get more tolerant to glyphosate; the most resistant weeds survive and pass on that resistant to future weed generations. The resistance means that farms must be using more Roundup to kill weeds. This, combined with more farms using it every year, means more glyphosate could be slowing working its way into our bodies.
What effects prolonged but low-level exposure to Roundup in the home is unknown. What are the actual health consequences for having chronic low exposure over the last 20 years? There has been very little human clinical or epidemiological research on this.
Preliminary research seems to suggest that some people should be more cautious with their Roundup exposure than others. A person with a weaker liver, for example, could be more susceptible to glyphosate’s effects on the liver, which could lead to fatty liver disease, if not cancer. Also, small children and adults with immune deficiencies could be more susceptible to Roundup effects.
Legislative Efforts in California Fail
California tried to warn people who come into contact with possible carcinogens with Proposition 65, which requires warning labels on products that can cause cancer, reproductive harm or birth defects. But a week after the ruling, another judge stated that the state could not mandate a label on products with glyphosate because what he thought was strong evidence that showed the chemical was safe. But some experts disagree with the finding and say the evidence is strong that extended exposure to Roundup can lead to cancer and other diseases.
- Can Weed Killer Give You Cancer? (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/health-news/can-weed-killer-give-you-cancer#8
- Does Roundup Cause Cancer? (March 2018). Retrieved from https://www.newsweek.com/does-roundup-cause-cancer-federal-judge-weighing-scientific-evidence-will-be-833279