SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A startling and controversial new report from the World Health Organization has found a commonly used weed killer has the potential to cause cancer.
The report takes aim at Roundup, an herbicide used by farmers and homeowners everywhere.
The report outraged Monsanto, the company behind the chemical.
The active chemical in Roundup, glyphosate, has sparked debated between environmentalists and the agriculture industry whether it’s safe to use.
Dan Silva uses the herbicide in his Yuba City orchards.
“On this ranch, we used 5 and a half gallons of it,” he said. “For sustainable agriculture, it’s a product we need and we rely upon.”
WHO’s international agency for research on cancer released a new report saying glyphosate is “probably carcinogenic.” The study is a review of existing research and concludes there is “limited evidence” the main chemical in Roundup can cause non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and lung cancer.
Asked whether he thought orchards would stop using the chemical, Silva said it’s likely some farmers will.
“I think, principally, your larger agricultural operations that need it to facilitate their day-to-day use will continue to use it,” he said.
The third-generation farmer believes wholeheartedly the product is safe.
“We’re 108 years into this business, and over time I can see what we used to use, over my father’s time and my grandfather’s time. Today we’re much much softer, and I think Roundup is a soft product,” he said.
Western Plant Health Association, a Sacramento-based nonprofit trade organization, blasted the decision.
“I think it is either politically-motivated, or it is an organization looking for a headline,” said CEO Renee Pinel. She recommends against people not using the chemical.
She criticized the study, arguing glyphosate has been widely studied for decades, and accepted as safe by organizations such as the Environmental Protection Agency.
“Pretty much everyone uses it. I use it and will continue to use it, and I would highly recommend that anyone currently using it, as long as you read the label and follow directions, you are safe,” she said.
Monsanto ripped the report, calling it biased, using cherry-picked data. The authors of the study deny that.
The timing comes as the EPA is doing its scheduled review of glyphosate.