by Sayer Ji
December 14, 2011
groundbreaking study published in
Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry last month, researchers found
glyphosate, the active ingredient in the herbicide “Roundup,”
is flowing freely into the groundwater in areas where it is being
The researchers found that 41% of the 140 groundwater samples taken
from Catalonia Spain, had levels beyond the limit of quantification
- indicating that, despite manufacturer’s claims, it does not break
down rapidly in the environment, and is accumulating there in
Groundwater Contamination An Important Finding?
Groundwater is water located beneath the ground surface, that
supplies aquifers, wells and springs.
If a chemical like glyphosate
is mobile enough to get into the groundwater and is intrinsically
resistant to being biodegraded (after all, it is being used to
kill/degrade living things - not the other way around), significant
environmental exposures to humans using the water are inevitable.
Keep in mind that glyphosate is considered by
the EPA as a Class III
toxic substance, fatal to an adult at 30 grams, and has been linked
20 adverse health effects in the peer-reviewed, biomedical
This groundwater contamination study adds to another
concerning finding from March, published in the journal of
Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, where researchers found the
chemical in 60-100% of all air and rain samples tested, indicating
that glyphosate pollution and exposure is now omnipresent in the US.
When simply breathing makes you
susceptible to glyphosate exposure, we know we are dealing with a
problem of unprecedented scale.
Responsible For The Groundwater Contamination?
is a multinational agricultural biotechnology corporation,
presently dominating the global genetically engineered seed market,
with 90% market share in the US alone.
It is also the world’s largest producer
of the herbicide
glyphosate, marketed as “Roundup,” among other
If you are eating corn and soy, or any of their ten
thousand plus byproducts - and it does not have a USDA organic logo
- you are getting the Monsanto “double whammy”:
the genetic modification (GM) of
your health (and gene expression) that follows the consumption
of GM food (because we are - literally - what we eat), and
ceaseless chemical exposure to glyphosate, as all
Monsanto-engineered foods have been designed to be glyphosate-resistant,
and therefore are saturated with it.
Herbicide A New Agent Orange?
Roundup is not Monsanto's first entry into the systemic herbicide
Monsanto admits it manufactured the herbicide/defoliant
Agent Orange from 1965 to 1969, which
Vietnam estimated killed and
maimed 400,000 people and resulted in the 500,000 children being
born with birth defects.
true devastation caused by Agent Orange was covered up for many
We may find that Monsanto's Roundup, and its primary active
ingredient glyphosate, may be causing a similar degree of
devastation to both environmental and human health under the
lidless, though not very watchful eye (as far as business interests
are concerned), of our regulatory agencies.
Indeed, glyphosate is a powerful endocrine disrupter. Exceedingly
small amounts are capable of mimicking and/or disrupting hormonal
pathways, cell receptor sites and signaling.
Research culled from The National
Library of Medicine links it to
17 adverse pharmacological actions,
But what is most disturbing, and which may make its comparison to
Agent Orange all the more appropriate, is its teratrogenicity, i.e.
ability to cause fetal malformations.
recently as 2004, glyphosate was revealed to exhibit
endocrine-disruptive and embryotoxic effects, indicating that it may
contribute to birth defects and abnormal fetal development.
Now that glyphosate has been found in the majority of air and rain
samples tested in the US, and is now likely contaminating our wells,
springs and aquifers, exposure is not only likely, its inevitable -
the difference being only a matter of degree.
Breathing, Drinking... Dying
The precautionary principle, which is not employed here in the US,
would require that if a company produces a novel chemical compound
like glyphosate, and would like to use it commercially, it would
have to prove its safety to humans before it is released into the
Animal and cell research clearly shows glyphosate is harmful, but
because we use a "weight of evidence standard" in this country, the
burden of proof that it is harmful to humans is actually on those
being harmed by it.
Had Monsanto been required to prove its safety in humans, it is
doubtful they would have been able to. There was already enough
damning animal research available, and proving a toxic chemical in
human studies would require harming them, which is unethical.
This is why the precautionary principle is so powerful and necessary
to protect us from corporations like Monsanto.
We would not be
eating, drinking and breathing glyphosate today, if it had been
employed earlier. Instead, chemical companies use animal experiences
to determine a LD50 (the dose at which 50% of the animals die), from
which an "acceptable level of harm" is extrapolated and applied to
human toxicological risk assessments.
An acceptable level of harm?
This way of thinking is abusive,
especially when applied to the unborn and infants.
Will it take additional decades
of cumulative "acceptable" exposures, and thousands of
"mysterious" miscarriages, birth defects, and developmental
problems for us to how serious the problem is?
Or, should we listen to
Monsanto, their scientists, and the governmental regulatory
agencies that they populate with elected and unelected
officials on their payroll?