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Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, has been classified by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a probable human carcinogen since 2015. (Photo: AFP/Getty Images)

'Time to Put People Above Profits': 65+ Advocacy Groups Call on Home Depot and Lowe's to Take Cancer-Causing Roundup Off Shelves

"Lowe's and Home Depot can continue to contribute to the poisoning of people and environment, or they can help their customers take on the existential crises of pesticide-induced diseases."

Julia Conley

Appealing to Home Depot and Lowe's to be part of the solution to environmental and public health hazards, rather than a contributor to them, more than 65 advocacy groups on Wednesday called on the home improvement giants to take the herbicide Roundup off their shelves and online stores, citing numerous concerns about the product.

Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, has been classified by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a probable human carcinogen since 2015. While 10 countries have imposed outright bans on the weedkiller since then, and 15 have placed restrictions on its use, the U.S. continues to allow stores to sell Roundup and other products containing glyphosate. The Environmental Protection Agency maintains that glyphosate does not cause cancer in humans, despite WHO's finding.   

"Regulatory agencies have failed to protect us," Mackenzie Feldman, executive director at Herbicide-Free Campus, said in a statement. "Young people are taking their health into their own hands and demanding that Home Depot and Lowe's remove glyphosate-based herbicides from the shelves. We have sufficient scientific evidence to know the adverse effects these products have on our own bodies, as well as on the environment. It is Home Depot and Lowe's responsibility to protect the many people who still use these products and are unaware of the risks."

"Regulatory agencies have failed to protect us... It is Home Depot and Lowe's responsibility to protect the many people who still use these products and are unaware of the risks."
—Mackenzie Feldman, Herbicide-Free Campus

Costco and the British home and garden store B&Q have committed to phasing out Roundup, and the groups called on Home Depot and Lowe's to take responsibility for the safety of their customers as well, as they have previously by committing to ending sales of pesticides containing neonicotinoids. 

"Home and garden stores can make a significant difference in reducing the use of this toxic product," said Kendra Klein, senior staff scientist at Friends of the Earth. "Research shows that homeowners use up to 10 times more chemical pesticides per acre on their lawns than farmers use on crops. It's reckless to sell consumers products linked to cancer when safer organic alternatives exist."

The groups called on the companies to expand sales of organic weed killers that they already sell.

In addition to being linked to cancer, exposure to glyphosate has been connected to high rates of kidney disease, pregnancy complications, endocrine disruption, and Parkinson's disease. 

The chemical has also been identified as a primary driver of declines in monarch butterfly and honeybee populations, potentially threatening one in three bites of food for humans.

In 2018, a California jury found agrochemical giant Monsanto, the maker of Roundup, liable in the case of Dewayne Johnson, a groundskeeper who blamed years of direct exposure to the product for his cancer diagnosis. Monsanto was ordered to pay $39 million in compensation and $250 million in punitive damages to Johnson. A judge later reduced Johnson's compensation to $78 million.  

Bayer AG, which acquired Monsanto in 2018, has so far agreed to pay $10 billion to settle 95,000 cases out of court. 

With their letter to Home Depot and Lowe's, the advocacy groups said Wednesday, they offered the stores a choice.

"As leading retailers of garden pesticides, supplies, and equipment, Lowe's and Home Depot can continue to contribute to the poisoning of people and environment, or they can help their customers take on the existential crises of pesticide-induced diseases, like cancer, climate change, and biodiversity decline through the sale of products compatible with organic land management," said Jay Feldman, executive director of Beyond Pesticides.

In recent days, advocates have circulated a petition, urging individuals concerned with public health and biodiversity to join the call directed at the two companies. 

"With over 125,000 glyphosate/Roundup non-Hodgkins lymphoma cases pending, it's time for Lowe's and Home Depot to put people above profits," tweeted activist Rachel Parent.


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