Tom Lyden, Fox News 9, November 2, 2017
MINNEAPOLIS (KMSP) – Roundup is the popular weed killer used by homeowners and farmers alike, but controversy around the pesticide is growing as people question the safety of the product’s active ingredient, Glyphosate.
Zach Johnson, who calls himself the Minnesota Millennial Farmer, has known about glyphosate his entire life. He’s the fifth generation on his family’s land in central Minnesota and says he depends on Glyphosate to take care of the weeds on his genetically modified corn and soybeans.
Other farmers, like Raymond Herold, wonder if it may have caused their cancer, but he also has doubts.
“I can’t say. I don’t know,” said Herold who was diagnosed with stage 4, Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma last year. “The doctor didn’t tell me that.
Herold is now one of 3,500 famers and agricultural workers nationwide who are suing Monsanto, the maker of Glyphosate.
Glyphosate has been the active ingredient in Roundup, another Monsanto product, since 1974. Today, it’s available in hundreds of generic formulations from a dozen companies, and accounts for 25% of all pesticide use worldwide. It was discovered by John Franz, a Monsanto scientist who got his PhD in organic chemistry from the University of Minnesota.
By itself, Glyphosate is a relatively simple molecule and breaks down easily. It works by targeting an enzyme found in plants but not found in humans or animals. For decades, it’s been considered non-toxic–a scientist once famously claimed it was safe enough to drink.
The game changer for Glyphosate came in the mid-90’s, about the time Monsanto’s patent on it was set to expire–and when the company developed genetically modified corn and soybeans. Farmers could now spread Glyphosate all they wanted and it would only kill the weeds, but not the crop.
“It’s really a growth hormone,” said Prof. Paul Capel of the University of Minnesota, who has researched the presence of Glyphosate in rivers and streams of the Upper Midwest. “In this part of the world, in the Midwest, we put it on 60 to 80 percent of the total landscape and we’ve never done that with a chemical before. It is forcing the environment to react somehow and is it a benign reaction or something more serious? I don’t think we know.”
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