The Truth About the Weed Killer Cancer Myth

By now, you’ve probably heard about the lawsuit against Roundup’s weed killer. This popular choice for eradicating invasive and unwanted plants is now allegedly linked to cancer. With a federal jury finding manufacturer Monsanto guilty in a California lawsuit, there may be more to this cancer myth than meets the eye.

While Bayer AG, who purchased Monsanto after the lawsuit, plans to appeal the ruling, this isn’t the first time Roundup was linked to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. So, is there any truth to these cancer claims or are these just frivolous lawsuits with no factual backing? Here’s everything you need to know.

Enter Glyphosate

The most popular herbicide in the world is known as glyphosate. This chemical is used to treat corn, cotton, and soybeans in the United States aside from home gardens and lawns. The controversy around the weed killer cancer myth is that this substance has yet to be banned here in America.

Over two dozen other countries, however, have already banned or restricted glyphosate in their products. The chemical itself is not carcinogenic, according to Monsanto, but recent studies suggest otherwise.

Is Glyphosate Dangerous?

For a long time, people assumed it wasn’t. Glyphosate is used in weed killer because it inhibits a growth enzyme in plants. Humans do not share that enzyme, which makes it seem safe at first. It would be over three decades before any agency consider the possibility that this chemical was a carcinogen.

Recent European and Canadian studies that came about as a result of the various lawsuits against Roundup found a direct link to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma as well as increased miscarriage rates. The issue is that it isn’t just glyphosate in the weed killer consumers use, though. It’s what the chemical is combined with that makes things dangerous.

Chemical Cocktails

Glyphosate is the active ingredient in weed killer, which is paired with an inert ingredient known as POEA. When active, POEA damages embryonic cells, placentas, and umbilical cords. Monsanto and other manufacturers claim that this chemical is harmless to humans while inert.

Unfortunately, the two play on each other’s toxicity to create a deadly combination. Studies found that farming communities who rely heavily on these chemicals experienced increased miscarriages, forms of cancer, and birth defects. That’s not including the devastating effect they have on wildlife.

Joining those chemicals is one known as 2, 4-D. This chemical is heavily used in Louisiana, a top producer of soybeans. With the capability to shut down the body’s organs and directly cause cancer, it wasn’t long before headlines read, “Louisiana lawyers file a claim against Monsanto for Roundup exposure.”

All three of these chemicals are paired with dioxins that are known carcinogens in both the UK and Canada. The end result of decades worth of exposure from crops and water systems on the public remains unclear, but workers who have used Roundup all this time are at an incredibly high risk for developing non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. It’s unfortunate, but the myth is true this time.