The year 2015 hasn’t been kind to Monsanto. In March, the World Health Organization declared that the company’s flagship product, its herbicide glyphosate or Roundup, is a probable human carcinogen. Increasingly, national health ministries are taking a hard second look at glyphosate’s health and environmental dangers and efforts are underway to ban the herbicide. To protect its citizens, last year the Netherlands, Bermuda and Sri Lanka have either banned or imposed strict limits on Roundup. Last June, France banned its use in gardens. Brazil, Germany and Argentina are considering legislative bans. And this month, California’s environmental protection agency launched plans to label Roundup as a carcinogen.
Glyphosate is the most widely used herbicide in the world today. Over 130 countries currently permit extensive use of the chemical. The US is the largest consumer, using approximately 20% of the world’s Roundup. The latest reliable figures from the US Geological Survey record 280 million pounds of Roundup were used in 2012, nearly a pound for every American. In 2013, gross profit of $371 million on crop chemicals including Roundup climbed 73% due to a 37% increase in sales. That same year Monsanto’s net income rose 22% to $1.48 billion.