Scientists call for new review of herbicide, cite ‘flawed’ U.S. regulations

Scientists call for new review of herbicide, cite 'flawed' U.S. regulations



U.S. regulators have relied on flawed and outdated research to allow expanded use of an herbicide linked to cancer, and new assessments should be urgently conducted, according to a column published in the New England Journal of Medicine on Wednesday.

There are two key factors that necessitate regulatory action to protect human health, according to the column: a sharp increase in herbicide applied to widely planted genetically modified (GMO) crops used in food, and a recent World Health Organization (WHO) determination that the most commonly used herbicide, known as glyphosate, is probably a human carcinogen.

The opinion piece was written by Dr. Philip Landrigan, a Harvard-educated paediatrician and epidemiologist who is Dean for Global Health at the Mount Sinai Medical Centre in New York, and Chuck Benbrook, an adjunct professor at Washington State University’s crops and soil science department.

“There is growing evidence that glyphosate is geno-toxic and has adverse effects on cells in a number of different ways,” Benbrook said. “It’s time to pull back … on uses of glyphosate that we know are leading to significant human exposures while the science gets sorted out.”

The column argues that GMO foods and herbicides applied to them “may pose hazards to human health” not previously assessed.

“We believe that the time has therefore come to thoroughly reconsider all aspects of the safety of plant biotechnology,” the column states.

The authors also argue that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has erred in recently approving a new herbicide that uses glyphosate because it relied on outdated studies commissioned by the manufacturers and gave little consideration to potential health effects in children.

Glyphosate is best known as the key ingredient in Roundup developed by Monsanto Co (MON.N), one of the world’s most widely used herbicides, but it is used in more than 700 products.

It is sprayed directly over crops like corn genetically engineered to tolerate it and is sometimes used on non-GMO crops, like wheat before harvest. Residues of glyphosate have been detected in food and water.

The WHO’s cancer research unit after reviewing years of scientific research from different countries on March 20 classified glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic to humans.”

But regulators and agrichemical companies in the United States and other countries still consider glyphosate among the safest herbicides in use.

In July, Monsanto said it had arranged for an outside scientific review of the WHO finding.

(Reporting by Carey Gillam in Kansas City, editing by G Crosse)







3 Responses to “Scientists call for new review of herbicide, cite ‘flawed’ U.S. regulations”

  1. Dogman says:

    A sufficent amount of evidence is now pointing to the fact that agricultural pesticides (among various other environmental toxins) might play a large role in the rapid increase in autism rates over the past few decades. A senior researcher from The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Dr. Stephanie Seneff is doing her part to create more awareness of these facts that have yet to make big news in the world of mainstream medicine.

    At a recent event sponsored by the holistic-focused Groton Wellness Organization, she stated that:

    “At today’s rate, by 2025, one in two children will be autistic.”

    Seneff presented slides showing a remarkably consistent correlation between the rising use of Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide (with its active ingredient glyphosate) on crops and the rising rates of autism; it definitely gives researchers plenty to think about, especially considering her research into the side effects of autism mimic glyphosate toxicity and deficiencies.

    Correlation Doesn’t Mean Causation, But…
    Although the graph depicts a staggering correlation, it does not “prove” that the rise in autism is directly a cause of glyphosate. On the other hand, we have a lot of information and research available that suggests it could be one factor (out of many) and Dr. Seneff argues that it is. Pesticides have been linked to a number of human health ailments from Parkinson’s, to Alzheimer’s, to cancer and autism.
    Dr. Seneff, through her research, also believes that aluminum containing vaccines may also be a culprit.

    “It is commonly believed that Roundup is among the safest pesticides… Despite its reputation, Roundup was by far the most toxic among the herbicides and insecticides tested. This inconsistency between scientific fact and industrial claim may be attributed to huge economic interests, which have been found to falsify health risk assessments and delay health policy decisions.” – R. Mesnage et al., Biomed Research International, Volume 2014 (2014) article ID 179691

    Keep in mind that the use of glyphosate rose 1500% from 1995 to 2005, and that 100 million pounds of glyphosate is used every year on more than a billion acres. (Cherry B. GM crops increase herbicide use in the United States. Science in Society 45, 44-46, 2010)

    It’s even been found in the breast milk of mothers, and in urine samples of people across Europe.

    The main toxic effects of glyphosate identified by Dr. Seneff are as follows:

    •Kills beneficial gut bacteria and allows pathogens to overgrow
    •Interferes with function of cytochrome p450 (CYP enzymes)
    •Chelates important minerals (iron, cobalt, manganese, etc)
    •Interferes with synthesis of aromatic amino acids and methionine – leads to shortages in critical neurotransmitters and folate
    •Disrupts sulfate synthesis and sulfate transport
    Pesticide formulations that are sold and used are up to 1000 times more toxic than what regulators commonly claim. Roundup is in fact the most toxic of herbicides and insecticides used. There is a tremendous amount of evidence that also point to flawed safety evaluations.

    More info here -

  2. Dogman says:

    “. . .glyphosate disrupts the ability of animals, including humans, to detoxify xenobiotics. This means that exposures to the numerous chemicals in food and the environment, such as endocrine disrupting chemicals and carcinogens, could be causing levels of damage that would not occur if the body were able to detoxify them.”

    Though the authors admit that correlation is not proof of causation, they state that:

    “. . .we have data for 22 diseases, all with a high degree of correlation and very high significance. It seems highly unlikely that all of these can be random coincidence.”

    They also bring attention to the American Academy of Environmental Medicine’s position paper on genetically modified (GM) foods:

    “Several animal studies indicate serious health risks associated with GM food consumption including infertility, immune dysregulation, accelerated aging, dysregulation of genes associated with cholesterol synthesis, insulin regulation, cell signaling, and protein formation, and changes in the liver, kidney, spleen and gastrointestinal system.”

    So what did the authors of this study conclude?

    There is an obvious and significant correlation between the increased use of glyphosate and genetically engineered crops grown specifically to withstand its use, and a growing multitude of diseases and their frequency. Many of the graphs show a marked increase right around the 1990s when the makers of glyphosate enjoyed a boost in their profits and an enormous swell of herbicide use from products like RoundUp and others containing the same chemicals.

    Glyphosate is also an endocrine disruptor.The endocrine system is essential to human health. Since it is being attacked by biotech chemicals on a daily basis, the glands in our bodies like the pituitary, thymus, and pineal can’t secrete hormones that keep us fit, healthy, and disease-free.

    All of these functions are carried out by the endocrine system:

    •Growth and development
    •Homeostasis (the internal balance of body systems)
    •Metabolism (body energy levels)
    •Response to stimuli (stress and/or injury)
    Of course, the body will start to respond with disease-like symptoms when the metabolism, reproductive system, and nervous system are constantly trying to right themselves due to glyphosate exposure.

    We are the guinea pigs of biotech – a grand science experiment gone wrong (or right depending on who you talk to and the motives suspected behind biotech technologies).

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