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Health Effects of Herbicides & Insecticides

Monday, November 30th 2020 1:08am 6 min read
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In August, the world stood watch as the first trial against multinational agricultural biotechnology corporation Monsanto unfolded. A jury from San Francisco, CA, awarded Dewayne Johnson $289 million in damages, ruling that Monsanto’s Roundup weed killer was a substantial contributing factor to his development of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

According to reports in the media, Johnson claimed he applied Roundup 20 to 30 times per year while he worked as a groundskeeper for a school district near San Francisco; during his work, he said he had two accidents where he was soaked with the product. Now, lesions cover as much as 80% of his body.

While court findings are not proof of causation, the ruling set a precedent for thousands of other cases claiming that glyphosate, an herbicide used in Monsanto’s Roundup, causes cancer. The herbicide is registered in 130 countries and approved for use on more than 100 crops, but in 2015, the World Health Organization’s international agency for research on cancer classified glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic to humans.”

Monsanto continues to maintain that Roundup does not cause cancer.

Insecticides & herbicides

Organophosphates (carbon- and phosphate-containing molecules) are the most commonly used insecticides and herbicides in the US in all market sectors (i.e., agriculture, home and garden, industrial, commercial, and government).1 The International Agency for Research on Cancer classifies malathion and diazinon as probably carcinogenic to humans and dichlorvos, parathion, and tetrachlorvinphos as possibly carcinogenic to humans. The US Environmental Protection Agency also classifies parathion as a possible human carcinogen. Increased cancer risk has been associated with several organophosphate insecticides in case-controlled studies in the US, Canada, and Italy.1

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