A study from Finland published in the Journal of Hazardous Materials conservatively estimates that over 50% of bacterial species in the human gut are potentially sensitive to glyphosate.
Glyphosate is the main active ingredient in the ubiquitous herbicide, Roundup Weed Killer. Bayer AG, the German pharmaceutical giant that acquired Roundup from Monsanto in 2018, faces over 125,000 lawsuits, and has thus far settled in principle over 85,000 claims for approximately $10 billion. Future lawsuits will likely cost Bayer an additional $2 billion.
Plaintiffs allege that glyphosate as well as other ingredients in the world’s most heavily sprayed herbicide caused them to develop cancer, particularly a rare form called non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Perhaps future Roundup lawsuits will point to the new study’s evidence that suggests glyphosate severely damages the human microbiome. Of course, more studies are required to show a definitive link. However, the research suggests that “glyphosate residues decrease bacterial diversity and modulate bacterial species composition in the gut.”
What’s the broader implication for the bacteria, fungi and other microorganisms in the gut being potentially damaged by glyphosate? So-called ‘gut health’ is linked to immune function, mood regulation and several other important health quotient factors. Some researchers believe that gut health will be a major factor in solving the obesity and diabetes epidemics. Research has shown that people suffering with chronic metabolic disorders lack gut bacteria diversity and beneficial microorganisms.
A report on the study by U.S. Right To Know quotes University of Turku researcher, Pere Puigbo, who said, “The consequences for human health are not determined in our study. However, based on previous studies … we know that alterations in the human gut microbiome may be connected to several diseases.”
Could people with diabetes and/or obesity sue Bayer, who inherited all of Monsanto’s future legal troubles right around the same time that the first Roundup trial was underway, arguing that by using glyphosate products for years in their gardens and lawns, their gut health became damaged?
Moreover, will future lawsuits focus on widespread glyphosate contamination in the U.S. food supply? Will plaintiff representation argue that by eating foods produced from crops that contain traces of glyphosate residue, such as wheat, corn and soy, human health is harmed because of the destruction of the gut microbiome?
Time will tell. But the new study opens the door, perhaps, for a new angle on future litigation.