Glyphosate, known under the trade name Roundup, is the world’s most heavily used herbicide ever. Billions of pounds have been poured over the U.S. over the past four decades since Monsanto brought Roundup to market in 1974. A new lawsuit with thousands of sick plaintiffs suggests the company knew about glyphosate’s cancerous potential as early as 1980 and concealed from the public its risks.
Studies show glyphosate damages the good bacteria in honeybee guts, making them prone to deadly infections and may be contributing to the global decline in bees. “We demonstrated that the abundances of dominant gut microbiota species are decreased in bees exposed to glyphosate at concentrations documented in the environment,” said Erick Motta and colleagues from University of Texas at Austin in their new paper.
Tests have shown residues of glyphosate are in a wide range of consumable products such as children’s breakfast cereal. There is speculation that when glyphosate residue is consumed by humans it can cause cancers such as non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. In August a US court ordered Monsanto to pay nearly $300 million in damages after a jury ruled that the weedkiller caused a terminally ill man’s cancer.
In 2015, the World Health Organisation’s cancer agency, the IARC, declared glyphosate “probably carcinogenic to humans.” Despite the havoc glyphosate has reeked on the bee population and humans alike, Roundup continues to be the most used agricultural chemical ever.
Photo: "Wild honeybee hive in a railway bridge, Sandy, Bedfordshire" by Orangeaurochs is licensed under CC BY 2.0