(Beyond Pesticides) Tell your Governor to stop Monsanto from making false and deceptive claims about glyphosate (Roundup) –a pesticide that hurts workers. Because of its wide use by workers in parks, along utility and railroad rights-of-way, and on farms, use of Monsanto’s glyphosate results in more exposure than any other pesticide. Monsanto has developed and continues to grow its market for this product with false claims of the safety of the toxic chemical. Glyphosate is listed as a probable carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (World Health Organization) and disrupts a pathway in humans necessary for healthy functioning of the gut microbiome. Meanwhile, Monsanto actively advertises and promotes its Roundup products as targeting an enzyme “found in plants but not in people or pets.”
Although EPA considers glyphosate to be “of relatively low oral and dermal acute toxicity,” symptoms workers could experience following exposure to glyphosate formulations include: swollen eyes, face, and joints; facial numbness; burning and/or itching skin; blisters; rapid heart rate; elevated blood pressure; chest pains, congestion; coughing; headache; and nausea.
The additional ingredients in Roundup can be more toxic than glyphosate alone, resulting in a number of chronic, developmental, and endocrine-disrupting effects. The “inert” (non-disclosed) ingredients in Roundup formulations kill human cells at very low concentrations. At least some glyphosate-based products are genotoxic.
Because glyphosate disrupts the shikimate pathway, crucial for manufacturing aromatic amino acids in plants but not animals, Monsanto claims that it does not harm humans. However, many beneficial bacteria use the shikimate pathway, and glyphosate, in fact, is a patented antibiotic. Glyphosate destroys bacteria in the human gut and, therefore, is a major contributor to disease. Disturbing the microbiota can contribute to a whole host of “21st century diseases,” including diabetes, obesity, food allergies, heart disease, antibiotic-resistant infections, cancer, asthma, autism, irritable bowel syndrome, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, celiac disease, inflammatory bowel disease, and more. The rise in these same diseases is tightly correlated with the use of glyphosate herbicides, and glyphosate exposure can result in the inflammation that is at the root of these diseases. Glyphosate appears to have more negative impacts on beneficial bacteria, allowing pathogens to flourish and enhancing antibiotic resistance.
Although consumers are at risk from Monsanto’s glyphosate products, the workers who apply it and work in fields and parks, and along rights-of-way where it is used are at greatest risk.
There is precedent for states acting on false claims by manufacturers. Massachusetts sued Bayer for false and deceptive claims on the label for its neonicotinoid products that harm bees. Every state can seek to protect against a false and deceptive claim under consumer protection and truth in advertising law.