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Glyphosate, the main ingredient in the Monsanto’s flagship product Roundup, is now the “most widely applied pesticide worldwide,” according to a report published today in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Sciences Europe.

glyphosate
Glyphosate being applied to a field in North Yorkshire, England. The chemical is now the most widely and heavily applied weed-killer in the history of chemical agriculture in both the U.S. and globally. Photo credit: Flickr

The paper, Trends in glyphosate herbicide use in the United States and globally, reveals that since 1974, when Roundup was first commercially sold, more than 1.6 billion kilograms (or 3.5 billion pounds) of glyphosate has been used in the U.S., making up 19 percent of the 8.6 billion kilograms (or 18.9 billion pounds) of glyphosate used around the world.

Globally, glyphosate use has risen almost 15-fold since “Roundup Ready” crops were introduced in 1996, the paper noted. These crops, such as soy, corn, canola, alfalfa and cotton, are genetically engineered to withstand direct applications of Roundup, as the product kills only the weeds.

“Genetically engineered herbicide-tolerant crops now account for about 56 percent of global glyphosate use,” agricultural economist Charles M. Benbrook, PhD, and author of the study wrote in his paper. “In the U.S., no pesticide has come remotely close to such intensive and widespread use.”

According to the study, two-thirds of the total volume of glyphosate applied in the U.S. from 1974 to 2014 has been sprayed in just the last 10 years.

“The dramatic and rapid growth in overall use of glyphosate will likely contribute to a host of adverse environmental and public health consequences,” Benbrook claimed.

In his paper, Benbrook cited other scientific studies linking glyphosate exposure to adverse liver and kidney problems, as well as non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

Last March, the International Agency for Research on Cancer’s (IARC), the World Health Organization’s cancer research arm, infamously declared that glyphosate was a “possible carcinogen.”

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