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Roundup is an herbicide sold by Monsanto. It includes an active ingredient (glyphosate), water, and and a surfactant, polyoxyethylene-alkylamine (POEA), which allows the herbicide to adhere to a plant's leaves so that the active ingredient can penetrate them.[1]

Glyphosate was labelled a probable human carcinogen, hazardous to works and consumers, by the World Health Organization in 2015. "The new classification by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, a branch of the World Health Organization, is based on research on human exposure in the U.S., Canada and Sweden and on animal studies that found what the agency called “convincing evidence” that the chemical caused cancer in laboratory animals."[2]

Roundup was the first glyphosate herbicide sold and, while numerous glyphosate products are now sold worldwide, Monsanto continues to sell glyphosate products under the brand name Roundup. Some genetically engineered crops, called Roundup Ready Crops, have their DNA altered to allow them to withstand glyphosate. These include Roundup Ready soybeans, corn, canola, sugarbeets, and alfalfa.

Glyphosate's usefulness as an herbicide was discovered by Monsanto scientist John E. Franz in 1970.[3] It was first introduced in the herbicide Roundup by Monsanto in 1974. As of 2005, Monsanto's glyphosate products alone were registered in more than 130 countries for use in more than 100 crops. Much of Roundup's success is due to the perception that it is safe and nontoxic, as well as the fact that it is effective against so many species of plants. However, its safety is the subject of controversy and several studies have shown evidence to the contrary.

For more information, see the article on glyphosate. For one of the studies documenting the possible toxicity to mammals of Roundup in formulation -- as opposed to simply its active ingredient glyphosate -- the September 19, 2012 University of Caen study, "Long term toxicity of a Roundup herbicide and a Roundup-tolerant genetically modified maize" published in the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology,[4] see the article on NK603 or "Roundup Ready 2."

Articles and resources

Related SourceWatch articles


  1. History of Monsanto's Glyphosate Herbicides, Monsanto, 2005.
  2. Environmental Working Group, Press Release, [World Health Organization Labels Glyphosate Probable Carcinogen], March 20, 2015.
  3. Inventor of the Week: Roundup, Accessed July 12, 2012.
  4. Gilles-Eric Séralini, Emilie Clair, Robin Mesnage, Steeve Gress, Nicolas Defarge, Manuela Malatesta, Didier Hennequin, Joël Spiroux de Vendômois, "Long term toxicity of a Roundup herbicide and a Roundup-tolerant genetically modified maize," Food and Chemical Toxicology, Available online September 19, 2012.

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