A new review of the relationship between herbicide exposure and the risk of blood cancers in the lymph glands (lymphomas) has confirmed the existence of a link with glyphosate, the world’s most popular herbicide which is the active ingredient in Round Up, manufactured by the Monsanto Company.
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This study, which was published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, was based on almost 30 years worth of epidemiological research and cited the “striking increase” observed in the incidence of Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma (NHL) in the last 30 years, as Round Up emerged as the most popular herbicide in the U.S.
There is consistent evidence that exposure to glyphosate in certain settings are important determinants of NHL, and data continues to accumulate showing that glyphosate, such as is found in Round Up, is carcinogenic, perhaps even in infinitesimal concentrations (parts per trillion range).
Glyphosate is now widely detected in the food supplies of many countries and is traceable in animal tissues, human urine and breast milk, as well as in a wide variety of marketed food products.
In March 2015, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), which is the research arm of the World Health Organization (WHO), published its assessment of the carcinogenicity of a number of organophosphate pesticides, including glyphosate and declared that glyphosate is now considered to be “a probable human carcinogen.” The IARC is considered the global gold standard for carcinogenicity studies, so its determination is of considerable importance.
Although Monsanto is lobbying for a retraction of the IARC’s report, the EPA is taking a closer look and reconsidering its previous position on the safety of glyphosate for U.S. consumers, since glyphosate cannot be washed off once sprayed on a crop.
The “relative safety” of glyphosate herbicides was promoted by both Monsanto and the EPA since 1981, but on the basis of accumulated data over many years, doctors have called for an immediate ban on glyphosate herbicides in Argentina.
Health Canada recently announced it will update Round Up’s label directions to reduce human and environmental exposure and the EPA recently announced it may start testing for glyphosate residues on food. While thousands of foods are tested for approximately 400 different pesticides each year, glyphosate has not been included on that list because up until March 2015, Monsanto with the support of governmental agencies maintained that Round Up and its active ingredient, glyphosate, were safe and did not present any hazard to U.S. consumers.
Finally, the active ingredient in Round Up, glyphosate, is patented as an antibiotic, but is not regulated by the FDA. Based on the current high allowable limits for glyphosate residue on food products and GE grains, issues continue to arise with “super bugs” in both human and animal populations, which pathogens including E. coli and salmonella remain resistant to antibiotics. It is estimated that antibiotic resistance claims approximately 23,000 lives each year in the U.S. alone.