New Delhi: A new study revealed that glyphosate, the main ingredient in Monsanto’s weedkiller, Roundup, may be harmful for health.
The study published in the medical Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) this week suggests that glyphosate is not only getting into human bodies, but has been doing so at increasing levels for decades.
According to the study, there is emerging evidence that long-term exposure to glyphosate causes cancer. Read: Breast cancer – Women, beware of these six warning signs
Glyphosate-containing Roundup, produced by US agro giant Monsanto, is one of the most widely used weedkillers in the world, including India. Thus, the findings triggered safety concerns about the rampant use of the herbicide in the country, where hundreds of farmers die each year due to pesticide poisoning.
In the study, researchers compared the levels of glyphosate in the urine of 100 people living in California. It covered a 23-year period starting from 1993, the year before the introduction of genetically-modified crops tolerant to Roundup. They said the trend is rising, as glyphosate crop uses rise across the country.
The detectable amounts increased from an average of 0.20 micrograms per liter in 1993-1996 to an average of 0.44 micrograms in 2014-2016.
“Prior to the introduction of genetically modified foods, very few people had detectable levels of glyphosate. As of 2016, 70 percent of the study cohort had detectable levels.” said Paul Mills, of the University of California at San Diego School of Medicine, the study’s principal author. Also Read: Top five cancer-causing foods you might be consuming everyday
Exposure to glyphosate was found to have increased approximately 500 percent.
The fact is that having glyphosate flowing within and through our bodies on a regular basis is disturbing because it is a carcinogen. It was classified in 2015 by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) as “probably” carcinogenic to people (Group 2A).
Earlier in July of this year, glyphosate has been listed in the State of California under Proposition 65 as Known to Cause Cancer in people.
As per reports, the consumption of glyphosate in India was 148 million tonnes in 2014-15, the highest for any herbicide.
According to the Centre for Science and Environment, there were about 7,000 deaths because of accidental intake of insecticides/pesticides in India in 2015.
Monsanto, however, strongly denies the link to cancer and other health harms, saying that it’s highly profitable weedkiller is “safe”.
“Glyphosate has a long history of safe use. All labeled uses of glyphosate of which Roundup is a leading brand, are safe for human health and environment. Moreover, no regulatory body in the world has concluded that glyphosate is carcinogenic,” a Monsanto India spokesperson was quoted as saying by a Newspaper.
Environmentalists alleged that regulation of pesticide and herbicide use in India is abysmal. They also expressed concerns over increasing use of herbicide-tolerant (HT) cotton in India, adding that it’s being grown in lakhs of hectares in the country, spurring the use of glyphosate.
Herbicide tolerant crops are designed to tolerate specific broad-spectrum herbicides, which kill the surrounding weeds, but leave the cultivated crop intact.
The findings published in JAMA came as the European Commission proposed on Tuesday to renew the license for glyphosate for a shorter than usual five to seven years.