by Lucia Graves
June 09, 2011
Industry regulators have known for years that
the world's best-selling herbicide produced by U.S. company
Monsanto, causes birth defects, according to
a new report released
The report, "Roundup and birth defects: Is the public being kept in
the dark?" found regulators knew as long ago as 1980 that glyphosate,
the chemical on which Roundup is based, can cause birth defects in
But despite such warnings, and although the European Commission has
glyphosate causes malformations since at least 2002, the
information was not made public.
Instead regulators misled the public about glyphosate's safety,
according to the report, and as recently as last year, the German
Federal Office for Consumer Protection and Food Safety, the German
government body dealing with the glyphosate review, told the
European Commission that there was no evidence glyphosate causes
Published by Earth Open Source, an organization that uses open
source collaboration to advance sustainable food production, the
report comes months after researchers found that
genetically-modified crops used in conjunction Roundup contain a
pathogen that may cause animal miscarriages.
After observing the
newly discovered organism back in February, Don Huber, an emeritus
professor at Purdue University,
wrote an open letter to Secretary of
Agriculture Tom Vilsack requesting a moratorium on deregulating
crops genetically altered to be immune to Roundup, which are
Roundup Ready crops.
In the letter, Huber also commented on the herbicide itself, saying:
"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."
Although glyphosate was originally due to be reviewed in 2012, the
Commission decided late last year not to bring the review forward,
instead delaying it until 2015.
The chemical will not be reviewed
under more stringent, up-to-date standards until 2030.
"Our examination of the evidence leads us to the conclusion that the
current approval of glyphosate and Roundup is deeply flawed and
unreliable," wrote the report authors in their conclusion.
more, we have learned from experts familiar with pesticide
assessments and approvals that the case of glyphosate is not
"They say that the approvals of numerous pesticides rest on data and
risk assessments that are just as scientifically flawed, if not more
so," the authors added.
"This is all the more reason why the
Commission must urgently review glyphosate and other pesticides
according to the most rigorous and up-to-date standards."