The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), a group within the World Health Organization, recently released a report stating evidence that glyphosate likely causes cancer in humans and definitely causes cancer in lab animals. The same report also states that glyphosate causes DNA and chromosomal damage in humans.
The IARC Working Group that conducted the evaluation considered the significant findings from the US EPA report and several more recent positive results in concluding that there is sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity in experimental animals.
Glyphosate is reportedly used on 94% of U.S. soybean fields and 89% of U.S. corn fields, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The difference between glyphosate and many other herbicides is that it cannot be washed off our food. Glyphosate works by attacking the individual cells of a plant and as a result traces of the chemical are in each and every cell of the plants it is used on.
Over the years, the wide use of glyphosate has led to the appearance of “super weeds” that cannot be killed by the chemical. While glyphosate is designed to attack every cell in a plant, these weeds have developed defenses to survive the herbicide.
Because of these “super weeds”, mass-production farmers are having a harder time controlling weeds in their fields and have turned to more powerful herbicides like “2,4-d” (short for 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid).
2,4-d is an increasingly common herbicide in the US. Historically it was used as an active ingredient in Agent Orange from the Vietnam War. It is stronger than glyphosate and attacks weeds in a different way. However, the IARC also recently classified this chemical among those that possibly cause cancer in humans, but they are still in the process of testing to ensure accurate results.
Various countries have imposed serious restrictions or bans on glyphosate including, Canada, Brazil, Sri Lanka, and the Netherlands. It is unclear whether the US will follow suit. The EPA has indicated that they may start testing food for glyphosate, something they have only ever done once, but they maintain their position that the herbicide is safe.
Until conclusively safe alternatives to these chemicals can be found, here are a couple ways you can keep your family healthier.
- Try to minimize your consumption of processed foods
- Cook more meals from scratch. Not only is it tastier, but it can sometimes be cheaper!
- Know what you are eating, and buy organic when possible
- If you have the space (and don’t mind getting your hands dirty) you can start your own food garden!