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Opinion: Court ruling on Roundup weed killer is a life saver PDF Print E-mail
Justice News
Posted by Joan Russow
Wednesday, 15 March 2017 10:41

 

FILE - In this Tuesday, June 28, 2011, file photo, bottles of Roundup herbicide, a product of Monsanto, are displayed on a store shelf in St. Louis. On Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2016, Monsanto Co. shareholders approved a $57 billion merger with Bayer AG, a deal that would combine two of the world's biggest agricultural companies. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson, File)
Roundup herbicide, a product of Monsanto, has been cleared by a court for listing in California as a carcinogen. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson, File)

In the 40 years since Monsanto first commercialized glyphosate, the pesticide giant has encouraged growers to liberally douse their fields in the product best known by the brand name Roundup — the more, the better.

 

After all, the pesticide maker assured users, glyphosate is “safer than table salt” and weeds would likely never develop resistance to it.

 

Neither of those assertions was true. But annual U.S. glyphosate use soared to more than 300 million pounds, including 10 million pounds used just in California. Not surprisingly researchers are now detecting traces of the pesticide in a wide range of off-the-shelf foods, including many California wines — even organic brands.

And that creates an uncomfortable problem for the pesticide maker and its customers as the state of California pushes toward listing glyphosate as a known huma

n carcinogen under Proposition 65. That could happen any day now in the wake of Friday’s final court decision rejecting Monsanto’s latest challenge.

In the two years since regulators announced their intent to list glyphosate, Monsanto has done its best to sow doubt in the finding that triggered the decision — the conclusion by the World Health Organization that the best scientific research indicates glyphosate is a “probable” carcinogen in humans.

But it’s a tough task, even for Monsanto, to cast doubt on findings of the WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer, considered the gold standard for cancer research. In 50 years, not a single “probable” human carcinogen it has identified has been shown later to not cause cancer.

Unable to undermine the research, Monsanto pushed forward with the legal argument recently rejected by the courts — that it is unlawful to have an unelected, foreign body like the WHO inform the state’s policies, as if the world’s best scientific research should be ignored.

The California EPA would be the first U.S. regulatory body to recognize the most widely used pesticide in the world, as well as in the U.S. and California, as a carcinogen.

Just here in California, 2 million more pounds of the pesticide are now applied each year than in 2010, and use has more than doubled since 2000.

The risks of using of glyphosate are not evenly spread across socio-economic lines. An analysis I completed last year found that more than half of the glyphosate sprayed in California was applied in the eight most impoverished counties, which are predominantly Latino.

Monsanto argues that the increase in glyphosate use is good because the company’s flagship pesticide has displaced other more-toxic herbicides. But its overuse has directly fueled the escalating resistance in weeds, which has spurred many growers to once again start using the older herbicides in addition to glyphosate.

The towering glyphosate-resistant superweeds now commonplace across 100 million U.S. acres are typically associated with Midwestern commodity crops genetically engineered to resist the pesticide. But glyphosate resistance is also a growing problem in California.

With six different species of glyphosate resistant weeds now identified in California, growers here are being urged by Monsanto to apply both glyphosate and some of the older, more-toxic herbicides at the same time.

It’s even becoming common practice to mix pesticides to delay the inevitable development of resistance. So some pesticides are now being used on our food not to combat pests but to help maintain the efficacy of other pesticides.

As a result, growers are now paying for more pesticides while American families and wildlife are being exposed to an ever more complex mixture of poisons.

Instead of solving America’s weed problem, America’s deepening addiction to glyphosate has put us on a treadmill that can only lead to greater pesticide use.

And that addiction may put some of us at greater risk of developing cancer.

Nathan Donley is a senior scientist in the Center for Biological Diversity’s environmental health program. He wrote this for The Mercury News.

 
 

 

Commentby  joan russow

For years, glyphosate had been deemed, by the Institute on Science in Society, to be harmful and that it should be banned. 
.The institutional Collusion, in relation to glyphosate, among corporations, governments, universities and regulatory agencies has been widespread; this collusion has sadly spread to certain scientific publications. For the sake of food security for present and future generations: (i) this collusion must end; (ii) the precautionary principle must be invoked, and glyphosate,banned iii) the charters Monsanto revoked; and (iv) charges of gross/criminal negligence against these corporations, levied.

 

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