What is Roundup?
Roundup is a non-selective herbicide used to kill weeds that compete with agricultural crops. Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, works by inhibiting a specific enzyme required for plant growth.
By 2001, Roundup weed killer was the most-used active ingredient in American agriculture, with an estimated 85-90 million pounds used each year. In 2007, that number reached 185 million pounds annually and today, Roundup remains the most widely used herbicide in the United States and worldwide.
Scientific studies have shown a causal association between Monsanto Roundup weed killer and an increased risk of various forms of cancer. Mounting evidence shows that glyphosate, the active chemical in Roundup, is linked to a host of serious health conditions, including cancer.
In 1985, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) classified glyphosate as a Group C chemical, determining that glyphosate was possibly carcinogenic to humans. This finding was based on early animal studies, which showed increased incidence of cancer in mice exposed to glyphosate.
In 1991, however, after heavy lobbying by Monsanto, the EPA re-evaluated the animal data and re-classified glyphosate as a Group E chemical, indicating that there was no evidence that glyphosate herbicides like Roundup causes cancer in humans. This re-classification occurred shortly before Monsanto’s launch of Roundup Ready seeds and set the stage for what would become a $6 billion a year product for Monsanto.
Monsanto Roundup Video
Notably, on two separate occasions, the EPA determined that laboratories hired by Monsanto to conduct Roundup studies committed fraud.
In the early 1970s, Monsanto hired Industrial Bio-Test Laboratories (IBT) to study Roundup’s toxicity levels. IBT conducted 30 separate tests on Roundup weed killer, including 9 of the original 15 studies conducted to register glyphosate with the EPA. When the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) performed an inspection of IBT in 1976, the agency discovered discrepancies between the raw data obtained in the studies and final reporting of the toxicological effects of glyphosate to the EPA.
This led to an EPA audit of all IBT data, which found that numerous toxicology studies of glyphosate were invalid. One EPA reviewer commented as part of the audit that there was “routine falsification of data” and that it was “hard to believe the scientific integrity of the studies[.]” As a direct result of this audit, in 1983, three top executives at IBT were convicted of fraud.
In 1991, Monsanto hired Craven Laboratories to perform various pesticide and herbicide studies, including studies for Roundup. Later that year, the owner of Craven Laboratories and three of its employees were indicted for fraudulent laboratory practices.
In 1996, the New York Attorney General filed a Roundup lawsuit against Monsanto for falsely advertising the weed killer as being “safer than table salt” and “practically non-toxic” to mammals, birds and fish. The New York Attorney General alleged in the Roundup lawsuit that Monsanto was falsely telling farmers and agricultural workers that Roundup was non-toxic.
This Roundup lawsuit led to an agreement between Monsanto and the New York Attorney General, whereby Monsanto agreed to stop falsely advertising Roundup weed killer as safe within the state of New York. Unfortunately, the Roundup lawsuit agreement was limited to New York, and Monsanto continued to falsely market Roundup as being non-toxic in other states.