Moral Low Ground


E.U. Knew Monsanto’s Roundup Herbicide Causes Birth Defects but Told Public it was Safe

Despite scientific research that showed that the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup weed killer caused birth defects in animals, the European Union Commission lied to the public about its safety. This is the conclusion of a new report, “Roundup and birth defects: Is the public being kept in the dark?”

They most certainly are. The report found that regulators knew as far back as 1980 that glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, causes birth defects in frog and chicken embryos. Moreover, these birth defects occurred after exposure to much lower concentrations of glyphosate than those used in agricultural and garden spraying.

Not only was this information not made public, but the German Federal Office for Consumer Protection and Food Safety, BVL, used unpublished industry studies to back its assertion that glyphosate is safe. Furthermore, BVL told the European Commission that there was no evidence linking birth defects to glyphosate.

According to the report, the European Commission also ignored scientific evidence that glyphosate causes endocrine disruption, DNA damage, reproductive and developmental toxicity, neurotoxicity, cancer and birth defects– even at levels so low that they are found in pesticide residue in food and the environment.

Earlier studies of glyphosate, a class III toxin in the United States, have found that improper handling of the chemical can result in gastrointestinal problems, vomiting, enlargement of the lungs, pneumonia, mental confusion and destruction of red corpuscles in mucus membranes.

The report also states that glyphosate was scheduled for review in 2012, but the European Commission delayed that review until 2015 even thought it knew the chemical caused birth defects. A more stringent review won’t happen until 2030.

The new report comes just a few months after scientists discovered that genetically modified (GM) crops used with Roundup contain a pathogen that may cause animal miscarriages. The Huffington Post reports that Don Huber, a professor at Purdue University in Indiana, USA wrote an open letter to US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack pleading for a moratorium on the deregulation of GM Roundup-resistant crops, known in the industry as Roundup Ready.

“It is well-documented that glyphosate promotes soil pathogens and is already implicated with the increase of more than 40 plant diseases; it dismantles plant defenses by chelating vital nutrients; and it reduces the bioavailability of nutrients in feed, which in turn can cause animal disorders,” Huber wrote.

But his plea is likely to have fallen on deaf ears. After all, Vilsack was a shill for agribusiness corporations like Monsanto when he was Governor of Iowa, long before he became Secretary of Agriculture. He was so beloved by them that the Biotechnology Industry Organization named him Governor of the Year.

Vilsack was also instrumental in approving the unrestricted use of Monsanto’s GM alfalfa, despite evidence that Monsanto’s Roundup Ready alfalfa could lead to cross-pollination with non-Monsanto strains and new pesticide-resistant “superweeds.” This has already occurred with Roundup Ready corn, soybeans and cotton.

“Here’s the main point about GMOs [genetically modified organisms],” wrote the Washington Post’s Barbara Damrosch, “You can’t recall them the way you can a car or a plastic toy. They’re out there for good. And no one knows what their full impact will be.”

Unfortunately, glyphosate’s use isn’t just limited to agriculture. As part of the US government’s Plan Colombia drug eradication program, aerial fumigation of glyphosate has not only destroyed the coca plants and poppies from which cocaine and heroin are made, but also the subsistence crops which feed the desperately poor indigenous people of Colombia. Glyphosate has been sprayed over people, plants and animals, wreaking havoc on the immensely rich biodiversity of the tropical nation. Soil and water have been contaminated, countless animals have died and people have fallen seriously ill.

We cannot rely on corporations such as Monsanto to tell us the truth about the dangers of the chemicals they are selling us. Twice the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has caught Monsanto-paid scientists deliberately falsifying the results of tests on glyphosate, incidents which resulted in 20 felony charges, prison sentences and multi-million dollar fines for the bought-off researchers. This is precisely the reason why regulatory bodies like the European Commission and the German BVL ought to be looking out for the public interest. Unfortunately, as you can see, it is the interest of one of the world’s largest agribusiness corporations they were protecting instead.

The World According to Monsanto, a 2008 French documentary about the agribusiness giant’s impact on our planet and its inhabitants:

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One Comment

  1. Betty FokkerJune 10, 2011 at 10:31 amReply

    Monsanto is run by sociopath asshats.

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