Roundup Weed Killer is a pesticide that was developed in the 1970s by the Monsanto Company. A pesticide is any substance or mixture that is intended to prevent or destroy a pests or species that interfere with the production of agricultural commodities. The active ingredient in Roundup is glyphosate, an herbicide that targets the pest group of plants, weeds, and grasses. The main purpose of Roundup Weed Killer is to control weeds in many places, including fruit, vegetable, and other food crops, and ornamental plantings, lawns, turfs and more.
Roundup Weed Killer was initially developed for small-scale use. It became a widely available product for homeowners and small-scale farmers and gardeners. With the advent of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) Roundup Weed Killer’s use increased rapidly in the 1990s. Genetically engineered seeds became able to tolerate the chemical, so farmers could apply the weed killer to entire fields without destroying crops.
Common Uses of Roundup Weed Killer
Roundup is used in a variety of residential, commercial, and agricultural settings.
Residential: Many people use Roundup Weed Killer to kill weeds around their homes, such as in their yards, along house foundations, and even in their gardens.
Commercial: Property managers use Roundup frequently to keep the landscapes around their businesses free of unsightly weeds and other plants.
Municipal: City and other local governments in some areas use Roundup as a way to keep city properties, such as parks and public buildings, weed-free.
Agricultural: Comes in formulations that are designed for use on farms, where large areas of land need to be kept free of weeds so that crops can grow.
Roundup Weed Killer Cancer Risks
Recent research has shown potential links to cancer from the use of or exposure to Roundup Weed Killer’s active ingredient glyphosate. A recent study into the effects of glyphosate indicates a potential link with several major issues, including cancer and liver and kidney damage. Severe cases of liver or kidney damage can disrupt the body’s endocrine system, which regulates hormones. This disruption increases the risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
Due to limited regulation of or research on glyphosate in the U.S., data is limited. However, a 2003 American study of more than 3,400 farmworkers from the Midwest found higher rates of non-Hodgkin lymphoma associated with glyphosate.
Other Medical Problems
Prior to recent research indicating a potential link between the chemical and carcinogens, most medical issues were related to the misuse or overuse of the weed killer. Users may experience burning or itchy eyes or noses, particularly when touching the face without washing their hands or protecting these spots.
Regulation of Roundup Weed Killer
The Environmental Protection Agency is responsible for the oversight of human health via environmental protection and regulation.
Environmental Protection Agency
Glyphosate has never been part of the chemicals that EPA tests for pesticide residue in human blood and tissues. As such there is little EPA data regarding exposure levels from people who use the product in their yards, live near farms, or eat foods from treated fields.
In April 2015, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer study strongly suggested that glyphosate may be carcinogenic, or contributing to the causes of cancer. Their research found glyphosate in farmers’ urine and blood, chromosome damage in cells, increased risks of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in some exposed individuals, and tumor formation in some animals. Prior to that announcement, the EPA had determined that science provided no evidence linking glyphosate to cancer. In light of the WHO research, the EPA has begun an investigation into the potential health risks of glyphosate.
The EPA postponed a Scientific Advisory Panel, set to review new research on the carcinogenic potential of glyphosate. Originally scheduled for mid-October 2016, the EPA has not announced new meeting dates.
Roundup Weed Killer Lawsuits
In October 2016, dozens of lawsuits against Roundup Weed Killer and its parent company Monsanto were consolidated into a multidistrict litigation, allowing multiple plaintiffs to use the same processes and court to make the legal process more efficient. The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California is overseeing the MDL 2741.