Roundup is a broad-spectrum herbicide that has been in use by commercial farmers and home garden enthusiasts alike for well over four decades. At the heart of current litigation over this product is its active ingredient glyphosate.
Initially, farmers eagerly embraced the product, particularly following the introduction of manufacturer Monsanto's “Roundup Ready” seeds, allowing for the destruction of noxious weeds without harming the crops. Genetically engineered to resist the effects of glyphosate. By 2007, glyphosate was the most commonly-used herbicide by farmers and second-most popular among homeowners, hobby gardeners and landscapers.
Since its introduction in the 1970s, the use of glyphosate-based herbicides has increased by 10,000% in terms of frequency and amount of application. Much of this is the result of the emergence and spread of glyphosate-resistant “superweeds.” Ironically, the evolution of these superweeds is due to the massive use of glyphosate in the first place, making it a problem that continues to feed on itself.
Although Monsanto has either denied the dangers of glyphosate or continues to claim that evidence for glyphosate toxicity is “inconclusive,” the truth has been coming out in the course of growing litigation from plaintiffs alleging that their illnesses and injuries were caused by exposure to glyphosate.
Roundup (Glyphosate) History and Background
Glyphosate originated in the laboratory of a Swiss chemist named Henry Martin, who invented the chemical in 1950. The company where Martin was employed, Cilag, was taken over by Johnson & Johnson in 1959, after which the chemical formula was sold. Eventually, glyphosate was patented by now-defunct Stauffer Chemical in 1964 for use as a chelating agent for the removal of minerals such as copper, magnesium and zinc.
Monsanto scientists rediscovered glyphosate independently in 1970 while developing methods for water softening. Two of the chemicals developed turned out to have herbicidal properties. The company assigned one of their employees, chemist John Franz, to come up with similar chemicals that could be employed as herbicides. On his third attempt, Franz rediscovered glyphosate, for which he later received major recognition from the scientific community.
As late as 2008, glyphosate was considered a “virtually ideal” herbicide. In an article published in the journal Pest Management Science, Australian plant biologist Stephen Powles wrote: “Glyphosate is a one in a 100-year discovery that is as important for reliable global food production as penicillin is for battling disease.”
Glyphosate: Roundup’s Mechanism of Action
Glyphosate is an analogue, or synthetic version, of an amino acid known as glycine. This particular amino acid plays an important role in the human body in making proteins that form organ and muscle tissue. When applied to weeds, glyphosate prevents the synthesis of certain amino acids and the function of what is known as the “shikimate pathway.” This “pathway” is how plants convert food into energy, and thus is the basis of plant metabolism. According to M.I.T. Research scientist Dr. Stephanie Seneff, “Glyphosate...interrupts the shikimate pathway, a metabolic function in plants that allows them to create essential amino acids. When this path is interrupted, the plants die.”
Because animal cells lack the shikimate pathway, Monsanto scientists assumed that glyphosate would have no harmful effects on humans. However, bacteria, which are neither plant nor animal, do have a shikimate pathway. These bacteria include the beneficial “gut flora” that exists in the intestinal tract, such as lactobacillus and bifidobacterium bifidum. When glyphosate comes into contact with these beneficial bacteria through the ingestion of food, the effect is virtually the same as it is on weeds.
Health Hazards of Roundup
One of the results of glyphosate exposure is impaired liver function, which can lead to vitamin D deficiency. This in turn can lead to bone and muscle weakness, mental impairment, and fatigue.
It can also make the body more predisposed to inflammation. Over time, chronic inflammation damages DNA, which can result in cancer. In recent months, increasing evidence of glyphosate carcinogenicity has been coming out, despite Monsanto's ongoing attempts to conceal the facts.
Dr. Seneff's research shows a strong evidence of a link between glyphosate and the dramatic rise in the rate of autism. Before the introduction of Roundup in 1974, autism was a rare disorder, affecting only one child in 10,000. Currently, that rate is one in 70. The reason is that the aforementioned destruction of the gut flora, robs the fetus of nutrients and increases the toxicity of a number of chemicals – including those found in common childhood vaccines. Seneff predicts that by 2025, half of all children will exhibit some degree of autism.
In addition to cancer, liver damage, and autism, health dangers linked to Glyphosate include:
- kidney disease
- inflammatory bowel disease
- ALS (“Lou Gehrig's Disease”)
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Parkinson's Disease
- male sterility
- respiratory disorders
Who Is Responsible for Roundup Related Cancer
Ultimately, Monsanto bears the liability for this ongoing tragedy. However, the company has been helped by government agencies, including the FDA, in covering up the harm. It was not until late 2016 that the FDA even began testing foods for the presence of glyphosate. The media is also complicit, having been largely silent on the glyphosate issue until recently.
Several countries of the European Union as well as eight Canadian provinces have been able to put tight restrictions on the sale and use of Roundup, although attempts to ban the product altogether have been unsuccessful.
In the U.S., the state of California recently added glyphosate to its list of chemicals known to be carcinogenic – after facing a legal challenge by Monsanto. At the same time, the FDA has raised the “legal” tolerance level by 5000% since 1996, while the Environmental Protection Agency has raised its limits by 1600%.
Monsanto Roundup Lawsuits
Since the federal government has made it clear that it will do little or nothing to rein in Monsanto and severely restrict the sale and use of glyphosate-containing herbicides, it has fallen to the courts to obtain justice for those who have suffered from exposure to this chemical.
Recently, documents have come to light indicating the great lengths to which Monsanto has gone in order protect its profits. These activities include sponsoring deceptive “studies” designed to convince government officials and the public of the “safety” of Roundup.
Litigation against Monsanto has been building for several years, with over 1,100 lawsuits currently filed on behalf of agricultural workers and gardeners who have developed non-Hodgkin's lymphoma due to glyphosate exposure. A class action lawsuit was filed by a group of farmers in Nebraska in May, 2016.
For extensive information on these lawsuits, visit our Monsanto Roundup Lawsuit Page. This page describes in detail the litigation pending against Monsanto, and how someone injured by Roundup can participate in the court proceedings and receive compensation for their injuries.