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Glyphosate: What are the Risks of this Herbicide Ingredient?


All over the world, you can find a number of herbicides being used to kill unwanted plants and keep them from growing in the future. Herbicides can kill only certain plants, leaving the plants you want unharmed. Some of these herbicides are available for individuals to buy and use at home. In the U.S., the most commonly used herbicide ingredient by far is glyphosate. This is the ingredient used in Roundup, which has been widely used in the U.S. since 1974.

While herbicides have been used for decades, we’re beginning to learn about the health problems that could come from them. Humans, animals, and plants can all be at risk from exposure to certain harmful herbicides. Among some of the herbicide ingredients people are concerned about is glyphosate.

Health risks of glyphosate

One of the major health concerns about glyphosate is the chance that is may cause cancer in humans. However, the risk of cancer caused by glyphosate is debated by many government agencies around the world. When used properly, many agencies agree that glyphosate is safe to use. In 2015, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer stated that glyphosate is “probably carcinogenic to humans.” According to the Environmental Protection Agency, glyphosate is not carcinogenic to humans.

What environmental factors can cause cancers is often debated. Under certain circumstances, something may lead to cancer that wouldn’t generally cause it. While we don’t yet know that glyphosate can cause cancer, there is still more research that needs to be done about it. Many think that toxicology tests of glyphosate are often falsified. The company that owns Roundup has also been accused and convicted of false advertising regarding the product, saying that it’s safer than table salt, it’s biodegradable, and that it’s environmentally friendly.

Aside from cancer, people suspect that the use of glyphosate can also cause a number of other health issues. Issues during pregnancy have been associated with the use of herbicides. In rats and other animals, glyphosate may cause gut and liver issues. Additionally, health problems in rats caused by glyphosate have been shown to be passed down to multiple generations.

Thousands of people have filed lawsuits claiming that exposure to Roundup has caused them or a loved one to develop non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and that the risks of this product have been covered up. For anyone who believes they have health issues caused by using Roundup as an herbicide, they should contact a special Roundup cancer lawyer who can help them.

Glyphosate in the environment

Glyphosate is not typically used on food crops. Many genetically modified plants, largely corn and soybeans in the U.S., are also made to be tolerant to glyphosate. Since these plants are safe from being killed by herbicides, they could be sprayed with it. Residue from glyphosate may still end up in produce meant for human consumption after the soil was initially treated with the pesticide a year before. Some animals can also develop health issues by eating plants that are treated with the herbicide.  During heavy rain, glyphosate may also be washed into bodies of fresh water. Herbicides and pesticides may then affect aquatic life as well.

Glyphosate is intended to kill off weeds, but it may actually be causing the opposite to happen. After certain weeds are exposed to herbicides enough, they could become more resistant. Instead of using these herbicides to kill weeds, farmers will have to work harder to either hand-weed them out or use additional herbicides to get the same results.

Glyphosate around the world

Over 130 countries are currently allowed to use glyphosate. Over the past decade, many countries have started to move away from using herbicides like glyphosate. In 2020, the use of glyphosate was reauthorized for another five year period. The use of glyphosate has recently been banned in Columbia and Bermuda. Many individual cities and towns have issued bans and restrictions over the use of glyphosate. Over the next few years, glyphosate should still be available for purchase in most countries with plans to ban the product in the future. California is the first state to issue a warning that using glyphosate may cause health issues, but it is not banned.

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