UW research finds glyphosate linked to cancer

Bayer, Monsanto, glyphosate, Roundup, cancer. We’ve all been seeing the news on the ongoing disagreement between the mega-corporation and the public. Bayer’s response has been a consistent reply of innocence.

The University of Washington just completed a meta-analysis, using studies published from 2001 to 2018. The study found that glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, was indeed linked to Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma.

Included in the research was a newer study on 54,000 licensed pesticide applicators.

Glyphosate, a systemic herbicide, has been sold since 1974. Since then the amount of this chemical sold annually has risen significantly. “Exposure to glyphosate, the world’s most widely used herbicide, increases the risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma by 41 percent,” said Rachel Shaffer, the study’s co-author and UW doctoral student.

“This finding itself is not entirely earth-shattering: the results from prior meta-analyses were similar. But, it adds more support to the carcinogenic classification.

“More specifically, we report a 41 percent increased risk. For comparison, the average lifetime risk of NHL is about 2 percent. However, I want to emphasize that because our analytical method prioritized the high exposure groups, the precise numerical estimate is less important than the significant positive correlation. Basically, the purpose of this and other related assessments (like IARC’s) is to understand whether glyphosate is carcinogenic or not: this is a yes/no question,” adds Shaffer.

More than 9,000 lawsuits have been brought against Bayer/Monsanto by those suffering from NHL.

A 61-year-old from Duvall filed suit against Bayer/Monsanto after being diagnosed with NHL last May, alleging that Roundup was to blame. The man claimed that Monsanto was negligent in their labeling, packaging and promotion of the product which he used while operating a landscape, construction and maintenance business for 18 years.

Washington State Senator Christine Rolfes is sponsoring, among other environmental bills, Senate Bill 5135, preventing “toxic pollution that affects public health or the environment by regulating use…” and SB 5597, organizing “a work group to look at current aerial pesticide practices and recommend updates to forest management rules…”

With all we’re reading and hearing about toxins apparent ubiquity, it pays to shop mindfully, especially in the produce department. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) puts out two annual lists of fruit and vegetables, listing the most toxic and the best to eat.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture found 70 percent of conventionally grown crops tainted with pesticide residue and containing up to 67 pesticides per serving. On the list, dubbed the “Dirty Dozen,” were strawberries, spinach, nectarines, apples, grapes, peaches, cherries, pears, tomatoes, celery, potatoes and sweet bell peppers.

The “Clean Fifteen,” or produce deemed safe to eat even if it’s not organic: avocados, pineapples, cabbages, onions, frozen sweet peas, asparagus, mangoes, eggplants, honeydew melons, kiwis, cantaloupes, cauliflower, broccoli – the last two, sweet corn and papayas, could be GMOs so check labels.

Those who wish to take action should consider stopping usage and boycotting Roundup and calling or emailing your state and local representatives to let them know how you feel about this.

— Marylin Olds is a Kitsap opinion columnist. She can be reached via email at marylin.olds@gmail.com.