The pesticide world has been abuzz with the outcome of the third glyphosate trial. Earlier this month, Bayer (Monsanto) was found liable for Alva and Alberta Pilliod’s non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and was ordered to pay over $2 billion total in damages.
In light of the World Health Organization's determination in 2015 that glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s flagship herbicide Roundup, is a 'probable human carcinogen,' more than 10,000 individuals who have been exposed to the herbicide and suffered from cancer are in the process of suing the chemical giant, recently acquired by Bayer.
You’d think this precedent-setting verdict, the third consecutive against Bayer, would put the gears in motion for EPA to deregister glyphosate. But disturbingly, the agency plans to keep the chemical on the market.
Internal memos show that this administration went as far as to reassure Monsanto that they “have their back” when it comes to pesticides like Roundup.
We’ve already seen this EPA getting cozy with industry executives. Consider the chlorpyrifos fiasco — former Administrator Scott Pruitt decided not to ban the neurotoxic pesticide after meeting with Dow Chemical (chlorpyrifos’ manufacturer) executives.
But this is a new low. Ignoring the recommendations of the World Health Organization, and dismissing concerns from members of EPA’s own Scientific Advisory Panel over the hazards of glyphosate is a blatant disregard for sound science and public health.
Glyphosate has to go
Glyphosate is used on more than 100 crops, including corn, soy, cotton, canola and sugar beets. Use has skyrocketed over the past decade as “Roundup Ready” crops that are genetically engineered to tolerate application of the herbicide have become standard in industrial agriculture systems.
While dangers are highest for pesticide applicators, farmworkers and rural communities exposed during spraying, residues of the chemical have been found in numerous food and drink products as well.
The U.S. Geological Survey found glyphosate in nearly all water and air samples taken in recent testing, and a recent study found the chemical in the bodies of pregnant women. In addition to its link to cancer, studies have also linked glyphosate to birth defects, liver damage, and hormone disruption.
Given the widespread exposure to this chemical that science has shown can harm human health, EPA must revise the recommendation that glyphosate be re-registered without restrictions. It’s time to invest in effective systems of farming and weed control that don’t rely on chemicals that put our health at risk.
Sign on to PAN’s petition today, telling EPA it’s time to put public health and the environment above the interests of corporations like Monsanto (Bayer).
Photo: Global Justice Now | Flickr