Tom Oder, MNN, December 4, 2017
If you’re a gardener — or have even a casual interest in keeping your yard free of weeds — there’s a good chance you’ve used Roundup. Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup that kills weeds, is the most widely used herbicide in the world. It’s used to kill weeds in home gardens, patios, driveways and fence lines, school playgrounds, parks, golf courses, utility rights of way and along railroad tracks. Most significantly, it’s used on more than 100 different GMO and non-GMO food crops on commercial farms.
What people may not know about Roundup, the flagship product of the agribusiness giant Monsanto, is the story Carey Gillam tells in her book, “Whitewash, the Story of a Weed Killer, Cancer, and the Corruption of Science.” Gillam says glyphosate use is so pervasive that it’s in the air we breathe, on our dinner plates and breakfast cereals and, increasingly, in our bodies. “It is undeniable,” she writes, “that we’ve allowed our food, our water, our soil, our very selves to become dangerously doused with chemicals, and one of the most pervasive of those pesticides is the subject of this book.”
“Whitewash” (Island Press, hardcover, 272 pages, $30) explores how glyphosate and Roundup have prompted legal claims by thousands of Americans that it caused their cancers. Gillam exposes in alarming detail how the powerful agrichemical industry has kept consumers in the dark about the chemical that once was called “safe enough to drink.” The company discredited scientists who dug too deeply into the effects of glyphosate on human health and used its powerful political influence in regulatory agencies such as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to protect corporate products and profits rather than people.
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