Potentially Cancer-Causing Chemical Has Been Sprayed On Most US Produce

By Jason Hall

October 11, 2022

Strawberry farm at Doi Angkhang, Chiangmai
Photo: Getty Images

A potentially cancer-causing chemical is being sprayed on American produce and several regions face the highest possible exposure.

Data obtained by NBC News shows parts of the South and Colorado have the highest exposure to glyphosate, the active ingredient in herbicides, which is used in the world's most common weedkillers.

The chemical has been in use for nearly 50 years, however, recent lawsuits alleged that the chemical is linked to cancer, which included 17 experts from 11 countries meeting at the International Agency for Research on Cancer to classify glyphosate as "probably carcinogenic to humans" in March 2015, according to the IARC.

"This was based on 'limited' evidence of cancer in humans (from real-world exposures that actually occurred) and 'sufficient' evidence of cancer in experimental animals (from studies of 'pure' glyphosate)," the IARC wrote. "IARC also concluded that there was 'strong' evidence for genotoxicity, both for “pure” glyphosate and for glyphosate formulations."

Analysis of 2019 USGS agricultural glyphosate usage data obtained by NBC News showed that "an average of almost 130 pounds of glyphosate herbicides were sprayed per square mile in U.S. counties," with the single highest usage rate reported in Lake County, Colorado at nearly 2,000 pounds per square mile.

Iowa and Illinois, which account for the majority of the United States' corn and soy crops, accounted for 15% of the national glyphosate usage.

The Environmental Protection Agency has said there's no risk to human health based on current uses or evidence that glyphosate causes cancer, despite the recent lawsuits and Bayer, which sells the most commonly used glyphosate herbicide, Monsanto, also claimed that the chemical is safe.

“Glyphosate is the most widely used chemical weedkiller in human history because of genetic engineering,” said Dave Murphy, the founder of Food Democracy Now, an advocacy group that tests glyphosate in food, via NBC News. “It’s sprayed ubiquitously and Monsanto has, for decades, just maintained that it’s the safest agricultural chemical ever made.”

Advertise With Us
Music, radio and podcasts, all free. Listen online or download the iHeart App.


© 2024 iHeartMedia, Inc.