Monsanto’s Roundup, the glyphosate-based herbicide used in conjunction with many genetically engineered crops, is now the most heavily used herbicide in the history of agriculture, found a recent study.
The study, published Tuesday in the journal Environmental Sciences Europe, noted that just in the U.S., farmers have applied a whopping 1.8 million tons of glyphosate since 1974 when the product was first introduced.
“Worldwide, 9.5 million tons of the chemical have been sprayed onto fields,” reports Newsweek. “For comparison, that’s equivalent to the weight of water in more than 2,300 Olympic-size swimming pools. It’s also enough to spray nearly half a pound of Roundup on every cultivated acre of land in the world.”
One of the main problems with glyphosate as an agricultural herbicide is the recent rise in resistant “superweeds.”A growing number of U.S. farmers have reported issues with glyphosate-resistant weeds on as much as half of the farms that use glyphosate-based herbicide products.
“Anybody working in agricultural would say it’s a very serious problem,” David Mortensen, a professor of weed and applied plant ecology at Penn State University told Newsweek.
The EPA has also slowly increased allowable limits of glyphosate; since 1996 the amount of glyphosate allowed on corn has increased by 50 percent.
But perhaps most concerning is glyphosate’s connection to human health issues. Glyphosate is a known endocrine disruptor, which can cause metabolic function to go wrong, leading to hormonal imbalances and even weight gain.
In March 2015, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer identified glyphosate as a “probable” carcinogen to humans.
That announcement by the WHO led California to propose listing glyphosate-based products on Prop 65, which would require warning labels indicating the product’s connection to cancer. Monsanto recently filed a lawsuit against the state in an effort to prevent having to comply with Prop 65.
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Roundup image via JeepersMedia