It’s Memorial Day, the time to remember all the courageous men and women who paid the ultimate price to maintain our freedoms and help keep us safe.
But some dangers can’t be fought by soldiers. They masquerade as being benign or even beneficial, and have to be taken on by an army of citizens.
And that’s exactly what’s going on with glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, the most widely-used herbicide in the world.
Glyphosate is used around homes, schools, and especially on farms, liberally sprayed on genetically-modified crops like corn, canola and soy.
Now, over 800 people who have developed deadly cancers after being exposed to the chemical are fighting back against Monsanto.
And they want the truth to be told once and for all about exactly how dangerous glyphosate is.
When Vietnam vet Jack McCall, a recipient of the Bronze star and Distinguished Flying Cross, lost his black Lab Duke to a rare type of lymphoma at the age of six, it should have been a warning that something was amiss on his California farm.
McCall didn’t like using chemicals, but he did use Monsanto’s Roundup –because he thought it was safe. At one time, the company advertised it as being “safer than table salt,” and “practically non-toxic.”
Duke’s death, however, wasn’t the end of it. Three years after that, Jack himself was diagnosed with a rare and highly aggressive form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
Sadly, several months after enduring painful treatments, Jack suffered a stroke on Christmas Eve and died.
Since then, his widow Teri has joined hundreds of others asking that Monsanto take responsibility for the risks of its flagship product — risks, they say, it knew about for years, yet tried to hide.
But the idea that glyphosate causes cancer isn’t just something Teri and others pulled out of thin air. Two years ago, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) found that glyphosate is “probably carcinogenic to humans.”
That finding was the result of an in-depth international analysis by a panel of 17 scientists from 11 different countries. They examined the effects of human exposure to glyphosate in all of the studies published since 2001.
But that wasn’t all. The IARC scientists also identified non-Hodgkin lymphomas and similar cancers as the ones most apt to be associated with glyphosate exposure.
As might be expected, company officials have continued to maintain that Roundup is as safe as can be.
But attorneys for the plaintiffs have cited stunning evidence contained in corporate e-mails suggesting that Monsanto officials were attempting to cover up those cancer findings by discrediting the IARC report before it even appeared in publication.
And then there’s the matter of the apparent collusion between Monsanto and Jess Rowland, a deputy division director at the EPA. An email sent by a Monsanto executive said that Rowland had promised to discourage a review of those cancer findings by another federal agency.
Of course, whatever the outcome of these cases are, you can expect them to drag on for years — or, who knows? Maybe decades.
But you don’t have to wait another day to lower your exposure to Roundup and other chemicals that contain glyphosate. All you need to do is follow these two steps:
Step 1: Avoid the big three GMO crops that are often used as ingredients in processed foods — corn, canola and soy — by purchasing organic ones or those labeled as “GMO-Free.”
Step 2: Don’t use Roundup to kill weeds around your home. Try using mulch in garden beds, non-toxic weed killers (you can mix up your own with vinegar and dish detergent) or just pull or dig them out at the roots. It might not be as easy or fast, but considering the risks that come along with this chemical, it’s well worth the effort.
You should also contact your child or grandchild’s school and find out if glyphosate is used for weed control on the school grounds. And if it is, let your local school officials know just how risky exposure can be, especially to children.
Whether these lawsuits will achieve justice for Jack McCall and the many other victims of this toxic deception remains to be seen. But they will go a long way toward making users of this heavily advertised chemical aware of just how dangerous it can be.
And that, hopefully, may be enough to send it to the “last Roundup.”