While waiting for the PBS show, the NewsHour, to begin, I saw a Monsanto advertisement which said, “Monsanto…producing more, conversing more…that’s sustainable agriculture.” On Monsanto’s website the company states its commitment to “help farmers produce more and conserve more” by 2030. One of the ways Monsanto will achieve its goal is through “developing improved seeds.”
In 1996, Monsanto, the world’s largest agrochemical company, introduced Roundup Ready Soybeans, which included “in-seed tolerance to Roundup and other glyphosate-based herbicides.” Roundup Ready seeds are the “most common herbicides used with cultivated GMOs.” Roundup itself is one of the most common herbicides. Roundup Ready seeds ensure that glyphosate, the chemical name for Roundup, will be used on crops.
A study by French researchers at the University of Caen of glyphosate residue discovered that the inert ingredients in the herbicide (solvents, preservatives, surfactants) increased the toxic effect on human cells. According to the researchers, glyphosate residue can cause birth defects
“This clearly confirms that the [inert ingredients] in Roundup formulations are not inert,” wrote the study authors. “Moreover, the proprietary mixtures available on the market could cause cell damage and even death [at the] residual levels” found on Roundup-treated crops.
Another study by Argentine scientists also found that glyphosate can cause birth defects at doses considerably lower than what is commonly used on crops, in this case, soybeans. The researchers injected amphibian embryo cells with glyphosate diluted to a concentration 1,500 times less than what is used commercially. The embryos grew into tadpoles with obvious birth defects.
“When a field is fumigated by an airplane, it’s difficult to measure how much glyphosate remains in the body,” said study director, Dr. Andres Carrasco, a professor and researcher at the University of Buenos Aires. “When you inject the embryonic cell with glyphosate, you know exactly how much glyphosate you are putting into the cell and you have a strict control.”
Studies have linked glyphosate to cancer. A 2001 study by Swedish oncologists discovered links between non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and glyphosate. The Swedish researchers found that Swedish people with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma were 2.3 times more likely to be exposed to glyphosate.
Monsanto spokesperson John Combest defended the safety of Roundup. “Roundup has one of the most extensive human health safety and environmental data packages of any pesticide that’s out there. It’s used in public parks, it’s used to protect schools. There’s been a great deal of study on Roundup, and we’re very proud of its performance.”
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