Girl Planting seeds

EPA Must Ban Roundup (Glyphosate) Forever

pesticide_shutterstock_crop_463457156By Deirdre Imus, May 13, 2019
Within the last year, two lawsuits have found the chemical giant Monsanto liable for causing cancer in people who used their product Roundup, one of the world’s most popular weed killers. In the first lawsuit, which was decided last summer in San Francisco, a jury ordered Monsanto to pay $289 million to the groundskeeper at a school who had been diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma. More recently, this past March another San Francisco jury found Monsanto liable for yet another person getting non-Hodgkins lymphoma, and told them to pay that man $80 million in damages.

The U.S. legal system seems pretty sure that Roundup is causing cancer. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has taken a different view.

Just last week, the EPA announced its decision that glyphosate, the primary ingredient in Roundup, is unlikely to cause cancer in humans. The EPA did warn of the risks glyphosate might pose to monarch butterflies and honeybees, as well as to plants and birds. But the agency meant to protect us from environmental harm took no action to warn the people of this country about a notorious chemical that is widely used and stands to negatively affect the health of humans everywhere.

As I’ve explained before, glyphosate is one of the most widely used products of its kind in the Unites States, according to the National Pesticide Information Center at Oregon State University (NPIC).  Commercially, it is used by corporations that own farms and other agricultural businesses to grow massive amounts of corn, soy, cotton, and other products. Casually, it is probably used by many of your unknowing neighbors who simply want their lawn and garden to look nice.

In 2015, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) determined that glyphosate is “probably” carcinogenic to humans. In 2017, the IARC listed glyphosate in its registry of chemicals known to cause cancer. And yet, in 2019, the U.S. government decided it’s just fine to use glyphosate, don’t worry about it at all.

If we are going to try to protect ourselves and our families from toxins in our environment, we have to know what they are, where they are, and how we can try to avoid them. The problem with Roundup is that its so ubiquitous that avoiding it is almost impossible – and that’s where we need regulators to be thinking about the public health implications of letting glyphosate remain legal.

In 1972, the U.S. banned the use of the pesticide DDT and determined it was a possible human carcinogen. It has been linked to breast and other cancers, male infertility, miscarriages and low birth weight, developmental delays, and nervous system and liver damage, according to the Pesticide Action Network North America.

It’s easy to look back now and be grateful that DDT’s threats were taken seriously, and that it was placed on lockdown. It’s hard to think about all the people who were harmed before that time as a result of exposure, ignorance, and inaction.

We’re living in a precarious moment in environmental policy. The repercussions of years of abuse on our planet are starting to show and we have to be proactive. It’s time to do the responsible thing regarding glyphosate and prevent it and Roundup from continuing to harm human health.

We can all do our part! A few days ago the EPA opened up a 30-day public comment period on a petition the Environmental Working Group filed that would significantly limit the use of glyphosate on oats used to make a wide array of children’s foods, such as breakfast bars and cereals. You can share your thoughts online, by mail, or via hand-delivered note. Just like with the amount of glyphosate that may unknowingly enter our bodies - every little bit counts!

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