To the Editor: Roundup Evidence


Roundup Evidence

Some controversy has arisen regarding my mention of Roundup in “Natural Homemade Weed Killer” (July 2014). A Google search of “roundup problems” or “roundup dangers” will provide a wealth of corroborating evidence for my statements. Here are a few of the online resources I used.

Gammon, Crystal and Environmental Health News. “Weed-Whacking Herbicide Proves Deadly to Human Cells.” Scientific American, June 23, 2009.

“Used in gardens, farms, and parks around the world, the weed killer Roundup contains an ingredient that can suffocate human cells in a laboratory, researchers say…”

“The research team suspects that Roundup might cause pregnancy problems by interfering with hormone production, possibly leading to abnormal fetal development, low birth weights or miscarriages.”

“Last month, an environmental group petitioned Argentina’s Supreme Court, seeking a temporary ban on glyphosate use after an Argentine scientist and local activists reported a high incidence of birth defects and cancers in people living near crop-spraying areas. Scientists there also linked genetic malformations in amphibians to glysophate. In addition, last year in Sweden, a scientific team found that exposure is a risk factor for people developing non-Hodgkin lymphoma.”

Gillam, Cary. “Heavy use of Herbicide Roundup Linked to Health Dangers—U.S. Study.” Reuters, April 25, 2013.

“Heavy use of the world’s most popular herbicide, Roundup, could be linked to a range of health problems and diseases, including Parkinson’s, infertility and cancers, according to a new study. The peer-reviewed report, published last week in the scientific journal Entropy, said evidence indicates that residues of “glyphosate,” the chief ingredient in Roundup weed killer, which is sprayed over millions of acres of crops, has been found in food. Those residues enhance the damaging effects of other food-borne chemical residues and toxins in the environment to disrupt normal body functions and induce disease, according to the report, authored by Stephanie Seneff, a research scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Anthony Samsel, a retired science consultant from Arthur D. Little, Inc. Samsel is a former private environmental government contractor as well as a member of the Union of Concerned Scientists.” [The views are those of the scientists who did the study and are not necessarily supported by the UCS]

Kimble-Evans, Amanda. “Roundup Weed Killer Kills More Than Weeds.” Mother Earth News, December 2009/January 2010.

“…A new study in the respected journal Toxicology has shown that, at low levels that are currently legal on our food, Roundup weed killer could cause DNA damage, endocrine disruption and cell death. The study, conducted by French researchers, shows glyphosate-based herbicides are toxic to human reproductive cells. The potential real-life risks from this are infertility, low sperm count, and prostate or testicular cancer.”

“Environmental and health impacts of GM crops – the science.” Greenpeace Briefing, September 2011. (visit webpage for footnotes/citations).

“Most genetically modified (GM) crops awaiting EU authorization for cultivation are either herbicide-tolerant or pesticide-producing (or both). The environmental effects of these crops are increasingly well documented, often from experience in North and South America, where they are principally grown.

GM pesticide-producing crops kill specific pests, by secreting toxins known as Bt, which originate from a bacterium. Peer-reviewed scientific evidence is mounting that these GM crops are:

I.  Toxic to harmless non-target species. Long-term exposure to pollen from GM insect resistant maize causes adverse effects on the behavior and survival of the monarch butterfly, America’s most famous butterfly. Few studies on European butterflies have been conducted, but those that have suggest they would suffer from pesticide-producing GM crops. These studies are all based on one type of toxin, Cry1Ab, present in GM maize varieties Bt and MON810. Much less is known about the toxicity of other types of Bt toxin (e.g. Cry1F, present in the GM maize 1507). Cry1F is highly likely to also be toxic to non-target organisms, but requires separate study.

II. Toxic to beneficial insects. GM Bt crops adversely affect beneficial insects important to controlling maize pests, such as green lacewings. The toxin Cry1Ab has been shown to affect the learning performance of honeybees. The environmental risk assessment under which current GM Bt crops have been assessed (in the EU and elsewhere) considers direct acute toxicity alone, and not effects on organisms higher up the food chain. But these effects can be important. The toxic effects to beneficial lacewings came through the prey they ate. The single-tier risk assessment has been widely criticized by scientists who call for a more holistic assessment.

III. A threat to soil ecosystems. Many Bt crops secrete their toxin from their roots into the soil. Residues left in the field contain the active Bt toxin .19, 20, 21, 22 The long-term, cumulative effects of growing Bt maize are of concern.

Siegel, RP. “Monsanto’s Roundup Ready Crops Tied to Butterfly Decline,” Triple Pundit.

“The latest oops, in Monsanto’s growing list, after the recent study linking Roundup with birth defects, is the elimination of large numbers of monarch butterflies from the landscape. Does Roundup kill butterflies? No, it doesn’t. It simply kills everything that butterflies like to eat: milkweed plants in particular. A 2011 study in Insect Conservation and Diversity found that the heavy Roundup use associated with GMO crops in Mexico, where North American butterflies overwinter, has contributed heavily to a 17-year decrease in monarch populations.

Dr. Chip Taylor, an insect ecologist at the University of Kansas [and Director of Monarch Watch] claims that the milkweed has disappeared from hundreds of millions of acres of row crops. The use of GMO corn, with its associated herbicide, is considered a major cause of the monarch’s decline, along with the loss of milkweed to land development, illegal logging at the wintering sites in Mexico, and severe weather.

Clover Carroll



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