Roundup Weedkiller Is Blamed for Cancers, but Farmers Say It’s Not Going Away

After a blockbuster acquisition, Bayer may lose billions over claims that the No. 1 agricultural chemical is unsafe. But its market niche seems secure.

Comments: 87

  1. Consumers need to speak out! Glyphosate is banned in most other countries because their governments know how toxic it is to humans and the food chain. There are plenty of ways to grow crops free of pestilence—consumers need to insist on wheat, corn and produce that is free of toxic chemicals.

  2. I find it striking that there is another article in the NY Times today about the dramatic decline in bird populations across North America. I have no idea if the decline is related to the use of Roundup and other chemicals, but it does raise the question of how much do we really know about the long term effect that both GMO and Roundup have on the environment? It cannot be good to put all these chemicals into the ground. Yes, it might save farmers some money on their operations but at what cost to the planet? Our track record of unintended consequences with technology is not great.

  3. @Scott Werden There is a connection, and I wish this would be reported better. Roundup washes into streams and rivers and kills aquatic plants too. It is in the wetlands that a myriad of insects deposit their eggs where they hatch in the water. So there is an unfathomable amount of insect life that is dependent on aquatic plants. If the aquatic plants in our wetlands are disappearing because of roundup then insects, a huge food source for birds, are disappearing too. Same for fish and fish stocks (Salmon, trout) are in decline as well. Bayers lawsuit, however, is about roundup causing Non Hodgkin Lymphoma. Birds can bring forth a lawsuit.

  4. Research has been so contaminated by corporate funding that it can no longer be seen as the gold standard of independent investigations. The conclusions of any study may only prove who had the most money to sponsor the project and publicize the results.

  5. Care to connect bird depletion in the grasslands? The data is here: NYT: Across the Continent, Birds in Collapse Percentage change in bird populations since 1970, by United States and Canadian breeding habitats. Portion of all birds lost: –63% Non-native species (in any habitat) –53 Grassland –33 Boreal forest –29 Western forest -23 Arctic tundra –23 Found in multiple habitats –18 Found in several forest types –17 Eastern forest –17 Aridlands –15 Coasts -15 Only habitat with bird increase: Wetlands +13 By The New York Times | Source: Decline of the North American avifauna, in the journal Science; study covered continental birds and did not include Hawaiian species.

  6. Thank you for making the link to this article.

  7. @MotherM but i didnt see any connection to glyphosate ? destruction of habitat and cats certainly.

  8. “I’ve used it for over 40 years... I’ve never had any problems whatsoever..." “We spray the weeds and the crop keeps growing, and it’s just lovely,” Asking an industrial farmer if he has a problem with Roundup (or any of the dozens of other toxic chemicals that they saturate their land with) is like asking a gun seller if he's bothered by the fact that the products he sells will inevitably harm or kill. Industrial farming is a major source of environnemental destruction and only strong government regulation will be of any help to all of us. This is starting to happen in Europe where there remain some truly democratic countries. Unfortunately in an oligarchy like the US has become the perspective of any major improvements seem very dim.

  9. Glyphosphate works by inhibiting metabolic processes of plants, fungi and bacteria through what is called the shikimate pathway. It's manufacturers maintain it is safe for humans because we don't have this metabolic pathway. But our gut bacteria does. Scientific research is revealing how important gut bacteria is to human and animal health. It is interesting that the huge rise in autism and gluten intolerance corresponds with the rise of the use of glyphospate in our food systems. How about we start to apply the precausionary principal with regard to the use of chemicals like this. Everywhere, we are seeing the populations of insects, birds, fish and other wildlife decline. Here is Mendocino County, the wine industry sprays the chemical on the fields of all that expensive California wine and the Mendocino Redwood Company (owned by the Fishers who own the GAP) practice slash and squirt on the trees in their holdings that they deem of little value. These trees are left to die and dry in their vast forest holdings and contribute to increasing fire danger in an area already at huge risk for catastrophic wildfire. What is going make us wake up - when half of the population is taking care of the half that has autism? When the world is on fire???

  10. @Gillyflower Add to that Transgenerational epigenetic inheritance, which is never considered in testing chemicals in general. What you grandmother was exposed to may impact the life you live today. Synergistic responses are rarely considered in testing as well. It exist in nature and we are a part of nature.

  11. It is only a matter of time. Farmers will become the objects of the lawsuits now resulting in tens of millions of dollars in judgments for plantiffs arguing glyphosate causes cancer. Your smugness about its safety-- based on what biochemical expertise?-- will wither with the crops overcome by super weeds which thrive on glyphosate. There are alternatives to growing crops in puddles of what many believe is poison. Remember, in this country juries, not the FDA, will decide your fate in the long run. Take a look at yourselves and the health of your families, workers, and consumers before you order that next batch and contemplate your bank accounts.

  12. @chandos11 you might be right on the super weeds but there is no scientific evidence that glyphosate causes any health issues in anyone. the court action to date has relied on Monsanto's behaviour rather then any actual scientific evidence.

  13. People don't want the truth, they want their beliefs reinforced. For decades, we have been told pesticides are all terrible and will kill us. Big corporations are bad, they will gladly trade a life for a dollar... Well, most pesticides will, and how could anyone argue that corporations care about anything but their bottom line? So when this issue comes up, why would anyone believe the mountains of evidence suggesting no harm whatsoever from glyphosate? Why sound someone believe the evidence when their intuition, built up over years by messaging from mostly well meaning sources, tells then otherwise? Obviously, the corporations paid for this fake-news evidence. Never mind the independent, and often anti-agrochem bodies that conducted it... nothing could be more correct than their intuition. Does the hero cop in every movie follow evidence or their gut? And here were are... accepting the weakest evidence in order to cling to what we would prefer to be true. Or maybe I'm wrong. Maybe all of those studies with good designs and data I poured over, looking for a smoking gun when I still believed glyphosate had to be bad are all fabricated. Maybe the coupe of studies that cherry picked their samples or reported findings in direct contradiction to their own data were the ones that were right. Maybe I'm the product of a Monsanto PR campaign taking advantage of my thirst for data over hysterics. Who even knows?

  14. @George Ignorance is bliss, especially when money is involved. I have long been against the use of pesticides especially roundup and wish we knew which products contain contaminated soy, etc. Unfortunately, we do not have that type of labeling in our country. It is my only hope that Monsanto goes the way of Purdue Pharma.

  15. @George There's a high rate of cancer in rural areas. I once speculated that it was genetic, concentrated in families since there wasn't a lot of new population in the area. A scientist told me that no, it was probably likely caused by agricultural chemicals.

  16. Used correctly, with crop rotation and cover crops, glyphosate is a useful tool for farmers. Unfortunately it is not always used correctly, and repeated spraying of the same land year after year without crop rotation and cover crops kills the soil biota, turning the ground into little more than hard, dead dirt instead. The bacteria and fungi and single celled organisms; the earthworms and nematodes and mites and other animal life forms are all necessary for the soil to be healthy. Without those living organisms the soil dies. But it's okay, because the chemical industry will then sell you another something to mitigate the damage that shouldn't have occurred in the first place. (from the link) During heavy rains in the summer, the runoff from his neighbor’s farm soaked his fields with glyphosate-laden water. “Anything you put on the land affects the chemistry and biology of the land, and that’s a powerful pesticide,” Mr. Von Arb said.

  17. Roundup is to farming what mountaintop removal is to coal mining. Both get the job done faster and (seemingly) cheaper than less destructive methods, but they take a devastating toll on the environment. There are other better ways to achieve the same results but they are more labor-intensive. From what I've read, sustainable farming if done well ends up being CHEAPER but it is much more labor-intensive. Roundup gets applied IN BULK, all over the land indiscriminately and washes into our water systems. Not just in farms but to keep plants from creeping onto train tracks throughout the northeast corridor. Agriculture is one of the most heavily subsidized industries. I really have to question if all this public money is going to enrich Bayer while destroying our health, the water, the Earth at the same time.

  18. @Studioroom Actually, unless you apply Roundup just before a rainstorm, virtually none leaves the soil. Because of its chemical structure, it binds very tightly to clays and some organic matter found in all soils. At this point it is biologically inert and serves as food for bacteria and fungi.

  19. @Rob-Chemist But it gets applied in bulk indiscriminately next to streams, rivers, and marshes. I've been fly fishing enough to see it. Definitely has an impact on the Chesapeake watershed system.

  20. @Studioroom If someone applies it so that it directly enters the water, that is clearly a bad idea. Roundup remains biologically active in water much longer than if sprayed on land. As long as you leave a buffer of a view feet of land between the glyphosate and water, it shouldn't be a problem since it binds to soil so fast. If this is occurring, I would expect the primary effects on the water ecosystem would be a reduction in algae and aquatic plants.

  21. I'm just one person, but an avid gardener who has stopped using RoundUp. I found a natural weed killer recipe, online, and it works pretty well. 1 gallon white vinegar, 2 cups iodized salt, 2 tbsp dish detergent--mix the first two really well to dissolve the salt, then add the detergent and stir in. Really soak the weed, especially the tough ones. The more fragile ones goo bye bye, right away. STOP using RoundUp! Stop buying all products from Monsanto--while they are poisoning humans, animals, and beneficial insects. Garlic water will keep bugs off your plants, but not poison them. We all have to make these important changes, if we are to survive this environmental crisis. Monsanto and Bayer do not care about humanity, only quick profits. Each and every one of us has to do our part.

  22. @ChesBay I wouldn't do that. Salt is not only toxic in soil but it never goes away. Here in Vermont it is easy to see that the paved roads (which are treated with salt in winter) have many sick and dying maples along them. The maples at the side of dirt roads (not sprayed with salt) are fine. My land is on a paved road. Gradually the strip of roadside trees I count on for privacy is dying out. There is no remedy that I know of.

  23. @ChesBay Thank you for the info. Having 5 acres its always tough to not use RU. Not enough hours in the day to pulls weeks or hack them down.

  24. I have a Weed Dragon and I torch my weeds. Fast, fun and (almost) chemical-free. It's cheaper than buying chemicals too.

  25. Without Roundup no-till farming is gone. Young people today do not remember the pressures 40+ years ago to go to no-till farming. Our topsoil, the lifeblood of agriculture, was being washed away. Since the 1950s, the population of the United States has DOUBLED. To feed all of those people with the topsoil being washed away? How? With small truck farmers? BAN ROUNDUP!!! Is one of those easy to throw out statements. What is harder (and no one, to date, has done it) is to propose an alternative. In that way, the Roundup foes are being disingenuous........and virtually none of them are planting gardens large enough to feed the country, much less the world.

  26. @Travelers There are many small scale organic farmers experimenting with no till farming techniques (my son is one of those farmers) who are not using Round Up. Small scale, organic farming, using open pollinated seeds is what will ultimately feed the planet and slow down the decline and loss of wildlife associated with agriculture. Industrial farming, the way it is being practiced in the USA is what has to go. Who wants to live on a diet of Round Up and pesticide laden soybeans, corn & wheat? No me. And I don't.

  27. @Gillyflower You are proving my point. "Small scale" farmers are not going to feed the planet, much less the United States, much less the county your son is in. And probably much less even than your son's family.

  28. Education will be helpful, because too few understand that most Genetically Modified Crops are not modified to improve cold storage, color, etc but to introduce a gene to make them resistant to Round Up. Then whole fields are sprayed and only those plants live. It is not safe to assume that these gallons of Round Up do not result in residues left on crops despite washing attempts.

  29. @NYT Reader Trace amounts of Roundup will remain. However, glyphosate is remarkably nontoxic to animals and even if ingested, we will excrete virtually all of it within 24 hours. This contrasts with the herbicides that Roundup has replaced that are much more toxic and persistent in humans.

  30. @Rob-Chemist Can you post links to truly independent research that supports your statements? And any research about effects of Roundup on lakes and streams getting runoff from farms using the product? I wouldn't trust any "research" funded by Monsanto.

  31. Glyphosate is one of the safest and environmentally beneficial compounds ever invented for agriculture. As noted in the article, it has led to a tremendous reduction in soil erosion. Virtually all studies have shown that Roundup has no toxic effects, and those that have shown effects have used ridiculously high concentrations (If you use a high enough dose of anything you will find toxic effects). In terms of the connection between Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma and glyphosate, it is nothing more than a scam. Since 1996, the use of glyphosate has increased by over a factor of 10. In contrast, the rate of Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma has not changed - i.e., glyphosate is non-causative. One aspect of glyphosate not mentioned is its extremely short biological half-life, around 1 day in soil. So, if you spray it on crops it is effectively gone within a week. This contrasts with the herbicides that glyphosate has replaced that are much more persistent and toxic.

  32. @Rob-Chemist It is reassuring the see that the Monsanto shills are as diligent as ever is countering the vast swathes of information now emerging on the short and long-term toxicity of glyphosate. What Rob tries to deflect us with is the 'effectively gone' which is appallingly disingenuous if indeed he is a chemist. The glyphosate and its residues persist in the soil and on the plant, damaging mitochondrial function of all sorts of vital organisms, such as worms and soil microbes, leaving soil in time lacking life and fertility, destroying habitat for insects and therefore birds, while passing on the multi-generational mutagenic consequences to the consumers of the plants, whether they are humans or animals, all the time creating the conditions for new glyphosate-resistant species to emerge, which will require even more toxic chemicals to control them.

  33. @Lowly Pheasant I realize that you do not like glyphosate, but please do not make up "science". As far as I am aware, every organization that has examined glyphosate (EPA, FDA, WHO, etc.) has concluded that glyphosate is non-genotoxic - i.e., it does not cause mutations in DNA. Yes, glyphosate persists in soil, but it is biologically inert. Glyphosate binds tightly to clays and some organic matter, and at this point it serves as food for bacteria and fungi in the soil. You mention mitochondrial function. At the levels used, glyphosate does not impact mitochondrial function. You mention birds and insects. Glyphosate is very non-toxic to these critters as well and there is no evidence of which I am aware that shows any impact. Lastly, I am a biochemist. I also have no financial connection to Bayer or Monsanto. My only connection is to accurate science.

  34. @Rob-Chemist based on all the manipulated data that the pharma companies publish and the power of lobbying in DC, I'm not inclined to believe that Roundup and/or glyphosate is safe in any measured ways and doesn't cause or contribute to cancer. I also wonder if, when buying organic produce, we're getting the real thing because pesticides leach into water tables and aquifers.

  35. It's always about the money isn't it?

  36. @Alex yes, on both sides

  37. Always remember when my brother was called out on emergency due to train derailment and oversaw the movement of the farm chemicals into trucks. He said the guys moving the 50 pound bags would get these horrible nose bleeds. It would be cool if the food and drug administration would state on labels what chemicals were used in growing products. I myself would not want to support an industry that is known for killing my fellow man, like cigarette, like OxyContin, the vape, like insurance companies, like the auto industry, like AR-15 ......

  38. @CathyK Right. And when these folks talk about the horrors of socialized medicine, well, we're paying for their cancer treatment. And no, if I don't eat meat, their large farms of corn and soybeans don't really feed me.

  39. The article is interesting and needed, but the whole subject can be summarized by the fact that it appeared under the heading of "Business". As usual.

  40. “In my eyes, it’s one of the least harmful chemicals we use, and we will continue to use it." That's terrifying. We need to speak through our pocketbooks and buy organic. On a related note, I wish an independent study would be made on the effects of herbicides on our digestive tracts. I know so many people who have symptoms of gluten intolerance that may be reacting to the chemicals—or their beneficial gut microbiome is being killed by the chemicals. I had these symptoms but tested negative to gluten intolerance. All organic and probiotics have taken the symptoms away but this is expensive and not available for everyone.

  41. Living in the Corn Belt but employing Regenerative Agriculture, I see things a bit differently. First, Round Up adversely affects non GMO (round up ready) strains, cover crop plants and the mycorrhizal fungi (soil fungi that provide minerals to plant roots and give good soil its crumbly clumpy texture). As a result, the farmer has to buy patented seeds every year rather, than saving some from the last harvest, has to buy more fertilizers since the fungi no longer provide as much mineral nutrients and its harder to use cover crops to fix nitrogen, and has to buy more herbicides since he can no longer rely on cover crops suppress weeds and form mulch to mechanically block weeds. Furthermore, the diminished plant activity reduces the supply of wildlife including insectivores, leading to increased herbicide use and costs. The whole pattern, greatly increases costs reducing profit margins. That pattern is typical of modern industrial agriculture. My mini farm occupies a portion of what was once a 90 acre dairy farm that could not have milked more that 60 cows. Yet, the house boost inlaid floors, built in book cases and cabinets plus the remnants of a built in vacuum system. Today, a 300 cow dairy farm can barely survive. Perhaps, rather than seeking to kill all life other than the cash crop, working with nature would yield increase farm income.

  42. Nice PR job for Bayer and a toxic weed killer that not only eradicates weeds, but in doing so elevates risks of cancer, including high levels of leukemia and non-Hodgkins lymphoma among RoundUp users, but it wipes out critical biodiversity. Monocrops and the intensive chemicals that are needed to support them simply show a complete inability to think outside a small bandwidth and nature treated with callous disregard. As researchers have rightly said, if the right incentives and policies were in place worldwide, "soil organic matter contents could be restored to preindustrial levels within a period of 50 years, roughly the same time that industrial agriculture took to destroy it" while still supporting large-scale agriculture. Instead global companies like Bayer have indefensible records of irresponsibility.

  43. Something of a side note. I live in a rural area of NC and walking my dogs to the road to get the mail is 0.7 miles between the farmers' fields--tobacco, soy and some corn (i think mainly for the dove and deer to help with hunting season). I know that herbicide is sprayed before tilling. I also see that pig weed and other pests are surviving. Across the south, pig weed is jamming combines--it will grow to more than 6 feet and its thick woody stalk cannot go through the combines, it has to be hand cut at its base. I teach pharmacology to medical students. My mantra when we get to anti-biologicals is that "If you use it, you will lose it and the more often you use it the sooner you will lose it." The same applies to pesticides. In a couple of decades, glyphosate will be useless. The disadvantage is that there is a lot of research on the chemical compared to any replacement and I cannot find any report that clearly states that it is toxic to anything not a plant.

  44. @Profbam Great post! The resistance problem you cite is probably the biggest issue with Roundup-ready crops. (Or, as I like to say to the students when teaching biochemistry "Death is a marvelous selection pressure"). Given that the mutations resulting in resistance to glyphosate make the plants slightly less fit (the resistant EPSP synthase is less efficient than the normal enzyme), I wonder how many weed generations (i.e., no usage of glyphosate) would be required to eliminate the resistance gene?

  45. @Profbam Really? You cannot find any report that clearly states that RoundUp as toxic to anything not a plant? Maybe you could educate yourself, sir, because I am not sure what reading you have done. Maybe you could start with court transcripts, where you will find references to biodiversity/ecosystems damaged by RoundUp and a multitude of historical evidence showing Monsanto has lobbied EPA for decades to influence its opinions with falsified test results, including animal tests of such short duration that they cannot determine anything. Bayer/Monsanto is an incredibly determined, manipulative company that will leave no stone unturned to falsify data and present it as credible "science."

  46. @Jennifer Court transcripts record statements made in court. They are not science, truth, or anything else. They are statements of what was said. Most of the Roundup "trials" include the single same UN study as basis for their supposition. The trials do not establish "truth." You might want to think back to the trials in colonial America where women were killed for being witches. I am sure that is in a transcript.

  47. Even Rogers and Hammerstein knew the greatest challenge for herbicide use: "Ohhhh - kla-homa - where the wind comes sweeping down the plain!" Wind is a co-conspirator with Bayer. Check out studies of prostate cancer on humans involved in the agricultural chemical application industry since 1964. (Another Monstanto product, Treflan, especially.)

  48. “I’ve used it for over 40 years, since I was first around the farm,” said Davie Stephens, president of the American Soybean Association. “I’ve never had any problems whatsoever, and the farming community uses it more than anyone.” Any just yesterday, the NYT ran an article, stating that "The number of birds in the United States and Canada has declined by 3 billion, or 29 percent, over the past half-century, scientists find." Correlation? Causation? Coincidence? Those short term gains so many farmers are enjoying be the flip side of long term, permanent and irrevocable harm to wildlife, and very possibly humans.

  49. @Marge Keller - Please note that the article about the songbirds mentioned a study involving neonicotinoid insecticide, not herbicide. Herbicide use might be reducing some of the plants they feed on, especially in areas where crops are planted edge-to-edge on fields, but the effect might not be as bad as the basic impact of using land that had been wild, with various plant species, to grow our crops. People probably should at least take the step of giving up chemicals for lawns. The acreage involved isn't like farmland, but the application by individuals is also not as easy to keep to the minimum needed. Chemicals for lawns has no real value to society. We gotta eat, but so do birds and insects. I'm not qualified to weigh in on the overall balance of Roundup's pros and cons, but we're going to have to keep making progress on developing agricultural practices that are more precise, less harmful and affordable for use by the people who do try to make a living putting food on our tables. Climate change isn't going to make that job easier, either. With robotics starting to come into use in farming, it's not inconceivable that there will be small devices roaming fields looking for weeds within the field, and either applying herbicide exactly to that plant, or maybe even just cutting the plant out.

  50. @b fagan WOW! What a great response! Thanks very much for taking the time to share and illuminate the differences you so eloquently outlined.

  51. Sounds like the 20th study was finally able to reject the hypothesis that glyphosate was not related to cancer, at the 5% confidence level.

  52. It may be relatively safe to use RoundUp for farming, however, farmers spray their harvest with RoundUp as a drying agent, meaning it’s applied right before it’s shipped. I certainly don’t want my food to have weed poison sprayed on it, safe or no!

  53. @Phobos . All grains and legumes sold in the US are routinely tested for Glyphosate presence, where 30 PPM is the limit. That's never a problem.

  54. @Phobos and you know this is a fact because.... and im not necessarily in favor of roundup. Im just in favor of citations backing claims. your claim is just as unsubstantiated as one in favor of roundup.

  55. @Block Doubt Wow, I guess you don't read the news? This was reported a couple of years back. A simple Google search reveals: Key quote: Charles Benbrook, Ph.D., who published the paper on the mounting use of glyphosate, says the practice of spraying glyphosate on wheat prior to harvest, known as desiccating, began in Scotland in the 1980s. “Farmers there often had trouble getting wheat and barley to dry evenly so they can start harvesting. So they came up with the idea to kill the crop (with glyphosate) one to two weeks before harvest to accelerate the drying down of the grain," he said. The pre-harvest use of glyphosate allows farmers to harvest crops as much as two weeks earlier than they normally would, an advantage in northern, colder regions.

  56. Typically when studying the effects of chemicals, we use lab rats and the like along with unrealistically high dose rates to see results sooner than later. The lab rats in this case are the farmers who have been using this chemical for decades. Lower doses are offset by much much longer exposures. Have studies been done to see the effects on these users?

  57. It's also way too easy to buy these chemicals for homeowners in this country. When I first entered an American home improvement store and saw the weedkiller and pesticide section, I was aghast. (Where I grew up in Europe, you can only buy smaller amounts, for much more money.) Even the park service here in supposedly eco-friendly Portland, OR sprays Roundup around each and every tree in my neighborhood park, every spring, to make it easier to mow the grass during the year. People here think it's natural that trees have perfect 3-feet wide rings of compacted soil around them, they are so used to it. No wonder the urban stream near where I live is almost devoid of aquatic insects.

  58. @Nimra Roundup/Glyphosate is an herbicide. It's not a pesticide. It doesn't kill insects.

  59. @Ernest Montague. I'm talking about the combined run-off of herbicides and pesticides used in American homes that's probably responsible for the lack of aquatic insects in urban streams here. And there is indeed evidence that glyphosates kill insects, mostly by targeting bacteria in the insects' guts. And, indirectly, by removing weeds that insects depend on. So YES, it does kill insects, even if not directly.

  60. @Nimra I've looked for such research that Glyphosate kills insects and despite finding a lot of work on the subject none found that its toxic for insects. that included work where bees were actually sprayed with Glyphosate.

  61. 2 fold issue here: one is the eventual evolution of plants that are resistant to roundup. The other is the difference between Roundup being used correctly vs incorrectly. The latter may actually cause cancer. A speculation on my part, as I am no professional: could it be that the farmers using it are seeing no health effects because they are using it properly, versus the many who appear to have become ill who were possibly using it unsafely? If I am safe about the sun, my chances of contracting skin cancer are much less if any at all. If I am unsafe with my use of the sun, it can be lethal.

  62. @Block Doubt Epidemiological data suggest that there is no link between Roundup usage, and non-Hodgkins lymphoma, the subject of the CA suits. Since 1996, the use of glyphosate has exploded - >10-fold increase. Yet, there has been no increase in non-Hodgkins lymphoma over that time. This would seem to indicate that glyphosate does not cause cancer. Also, from what is known about the biology and chemistry of glyphosate, there is no obvious mechanism by which it could cause cancer.

  63. There's so much emotion here, and so little science. Glyphosate has NOT been shown to induce cancer, ONE study from the UN, which refused to use modern studies, and was slanted toward criticizing the product declared that it MIGHT be a carcinogen in amounts that no human could possibly consume, unless you ate a pound of the base powder. There is corporate hatred here, Monsanto has never played fair, and their corporate policies are predatory. But they are not selling a carcinogen. And last, very few understand the realities and economics of farming. If you stop using Roundup, you get to use the next two herbicides in line, both FAR more dangerous than Glyphosate. Or you can go back to hand weeding, and hire millions of American to work in the fields weeding daily. Maybe that's what folks want, for others.

  64. Reading the comments below I find it funny that readers have opinions based on their feelings about causation rather than any actual science. I actually doubt that more than 5% of North Americans can actually describe the scientific method. Still, doesn't stop them from having strongly held positions about toxicity, cancer causing substances, or even measles.

  65. @Dred Great post. And with respect to the American jury system and science, I would wager that with a clever enough lawyer you could get a jury to conclude the earth is flat!

  66. The fact is any alternative is MORE toxic. Sometimes you have to know the risks and proceed accordingly. Everyone has to die someday- most likely from cancer anyway.

  67. Glyphosate isn't necessary. Best farming practices, including but certainly not limited to intercropping, would reduce drastically the need for pesticides. A little investment now could save a lot of money and other resources later.

  68. @Stephen Merritt except that Glyphosate is a herbicide not a pesticide. yes you can do without it but it would be replaced with more toxic chemicals and/or burning a lot more diesel in cultivating which is also damaging to soil structure.

  69. This article hints at the irony of the efforts of the anti-herbicide activists (often affluent, middle to upper-class whites who can afford to buy their glyphosate-free food from small, high-priced boutique co-ops): they focus their efforts on local risk of exposure, hammering their park districts and city handymen to ban Round-up, when this Big Ag bogeyman has been hiding in plain sight all along. Take a few minutes to look at the good work of the Pesticide Research Institute, which has been highlighting the high reference doses of glyphosate in the bread you eat and the wine you drink. Glyphosate is doused on many of our biggest agricultural products--wheat, grapes, corn--you name it. If you want to get rid of it, you had better do your homework, it isn't as easy as saying "I pay seven dollars for organic lettuce, so should you."

  70. @Rob-Chemist - yet another worker bee for big business, which plants - no pun intended - scientists and academics in the public to support their business interests. This seems to be the playbook: 1) Create a food, beverage, chemical, additive, product, or production process that is cheap and profitable. 2) Rush it to market. If internal studies show potential harm, cover them up to keep profits high until someone else discovers them. Do this for as long as possible. 3) Advertise inflated benefits of using the new product, even if that means lying about the harmful effects of using it. 4) Woo scientists, health officials, and government representatives with travel, meals, gifts, donations, awards, and funding to promote your business and play down interest in looking for the risks of using your product. 5) As unbiased scientific studies start showing your product causes harm - typically because of long-term use and/or exposure - call the evidence weak, studies inconclusive, and the science shoddy. 6) As the ensuing lawsuits from suffering customers start piling up, call them greedy opportunists who just want your money. Possibly declare bankruptcy. 7) As the evidence of a harmful product becomes incontrovertible, tout your customers as people who exercise their free will. 8) If banned, find ways to reuse, repackage, and/or rename your product to extend profits. Tobacco, coal, sugar, oil, soda, pesticides, genetic modification, guns - the list goes on and on.

  71. @Brent Actually, I have no link to any agribusinesses and am merely a biochemistry professor. My only link is to accurate science. I find it remarkably offensive when folks, be they conservatives or liberals, spout bad science to support their worldview.

  72. Farmers who continue to use this product will be the death of us all.

  73. Well, we have to keep the cancer treatment industry going, don't we?

  74. At this stage, with what we now know rather definitively after much investigative work, if a reporter chooses to write about this subject, they need to know something more about it than just the company's PR packet. Quoting a handful farmers who profess to like the chemical (who are they?), and referring to agencies, studies and institutions whose leaders have become, unfortunately, basically paid lobbyists for the industry, who routinely lie for money and party - such appointments as we've seen for the past few years (EPA, MIT Labs?) - make this article little more than propaganda and very much an embarrassment.

  75. The Roundup link to cancer is weak to non-existent. The link to wrecking the human microbiome is NOT. Because these lawsuits were driven by legacy legal vultures, they went for the scariest and most sensational claims they could find - slow death by cancer. Meanwhile, Americans grow more obese, miserable, and life expectancy is declining. Go plant-based and eat organic folks. You'll avoid most chronic diseases, your lover will find you more attractive, and planet will thank you.

  76. @Melanie Really? Those who sit on their bottoms and spend the day on the internet get obese. Half of America. Those who eat decent food and stay active don't. And I am not talking about "Organic" food.

  77. Let me know if he changes his mind if he gets cancer.

  78. This issue is not about glyphosate and cancer - it's about GMOs. Modified commodity crops are designed not to respond to glyphosate so it be used to efficiently control weeds. The thinking goes: get rid of glyphosate and you get rid of the advantage of GMO commodity crops.

  79. Farmers like Bensend aren't putting their own health at risk. How many of them are actually exposed to Roundup directly? It's the laborers who are exposed to the chemicals immediately after application that are at risk. Meanwhile, back in Wellsville the natives are crying about the horrible food supply, all the while standing in line for the latest CBD product. How about if we put our efforts where are health concerns lie and make growing organically profitable so it isn't an either or situation (as in either I grow GMO corn and soy that is basically for animal feed and bio-fuels or I grow lucrative hemp for the latest health craze that is CBD). Let's grow healthy FOOD for people. Cut back consumption of the animal products which will eliminate the market for a good segment of these GMO-Roundup resistant crops. Eat real food and enjoy health without spending your money on the latest, greatest, craziest health fad.

  80. Another example of paranoia about chemicals that have been extensively studied for safety and efficacy and found to pose little or no risk to consumers. The leading safety and regulatory authorities deem Roundup as safe to humans as long as it is applied as directed. Just because one study found a possible risk does not warrant banning a chemical that has enormous benefit to mankind. Lawsuits that award ridiculous sums to plaintiffs who develop diseases that cannot be definitively linked to a particular cause are jeopardizing the viability of technology that has widespread benefits to people around the world. Let's have policies based on science, not overzealous precationary hysteria.

  81. What's the conjectured mechanism of causation? It sure would be nice if this article give us even a hint of an inkling of the underlying science. As written, it gives me no ability to assess, even approximately, the validity of the claims of either safety or toxicity. The NYT should strive to do better.

  82. How about doing more about population control? We can't feed the 7 billion people we have now-how will we feed the 10 billion predicted in 30 years?

  83. Isn’t Bayer’s stance in direct conflict with the climate change proposal Germany is unveiling?