Study Finds Roundup’s Active Ingredient, Glyphosate, In 20% Of Irish Adults

Researchers from Ireland found that about one out of every five adults have detectable levels of glyphosate in their bodies, raising concerns about widespread exposure to the active ingredient in the weedkiller Roundup, and indicating that the estimate may actually be low. 

The findings were published this month in the medical journal Environmental Research, seeking to determine how large a portion of the population have been exposed to glyphosate; the active ingredient in Roundup, which has been identified by some health experts as a possible carcinogen.

Researchers with the National University of Ireland conducted a biomonitoring survey of 50 Irish adults in June 2017, collecting 20 ml spot urine samples. The participants also completed questionnaires on demographics, dietary habits and lifestyle. The researchers then tried to extract glyphosate from the samples.

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According to the findings, researchers were able to extract detectable levels of glyphosate from 10 of the 50 samples. However, the researchers discovered that the concentrations in Irish adults were higher than those detected in both American and European adults. However, the researchers warn that the actual percentage of Irish adults with detectable levels of glyphosate in their bodies may be much higher.

“The low proportion of detectable glyphosate levels could be due to lower localised use of pesticides, having a small sample size or the higher analytical detection limit used in this study, which could underestimate the true exposure and warrants further investigation,” the researchers concluded. “Given the widespread use of glyphosate, further information on population exposure is required to advance our understanding of the relationship between chronic low dose exposure to glyphosate and human health risk.”

Roundup Litigation In the U.S.

The findings come as Monsanto faces a growing number of Roundup lawsuits in 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.

Given the similar questions of fact and law presented in lawsuits filed throughout the federal court system, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) established consolidated pretrial proceedings for all federal Roundup cases in October 2016, centralizing the claims before U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria in the Northern District of California to reduce duplicative discovery, prevent conflicting rulings and serve the convenience of the parties, witnesses and the courts.

As part of the coordinated MDL proceedings, Judge Chhabria has previously determined that the Roundup litigation will be bifurcated, first addressing general causation about the link between the widely used weedkiller and non-Hodgkins lymphoma, before addressing case-specific issues about whether Roundup caused cancer for each individual plaintiff.

Following resolution of any motions to dismiss based on general causation, if a Roundup settlement or other resolution for the litigation is not reached during the first phase of discovery, it is expected that Judge Chhabria will establish a bellwether process, where a small group of cases will be prepared for early trial dates to help gauge how juries may respond to certain evidence and testimony that is likely to be repeated throughout the lawsuits.


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