ASSUMPTION PARISH, La. (BRPROUD) – According to a recent report from NBC, a number of U.S. residents may have been exposed to a possible carcinogen found in chemicals that are commonly used to kill weeds.

What is glyphosate?

The chemical in question is called glyphosate.

It’s a synthetic compound known for its effectiveness in warding off perennial weeds, and it’s been in use for nearly five decades.

Across the nation, fields of corn, cotton, soybeans, wheat, and oats are sprayed with products containing glyphosate.

Crops in Assumption Parish are no stranger to the chemical.

NBC reports that an average of approximately 267.71 pounds of glyphosate herbicides were sprayed per square mile in the Parish, according to 2019 data from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).

This number surpassed the national average, which the same dataset described as, “almost 130 pounds of glyphosate herbicides… sprayed per square mile.”

Seeing as herbicides and weed killers are used on a variety of crops every day, why is there so much controversy over the use of products containing glyphosate?

Why the debate over glyphosate?

Though the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says there is no evidence that the chemical poses any risk to human health, a number of individuals and organizations maintain that it has a link to cancer.

Some of these beliefs find their root in a 2019 analysis carried out by former EPA science review board members. The analysis revealed a potential link between glyphosate and non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

In addition to this study, NBC adds that, “Several peer-reviewed studies have also suggested that herbicides containing glyphosate may disrupt hormones and alter the gut microbiome.”

The research that supports a cautious view of the chemical in question does not end with the studies mentioned above.

NBC goes on to report that prior to the 2019 analysis, in 2015, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer said glyphosate was likely linked to cancer in humans.

This 2015 announcement triggered multiple lawsuits against Bayer, the company that owns the popular herbicide, Roundup, which contains glyphosate.

Is the U.S. still using heavy amounts of glyphosate?

At this time, the legal battle continues to play out in court and glyphosate is still in use.

In fact, a June 2021 national health survey from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that detectable levels of glyphosate were found in 80 percent of urine samples that were tested.

According to NBC, though current laws allow continued use of the chemical, a spokesperson for the EPA confirmed that the agency intends to revisit its evaluation of glyphosate’s possible link to cancer by 2026.