Buffalo/Bloomington/Davis (USA): As summer heats up in North America, gardeners are busy planting new saplings and removing weeds and workers cutting grass in the park and leveling the ground. Many people are using weed killers such as Roundup which are available at stores such as ‘Home Depot’ and ‘Target’.

Cancer risk from glyphosate!

Over the past two years, three US jurors have handed down multimillion-dollar fines to petitioners who said glyphosate, the main ingredient in weed killer Roundup, caused a type of cancer. German company Bayer bought Roundup search giant Monsanto in 2018 and inherited 125,000 pending litigation, of which it has settled all but about 30,000.

The company is now considering ending Roundup’s retail sales in the US to reduce the risk of further lawsuits from its users. Researchers studying global trade, food systems and their effects on the environment see a bigger picture in the matter. Generic glyphosate is used worldwide. Farmers use it in agricultural fields. Glyphosate is sprayed in the field as a weed killer.

Widely used

The effects of glyphosate are now visible in humans, but scientists are still debating its health effects. However, one thing is clear, since it is an effective and very cheap weed killer, it is widely used. When glyphosate was marketed under the Roundup brand name in 1974, it was widely recognized as safe. Monsanto scientists claimed that it would not harm people or other non-target organisms and would not survive in soil and water.

Scientific reviews determined that it does not form in animal tissues. Glyphosate was more effective than any other weed killer before or since. Gradually, farmers in other places also started sprinkling it in the fields to prepare for the next crop cycle.

What is the situation regarding India, China?

China still dominates the pesticide industry. It exported 46 percent of it worldwide in 2018 but now other countries are also joining this trade, including Malaysia and India. Pesticides were previously supplied to developing countries from Europe and North America, but now developing countries export many pesticides to wealthy countries.

Due to its effect on health, many products came in the market but its harmful consequences cannot be denied. Therefore better alternatives are needed as weeds are gradually becoming resistant to glyphosate. Research into alternative solutions to chemical weed control should be accelerated due to growing concerns about the effectiveness and potential health effects of glyphosate, according to the researchers.