World's Most Popular Weed Killer Found To Significantly Increase Risk Of Blood Cancer
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World\'s Most Popular Weed Killer Found to Significantly Increase Risk Of Blood Cancer

Research conducted by the International Agency for Research on Cancer has concluded that the best-selling weed killer glyphosate increases the risk of developing non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in those exposed to the chemical, by as much as 40%. The popular herbicide, developed and marketed by the American agricultural product multinational Monsanto has long been a target for anti-pesticide campaigners and activists, convinced as to its carcinogenic properties, and this discovery will inevitably lead to an upswing in support to have the product banned from commercial use.

Developed in the 1970s, Monsanto claim their powerful weedkiller, branded as Roundup in English speaking countries, is the world’s bestselling herbicide and there is much evidence to support this claim, with glyphosate widely used across the globe in both commercial and domestic applications. Its popularity stems from its low toxicity level and effectiveness at killing weeds, being directly applied to fields where the valuable crops have been genetically engineered to be resistant to the formula.

As with many commercially used pesticides and herbicides there has long been a wave of support for banning use of the product in agriculture, for fear of its risks to human health, and with the research published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health now concluding there is a definite link between exposure to glyphosate and developing lymphoma the swell in support for anti-herbicide campaigners has been substantial.

Although their patents and exclusivity agreements on glyphosate ran out in 2000, Monsanto are still widely targeted by activists as the herbicide’s principle producers, in spite of the fact that China is now the world’s biggest commercial producer of the chemical. Due to the American company’s frequent involvement in legal battles and controversial lawsuits over the harmful attributes of its products it has become a prominent target for campaigners with anti-corporate agendas and, rightly or wrongly, it faces considerable pressure currently over its continued marketing of Roundup and other associated glyphosate based products, which in 2009 accounted for over 30% of the agricultural giant’s net sales.

As well as being dogged by persistent lawsuits and controversies over its operations, Monsanto has never been able to shake its association with the defoliant Agent Orange, used by the American military during the Vietnam War in the 1960s and since shown to have had devastating health effects on those unfortunate enough to have been exposed to it.

Although Monsanto and other producers of glyphosate have so far shown no signs that they will cease production of the herbicide, further studies into its effects on humans and its links with lymphoma may yet dictate whether regulatory bodies such as the USDA and FDA will continue to support its use on a commercial scale and there are certain to be wide reaching consequences if these latest findings do lead to action being taken against the use of glyphosate based products. For one thing its use in developing countries that have traditionally struggled to feed their growing populations has been hailed as nothing short of revolutionary, so a blanket ban could have a very severe knock on effect across the globe.


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