Regulators have known since 1980 that Roundup, the herbicide manufactured by U.S. company Monsanto, causes birth defects, and have done nothing to make the information public, according to a new report released June 7 (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/…).
The report, “Roundup and birth defects: Is the public being kept in the dark?” by Earth Open Source, found that regulators knew the chemical on which Roundup is based, glyphosate, can cause birth defects in laboratory animals. Earth Open Source is an organization that aims to use open source collaboration to engage people in programs that help nourish humanity, increase equity, support food security, and preserve the Earth.
Regulators also misled the public about the safety of the chemical, according to the report. In one instance, the German Federal Office for Consumer Protection and Food Safety, the German government body handling the glyphosate review, told the European Commission there was no evidence the chemical causes birth defects.
This is not the first instance of accusations against the world’s best-selling herbicide. Earlier this year, researchers found that genetically modified crops used in conjunction with Roundup contain a pathogen that may cause animal miscarriages. Don Huber, professor emeritus at Purdue University, wrote an open letter to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack regarding the newly discovered pathogen, in which he requested a moratorium on deregulation of crops that are genetically modified to withstand heavy applications of Roundup, commonly called Roundup Ready crops.
“It is well-documented that glyphosate promotes soil pathogens and is already implicated with the increase of more than 40 plant diseases,” Huber said in the letter, adding that the pathogen is implicated in spontaneous abortions in cattle at rates as high as 45 percent.
The situation could be catastrophic according to Huber’s letter:
“A team of senior plant and animal scientists have recently brought to my attention the discovery of an electron microscopic pathogen that appears to significantly impact the health of plants, animals, and probably human beings. Based on a review of the data, it is widespread, very serious, and is in much higher concentrations in Roundup Ready (RR) soybeans and corn — suggesting a link with the RR gene or more likely the presence of Roundup. This organism appears NEW to science!
This is highly sensitive information that could result in a collapse of U.S. soy and corn export markets and significant disruption of domestic food and feed supplies. On the other hand, this new organism may already be responsible for significant harm …
Naturally, if either the RR gene or Roundup itself is a promoter or co-factor of this pathogen, then [approval of RR alfalfa] could be a calamity. Based on the current evidence, the only reasonable action at this time would be to delay deregulation …
For the past 40 years, I have been a scientist in the professional and military agencies that evaluate and prepare for natural and man-made biological threats, including germ warfare and disease outbreaks. Based on this experience, I believe the threat we are facing from this pathogen is unique and of a high risk status. In layman’s terms, it should be treated as an emergency.”
Appropriate legislation unlikely
Although originally set to be reviewed in 2012, the European Commission decided to delay the glyphosate review until 2015. It will not be reviewed under more stringent, up-to-date standards until 2030.
“Our examination of the evidence leads us to the conclusion that the current approval of glyphosate and Roundup is deeply flawed and unreliable,” according to the Earth Open Source report.
“What is more, we have learned from experts familiar with pesticide assessments and approvals that the case of glyphosate is not unusual,” the report continued. “They say that the approvals of numerous pesticides rest on data and risk assessments that are just as scientifically flawed, if not more so. This is all the more reason why the Commission must urgently review glyphosate and other pesticides according to the most rigorous and up-to-date standards.”
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