Heading For The Last (Of) Roundup?

Back in the late 1970s, when the herbicide Monsanto Roundup™ (glyphosate) was new, an environmentally oriented friend and colleague of mine attended an early sales pitch for that herbicide. As my friend described it, the Monsanto salesman upended a glass of water in which Roundup™ had allegedly been dissolved… and drank it to demonstrate how safe he thought it was.

I wonder how the salesman feels today… if he is still alive.

Here’s Lucia Graves of HuffPo (sorry, but that’s where the article is):

WASHINGTON — The chemical at the heart of the planet’s most widely used herbicide — Roundup weedkiller, used in farms and gardens across the U.S. — is coming under more intense scrutiny following the release of a new report calling for a heightened regulatory response around its use.

Critics have argued for decades that glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup and other herbicides used around the globe, poses a serious threat to public health. Industry regulators, however, appear to have consistently overlooked their concerns.

A comprehensive review of existing data released this month by Earth Open Source, an organization that uses open-source collaboration to advance sustainable food production, suggests that industry regulators in Europe have known for years that glyphosate, originally introduced by American agricultural biotechnology giant Monsanto in 1976, causes birth defects in the embryos of laboratory animals.

The Earth Open Source study also reports that by 1993 the herbicide industry, including Monsanto, knew that visceral anomalies such as dilation of the heart could occur in rabbits at low and medium-sized doses. The report further suggests that since 2002, regulators with the European Commission have known that glyphosate causes developmental malformations in lab animals.

Even so, the commission’s health and consumer division published a final review report of glyphosate in 2002 that approved its use in Europe for the next 10 years.

While Roundup has been associated with deformities in a host of laboratory animals, its impact on humans remains unclear. One laboratory study done in France in 2005 found that Roundup and glyphosate caused the death of human placental cells. Another study, conducted in 2009, found that Roundup caused total cell death in human umbilical, embryonic and placental cells within 24 hours. Yet researchers have conducted few follow-up studies.

Somehow I suspect we will not see the last of Roundup™ for a long time. Enjoy your weed-free meal!

(H/T ellroon for the original link.)

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  • ellroon  On Thursday June 30, 2011 at 10:59 am

    I’ve heard about that salesman… wonder if Monsanto’s health care coverage took care of him after his liver failed…

    • Steve  On Thursday June 30, 2011 at 12:26 pm

      ellroon – oops; I just realized I followed your link to that article and neglected to credit you! Fixing it now… done!

    • Steve  On Thursday June 30, 2011 at 12:44 pm

      As to whether that salesman is still alive, I met quite a few salesmen when I worked for Texas Instruments (first job out of college). From what I saw, if Roundup™ was the worst they drank, I’d be surprised.

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