RFK Jr. Says There’s Something in the Texas Water

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. | Photo by Roy Rochlin/Getty Images

Independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr., a keynote speaker at the EarthX2024 Congress of Conferences taking place this week in Dallas, has a refreshingly different campaign platform that addresses issues other candidates ignore.

While his platform addresses some of the most common topics on the minds of U.S. voters such as abortion and the border crisis, he also draws upon his 40 years of experience as an environmental lawyer to propose solutions to chronic disease, toxic food, water, and farmland, and corporate corruption. 

Kennedy has frequently publicly discussed the health consequences — both to humans and animals — of the pesticides and herbicides that are freely used in agriculture and commonly found in the public water supply. The Dallas Express asked the candidate what he would do about the harmful chemicals found in Texas water, such as glyphosate, if elected president.

“The [National Institute of Health], because it is captured by the chemical industry, does not do the kind of studies [and] does not require the kind of studies that need to be done to determine the safety of these products –– and because of that, the manufacturers get to keep poisoning people and animals, etc., without any consequences,” he said. 

“I am going to shift NIH’s priorities to do those studies,” he added. “I cannot tell you that we are going to ban every bad chemical, but I can put enough science out there that the lawyers can now litigate against the chemical company and let the market shut down that chemical very quickly.”

This latter point regarding the free market was echoed throughout many of Kennedy’s answers and during his speech at the EarthX conference later that evening on April 24.  

Kennedy was ardent in his support for free markets. He repeatedly denounced government instruments that he viewed as complicit in allowing polluters — often large corporations — to hurt the health of American citizens. He believes the “discipline of the free market” should be used to force these corporations to bear the costs of their misdeeds. 

Kennedy enumerated a variety of examples, such as manufacturers receiving permits to dump pollutants in drinking water in New York and regulations that protect companies from lawsuits for making toxic products. He also cited policies that have led to treasured landscapes like America’s “purple mountain majesties” being flattened by explosives to extract coal, and refusals by government agencies to publish studies “inconvenient” for polluting industries. 

Mirroring the point made by Kennedy, federal agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency insist upon the safety of glyphosate.

“[There] are no risks of concern to human health from current uses of glyphosate,” the EPA website states.

The National Institutes of Health has studies in its digital library that state that “glyphosate is less toxic to farmers’ health than other pesticides.”

WebMD refers back to the EPA with a similar statement on its website, and the CDC says that “glyphosate is ‘not likely’ to be carcinogenic (causing cancer) to humans in its ToxFAQ. These are the first several results returned when searching Google for “is glyphosate safe.” 

Yet glyphosate was recently cited as the cancer-causing agent in a federal lawsuit against RoundUp. A timeline of lawsuits provided by DrugWatch reveals that RoundUp’s manufacturer, Monsanto, and others have been paying out billions of dollars in settlements for almost 300,000 cases of non-Hodgkin lymphoma allegedly caused across the United States. As of the time of this writing, thousands more cases are pending. 

Non-governmental outlets give diametrically opposed answers about the safety of glyphosate compared to governmental health agencies.

Researchers at the University of Washington published an analysis that found, “Exposure to glyphosate, the world’s most widely used herbicide, increases the risk of a cancer called non-Hodgkin lymphoma by 41 percent.” The International Agency for Research on Cancer, part of the World Health Organization, has identified glyphosate as a carcinogen for nearly a decade. 

Outside the United States, some European jurisdictions have banned the herbicide. Some boroughs of London have forbidden the use of glyphosate, while others have switched to alternatives, the Guardian reported.  

Texas has long had a problem with toxic pesticides turning up in drinking water. Almost 500 water utilities across Texas tested positive for atrazine — another common weed killer — which studies have shown can cause deformities in male genitalia, the Texas Tribune reported in 2019.  

An analysis by NBC revealed that Texas has some of the heaviest glyphosate usage in the country.

“Nueces County, Texas, had the single highest glyphosate usage rate of U.S. counties, with more than 1,100 pounds sprayed per square mile,” the analysis revealed.

A report from the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, warned that even living near a place where glyphosate is used or manufactured can put one at risk for exposure to the chemical. 

Kennedy faces President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump in the November general election. He said during the press gaggle at the Earth X conference that he has more than the requisite petition signatures to appear on Texas’ general election and ballot.

Gallup Polls have shown Kennedy has the highest favorability rating (52%) of any candidate in the race, and he is the only candidate with a majority positive favorability rating.  

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