Back in nineteen seventy four, when it first came to market, Roundup, the world’s most popular weed killer, was promoted with a funny little pun, “the herbicide that gets to the root of the problem.” Its active ingredient, glyphosate, was declared to be as safe as table salt and it was soon used around the world to keep parks, playgrounds, farms, golf courses weed free. But over the years, thousands of people have brought wrongful death lawsuits against Monsanto, the first by a forty six year old father of two with non Hodgkins lymphoma, who says Roundup caused his illness and that Monsanto covered up the risks.
Here on Cape Cod people have been fighting the use of glyphosate for years, trying to stop the power company from spraying under the electric lines. According to the state of Massachuestts, that’s a legal practice, though; for in spite of a determination by the World Health Organization that glyphosate is a probable human carcinogen, Monsanto and friendly federal regulators have assured us it’s perfectly safe.
Joining me is investigative journalist Carey Gillam. Her new book is Whitewash: The Story of a Weed Killer, Cancer, and the Corruption of Science.