Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s weed killer Roundup, is “The most toxic product ever invented by man,” French TV journalist and documentary filmmaker Marie-Monique Robin told France24.
The producer of the award winning 2008 documentary The World According to Monsanto made the assertion this week, during the same month that France’s ban on weed killers in household gardens across the country goes into effect. The ban prohibits households from stocking or using the chemical compounds due to the danger they pose to the environment. However, industrial use is still permitted.
Monsanto introduced glyphosate in the herbicide Roundup in 1974. Years later, the company introduced crop seeds that were genetically modified to resist the toxic effects of glyphosate, allowing the crops to be generously doused with the chemical. Crops flourished while weeds died away.
But it came at a cost, Robin said. “A lot of people are sick because of this herbicide,” she said, adding that scientific studies have shown that the chemical can cause birth defects and cancer in humans.
In 2015, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer listed glyphosate as a probable carcinogen citing studies that showed farmers exposed to glyphosate were at an increased risk of developing non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
In August, a California jury ordered Monsanto to pay a school groundskeeper $289 million after finding that the man’s exposure to glyphosate while using Monsanto’s Roundup and Ranger Pro weed killers contributed to his non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma diagnosis. Monsanto was acquired by Bayer AG last June.