The state of Iowa is a big part of the agricultural backbone of the United States. Roughly 85 percent of the state’s 55,875 square miles of land is used for agriculture, according to the Iowa Department of Agriculture.
Iowa produces more corn and soybeans than any other state. In 2015, Iowa farmers harvested 13.1 million acres of corn and 9.8 million acres of soybeans, valued at roughly $8.8 billion and $4.8 billion respectively, which is more total revenue from those two crops than any other U.S. state. Iowa also ranked second in total farm cash receipts and total agricultural exports in 2014.
The importance of these two crops cannot be understated. Unlike a lot of other crops (broccoli for example), corn and soybeans are grown for a multitude of applications in addition to human consumption.
Corn is used as the main energy ingredient in livestock feed and is also processed into a wide variety of food and industrial products, including high fructose corn syrup and other sweeteners, starches, industrial alcohol, and fuel ethanol.
Soybeans are also grown to be processed for their oil and protein for livestock feed and is widely used for industrial purposes.
According to recent statistics, 97 percent of Iowa’s soybeans and 95 percent of the state’s corn were grown from genetically modified seeds, which are sold by agrochemical corporations like Monsanto and DuPont.
Genetically modified seeds are used in conjunction with herbicides like Roundup, the glyphosate-based weed killer that is also manufactured by Monsanto. “Roundup Ready” GM seeds are resistant to Roundup, so farmers that use these seeds also use the Monsanto herbicide to stop weed growth on their fields.
Monsanto Roundup and the Link to Cancer
Monsanto has always marketed its flagship herbicide as being safe and effective, even suggesting in one advertising campaign that Roundup was “safer than table salt.” Since the 1970s, Americans have applied over 1.8 million tons of glyphosate, making it the most widely-used agricultural chemical in history.
In March of 2015, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) issued a report on glyphosate, which found the chemical to be a “probable human carcinogen.” According to the IARC glyphosate report, the available data shows a “statistically significant association between non-Hodgkin lymphoma and exposure to glyphosate.”
The link between Roundup and cancer created a firestorm of public scrutiny in the U.S., particularly in states like Iowa, which uses a lot of Roundup on its crops.
For over a century, corn has been the top crop in Iowa. But it wasn’t until Monsanto introduced GMO corn crops and Roundup herbicide that the state began to see an increase in Iowa cancer rates.
According to 2016 statistics from the American Cancer Society, Iowa is the Midwestern state with the highest incidence of cancer. Other Midwestern states with high cancer rates – Nebraska and Illinois – are also prominent agricultural states that spray a lot of glyphosate.
Is this because farmers are more likely to develop cancer than the general population?
Not necessarily, according to the National Cancer Institute, which conducted a lengthy study on cancer rates among farmers. “Farmers in many countries, including the United States, have lower overall death rates and cancer rates than the general population,” says the NCI study.
“Lower death rates among farmers for heart disease and cancers of the lung, esophagus, bladder, and colon, in particular, are thought to be due, at least in part, to lower smoking rates, as well as more physically active lifestyles and dietary factors.”
When compared to the general population, however, the same study found that farmers and agricultural workers were at higher risk for a specific type of cancer: non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Per the IARC report, glyphosate has a “statistically significant” link to non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
NCI makes no assertion that any particular risk factor explains the higher rates of cancer in farming communities, but it does say:
“…environmental exposures in the farming community are of concern. Farmers, farmworkers, and farm family members may be exposed to substances such as pesticides, engine exhausts, solvents, dust, animal viruses, fertilizers, fuels, and specific microbes that may account for these elevated cancer rates.”
Could the high Iowa cancer rate be explained by its Roundup usage? The question certainly deserves the attention of scientists.
Monsanto Roundup Attorneys
A growing number of farmers, farmworkers, landscapers, government workers, and backyard gardeners have filed lawsuits against Monsanto, claiming that exposure to Roundup caused them to develop non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
Per the lawsuit allegations, Monsanto has long known about the link between Roundup and cancer but failed to inform the public. Instead, the agrochemical giant buried the health risks as sales of Roundup skyrocketed.
The law firm of Baum Hedlund Aristei & Goldman is working with Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and Kevin Madonna of Kennedy & Madonna in representing individuals who allege that Roundup caused them to develop cancer.
John Barton, a Bakersfield farmer, is one of many plaintiffs represented by Baum Hedlund and Mr. Kennedy. Mr. Barton is a third-generation farmer who used Roundup for many years, believing it to be safe.
“I have spent more than 50 years as a farmer because I love the soil and growing food for California consumers. I never thought the price I’d pay would be blood cancer,” said Barton. “I wish somebody would have warned me…I don’t want anyone to have to go through what I have gone through.”
If you have been exposed to Roundup and developed non-Hodgkin lymphoma, it is in your best interest to consult with a Roundup cancer attorney about your case as soon as possible. For a free case consultation, contact us or call (855) 948-5098.