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Amid growing concern over the potential side effects of Monsanto’s Roundup weedkiller, which may increase the risk of cancer for farmers, landscapers and others in the agricultural industry, many are reporting the proliferation of weeds that are becoming resistant to Roundup, requiring greater and greater use throughout of the herbicide.
At a conference last week in Ontario, Canada, farmers were warned about the spread of Canada fleabane, a Roundup-resistant weed that was detected in one field in 2014, but now has spread to at least 40 others across that province. Farmers in the area are scrambling to determine how to address the weed, which is a threat to a number of cash crops there, according to a report by Chathamthisweek.com.
Fleabane is just one of 30 Roundup resistant weeds that have been detected around the world in recent years, with 15 such weeds detected in the U.S. alone. The weeds appear to be proliferating as Monsanto creates more and more “Roundup Ready” genetically engineered crops, and the use of Roundup and other glyphosate-based weed killers has increased worldwide.
At the conference, farmers were told that the weeds are not only spreading much faster than expected, but the number of species with resistance is also increasing rapidly. Additionally, some of the weeds appear resistant to multiple weed killers at once.
The problem may not be with the weed killer itself, but with the overuse by many farmers, according to researchers. Even some farmers at the conference admitted they relied on the weed killer too much, since Monsanto has not warned about any risks associated with overuse.
Roundup Cancer Concerns
The Roundup resistant weed problems come as Monsanto faces growing questions over the failure to warn about the potential health risks associated with regular and consistent exposure to glyphosate, including a risk of non-Hodgkins lymphoma.
The link between Roundup and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma has generated widespread concerns over the past year, after the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) determined that glyphosate is a probable human carcinogen in March 2015.
The warning sparked world-wide debate about the widespread use of Roundup and other glyphosate-based weedkillers, raising questions about decades of marketing statements by Monsanto that suggested the weedkiller was safe, and encouraged increased use.
Last month, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) held a four-day hearing on glyphosate safety, with a panel of scientific advisers questioning the agency’s methodologies on determining that the weed killer was safe.
The panel has 90 days to pour over the testimony, literature and evidence presented during the hearing, after which it will submit recommendations to the EPA. Those recommendations are non-binding, but usually have significant influence on the agency’s final decisions.
Monsanto now faces a growing number of Roundup cancer lawsuits filed throughout the United States, typically involving individuals diagnosed with a form of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma following heavy exposure to the herbicide as a farm or agricultural worker. The complaints allege that the manufacturer recklessly promoted Roundup and pushed greater and greater use of the chemical, without disclosing the potential health risks.
A recent U.S. Geological Survey on glyphosate usage nationwide found that an estimated 2.6 billion pounds of the herbicide has been sprayed on America’s agricultural land over the two decades since the mid-1990s, when Monsanto introduced “Roundup Ready” crops that are designed to survive being sprayed with glyphosate, killing the weeds but not the crops.
The lawsuits over Roundup allege that plaintiffs may have avoided a diagnosis of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma or other cancers if they had been warned about the Roundup risks for farmers, landscapers and others in the agricultural industry, as safety precautions could have been taken or other products could have been used to control the growth of weeds.