Ankit Sharma Sharma
Green tea Addict | A Tree Hugger | Born for Change
When Dewayne Johnson, a former school groundskeeper from San Francisco, sued the biotech giant Monsanto claiming that the use of their weed killing product ‘Roundup’ gave him cancer, people thought he wouldn’t even live long enough to see the case go to trial.
The San Francisco jurors, however, awarded him $289 million, fining the multinational company, Monsanto, which failed to warn their consumers of the potential carcinogenic effects of the chemical glyphosate present in Roundup.
The case was the first to go to trial amongst thousands of others claiming that glyphosate causes cancer. Monsanto has however decided to appeal against the verdict, stating the numerous studies that have claimed glyphosate to be harmless.
Johnson’s Attorney, Litzenburg said, “Friday’s verdict is historic, especially since Roundup is the most widely used herbicide in the world”. “This is a big victory for human health worldwide,” he told CNN.
In a report of March 2015, the IARC found the chemical glyphosate to be probably carcinogenic to humans for causing non-Hodgkin lymphoma, the same disease Mr Johnson was suffering from.
Another study conducted by the Journal of the American Medical Association in October 2017 reported that the long-term use of glyphosate led to the occurrence of cancer, as reported by the Times Now.
The International Agency For Research on Cancer (IARC) is a part of the World Health Organisation which conducts research on the causes of cancer and publishes global statistics surrounding the occurrence of cancer.
Including Monsanto, there are 30-35 glyphosate-based herbicides sold in India. According to The Times of India, glyphosate is largely used by cotton farmers of Vidarbha and other parts of Maharashtra. It is also linked with the illegal smuggling of herbicide tolerant (HT) cotton seeds on which this glyphosate is used.
HT cotton has not received the Centre’s approval for commercial use in India. However, believing it will give them a better yield, farmers prefer HT cotton over regular variety, which only leads to killing their soil in the long run. Since HT cotton is tolerant to glyphosate, farmers spray the chemical to reduce the labour cost of removing the weeds manually.
This is expected to not only control the use of the possibly carcinogenic chemical in Indian agriculture but also to affect the illegal smuggling of the HT cotton seeds. However, the Central government needs to step in for any major and widespread effect to be seen regarding the use of glyphosate.
Cancer is a disease that not only affects the individual, but it also ravages the entire family. The effects of the chemical on cultivable soil are no less terrible. Moreover, once it enters the food chain, every consumer is threatened. We urge the Central and other state governments to put a permanent ban on glyphosate to save people from cancer.
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