(Beyond Pesticides, May 2, 2014) A recent review, published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, examines the interaction between widely used agricultural herbicides, like glyphosate, the active ingredient of Roundup products, and the risk of developing non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL). The study represents one of the most comprehensive reviews on the topic of occupational exposure to pesticides in scientific literature, demonstrating their clear harm to human health.
The study, “Non Hodgkin lymphoma and occupational exposure to agricultural pesticide chemical groups and active ingredients: A systematic review and meta-analysis,” reviews almost thirty years of epidemiological research, examining occupational exposure of farmers to 80 active ingredients, and 21 chemicals groups to clarify their role in the development of NHL. Analyzing 44 papers, the study opens its discussion by mentioning the ”˜striking increase’ in incidents of NHL over the past 30 years. The study attempts to reconcile apparent trends of low mortality but high incidents of cancer among farm workers, pointing out that exposure to agricultural pesticides are often associated with signficint sub-lethal impacts.
Researchers Maria Leon Roux, PhD., and Leah Schinasi, PhD. at the International Agency for Research on Cancer in the Environment and Radiation section, said that the challenge of expensive and therefore the need for more comprehensive data “motivated us to systematically review the published epidemiological literature of relationships of NHL with occupational exposures to agricultural pesticide chemical groups and active ingredients.”
In addition to linking glyphosate to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, the researchers also found that carbamate insecticides, organophosphate insecticides, phenoxy herbicide MCPA, and lindane were positively associated with NHL cancer.
The study comes just as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is considering registering yet another herbicide containing glyphosate and 2, 4-D with seeds engineered to tolerate both materials. The chemical, Enlist Duo technology, is made by Dow AgroSciences in an effort to stem growing insect and weed resistance, which has resulted in increased pesticide use. Registering another toxic chemical mix is not only ineffective in reducing resistance, it ignores the science presented in this and many other scientific articles that links pesticide impacts to human health and the environment.
Beyond Pesticides has assembled extensive documentation on the human health and environmental risks of glyphosate. It has been linked to a number of serious human health effects, including increased cancer risk, neurotoxicity, and birth defects, as well as eye, skin, and respiratory irritation. One of the inert ingredients in product formulations of Roundup, polyoxyethyleneamine (POEA), has also been shown to kill human embryonic cells. In 2009, Beyond Pesticides, submitted comments to the U.S. Environment Protection Agency (EPA) showing new and emerging science that illustrates that glyphosate and its formulated products pose unreasonable risk to human and environmental health, and as such should not be considered eligible for continued registration.
To see more scientific research on the effects of pesticides on human health, see Beyond Pesticides’ Pesticide-Induced Diseases Database, which supports the clear need for strategic action to shift away from pesticide dependency. Public policy must advance this shift, rather than continue to allow unnecessary reliance on pesticides.
All unattributed positions and opinions in this piece are those of Beyond Pesticides.