Roundup is one of the most controversial products that you’ll find on the shelves of your local big-box store or home improvement center. Its active ingredient, glyphosate, is at the center of the debate: does it cause cancer? How much of it can safely be consumed? Should Roundup be banned?
While these are all important questions to ask, there’s another one that is equally troubling: what else is in Roundup? One study found that it’s not just the glyphosate that makes Roundup a carcinogen, but the other proprietary ingredients can increase its toxicity.
What is Glyphosate?
Glyphosate is the most used herbicide in the world. According to Newsweek, between 1974 when Roundup was first introduced to the market to 2015, “Worldwide, 9.4 million tons of the chemical have been sprayed onto fields. For comparison, that’s equivalent to the weight of water in more than 2,300 Olympic-size swimming pools. It’s also enough to spray nearly half a pound of Roundup on every cultivated acre of land in the world.”
Glyphosate was first patented in 1964 by Stauffer Chemical with the purpose to clean or descale commercial boilers and pipes by binding to certain metals. A second patent was filed in 1974 by Monsanto as an herbicide. In 2003, Monsanto filed for a third patent on glyphosate as an antibiotic.
Monsanto claims that glyphosate works on killing weeds by disrupting the shikimate pathway which is a seven-step chemical reaction that occurs in bacteria, fungi, algae, parasites, and plants for the biosynthesis process. Monsanto claims that Roundup doesn’t affect humans because mammals don’t have a shikimate pathway.
Glyphosate became popular in the 1990s when it was used in tandem with genetically modified (GM) crops. This gave farmers the advantage of being able to apply Roundup to their fields to kill the pesky weeds without the potential of harming their now GM crops.
The Problem with Glyphosate Plus Other Contaminants
Glyphosate alone has been linked to a variety of health complications. In March 2015, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) unanimously determined that glyphosate is “probably carcinogenic to humans” and may cause cancer. Studies have also shown that glyphosate is an endocrine disruptor which means it kills cells responsible for producing progesterone in women and can potentially reduce testosterone levels which impairs sperm quality in men. In children, glyphosate is also attributed to higher numbers of food allergies as the chemical disrupts gut microbiota (also called “gut flora”) which aids in digestion.
There are a multitude of studies showing a connection between glyphosate and ADHD, Alzheimer’s, Autism, chronic kidney disease, heart disease, and more, but studies have also shown that while glyphosate is dangerous on its own, it’s even more dangerous when combined with other chemicals to make product variants.
In a 2018 study performed by the University of Caen Normandy, Department of Biology and Network on Risks, Quality and Sustainable Environment, the researchers discovered that the toxicity of Roundup and its family of products isn’t just based on its main ingredient of glyphosate, but the additional chemicals that are added to the various formulations. Depending on which Roundup product you use, the study revealed that glyphosate, in combination with co-formulants, could be up to 2000 times more toxic to cells than glyphosate alone.
Glyphosate-based herbicides (GBH) are mixtures of water, with commonly 36–48% glyphosate claimed as the active ingredient. 10–20% of GBH consist of chemical formulants. “The toxic effects and endocrine-disrupting properties of the formulations were mostly due to the formulants and not to glyphosate,” the researchers determined.
So what are these additives that we should stay away from? Well, that’s one of the problems consumers face: we don’t know. These formulas are proprietary so they aren’t listed on the product labels. As an herbicide, these chemicals allow the glyphosate to penetrate into the plant quicker – called “surfactants” or “adjuvants” – to speed up the weed-killing properties. They are also allegedly used to bind the weed-killer Roundup more efficiently to target just weeds without harming the profitable crops.
On Roundup’s label, you’ll read that the active ingredient is glyphosate but it fails to mention that other chemicals are present. And here’s the second glaring problem: while glyphosate has been studied, these separate products in the Roundup family have never been tested so we have no idea of the impact these chemical combinations have on humans, plants, or the environment. “We do not conduct sub-chronic, chronic or teratogenicity studies with our formulations,” admits Monsanto in an internal email used in a 2017 California trial. “The long-term exposure has been assessed according to the regulatory requirements in chronic and carcinogenicity studies conducted with the active ingredient glyphosate.”
Here’s something ironic: Roundup can’t be tossed in the garbage can with your other trash because of the possibility that it could mix with other chemicals and release dangerous fumes or contaminate groundwater. But isn’t that what’s happening to our schools, gardens, crops, recreational areas, and more?
Currently, there are over 14,000 lawsuits that have been filed against Bayer/Monsanto involving people who have been diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma. Our breakfast cereals, wine and beer, produce, baby food, and more have been found to have glyphosate in them. The question is no longer IF the public is consuming Roundup, but how much.
If you or a loved one were diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma after 2006 and were exposed to Roundup, we would love to hear your story. You were knowingly put at risk and Bayer needs to be held accountable. Call us today at (800) 511-3838. We want to help you if we can.