If you like a nice green lawn free of pesky weeds, please take a moment to think about how badly you want it. Organic gardeners have warned of the dangers of Roundup weed killer for years because Roundup appears to be a carcinogen – and by ‘appears’ I mean that over nine thousand lawsuits are currently pending against its maker, Monsanto, claiming it causes non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
The settlements are just starting – recently a jury awarded a terminally ill man $289 million after he claimed that Roundup gave him cancer. The jury found “Monsanto acted with malice, oppression or fraud and should be punished for its conduct.” Monsanto mounted an appeal and the settlement has been reduced to $78.5 million, but the finding stands.
A few weeks ago a California man who has undergone six rounds of chemotherapy for his cancer was awarded $80 million in a suit claiming that his use of Roundup has given him cancer. This is the tip of the iceberg. I believe that years from now we’ll look back with horror on the pervasiveness of Roundup in our food chain and think “How did we ever let this happen?”
The EPA and the Agriculture Department are notoriously slow to address chemical endangerment of the public: in the l950s my grandfather, uncle and all their farmer neighbors used Malathion insecticide regularly to spray their grape crops. Malathion disrupts the nervous system of insects, but as it turns out it affects the nervous system of humans too. My grandfather, uncle, and many of their neighbors died early deaths of liver cancer, simple farmers who were too busy coping with their cancer to hire a lawyer to challenge a huge chemical company. The federal government thought Malathion was safe – in fact it’s still legally for sale.
Roundup is this generation’s Malathion. Please don’t use Roundup. Tell your friends and neighbors. When you buy produce, ask if it was treated with Roundup while growing. I’ll trade a dandelion or two for a clean bill of health. And there is an upside: we haven’t used chemicals on our garden for years and now there’s clover, violets and lesser celandine growing in the lawn and it’s beautiful and natural. We all have a responsibility to live gently on the land; eliminating dangerous chemicals from our gardening is a good start.