Glyphosate, the active ingredient in the weed killer Roundup, is the most widely used agriculture chemical in the world. More evidence continues to turn up showing its detrimental effects on human health. Studies also indicate that glyphosate is killing the soil as well.
Roundup is manufactured by Monsanto, which was acquired last year by Bayer AG. The company faces more than 11,000 lawsuits over claims that exposure to the herbicide can cause non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a cancer that affects the lymph system. Three cases have gone to trial. Two resulted in multimillion-dollar verdicts in favor of the plaintiffs – $279 million (which was later reduced to $78 million) and $81 million. Most recently, a California jury awarded a couple $2 billion after finding the weed killer was likely responsible for their cancer diagnoses.
Monsanto has maintained that glyphosate is safe despite the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer in 2015 classifying glyphosate as a probable carcinogen.
More recently, an independent study found that people with the highest exposure to glyphosate had a 41% increased risk of developing non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The authors also noted that glyphosate can alter gut microbiome and could “impact the immune system, promote chronic inflammation, and contribute to the susceptibility of invading pathogens.” Yet another study found that even low levels of glyphosate exposure can cause non-alcoholic liver disease.
Roundup is so widely used because glyphosate is effective at eradicating weeds, but it is having a disastrous consequence on soil health, according to scientists at Austria’s University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences in Vienna. They found that casting activity of earthworms had nearly vanished from the soil within three weeks of farmland being doused with glyphosate. Casting is when worms push fertile soil to the surface as they burrow. It is essential to the health of soil as well as plant nutrition.