In 2018, the National Toxicology Program (NTP) in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services determined that the science on glyphosate, and the science on products like Roundup with glyphosate as a part of a larger formulation, has not adequately determined safety. The NTP states that “Due to multiple interpretations of evidence on the potential health risks of glyphosate exposure, major public concern about exposure risks, and reported differences in the toxicity of different glyphosate products, NTP is conducting more research on glyphosate and its formulations. We are testing the potential genetic and mechanistic toxicity, and will also examine the published scientific literature for data on the effects of glyphosate on non-cancer outcomes.
The NTP is actively working to do the following:
- Evaluate whether glyphosate is genotoxic (causes DNA damage)
- Evaluate whether glyphosate induces oxidative damage
- Compare the effects of glyphosate on measures of genotoxicity, oxidative stress, and cell viability to the effects of glyphosate-based formulations
- Identify data gaps on the effects of glyphosate and glyphosate-based formulations on human health outcomes other than cancer
Some of the NTP’s findings have already been released, determining that the formulations of weed killers containing glyphosate as an ingredient, showed enhanced toxicity and the destruction of human cells. However, the NTP did find lower oxidative stress than previous studies, which is one of the pathways to cancer.
As reported in The Guardian, Jennifer Sass, a scientist with the Natural Resources Defense Council stated "This testing is important, because the EPA has only been looking at the active ingredient. But it’s the formulations that people are exposed to on their lawns and gardens, where they play and in their food."
For the tobacco farmers and residents of nearby soybean farms in a country like Argentina, the exposure is immeasurably more significant. It is in the food they eat, but it also contaminates the water they drink and the air they breathe at levels poorly regulated and blatantly ignored by their government.
As at May 2017, Forbes lists agriculture giant Monsanto as being worth $50.9 billion. The company claims to develop projects and tools to help farmers around the world grow crops while using energy, water, and land more efficiently. Roundup is an herbicide by Monsanto, that they claim will “help you protect your fields and maximize yield potential.”