The villain here—if there is one—is a chemical called glyphosate. Glyphosate is a powerful herbicide that can kill both grasses and broadleaf plants. Since glyphosate was introduced in 1974, it's become one of the most important commercial herbicides on the market. Today, more than 700 products contain some version of the chemical, including Roundup weed killer.
Roundup was the first product with glyphosate to be marketed. It's one of the most important products sold by Monsanto Company, a giant agribusiness conglomerate based in Missouri. Roundup is widely used to control weeds on all levels of production, from commercial farms and municipal landscaping to home vegetable gardens and lawns. Roundup and other glyphosate products represent about 10 percent of Monsanto’s revenue, as Roundup is the second most widely used lawn and garden weed killer in the United States.
Glyphosate has become especially controversial recently. In 2016, scientific tests detected the weed killer in a wide variety of popular foods, including cookies, crackers, cold cereals, and chips. Glyphosate has also been found in honey, soy sauce, flour, and human breast milk. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has not regularly tested for glyphosate residues in produce or human tissue.
The Health Risks From Glyphosate and Roundup
Initially, investigators thought that there were only minor risks from pure glyphosate. Contact with the chemical may cause skin, eye, nose, or throat irritation. Swallowing glyphosate can cause nausea and vomiting, and there have been deaths due to deliberate ingestion of the weed killer.
However, Roundup contains other ingredients that help glyphosate enter plants. Those extra ingredients are trade secrets, but researchers believe they also make Roundup more dangerous to human health. Follow-up assessments call into question the safety of glyphosate itself. In 2015, the International Agency for Research on Cancer classified glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic to humans.”
In June 2017, California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment announced that glyphosate would be added to the state’s list of chemicals known to cause cancer. Implementing that decision was delayed because of court challenges by Monsanto but became effective in July 2017.
The EPA announced plans to convene a panel of scientific advisors to study the question of whether Roundup causes cancer. However, the October 2016 meeting was canceled and hasn't been rescheduled.
Today, a growing number of lawsuits claim Roundup causes non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL). This is a group of about 60 cancers that develop from lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell. While the cancer originates in the blood, it may develop in any part of the body. The varieties of NHL seem to have little in common other than their origin in the bloodstream.
Common symptoms for non-Hodgkin lymphoma include:
- Enlarged lymph nodes
- Fever and chills
- Hard lumps in the armpit, neck, or groin
- Night sweats
- Pain in the chest or bones
- Shortness of breath or cough
- Weight loss
Treatment for NHL depends heavily on the specific subtype of cancer, the type of lymphocyte that was its source, and how aggressively it's spreading.
Do You Need Help From a Toxic Tort Attorney?
The attorneys at Lattof & Lattof are based in Mobile, Alabama, but we provide legal counsel for toxic tort cases across the United States. At this time, we are accepting Roundup-related medical claims from all 50 states. If you were exposed to Roundup and later were diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma or any other cancer, you may be eligible for substantial compensation.
Similarly, if you have a relative who died from cancer after exposure to Roundup, your family may be able to hold Monsanto responsible for marketing a toxic product.
We offer free consultations to discuss your case and decide whether you have a valid claim. To speak with one of our lawyers, use the contact information on this page.