Using Herbicide Puts Workers at Risk for Developing Cancer

Christine Shepherd was shocked when doctors diagnosed her with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Why was this happening? What had caused all the lymph nodes in her leg to swell?  She searched for answers until she was confronted by an answer that made perfect sense: Christine had been spraying the herbicide Roundup on her coffee farm for five years.

According to the World Health Organization, the main ingredient in Roundup herbicide– glyphosate– “probably” causes cancer in humans. We usually hear most of the complaints about glyphosate coming from consumers. But workers are the ones on the front-lines coming face-to-face with poison every day. And they’re the one’s developing cancer because of it.


Flickr: garycycles8

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800 people are already attempting to sue Monsanto for causing them to develop non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. But the lawyer representing them expects 4,000 or 5,000 cases by the time all is said and done. Why so many? Roundup or some form of glyphosate is the most widely used herbicide in the world.

Of course Scott Partridge, Monsanto’s vice president of global strategy, dismissed the lawsuits saying they have “no merit” and accusing law firms of running ads to capitalize on the cancer diagnosis. While the second part of that accusation might be true, the cancer cases are very real. So why shouldn’t the victims deserve some kind of monetary compensation?

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So what’s it going to take for Monsanto– a company which essentially controls the world food supply– to stop using carcinogenic chemicals? That’s the thing: they don’t have to. They essentially control all produce– even from many organic companies– because they control the seed supply.

This problem will come to a head in one of two ways. Thousands of people suing Monsanto for damages could force them to stop using Roundup. Since the profit would no longer out-weigh the costs. This is probably the most likely solution but unfortunately it also involves thousands getting diagnosed with cancer in the process.

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The other solution? Use regulation to force Monsanto to stop using Roundup. Which would immediately stop people from becoming diagnosed with cancer. But unfortunately, Monsanto has a large lobbying department that allows them to essentially control the lawmakers.

Unfortunately for people like Catherine and many workers around the world– many without sufficient incomes or access to health care– any solution will still come too late.

Using Herbicide Puts Workers at Risk for Developing Cancer


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