Roundup Exposure Led To Birth Defects Among Tobacco Farmers in Argentina, Lawsuit Claims

According to allegations raised in a lawsuit recently filed against Monstanto, side effects of Roundup used on tobacco plants caused a number of children in Argentina to suffer severe birth defects. 

The complaint (PDF) was filed in the Superior Court of the State of Delaware on January 29, by the families of eight children who are offspring of agricultural workers in Argentina, indicating that they have suffered severe and permanent injuries as a result of the use of the popular herbicide.

Monsanto and Phillip Morris are both named as defendants in the case, which involves children from a rural part of Argentina known as the Province of Misiones, which grows most of the 14,000 tons of tobacco imported annually from Argentina to the United States. The tobacco plants are heavily treated with Roundup, which the lawsuits allege caused children born in the area to suffer birth defects.

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“Plaintiffs carried liquid pesticides in canisters on their backs,” the lawsuit states. “The farmers walked through the fields with the canisters on their backs and sprayed these pesticides by hand. Farmers were often accompanied by spouses who assisted in the application of pesticides and also would remove pesticide covered weeds and other unwanted growths from the fields.”

The lawsuit indicates that the agricultural workers and their spouses suffered heavy Roundup exposure, both from spraying and from mixing the chemicals in sheds. They say there was little to no protection from exposure to the chemical, which they were told was safe. In addition, they noted that the massive amounts of Roundup often ended up in their drinking water.

“Runoff from these fields, especially during and after periods of heavy rain, contaminates the surface and groundwater sources used by Plaintiff tobacco farmers and their families with Roundup and other pesticides,” the lawsuit notes. “The streams and other contaminated surface water bodies are used by Plaintiffs for drinking water, cooking, laundering clothing, bathing, irrigation, and recreation, which resulted in additional exposure of Plaintiffs to pesticides.”

The lawsuit does not address the types of birth defects in detail, but suggests that they were severe and permanent, resulting in life-long disabilities.

Glyphosate Cancer Concerns

The case joins a growing number of Roundup lawsuits filed in recent months throughout the United States, most involving individuals diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma or other cancers following direct exposure to glyphosate.

Concerns about the safety of Roundup have generated widespread concerns since the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) listed Roundup and other gylsphosate herbicides as potential human carcinogens in March 2015. This has led to a number of bans in countries worldwide and the threat of additional warning labels and possible bans in some parts of the U.S.

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.”

The U.S. Geological Survey estimated agricultural use of glyphosate increased drastically from 110 million pounds in 2002, now to more than 283 million pounds in 2012. A recent study also declared glyphosate the most widely used pesticide in human history.


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