The use of glyphosate – Bayer’s toxic herbicide – has been the subject of more than 10,000 lawsuits in the United States. The lawsuits claim that the use of glyphosate-based Roundup causes cancer, and plaintiffs have been awarded billions in just the first few cases to go to trial so far. But the use of glyphosate may soon be coming to an end.
A Worldwide Glyphosate Ban Is Coming
Germany Says Glyphosate is a “Thing of the Past”
Several nations and cities have either banned its use or are making moves to do so. Last month, German chancellor Angela Merkel told lawmakers that the use of glyphosate will soon be a thing of the past.
“Things are developing, and we will eventually come to a point where glyphosate isn’t deployed anymore,” she said.
Monsanto, the producers of Roundup and glyphosate-resistant seeds, was acquired last year by Bayer, a German company. The acquisition cost Bayer $63 billion, but since the June 2018 acquisition, the company has lost nearly half of its market value. For the company’s home country to lose faith would deal yet another significant blow.
Austria Becomes First E.U. Nation to Ban Glyphosate
And Merkel is not alone. In Austria, parliament passed a bill banning the use of glyphosate nationwide. The bill, passed earlier this month, marks the first time that a member of the European Union has taken a hardline stance against the chemical. Other E.U. nations have passed partial bills before, but Austria is leading the way for other nations to follow suit.
The bill received bipartisan support from Austria’s Social Democrats, Neos, and the Freedom Party, signaling that the issue transcends politics. Pamela Rendi-Wagner, the leader of the Social Democrat party, did not skirt the issue:
“The scientific evidence of the plant poison’s carcinogenic effect is increasing. It is our responsibility to ban this poison from our environment.”
The World Health Organization determined years ago that glyphosate is a “probable carcinogen,” though the American FDA maintains that the pesticide is safe and does not cause cancer. Supporters of glyphosate use have cited its benefits to agriculture, but Austria has a solution.
More than any other E.U. state, Austria has embraced organic farming. With a heavy focus on sustainability and non-toxic farming practices, the Austrian agricultural industry is ready to move away from glyphosate for good.
Sydney Searches for Glyphosate Alternatives
In Australia, Sydney’s city council is also making moves to break away from the cancer-causing herbicide. According to Reuters, the city is “reviewing (its) weed management methods and investigating other technologies.” While other local councils have started eliminating the use of Roundup and other glyphosate-based herbicides, Sydney is the first major city to consider cutting ties. If Sydney makes the move, it may not be long before the nation follows suit.
In Sydney, Roundup is already used as “a last resort … when non-pesticide methods such as hand-weeding and mulching have been ineffective,” but a renewed commitment to alternative products and methods shows that the council is serious about moving away from glyphosate for good.
The global movement to ban the use of glyphosate has picked up steam as lawsuits and grassroots movements have put pressure on regulators. In west Sydney, a worker strike over glyphosate use left tens of thousands without trash disposal, forcing the Blacktown City Council to try alternative weed management options.
Lawsuits in the U.S. abound, and others across the world are following suit. In June, the first Australian lawsuit was filed by a farmer who claims that decades of exposure to Roundup made him sick. At least four other councils in Sydney have stopped using glyphosate because of its link to cancer.
The Truth about Glyphosate and Cancer
It’s often been difficult for consumers and lawmakers to discern the truth about glyphosate and cancer. Many studies have found a clear link, but Bayer/Monsanto have published several studies that they say prove Roundup’s safety.
But records released in court show that Monsanto employees often solicited “ghostwriters” to publish their studies. Much of the research was conducted by the company’s own scientists and then published by someone else to make the studies seem independent. Internal documents also show that the company was actively looking to discredit the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), after the agency labeled the herbicide “probably carcinogenic.”
As these cases continue to go to trial, the true malevolence of Bayer is coming to light. Internal documents that were previously classified demonstrate that the company knew glyphosate caused cancer and deliberately hid the information from regulators and consumers. One couple who has been diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma after long-term exposure to glyphosate, was awarded $2 billion in punitive damages.
This shows that jurors believe that Bayer deliberately and maliciously caused harm to these people.
While Roundup is only a small part of Bayer’s profit, biologically engineered seeds that are resistant to the herbicide are big money. Farmers soak their fields in the toxic chemical, then plant Bayer’s “Roundup Ready” seeds, which are the only seeds able to grow in such a harsh environment. Since its introduction in 1974, roughly 10 million tons of Roundup have been sprayed on fields worldwide.
U.S. Geological Survey data shows that glyphosate is present in more than half of all surface waters, soil, and sediment. Aminomethylphosphonic acid (AMPA), its degradation product, is even more commonly detected, showing up in more than 80% of wastewater samples collected at municipal treatment plants. One study found that up to 90% of the beer and wine sold, including organic brands, contained glyphosate.
In addition to causing cancer, glyphosate has been linked to immune damage, poor gut health, and celiac disease (studies suggest that celiac and other forms of gluten intolerance may actually be the result of glyphosate poisoning).
Bayer has heavily lobbied the FDA and EPA, donating big bucks to ensure that people like U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue stand behind their product.
Sonny Perdue is a former fertilizer salesman. He’s received hundreds of thousands of dollars from the agricultural industry in the form of campaign donations.
Bayer is a massive company with several regulators and lawmakers in its pocket. But the tide is shifting and we’re seeing more and more communities across the globe taking a stand. This is only happening because of people like you and me.
The regulators and lawmakers work for us. Without our hard-earned money, Bayer ceases to exist. The wave of lawsuits filed by brave men and women around the world are forcing people to see the truth and exposing Bayer’s lies and manipulation. Keep writing your representatives. Keep shopping local and organic. Keep spreading the truth to your friends and family.
Angela Merkel says that the use of glyphosate will eventually end. I don’t think that “eventually” is soon enough.