Roundup’s Toxicity and Serious Adverse Effects
Monsanto, the maker of Roundup, has long hid the toxicity of Roundup from regulators in violation of current regulations requiring herbicide manufacturers to disclose the chemical structures of active ingredients. Other chemical additives may be declared proprietary, which means that the chemical recipe remains confidential, thereby making it possible that other ingredients in Roundup interact with glyphosate, increasing Roundup’s adverse effects.
What is Glyphosate and How is Glyphosate Used?
Glyphosate is an herbicide and the active ingredient in Monsanto Company’s controversial Roundup weed killer. Users of the chemical include landscapers, golf courses, orchards, vineyards, farms, and small growers.
Glyphosate was discovered in 1950 by a chemist working at a Swiss pharmaceutical firm, but had no practical pharmacological use.
Approximately 20 years later, a Monsanto chemist, Dr. John Franz, discovered glyphosate’s herbicide potential. Monsanto developed and patented its version of glyphosate under the brand Roundup®, releasing the herbicide in 1974. Initially, Roundup was used on non-food agricultural products such as rubber plants and cotton. Roundup was eventually approved as a broad-spectrum herbicide and is now the most widely used method for controlling so-called “pestilential” weeds by farmers and gardeners worldwide.
Meanwhile, glyphosate is classified as an organophosphorous compound. This means that glyphosate is a carbon-based compound that contains phosphorus. These compounds have long been used as insecticides and have also been used in chemical weapons, including nerve gas. The compounds may be fatal to humans even at small doses.
When Roundup is applied to plants, the plants absorb the chemicals through the leaves; however, small amounts of the chemicals may be absorbed by the root system. Once Roundup enters the plant’s system, the chemicals inhibit production of an enzyme that is critical to the synthesis of critical amino acids.
Experts say that what is in Roundup that kills weeds is potentially dangerous to food crops, as well. For its part, in response, Monsanto developed various genetically modified crops that are described as “Roundup Ready” and are meant to tolerate glyphosate.
Genetically Modified Foods, Roundup Ready Crops
Crops with an engineered resistance to herbicides are known to become resistant to crop damage when herbicides are sprayed, according to Harvard University. They also enable easier weed management. Herbicide-resistant weeds may become so-called “superweeds” that are resistant to herbicides. Nevada Appeal noted in June 2017 that a GMO (genetically modified organism) is the outcome of a laboratory process in which genes from the DNA of one species are extracted and artificially forced into the genes of an unrelated plant or animal.
These foreign genes are derived from bacteria, viruses, insects, animals, or humans. GMOs are currently found in most processed foods in the United States, yet are banned as food ingredients in Europe. In Australia, Japan, New Zealand, India, and Thailand the import, sale, use, and planting of these GM foods is banned. In the United States, the U.S. food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not mandate labeling of GMOs in food ingredient lists.
GMO foods have been associated with toxic and allergic reactions; sick, sterile, and dead livestock; and damage to virtually every organ that has been studied in laboratory animals, according to Nevada Appeal. Meanwhile, the World Health Organization (WHO) issued a report in 2005 entitled “Modern Food Biotechnology, Human Health and Development,” that indicated potential health risks may be involved in the use of GMOs.
Since the WHO report, that have been mounting incidents indicating GM food and feed are not safe; some studies have been conducted biotech companies producing GM crops.
Kidney and blood abnormalities were found in rats fed one of Monsanto’s GM maize, while residents in the south of the Philippines suffered mysterious illnesses when another GM maize came into flower in a nearby field for two consecutive years. Antibodies to the Bt protein inserted into the GM maize were found in the villagers, according to Nevada Appeal. One-dozen cows who died after eating a third GM maize made by Syngenta, and others in the herd required slaughter due to mysterious illnesses.
Senior scientist, Arpad Pusztai and colleagues, in Scotland discovered that young rats fed GM potatoes experienced damage in every organ system; the most significant being an increase in stomach lining thickness to twice that seen in controls. Scientists in Egypt found similar effects in mice fed GM potatoes with another gene. Also, according to Nevada Appeal, the FDA has maintained data as far back as the 1990s that rats fed GM tomatoes developed small holes in their stomach.
Monsanto and GM Foods
Monsanto maintains over 4,963 patents on GM foods and is at the head of most of these GM foods. GM crops require higher levels of toxic herbicides and pesticides. Over the past two years, Monsanto sprayed 153 million additional pounds of herbicide on U.S. crops due to Roundup-Ready corn and soy crops. Now, the FDA is seeking to approve crops resistant to 2,4-D, which is an element in Agent Orange, Nevada Appeal reported.
Nevada Appeal suggests eating organic foods and only whole foods as the majority of GMOs are in processed and packaged foods. Also. “Avoid at-risk ingredients: Corn products including corn flour, meal, oil, starch, gluten, syrup and modified food starch, sweeteners such as fructose, dextrose, and glucose; soy products including soy flour, lecithin, protein, isolate, and isoflavone, vegetable oil and vegetable protein; as well as canola oil and cotton.”
Glyphosate Added to California’s List of Carcinogenic Chemicals
Glyphosate, the main ingredient in Roundup was added to California’s list of chemicals known to cause cancer effective July 7, 2017, according to California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA). Monsanto indicated it would continue to fight the designation, required under a state law known as Proposition 65, and called the decision “unwarranted on the basis of science and the law.”
Monsanto continues to face increasing litigation over glyphosate since, in 2015, WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) announced that the chemical is “probably carcinogenic.” The IARC also found strong evidence for genotoxicity, likely causing cellular damage and mutations at the DNA level, which may cause malignant tumors. IARC’s conclusions were supported by 1,000 studies.
The Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) indicated that the designation of glyphosate under Proposition 65 will proceed following an unsuccessful attempt by Monsanto to block that listing in trial court and when requests for stay were denied by a state appellate court and the California’s Supreme Court. Monsanto’s appeal is pending.
Listing glyphosate as a known carcinogen under California’s Proposition 65 means that firms selling the chemical in that state must add warning labels to packaging and warnings would be mandated if glyphosate is sprayed at levels deemed unsafe by regulators.
Monsanto, as well as other producers of glyphosate would have about one year from the listing date to re-label products or remove them from store shelves should further legal challenges are lost. “California’s decision makes it the national leader in protecting people from cancer-causing pesticides,” said Nathan Donley, a senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity.
Filing a Monsanto Roundup Herbicide Lawsuit
Parker Waichman LLP has spent years representing clients in lawsuits over alleged environmental health risks. If you or someone you know is interested in filing a Monsanto Roundup Herbicide lawsuit, speak with one of our environmental attorneys today. For more information, please call 1-800-YOURLAWYER (1-800-968-7529).