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In July 2015, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), an agency of the World Health Organization (WHO), issued a final health assessment of glyphosate — the active chemical in Roundup® weed and grass killer — determining that glyphosate is ”probably carcinogenic to humans.” IARC specifically linked exposure to Roundup® to non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) and several other blood cancers, including lymphocytic lymphoma / chronic lymphocytic leukemia and B-cell lymphoma.
IARC’s conclusions followed a thorough and exhaustive analysis. Drawing on published reports in scientific literature and publically available data in government reports, IARC analyzed studies of occupational exposure of farmers and tree nursery workers in the U.S., forestry workers in Canada and Finland, and municipal weed-control workers in the United Kingdom. The IARC also examined para-occupational exposure in farming families. The assessment of the IARC Working Group identified several case-control studies of occupational exposure in the U.S., Canada and Sweden.
Monsanto Company’s Roundup® is currently the largest-selling and most widely used herbicide in the world. It discovered the herbicidal benefits of glyphosate and began marketing Roundup® in the mid-1970s. Monsanto was the sole manufacturer of glyphosate-based herbicides from 1974 until 2000, when its U.S. patent on glyphosate expired.
Monsanto is a multinational agricultural biotechnology corporation based in St. Louis, Missouri and incorporated in Delaware, and the world’s leading producer of glyphosate. As of 2009, Monsanto was also the world’s leading producer of seeds, accounting for 27 percent of the world seed market. The majority of these seeds are of the Roundup Ready® brand, which means that the Roundup herbicide must be used on those crops. Monsanto claims Roundup Ready® crops have an advantage over non-GMO (genetically modified) seeds because farmers can spray the fields with Roundup® even during the growing season without harming the crops. Of course, it fails to disclose to those who use it that exposure can cause serious health consequences. In 2010, an estimated 70 percent of corn and cotton, and 90 percent of soybean, fields in the United States were Roundup Ready®.
Although Monsanto’s Roundup® products still dominate the marketplace, other companies sell glyphosate-based herbicides under the brand names Rodeo®, AquaNeat® and Aqua Star®.
IARC’s pronouncement is significant because it confirms that Roundup® is toxic and humans exposed to it run the risk of serious health consequences. The IARC assessment is also critical because glyphosate-based products are now ubiquitous in agriculture and the environment. Roundup Ready® crops are virtually doused in Roundup® herbicide.
Despite IARC’s assessment, Monsanto still maintains today that glyphosate and Roundup® do not pose a health hazard to humans. In this light, Monsanto’s public statements are misleading and are potentially endangering human health. Because Monsanto has aggressively promoted Roundup®’s safety — even in the face of conflicting evidence — agricultural workers, farm workers, commercial spray applicators and other individuals who regularly come into contact with Roundup® may be disregarding proper safety gear and precautions when handling the herbicide.
Over the years, numerous workers have developed illnesses or have died as a result of their exposure to glyphosate-based products.
Monsanto’s products have devastated the health of farm workers and other users and are continuing to do so.
After the IARC monograph on glyphosate, there is a solid basis to believe that exposure to Roundup® and other glyphosate-based herbicides may lead to health complications, including blood cancer and other serious illnesses.
Exposure occurs in any one of several ways. One avenue is inhalation. A farm worker may inhale the overspray while Roundup® is being applied to crops such as corn, wheat, alfalfa and other staples.
Another type of exposure occurs through skin contact. For example, when Roundup® is sprayed, it typically comes in contact with the skin of all those in the vicinity of the spraying. Another scenario for this route of exposure involves handing soils and detritus contaminated with Roundup®. By whatever means contact occurs, Roundup® may be absorbed into your body through your skin.
Still another — and less common — avenue of exposure is ingestion by, for example, eating harvested crops tainted with Roundup® residue or drinking water contaminated by Roundup®. (Contamination can result when field runoff carries the toxic chemical into a farm’s or community’s water supply).
The IARC Working Group also found that glyphosate and glyphosate formulations induced DNA and chromosomal damage in human and animal cells in utero, revealing another avenue of exposure for pregnant individuals.
In short, glyphosate is pervasive in the environment. The chemical has been detected in the urine of agricultural workers, indicating absorption. It has even been found in persons living in urban centers a long way from farms and who are not in direct contact with glyphosate.
Signs of glyphosate exposure can include the following:
These symptoms are not unique to glyphosate exposure. As such, you should consult your doctor if you experience any of these symptoms.
In September and October 2015, Weitz & Luxenberg initiated lawsuits against Monsanto Company in California federal district court and Delaware state court on behalf of individuals who developed blood cancers as a result of exposure to Roundup®.
The lawsuits allege that our clients suffered exposure to Roundup® in crop fields, commercial nurseries and at home. Prior to IARC’s evaluation of glyphosate, none of them were, or could have been, aware of the cancer-causing danger of exposure to glyphosate and Roundup®.
Weitz & Luxenberg is a nationally-recognized law firm with a long history of successfully handling personal injury litigation. In the past quarter-century, we have recovered more than $17 billion in verdicts and settlements for our clients.
If you have been exposed to glyphosate, Roundup® or both, and have developed non-Hodgkin lymphoma or another type of blood cancer, you may be entitled to compensation from the product’s manufacturer. Further, if a member of your family died because of Roundup® or other glyphosate-containing products, there might also be compensation for loss of consortium and wrongful death.
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