Glyphosate Sales To Exceed $10B by 2021, Despite Cancer Concerns: Report

Amid continuing concerns about the risk of cancer from Roundup and other glyphosate-based herbicides, a new report suggests that use of the weedkillers is expected to continue to increase over the next six years, potentially generating $10 billion in annual sales by 2021. 

A report released by Market Research Engine (purchase required) indicates that the global glyphosate sales, consisting mostly of Monsanto’s Roundup, will grow by 7% in the next few years, as more and more of the controversial weedkiller is applied worldwide.

The report indicates that the growth will be driven by increasing use in the Asia Pacific region, which is both the largest and fastest growing market for glyphosate products. China and India are identified as the two countries leading the growth in Roundup and glyphosate use in that region.

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However, the report comes at a time when the U.S. and Europe, current leaders in glyphosate use, are evaluating and debating the safety of Roundup and gylphosate, due to concerns that exposure may increase the risk of non-Hodgkins lymphoma and other forms of cancer. Some western countries have placed bans or restrictions on Roundup use in recent years, and California is poised to require the herbicide to carry cancer warnings on its label for the first time.

The Market Research Engine report suggests that the increased use in Asia will more than offset any reduced use in the western world, if such reductions even occur.

Glyphosate Safety Risks

Concerns about the safety of glyphosate arose after the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) listed Roundup and other herbicides containing the active ingredient as potential human carcinogens in March 2015.

Monsanto has maintained that there is no reliable evidence of a link between Roundup and cancer, suggesting that the IARC’s conclusions were agenda-driven and based on “junk science.” However, many health experts have stood behind the cancer group’s decision, pointing to prior evidence that suggests exposure to Roundup may cause non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma or other forms of cancer.

In December, 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.

Last month, a California judge rejected attempts by Monsanto to keep cancer warnings for Roundup weedkillers off the product label, after the manufacturer challenged a proposal by the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment to add glyphosate to a lost of cancer-causing chemicals that require label warnings to be sold in the state.

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