Monsanto’s Weed-Killer Roundup May Also Kill People: Agricultural Workers Who Were Exposed to the Carcinogen Fight Back


Following the recent classification of the herbicide glyphosate as a probable carcinogen, farmworkers and others are claiming in court that on-the-job exposure to the glyphosate-containing weed killer Roundup caused them to develop cancer. The lawsuits allege that Monsanto Co., the maker of Roundup, has known about the dangers of the product for years, but chose to put profits ahead of people by falsely proclaiming that Roundup does not cause harm to humans or the environment – despite evidence to the contrary.

What Is Glyphosate? How Dangerous Is It?

Glyphosate is a colorless, odorless acid and the active ingredient in the world’s most widely-used weed-killer, Roundup. In addition to manufacturing Roundup, Monsanto also happens to be the single-largest provider of seeds for farming. Monsanto’s chemically-resistant seeds, called Roundup Ready Seeds, are meant to grow even after being drenched in the weed-killer.

The use of glyphosate-containing herbicides like Roundup has increased since the introduction of Monsanto’s Roundup Ready crops in the 1990s. In 2012 alone, over 283 million pounds of the chemical compound glyphosate were sprayed on crops across the U.S., including corn, soybeans, sugar beets, and other grains and vegetables.

However, in a report published in July of 2015, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), the cancer research unit of the World Health Organization (WHO), classified the chemical compound glyphosate as "probably carcinogenic to humans."

Up until the release of the IARC’s report, scientists had disagreed over the level of danger posed by glyphosate. When the IARC published their study, the scientific community immediately learned otherwise:

"Two large case-control studies of NHL from Canada and the USA, and two case-control studies from Sweden reported statistically significant increased risks of NHL [Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma] in association with exposure to glyphosate."

Researchers reported, "Glyphosate was detected in the urine of agricultural workers in several studies, and in the blood of poisoning cases, indicative of absorption." Not only was the acid found in the bodies and waste of human workers, but studies found that “glyphosate is not rapidly eliminated" from the body.

Prompted by the IARC’s classification of glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic to humans,” California’s Environmental Protection Agency (Cal/EPA) announced its own plans to list glyphosate as a known carcinogen under the state’s Proposition 65 law. The law requires the state to publish a list of chemicals known to cause cancer.

Monsanto Disagrees with Studies and Denies That Roundup Is Dangerous

In 1985, when the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) first studied glyphosate, it categorized the toxic chemical as “possibly carcinogenic to humans” which is the equivalent of the IARC’s current rating. Monsanto then used its own, privately-conducted studies to pressure the agency to change its findings, which the EPA later did in 1991.

As expected, Monsanto is now refuting the IARC’s classification, and continues to stand behind the safety of its product. It has also announced plans to arrange for an independent scientific review of the IARC’s cancer findings.

Agricultural Workers Are Taking Action

Those most at risk of developing cancer associated with workplace exposure to glyphosate-containing weed killers include farm workers, garden center and nursery workers, horticulturists, groundskeepers and landscapers, among others.

The IARC’s recent glyphosate assessment has opened the door to lawsuits by agricultural workers who claim that years of unprotected exposure to Roundup, without knowledge of the risks associated with its use, have caused them to develop deadly cancers such as non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL).

These roundup lawsuits, several of which have been filed already, claim that Monsanto knew or should have known that exposure to Roundup and its active ingredient glyphosate, could cause cancer in those exposed to it. They also accuse Monsanto of manufacturing a dangerous and defective product, failing to conduct adequate studies into the safety of Roundup, and failing to adequately warn about the dangers associated with the use of and exposure to Roundup.

Demanding fair compensation from a corporation like Monsanto, with its limitless resources, is no easy task. But if these lawsuits are successful, millions of others who work on farms and in fields across America could also benefit.

If you or someone you know developed cancer following exposure to agricultural grade Roundup on-the-job, you could be entitled to compensation. Contact Sokolove Law now for more information.

Sokolove Law Team

Contributing Authors

The Sokolove Law Content Team is made up of writers, editors, and journalists. We work with case managers and attorneys to keep site information up to date and accurate. Our site has a wealth of resources available for victims of wrongdoing and their families.

Last modified: March 23, 2020