Study: Monsanto’s Roundup Linked to Serious Health Effects

We’ve long written about links between pesticides and long-lasting, serious health effects. For instance, many experts believe that autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) could be due to environmental exposures and critics have blamed pesticides, among other factors. We also previously wrote that a new study found an association with glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup, and Parkinson’s disease and Parkinson’s-related brain disorders.

Another study has found that the residues of the chemical glyphosate has been found in food, said Reuters. Roundup is the world’s most popular herbicide, is sprayed over millions of crop acres, and could be associated with an array of health issues and diseases that also include infertility and cancers. The peer-reviewed report appears in the scientific journal, Entropy.

Glyphosate residue boosts the damaging responses of other food borne chemical residues and toxins in the environment. This disrupts body functions and provokes disease, said study author Stephanie Seneff, a research scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and Anthony Samsel, a retired science consultant from Arthur D. Little, Inc; former private environmental government contractor; and member of the Union of Concerned Scientists, said Reuters. “Negative impact on the body is insidious and manifests slowly over time as inflammation damages cellular systems throughout the body,” the study found. We “have hit upon something very important that needs to be taken seriously and further investigated,” Seneff told Reuters.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is conducting a standard registration review of the chemical. Its deadline for determining if glyphosate use should be limited is set for 2015, said Reuters. Environmentalists, consumer groups, and plant scientists from around the world warn that heavy glyphosate use has led to problems in plants, people, and animals.

In addition to Roundup, Monsanto developed suite of genetically altered, biotech crops impervious to Roundup that include corn, soybeans, canola, and sugar beets, and which comprise millions of acres of crops nationwide, said Reuters. Roundup is also used on lawns, gardens, and golf courses. Monsanto and experts in industry argue that glyphosate is safe and less damaging to the environment than other chemicals and Jerry Steiner, Monsanto’s executive vice president of sustainability recently said that, “We are very confident in the long track record that glyphosate has. It has been very, very extensively studied,” according to Reuters.

Glyphosate was first registered for use in the U.S. in 1974 and has been used in agriculture and forestry, lawns and gardens, for weeds in industrial areas, and to control aquatic plants. Some 88,000 tons of glyphosate were used in the United States in 2007 alone.

There is accumulating evidence to indicate that glyphosate is resistant to biodegradation and in the areas where it has been applied, now contaminates the air, rain and groundwater. Also, according to an Herbicide Fact Sheet from the Journal of Pesticide Reform, glyphosate and glyphosate-containing pesticides have been shown to cause genetic damage in laboratory tests with human cells, as well as in tests with laboratory animals. Studies of farmers and other people exposed to glyphosate herbicides have shown that this exposure is linked with increased risks of the cancer, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, miscarriages, and attention deficit disorder.

In 1996, the New York Attorney General filed suit against Monsanto for alleged false and misleading advertising of glyphosate products. The lawsuit claimed that Monsanto’s advertising inaccurately portrayed glyphosate-containing products as safe and as not causing any harmful effects to people or the environment. According to the state, the ads also implied that the risks of products such as Roundup are the same as those of the active ingredient, glyphosate, and do not take into account the possible risks associated with the product’s inert ingredients. Monsanto settled the suit in 1997, and agreed to discontinue the use of terms such as “biodegradable” and “environmentally friendly” in all advertising of glyphosate-containing products in New York State. The company also agreed to pay $50,000 toward the state’s costs of pursuing the case.

In 2007, Monsanto was fined in France for misleading the public about the environmental impact of Roundup. A former chairman of Monsanto Agriculture France was found guilty of false advertising for presenting Roundup as biodegradable and claiming that it left the soil clean after use. Monsanto’s French distributor, Scotts France, was also fined.

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