One of the most important parts of agriculture all over the world, herbicides and more specifically its active ingredient glyphosate, have been working to keep our crops healthy and weed free since the 1970s. Used in commercial farming to hobby gardens, Monsanto brand Roundup has been a favorite – that is until an unprecedented legal battle began in January 2016.
Alleging his diagnosis of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma as the direct result prolonged use of glyphosate-based herbicides in his daily duties as a California school groundskeeper, Dewayne Johnson made legal moves against the corporate giant Monsanto. By August 2018, the jury ruled in his favor and he was awarded over $250 million in compensatory and punitive damages. Raising questions far beyond the health of just one man, the safety, toxicity, and possible carcinogenic factors of glyphosate came to the forefront. Research from health and cancer organizations all over the world began from the WHO to the EPA to find conclusive evidence on way or the other.
In July 2017, California made moves with prop 65 that would list glyphosate as a chemical known to cause cancer. Looking to a report from 2015 provided by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) claiming that glyphosate is “probably” carcinogenic to humans, California began to push for product label requirements stating such. Just a few months later, however, courts ruled against this label requirement for herbicides and other products containing glyphosate, but continue to allow California to keep it on their list of carcinogenic products alongside canned tuna, pumpkin puree, and wood furniture.
As an agricultural necessity for decades, looking at our herbicides as dangerous and possibly toxic isn’t easy; with very little alternative, we may willfully turn a blind eye to its potential risks. This infographic details the process of the Dwayne v Monsanto case, the uses and demands for glyphosate formulations, and what its prolonged use could mean for farming, our food, and world health.