A review of data from Argentina, Brazil, France, and the United States is showing that glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup and other weed killers and herbicides, causes birth defects in the embryos of laboratory animals, even when embryos are exposed to lower dilutions of the chemical than are used in agricultural and garden applications.
The review was conducted by Earth Open Source, an international non-profit organization that gathers and analyzes data pertaining to food safety, technology, and genetic engineering. The data, the group says, overwhelmingly suggests that glyphosate is a public health hazard, and the report urges American and European countries to remove it from the market. The chemical has been used since 1976, when the American agricultural giant Monsanto introduced it in Roundup and other products. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that 180 to 185 million pounds were used between 2006 and 2007, The Huffington Post reports. Soybeans and other crops have been genetically engineered to be "Roundup Ready," meaning that they can tolerate direct application of the herbicide without damage to the harvestable part of the plant.
The Earth Open Source report blames the industry for ignoring copious research implicating glyphosate in birth defects, saying in its report, "The public...has been kept in the dark by industry and regulators about the ability of glyphosate and Roundup to cause malformations.In addition, the work of independent scientists who have drawn attention to the herbicide's teratogenic [relating to embryonic development] effects has been ignored, denigrated,or dismissed. These actions on the part of industry and regulators have endangered public health."
Monsanto responded to the findings in a statement declaring that the report does not contain any new information. "Based on our initial review, the Earth Open Source report does not appear to contain any new health or toxicological evidence regarding glyphosate," the statement says.
Among the findings cited by the Earth Open Source report:
- A 2010 Argentine study that found birth defects in frog and chicken embryos at dilutions much lower than those used in agricultural and garden spraying.
- A 2005 French study that found that glyphosate caused the death of human placental cells.
- A German study of a glyphosate derivative called Glyphosate-Biocarb showed "irreversible" liver cell damage in rats.
The EPA is currently reviewing glyphosate, but it will not issue its findings until 2015. One of the Earth Open Source report's major recommendations is that the agency move faster toward issuing its findings.
Do you use Roundup or other weed killers in your yard or garden?
(image via: http://politicsoftheplate.com)