The Huffington Post reports that “glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup and other herbicides used around the globe, poses a serious threat to public health. Industry regulators…. in Europe have known for years that glyphosate, originally introduced by American agricultural biotechnology giant Monsanto in 1976, causes birth defects in the embryos of laboratory animals.”
Non-profit organization Earth Open Source came to this conclusion based on “studies conducted in a number of locations, including Argentina, Brazil, France and the United States.” Earth Open Source reports that as far back as 1993 “the herbicide industry, including Monsanto, knew that visceral anomalies such as dilation of the heart could occur in rabbits at low and medium-sized doses.” The EPA estimates that 180 to 185 million pounds of glyphosate were used between 2006 and 2007 alone. (Emphasis is mine in both sentences.)
Per Huffington Post:
While Roundup has been associated with deformities in a host of laboratory animals, its impact on humans remains unclear. One laboratory study done in France in 2005 found that Roundup and glyphosate caused the death of human placental cells and abnormal embryonic cells. Another study, conducted in 2009, found that Roundup caused total cell death in human umbilical, embryonic and placental cells within 24 hours. Yet researchers have conducted few follow-up studies.
This problem has to be serious, because even the executive director of the Institute for Responsible Technology – which advocates for genetically modified food – says, “If you look at the animal feeding studies with genetically modified Roundup ready crops, there’s a consistent theme of reproductive disorders, which we don’t know the cause for because follow-up studies have not been done. More independent research is needed to evaluate the toxicity of Roundup and glyphosate, and the evidence that has already accumulated is sufficient to raise a red flag.”
I was unaware of the fact that “in 1996 New York State’s Attorney General sued Monsanto for describing Roundup as ‘environmentally friendly’ and ‘safe as table salt.'” Monsanto never admitted any wrongdoing, but they “agreed to stop using the terms for promotional purposes and paid New York state $250,000 to settle the suit.” Great. That solves the problem. In 1996 – and throughout his life – my Dad used Roundup weed killer and other Roundup products all over his home and garden. I wonder if that, among other factors, affected his health. (He died of lung cancer in 2008.)
The Environmental Protection Agency is currently reviewing the safety of glyphosate and “issued a notice to the company [Monsanto] to submit human health and ecotoxicity data in September 2010.” The EPA will consider Earth Open Source’s findings in their review, which will not be complete til 2015.
Researchers in Argentina are leading the way in the fight against Roundup, based on the country’s horrible experience with the herbicide. In the 90’s, the Argentine government promoted the production of genetically modified soy. According to HuffPo, “Several years after the first big harvests residents near where the soy cop grew began reporting health problems, including high rates of birth defects and cancers, as well as the losses of crops and livestock as the herbicide spray drifted across the countryside.”
An Argentinian study, published in the journal Chemical Research in Toxicology in 2010, “found that glyphosate causes malformations in frog and chicken embryos at doses far lower than those used in agricultural spraying. It also found that malformations caused in frog and chicken embryos by Roundup and its active ingredient glyphosate were similar to human birth defects found in genetically modified soy-producing regions.”
Purdue professor Don Huber wrote Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack in February with his finding that “genetically-modified crops used in conjunction with Roundup contain a bacteria that may cause animal miscarriages” and warned that the “pathogen appears to significantly impact the health of plants, animals, and probably human beings.” The Agriculture Department wrote Huber in early May, but according to HuffPo, “there’s little evidence that government officials have any intention of conducting the multi-agency investigation Huber requested.”
For more on this story, including a criticism of the chemical industry for rigging the data it provides to regulators, visit The Huffington Post.
For the informed eater: 5 Safest Fish for Your Dinner Table!