Glyphosate is an herbicide used to kill weeds. It’s the active ingredient in Roundup and other weed killers, and can cause a variety of side effects. Recent lawsuits have claimed exposure to glyphosate in Roundup has led to certain cancers, including non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
What Is Glyphosate?
Glyphosate is the active ingredient in Roundup and several other commercial weed killers.
Its chemical name is N-(phosphonomethyl)glycine. The widely used herbicide is available as an acid, a salt, a solid and an amber-colored liquid.
Farmers use glyphosate to eliminate unwanted weeds that compete with crops for sunshine, nutrients and water. Breathing or coming into contact with glyphosate can lead to certain reactions, including irritations of the skin, throat and lungs.
Bayer, which manufactures Roundup, said it would remove any lawn and garden products that contain glyphosate from the market in 2023. Multiple Roundup lawsuits name the company as a defendant in lawsuits that allege the weed killer caused them to develop non-Hodgkin lymphoma and other cancers.
How Does Glyphosate Work?
Glyphosate suppresses the enzyme EPSP synthase, which contributes to plant growth. The inhibited enzyme reduces a plant’s ability to synthesize the amino acids it needs to grow. A plant’s stems and leaves absorb the chemical, then carry it to the roots. Once it reaches the roots, glyphosate stops the plant from absorbing nutrients from the ground, which leads to the plant’s death.
Glyphosate is a nonselective herbicide, which means it can spread to surrounding plants and crops. It’s only applicable to crops that grow above the water and are not fully submerged.
Glyphosate in Roundup and Other Lawn Care Products
Glyphosate is the primary active ingredient in Roundup. Other popular weed killers containing glyphosate include Rodeo and Touchdown.
Monsanto, a U.S.-based agrochemical and agricultural biotechnology conglomerate, manufactured Roundup from 1974 to 2018, when Bayer bought the company. In 2021, Bayer announced it would remove lawn and garden products containing glyphosate from the U.S. market in 2023.
Other Roundup products containing glyphosate include:
Glyphosate is also used in aquariums to control algae and weed growth. Some popular aquarium herbicide brands include AquaPro Aquatic, Roundup Custom Herbicide and AquaNeat. Users must exercise caution when applying these products in aquariums because they can harm aquatic life.
People who developed non-Hodgkin lymphoma after exposure to Roundup are filing lawsuits.