New Evidence Establishes Dangers of Roundup Weed Killer

New Evidence Establishes Dangers of Roundup Weed K...

New Evidence Establishes Dangers of Roundup Weed Killer

Chee Yoke Heong

New studies from both sides
of the Atlantic reveal that Roundup, the most
widely used weed killer in the world, poses serious human health threats. More
than 75 percent of genetically modified (GM) crops are engineered to tolerate
the absorption of Roundup—it eliminates all plants that are not GM. Monsanto
Inc., the major engineer of GM crops, is also the producer of Roundup. Thus,
while Roundup was formulated as a weapon against weeds, it has become a
prevalent ingredient in most of our food crops.

Three recent studies show
that Roundup, which is used by farmers and home gardeners, is not the safe
product we have been led to trust.

A group of scientists led
by biochemist Professor Gilles-Eric Seralini from the University
of Caen in France found that human placental
cells are very sensitive to Roundup at concentrations lower than those
currently used in agricultural application.

An epidemiological study of
farming populations showed that exposure to glyphosate, the key ingredient in
Roundup, nearly doubled the risk of late miscarriages. Seralini and his team
decided to research the effects of the herbicide on human placenta cells. Their
study confirmed the toxicity of glyphosate, as after eighteen hours of exposure
at low concentrations, large proportions of human placenta began to die.
Seralini suggests that this may explain the high levels of premature births and
miscarriages observed among female farmers using glyphosate.

Seralini’s team further
compared the toxic effects of the Roundup formula (the most common commercial
formulation of glyphosate and chemical additives) to the isolated active
ingredient, glyphosate. They found that the toxic effect increases in the
presence of Roundup ‘adjuvants’ or additives. These additives thus have a
facilitating role, rendering Roundup twice as toxic as its isolated active
ingredient, glyphosate.

Another study, released in
April 2005 by the University
of Pittsburgh, suggests
that Roundup is a danger to other life-forms and non-target organisms.
Biologist Rick Relyea found that Roundup is extremely lethal to amphibians. In
what is considered one of the most extensive studies on the effects of pesticides
on nontarget organisms in a natural setting, Relyea found that Roundup caused a
70 percent decline in amphibian biodiversity and an 86 percent decline in the
total mass of tadpoles. Leopard frog tadpoles and gray tree frog tadpoles were
nearly eliminated.

In 2002, a scientific team
led by Robert Belle of the National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) biological
station in Roscoff, France showed that Roundup
activates one of the key stages of cellular division that can potentially lead
to cancer. Belle and his team have been studying the impact of glyphosate
formulations on sea urchin cells for several years. The team has recently
demonstrated in Toxicological Science (December 2004) that a “control point”
for DNA damage was affected by Roundup, while glyphosate alone had no effect.
“We have shown that it’s a definite risk factor, but we have not evaluated the
number of cancers potentially induced, nor the time frame within which they
would declare themselves,” Belle acknowledges.

There is, indeed, direct
evidence that glyphosate inhibits an important process called RNA transcription
in animals, at a concentration well below the level that is recommended for
commercial spray application.

There is also new research
that shows that brief exposure to commercial glyphosate causes liver damage in
rats, as indicated by the leakage of intracellular liver enzymes. The research
indicates that glyphosate and its surfactant in Roundup were found to act in synergy
to increase damage to the liver.


Roundup Ready weed killer is one of the most widely used weed killers in the
world for crops and backyard gardens. Roundup, with its active ingredient
glyphosate, has long been promoted as safe for humans and the environment while
effective in killing weeds. It is therefore significant when recent studies
show that Roundup is not as safe as its promoters claim.

This has major consequences
as the bulk of commercially planted genetically modified crops are designed to
tolerate glyphosate (and especially Roundup), and independent field data
already shows a trend of increasing use of the herbicide. This goes against
industry claims that herbicide use will drop and that these plants will thus be
more “environment-friendly.” Now it has been found that there are serious
health effects, too. My story therefore aimed to highlight these new findings
and their implications to health and the environment.

Not surprisingly, Monsanto
came out refuting some of the findings of the studies mentioned in the article.
What ensued was an open exchange between Dr. Rick Relyea and Monsanto, whereby
the former stood his grounds. Otherwise, to my knowledge, no studies have since
emerged on Roundup.

For more information look
to the following sources:
Professor Gilles-Eric,
Biosafety Information
Institute of Science in Society,

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