Lieff Cabraser Civil Justice Blog
New Study Finds Monsanto Weedkiller Chemical Increases Cancer Risk

Monsanto’s Market-Dominating Weed Killers With Glyphosate Linked To Pregnancy Problems

A new study from the Children’s Environmental Health Network (“CEHN”) Healthy Kids Initiative testing 69 pregnant women, reveals  that exposure to the widely-used herbicide known as glyphosate accumulates in pregnant women and leads to unfavorable birth outcomes.

An active ingredient in Monsanto Co.’s Roundup-branded herbicides, including various weedkillers, glyphosate is the most commonly used pesticide in the U.S. According to a February 2016 study by Environmental Sciences Europe, “In the U.S., no pesticide has come remotely close to such intensive and widespread use.”

“This is a huge issue,” stated Paul Winchester, medical director of the neonatal intensive care unit at the Franciscan St. Francis Health system and professor of clinical pediatrics at Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis, Indiana. “This is the first U.S. study to demonstrate glyphosate is present in pregnant women. ‘Everyone should be concerned about this.’”

Since 1974, research has shown that American farmers have applied 1.8 million tons of glyphosate. Worldwide, 9.4 million tons of the chemical has been sprayed on fields. The use of glyphosate has risen since genetically-engineered glyphosate-tolerant crops were introduced in the year 1996. In 2015, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified the pesticide as “probably carcinogenic to humans.”

“Is this level of exposure safe or not? We’ve been told it is, but exposures haven’t been measured,” Winchester notes. “Its mind-boggling.”

People can be exposed to glyphosate levels through food or via farming operations that spray the chemical on corn and soybean production fields. The Huffington Post notes that “both soy and corn, along with several other crops, have been genetically engineered to tolerate direct application of glyphosate. Farmers often also use glyphosate directly on wheat, oats and other non-genetically engineered crops shortly before harvest, leading to residues in grain-based food products.”

More than 50 lawsuits have been filed against Monsanto on behalf of individuals exposed to glyphosate who have developed non-Hodgkins lymphoma and other serious illnesses. The suits accuse Monsanto of concealing glyphosate’s health hazards from the public.

The CEHN research team will be presenting their findings on Thursday at the Children’s Environmental Health Network Conference in Washington DC.