The chemical, which has long been touted as a safe part of global food production, is now at a crossroads. Regulators in the United States and Canada are conducting a formal review of glyphosate's safety, even as lawsuits are pending and some groups are calling for a global ban.
According to Reuters:
"Environmentalists, consumer groups and plant scientists from several countries are warning that heavy use of the chemical over the years is causing dangerous problems for plants, people and animals alike."
Monsanto is also only an FDA approval away from its latest monstrosity -- soybeans that have been genetically modified to produce omega-3 fats. That FDA approval is expected this year.
Monsanto plans to include GM soybean oil in every product it can -- baked goods, baking mixes, breakfast cereals, cheeses, frozen dairy desserts, pasta, gravies and sauces, fruit juices, snack foods, candy, soups, and more.
According to Forbes:
"Monsanto is so despised by environmentalists that Google's first suggested search term for the St. Louis company is 'Monsanto evil.' Readers ... voted Monsanto the world's most evil corporation in a January poll, giving the corporation a whopping 51 percent of the vote."
Marie-Monique Robin, author of The World According To Monsanto, says that for all Monsanto's talk about the ecological and humanitarian benefits of its chemicals and genetically modified organisms (GMOs), the solutions have never been delivered.
According to Robin's extensive documentation, this is because what really matters to Monsanto is control of the world seed market. To that end, they have genetically engineered seeds that are resistant to, and therefore dependent on, Roundup, Monsanto's herbicide, which nets them gigantic profits.
Green Left reports:
"GMOs and Roundup, says Robin, are amongst the 'most dangerous products of modern times', joining a list that is heavily populated by other Monsanto products such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), dioxin and bovine growth hormones.
In all cases, Monsanto has been fully aware of their harmfulness yet has lied about their dangers with an impunity conferred by the collusion between the company and the public health and environmental authorities of successive U.S. governments."
You can click on the Green Left link below to read the full story of Monsanto's criminal history.
Glyphosate, the world's bestselling weed killer and the key ingredient in Monsanto's Roundup herbicide, is emerging as one of the most dangerous Monsanto products to date.
As the mastermind behind polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), dioxin and bovine growth hormones, Monsanto is no stranger to toxic products -- PCBs alone have polluted the planet for decades and health risks remain to this day -- but the vast quantities of Roundup being poured over U.S. land could lead to damage of unprecedented proportions.
In a letter sent to U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, retired Purdue University professor Don Huber warned that tests show glyphosate "could be contributing to spontaneous abortions and infertility in pigs, cattle and other livestock," Reuters reported. The chemical has also been linked to a growing army of superweeds that now cover about 11 million acres of farmland, up fivefold from just three years ago, according to Penn State weed scientist David Mortensen.
Today there are more than 750 products in the United States that contain glyphosate, and the problems to human health and the environment are only slated to get worse if drastic changes are not made in the massive use of Roundup herbicide across the United States.
How Did Roundup Become so Popular?
Millions of pounds of Roundup are used every year on U.S. gardens, lawns and farms. It works by inhibiting an enzyme called EPSP synthase, which is necessary for plants to grow. Without it, plants are unable to produce essential proteins so they slowly yellow and die.
Ordinarily, if you were to spray Roundup on crops, it would kill them . So Monsanto created genetically modified (GM) Roundup Ready crops, which produce an enzyme that has the same function as EPSP synthase, but is not affected by Roundup. This allows farmers to liberally spray Roundup directly onto their Roundup Ready crops, killing only weeds and leaving the crops to grow unharmed.
However, this convenience comes at a steep price, as evidence shows that Roundup's active ingredient glyphosate is actually devastating crops and human and animal health around the world.
Cancer, Infertility and Plague Epidemics
GM expert Jeffrey Smith has reported that glyphosate promotes the formation of certain types of fungi that are dangerous to people and contaminate food and animal feed. One such fungi, the Fusarium fungus, has been linked to plague epidemics, cancer, infertility and animal diseases.
Residues of Monsanto's Roundup herbicide found in GM food and feed have also been linked to cell damage and death, even at very low levels. Researchers have also found it causes membrane and DNA damage, and inhibits cell respiration.
And in one animal study, rats given 1,000 mg/kg of glyphosate resulted in a 50 percent mortality rate, and skeletal alterations were observed in over 57 percent of fetuses!
It's also possible that glyphosate is significantly altering the nutrient content of our food, through its chelating mechanism, leading to widespread mineral deficiencies in animals and humans. Smith writes:
"The same nutrients that glyphosate chelates and deprives plants are also vital for human and animal health. These include iron, zinc, copper, manganese, magnesium, calcium, boron, and others. Deficiencies of these elements in our diets, alone or in combination, are known to interfere with vital enzyme systems and cause a long list of disorders and diseases …
Glyphosate-induced mineral deficiencies can easily go unidentified and untreated. Even when laboratory tests are done, they can sometimes detect adequate mineral levels, but miss the fact that glyphosate has already rendered them unusable.
Glyphosate can tie up minerals for years and years, essentially removing them from the pool of nutrients available for plants, animals, and humans. If we combine the more than 135 million pounds of glyphosate-based herbicides applied in the US in 2010 with total applications over the past 30 years, we may have already eliminated millions of pounds of nutrients from our food supply."
A Threat to Future Food Crops (and the Food Chain That Depends on Them)
Monsanto's Roundup weed killer is thought to be contributing to Sudden Death Syndrome (SDS), a deadly plant disease that causes plants to turn yellow and die.
Numerous studies have linked glyphosate to increases in SDS, including in crops that have never been sprayed with the herbicide but were planted in a field that received an application the previous season.
If an herbicide were actually weakening crops, wouldn't farmers know? Not necessarily, as the herbicide does not kill plants outright. Rather, it creates what Jeffrey Smith calls "a unique perfect storm of conditions" that ultimately weakens the plants and promotes disease.
- Acting as a chelator of vital nutrients, depriving plants of the nutrients necessary for healthy plant function
- Destroying beneficial soil organisms that suppress disease-causing organisms and help plants absorb nutrients
- Interfering with photosynthesis, reducing water use efficiency, shortening root systems and causing plants to release sugars, which changes soil pH
- Stunting and weakening plant growth
- Promoting disease-causing organisms in soil, which then overtake the weakened crops
Roundup may actually be changing the makeup of soil and boosting the number of disease-causing organisms, a deadly recipe for crops around the globe.
As Don Huber stated:
"There are more than 40 diseases of crop plants that are reported to increase with the use of glyphosate, and that number keeps growing as people recognize the association between glyphosate and disease."
Superweeds are Getting Out of Control
More than 75 percent of soybeans, 65 percent of cotton, and 10 percent of corn grown in the United States contain the GM Roundup Ready gene -- and all of these crops receive numerous applications of Roundup each and every year. Even John Ramsay, chief financial officer of plant sciences company Syngenta, told Reuters:
"Glyphosate resistance has built up to quite concerning levels in the United States … It is not surprising that with every single farmer pouring glyphosate over virtually every acre, plant life is going to have something to say about it."
Indeed, it's estimated that more than 130 types of weeds spanning 40 U.S. states are now herbicide-resistant. As a result, farmers are applying even more herbicides to crops. This is, in fact, the National Research Council's advice to farmers who are facing issues with superweeds:
"In particular, farmers who grow GE [genetically engineered] herbicide-resistant crops should not rely exclusively on glyphosate and need to incorporate a range of weed management practices, including using other herbicide mixes."
But applying even more chemicals to the soil is only adding to the problem, as Center for Food Safety analyst Bill Freese told Reuters.
"That is going to spell big problems... even larger problems with herbicide-resistant weeds … It will just accelerate this toxic spiral of increased pesticide use."
Monsanto's in it for the Money
Monsanto long used the slogans, "It's Safer than Mowing," "Biodegradable," and "Environmentally Friendly" to describe Roundup -- until the real effects of this toxic herbicide were revealed and they were forced to discontinue their deceptive advertising. As always, their ultimate goal remains to protect their lucrative profits and virtual monopoly over GM crops and related herbicide use.
In 2010, glyphosate-based herbicides including Roundup brought in more than $2 billion in sales for Monsanto.
"All Monsanto's talk about the ecological and humanitarian miracles of its chemicals and genetically modified organisms (GMOs) is so much hot air, says Marie-Monique Robin in The World According To Monsanto.
The reduction of pesticide pollution, the end of world hunger, plants producing biodegradable plastics, corn containing antibodies against cancer -- none of these promised GMO solutions have been delivered.
This is because what really matters to Monsanto, as Robin documents, is control of the world seed market and the genetic engineering of those seeds to be resistant to, and therefore dependent on, Roundup, Monsanto's herbicide with the real miracle; gigantic profits."
Unfortunately, as it stands Monsanto is set to introduce even more GM crops to the marketplace, with their latest creation -- soybeans genetically modified to produce omega-3 fats -- just one FDA approval away.
Will the EPA Take Action Before it's Too Late?
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is finally looking into the damaging effects of glyphosate on humans and the environment and plans to make a decision regarding its future by 2015. At that time, Roundup could either continue to be used as it is now, be required to have some modifications to its use or be banned from use entirely in the United States.
Hopefully they will not continue their history of leniency with the chemical. As Reuters reported:
"Though the Food Quality Protection Act requires the EPA to use an extra tenfold (10X) safety factor to protect infants and children from effects of the pesticide, the agency determined there was adequate data available to show that the margin of safety for glyphosate could be reduced to only a 1X factor."
The potential health ramifications of these worldwide experiments with our food supply are frightening to say the least. And unfortunately the EPA will NOT be conducting its own studies for the glyphosate review, but rather will be reviewing data that comes from the agricultural chemicals industry, including Monsanto, Syngenta, Dow Chemical and BASF. Industry-funded studies are notorious for being biased in favor of the corporate side, so only time will tell whether the EPA's review will be beneficial for public health and the environment -- or big business.
In the meantime, if you care about the health and future of your family, I strongly urge you to refuse to participate in this destructive trend and help to give Monsanto the boot.
By boycotting all GM foods and instead supporting organic (and local) farmers who do not use Monsanto's GM seeds, you are using your wallet to make your opinions known.
Most people want to avoid GMOs but it is virtually impossible to do so, since the government prevents GMO labeling.
However, Jeffrey Smith has compiled a resource for you to avoid the government block of information -- the free Non-GMO Shopping Guide. You can also print out the Non-GMO Shopping Guide and give it to your friends and family.
By making your shopping choices according to this guide, you can help ensure that Monsanto will fall further and further from public favor, until one day perhaps they will disappear from the radar entirely.