Finding the Man in the Glyphosate: Regulatory Science and Endocrine Disruption

Authors: Melina Packer*, University of California, Berkeley
Topics: Human-Environment Geography, Cultural and Political Ecology, Hazards and Vulnerability
Keywords: glyphosate, toxicity, regulatory science, endocrine disrupting chemical, embodiment
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The world’s most ubiquitous herbicide is also “probably” carcinogenic to humans. Glyphosate is generously and legally applied on farms and lawns across the US, where this toxin remains permissibly endemic and highly profitable. My project seeks to reveal how and where the social processes of glyphosate regulatory science collide with the biological pathways of this particular endocrine-disrupting chemical (EDC), thereby co-constituting the human body. Working through theories of the gendered and racial state (Brown 1992, Goldberg 2002), I trace the unprecedented, transgenerational and often imperceptible movements of glyphosate through toxicology laboratories, industry offices, regulatory bureaucracies, saturated landscapes, and intoxicated human bodies. While biomonitoring studies have located glyphosate in as much as 93 percent of US residents (Adams et al. 2016), US-based farmworkers, who remain historically and socially marginalized via multiple, intersecting axes, are made to bear the heaviest toxic body burden. Thus, this work not only asks how glyphosate and its accomplices in regulatory science co-constitute the body, but also whose bodies matter (Butler 1993), such that this toxin permeates and poisons with impunity?

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