Autumn is the season of harvest. But what many people don’t realize is that much of the produce in North America is doused with the herbicide Roundup, which contains glyphosate, the controversial active ingredient that has been linked to non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
Monsanto introduced Roundup four decades ago. It is now the most widely used weed killer in the world among farmers, groundskeepers, landscapers, horticulturalists, and even home gardeners.
Glyphosate is sprayed directly on GMO (genetically modified organism) crops like corn and soybeans because they are genetically engineered to be resistant to the chemical. But it is also used on non-GMO food crops just before they are harvested to desiccate the crop to even up the field and allow for earlier harvesting, according to the Healthy Home Economist.
Many conventional farms are applying herbicides like Roundup to wheat as a drying agent 7-10 days before harvest, which is considered helpful for wheat that ripens unevenly, which is a common occurrence, according to the Healthy Home Economist.
“It is also considered a helpful tool to initiate an earlier harvest when weather conditions threaten plant viability. Other benefits are earlier ripening for earlier replanting and reducing the green material in the field. This puts less strain on farm machinery during harvest,” the publication reports.
The list of crops treated with glyphosate ranges from asparagus, green beans and cabbage to blueberries, prunes, grapefruit and pomegranates, not to mention almonds, walnuts and pistachios.
Monsanto, which introduced Roundup more than four decades ago, insists that Roundup is safe. But, in March 2015, the key ingredient, glyphosate, was listed as “probably carcinogenic to humans,” by the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). The agency pointed to a link between cases of non-Hodgkin lymphoma and agriculture-related glyphosate exposure in the United States, Canada and Sweden since 2001.
In August, school groundskeeper DeWayne “Lee” Johnson sued Monsanto alleging that regular exposure to glyphosate in Roundup contributed to his terminal non-Hodgkin lymphoma diagnosis. In August, a California jury agreed, slapping Monsanto with $39 million in compensatory damages and $250 million in punitive damages.
Monsanto faces nearly 9,000 lawsuits alleging the company’s top-selling glyphosate products, including Roundup, can cause cancer.
The Healthy Home Economist