​Dear Editor,

I’m writing to alert your readers and my neighbors here in Vail to the scientific studies and recent legal actions regarding ROUNDUP weed killer.  I very often see folks spraying their yards with the product and believing that it is safe to use.  As a cancer survivor, health journalist and longtime contributor to CURE magazine, I have the opportunity to follow the most up-to-date information on this and other products that have the potential to cause detrimental health issues. My hope is that in sharing this information, residents will have the latest data to guide them in their choices of herbicides and perhaps a few lives can be saved down the road. 

Monsanto chemical company has fought hard for a number of years to convince consumers that glyphosate, the primary ingredient in ROUNDUP is safe; this despite a warning in 2015 from the World Health Organization that glyphosate was a probable carcinogen. Now, science and the courts have agreed that the product does indeed contribute to incidents of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, b-cell lymphoma, leukemia, or other forms of cancer. Monsanto has vehemently denied this despite the compelling scientific evidence that has prompted a dozen countries to restrict or ban the product. Recently Monsanto was purchased by the Bayer Company for 63 billion dollars.

ROUNDUP is the most popular herbicide in the world.  Millions of agricultural workers, landscapers, and gardeners around the planet use the herbicide, as well as many of our neighbors here in Vail.  Monsanto has fought hard to refute the scientific claims but now, after years of legal stalling, the courts have determined that the product is linked to an increase in cancer cases.              The state of California, one of the leading agricultural centers in the U.S. has also listed glyphosate as a known carcinogen. 

There are more than eleven thousand lawsuits pending throughout the country on behalf of agricultural laborers and gardeners diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, and the first ROUNDUP lawsuit to go to trial earlier this year resulted in a 78 million dollar verdict for a former groundskeeper.  The second case to come to trial resulted in 80.2 million dollars in damages being awarded against Bayer.  

I don’t necessarily expect this news to change many of my neighbor’s minds about using and ingesting this product, but as a cancer survivor and advocate for accurate health related information based on sound and now proven scientific scrutiny, I hope that folks will weigh the dangers against the benefits of using an herbicide that has the potential to create life-threatening illness; very possibly killing more than just the weeds in our gardens. 

In my view, any time we extend a public warning about a potentially harmful product there is an obligation to offer an alternative.  Check online for a number of good substitutes that kill the weeds in your yard.  Commercial strength vinegar works great. That means vinegar that’s 10 to 20 percent acetic acid; not the milder variety that you use on salads. You can find this garden duty vinegar at many nurseries and hardware stores. It kills the weeds by burning their leaves, and that’s most effective on sunny days. Then it biodegrades, making it a far less toxic approach to spot killing weeds than using commercial formulas. 

Khevin Barnes.  Vail, Arizona