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What You Need to Know About Glyphosate

What is Glyphosate?

Glyphosate is a synthetic herbicide patented in 1974 by the Monsanto Company and now manufactured and sold by many companies in hundreds of products. It is the main ingredient in Roundup, the most popular weedkiller in the United States. Roundup is used in more than 160 countries internationally, with more than 1.4 billion pounds being applied to lawns and farms across the world annually. Glyphosate works by inhibiting the activity of an enzyme essential for plant growth, effectively killing unwanted vegetation.

How is Glyphosate Used?

Glyphosate is used in agriculture, forestry, urban landscaping, and home gardening to control weeds. It is applied as a spray directly onto foliage or onto the soil. Glyphosate is often used in conjunction with genetically modified crops that are engineered to be resistant to the herbicide, allowing farmers to selectively kill weeds without harming their crops. This practice is particularly prevalent in large-scale agriculture, where it helps increase crop yields and reduce the need for manual labor.

What Are the Health Effects of Glyphosate?

Carcinogenicity: In 2015, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), a branch of the World Health Organization (WHO), classified glyphosate as "probably carcinogenic to humans" based on evidence from human and animal studies. Over a year-long period, a team of international scientists reviewed nearly 1,000 peer-reviewed and published scientific studies and found a link between glyphosate exposure and non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

Other studies have found an association between glyphosate exposure and other health issues, including reproductive problems, liver and kidney damage, and disruption of the endocrine system. Further studies point to links between glyphosate exposure and multiple myeloma, heart disease, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, chronic respiratory illness, attention deficit disorder, autism, birth defects and reproductive issues. The latest studies continue to show links between glyphosate and adverse health effects.

How Can You Be Exposed to Glyphosate?

Exposure to glyphosate can occur through various routes, including:

Occupational Exposure: Individuals who work in agriculture, landscaping, forestry, or other industries where glyphosate is used may be exposed to the herbicide through skin contact, inhalation of spray droplets, or ingestion.

Residential Use: Homeowners and gardeners who use glyphosate-based products to control weeds in their lawns, gardens, or driveways may come into contact with the herbicide.

Food and Water: Residues of glyphosate can be found in certain foods, particularly those derived from genetically modified crops treated with the herbicide. Additionally, glyphosate may enter water sources through runoff from treated fields.

Consumer Products: Glyphosate is an active ingredient in some consumer products, such as herbicides for home use and weed killers for industrial and municipal applications.

Who is at Risk for Glyphosate Exposure?

Individuals at higher risk of glyphosate exposure include:

  • Agricultural workers and farm laborers
  • Landscapers and groundskeepers
  • Forestry workers
  • Homeowners and gardeners who use glyphosate-based products.
  • Individuals living in areas where glyphosate is heavily used in agriculture.
Studies Have Linked Glyphosate to Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma

Medical studies demonstrate a link between glyphosate exposure and an increased risk of Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL). Notable among these is the research conducted by the Agricultural Health Study (AHS) and the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), which found an association between glyphosate exposure and NHL.

What Should I Do if I Have Been Exposed to Glyphosate?

If you suspect you have been exposed to glyphosate, it is important to take the following steps:

  • Seek Medical Attention: If you experience any adverse health effects after exposure, seek medical advice promptly.
  • Follow Safety Precautions: Take appropriate measures to prevent further exposure, such as washing thoroughly with soap and water if exposed to glyphosate.
How Can I Reduce My Risk of Exposure to Glyphosate?

To minimize your risk of glyphosate exposure, consider the following precautions:

  1. Choose Alternatives: First and foremost, you should consider using alternative methods for weed control, such as mechanical removal or organic herbicides, when possible.
  2. Use Protective Equipment: If working with glyphosate-based products, wear appropriate personal protective equipment, such as gloves, goggles, and protective clothing.
  3. Follow Label Instructions: Always read and follow the instructions on glyphosate product labels carefully.
  4. Limit Consumption of Treated Foods: Wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly before consumption to reduce potential exposure to glyphosate residues.

By taking these precautions, you can help reduce your risk of glyphosate exposure and protect your health and the environment.

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