There’s a lot of controversy that surrounds the herbicide Roundup. Even just posting one or two sentences on social media can get you a ticker tape list of comments ranging from “Take it off the market!” to Roundup’s Internet trolls exclaiming “Bold face lies!”. If you’re not sure about whether Roundup is safe or not, keep reading.
What is Agent Orange?
Fifty-six years ago, the United States began spraying millions of gallons of Agent Orange in the fields of Vietnam as a part of a meticulous strategy to end this volatile war. How is this linked to Roundup? Because the same company that produced Agent Orange is the same company that makes today’s Roundup: Monsanto.
Agent Orange (named for the orange stripes that were painted on the barrels) was the strongest and most commonly used herbicide employed to destroy food crops and decimate forest cover. 13 million gallons of 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin, commonly called TCDD – a type of dioxin – was dumped onto Vietnam. The problem with dioxins is that they can last for years in the environment and have been known to cause cancer and birth defects.
A class action lawsuit was filed in 1979 representing the 2.4 million military personnel who were exposed to Agent Orange during the Vietnam War. $180 million was awarded to these veterans or their family members in an out-of-court-settlement in 1984. Additionally, even 20 years after the war, Vietnamese citizens who were exposed to this toxic chemical have reported suffering from pain in the eyes and skin, gastrointestinal complications, incessant fatigue and a high percentage of birth defects in their children.
Agent Orange and Roundup
Roundup’s main ingredient is glyphosate and is considered to be the second generation of Agent Orange. More than 300 million pounds of glyphosate is used in just the United States per year and is considered to be the most widely used herbicide in the world. Glyphosate has been found in approximately 70% of rainfall samples and in the majority of rivers, streams and ditches in 38 states. It’s used on almost all of U.S. corn, soy and cotton crops, so chances are that you are either consuming or coming into contact with this chemical on a regular basis.
Countless studies have shown that glyphosate is in farmworkers’ blood and urine, there has been chromosomal damage in cells, continuous exposure can cause an increased risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma (type of cancer affecting the lymphatic system), and it has led to tumor formation in some animals. In fact, in 2012 a team of French researchers discovered that rats who were given large amounts of Monsanto’s genetically modified (GM) corn or who were exposed to Roundup suffered from tumor growth and organ damage. Of those studied, 50% of males and 70% of females died prematurely (as opposed to 30% and 20% in the control group).
Is Roundup the new Agent Orange? It destroys foliage, causes long term environmental damage and poses a health risk to those who are exposed to it. While Roundup’s consequences may be more subtle, it apparently shares the same dangerous aftermath as Agent Orange… so what do you think?