By Hwaa Irfan
Evidence mounts at a time when Monsanto along with share holder Bill Gates have begun to add Africa to their global list of consumers. There is now further scientific proof as to the effect of Monsanto’s Roundup weedkiller on humans.
Known for years in Europe to cause birth defects in laboratory tests, Earth Open Source now have scientific proof that the key ingredient glyphosate in Roundup does in fact cause birth defects in humans.
The top global weedkiller used on farms and in gardens was introduced to the market as far back as 1976, but because of the time it takes from consumption, to side effects to manifests in a pattern that can be recognized takes some time.
Earth Open Source, an organization which focuses in collaborative work in advancing sustainable food production including scientists and researchers have now added to the 10 year-burden of proof by compiling and analyzing existing evidence.
The Case of Argentina
Over half of Argentina’s agricultural land, i.e. 50 million acres grows a Monsanto GM product, Roundup Ready soy, which to reap the benefit of has to be sprayed with approximately 200 million litres of Roundup glyphosate weedkiller. This investment in Roundup helped pull Argentina out of a 1990 recession, but following that those who lived near these farms began having birth defects, cancers, as well as the loss of other crops, and livestock. However, most of Argentina’s glyphosate comes from China.
Research led by Professor Andrés Carrasco of the Argentinean governmental research body, CONICET in 2010 found that Roundup weedkiller was responsible for:
– Malformations in the embryos of frogs, and chickens at doses lower than that used in agriculture.
– The malformations were to the skull, face, brain, and spinal cord
Carrasco’s findings followed reports of high rates of birth defects in areas where Monsanto’s GM Roundup Ready was being used, and those birth defects were similar to his findings with frogs, and chickens.
Are the side effects confined to those who live in GM Roundup Ready agricultural areas?
GM crops tolerate GM Roundup Ready herbicide, but are not resistant to the herbicide. This means if there is no resistance, absorption takes place, making the crop a glyphosate product ready for the end consumer.
An E.U. limit allows for 20 mg/kg in food and feed products, but Carrasco’s findings found 2.03 mg/kg was enough to trigger the above mentioned birth defects. The E.U. imports 30 million tons of soy products and derivatives with the labelling laws allowing for the glyphosate to enter the food chain through animal feed. Approved by the European Food Safety Authority, and awaiting approval from the E.U Commission, NK603, a glyphosate tolerant GM maize will be the first GM herbicide tolerant plant to be commercially grown in the E.U. They are aware of Carrasco’s findings, and Germany does not acknowledge his findings. Germany is responsible for approval of pesticides in the E.U. The German Federal Office for Consumer Protection and Food Safety told the E.U. Commission that there is no evidence of birth defects!
In the working document Health & Consumer Protection Directorate-General of the European Commission Glyphosate 6511/VI/99–final (21 January 2002) it states:
In accordance with the provisions of Article 7(1) of Regulation (EEC) No 3600/92, Germany submitted on 1 February 1999 to the Commission the report of its examination, hereafter referred to as the draft assessment report, including, as required, a recommendation concerning the possible inclusion of glyphosate in Annex I to the Directive. Moreover, in accordance with the same provisions, the Commission and the Member States received also the summary dossier on glyphosate from Feinchemie Schwebda and Monsanto/Cheminova and glyphosate trimesium from Syngenta (Zene Agrochemicals), on 2 March 1999.
In accordance with the provisions of Article 7(3) of Regulation (EEC) No 3600/92, the Commission forwarded for consultation the draft assessment report to all the Member States as well as to Monsanto being the designated representative of the glyphosate task force and to Feinchemie Schwebda and Syngenta (Zeneca Agrochemicals) being main data submitters, on 11 January 1999.
This is against E.U. ruling (Regulation 1107/2009) which states not to depend on industrially based literature and studies hidden from the public on the use of pesticides!
So while European consumers consume NK603, a glyphosate tolerant GM maize in addition to the imported soy products that animals feed on, any review will not take place until 2015, and 2030 respectfully.
France, where there is reticence to commercial production of GM crops, a 2005 study found Monsanto’s Roundup causes total cell death in the human umbilical, embryonic, and placental cells within an alarming 24 hours.
U.S. The U.S. has been the champion of GM products since 1996, being the largest exporter of GM products. With that level of invested interest, it was Wikileaks that exposed the manner in which the U.S., has been forcing the E.U. to accept GM products. Monsanto represents the GM trade arm of the U.S. 48 U.S. states grow GM corn, and in 2008, GM sugar beet was added to the list of GM crops covering 258,000 hectares.
As to how much pesticides are used, the data has no longer been made available since 2008. 2008 represents the biggest increase in the production of GM crops globally on the basis of increasing food security. However, the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Application, ISAAA, does provide the following information:
Countries with Biotech/GM Crops (2008)
– Argentina – Soybean, maize, cotton
– Australia – Cotton, canola, carnation
– Bolivia – Soybean
– Brazil – Soybean, maize, cotton
– Burkina Faso – Cotton
– Canada – Canola, maize, soybean, sugarbeet
– Chile – Maize, soybean, canola
– China – Cotton, tomato, poplar, petunia, sweet pepper, papaya
– Czech Republic – Maize
– Colombia – Cotton, carnation
– Egypt – Maize
– Germany – Maize/corn
– Honduras – Maize/corn
– India – Cotton
– Mexico – Cotton, soybean
– Philippines – Maize/corn
– Paraguay – Soybean
– Poland – Maize/corn
– Portugal – Maize/corn
– Romania – Maize/corn
– Slovakia – Maize/corn
– South Africa – Maize, soybean, cotton
– Spain -Maize/corn
– Uruguay – Soybean, maize/corn
The E.U. may have snubbed the findings of Carrasco, but the Argentinean government did not. Following the report, the Defense Ministry banned the planting of GM soy on land it rents to farmers although a total banned was not applied. March 2010 witnessed the banning of glyphosate and other herbicides in populated areas. April 2010, the provincial government of Chaco issued a health report with statistics that highlighted a four-fold increase in childhood cancer and birth defects following the expansion of planting GM soy and rice.
Without doubt, there is a inter-governmental silence on this issue, and one that Bolivia sought to stem the tide of by instituting laws that protect their genetic resources. But when a community of countries, i.e. the E.U., falls prey to the Washington Consensus, making the health and well-being of their respective countries secondary to a trade pact, it is up to the consumers to use their spending power in their own best interests!
Graves, L. “Roundup: Birth Defects Caused By World’s Top-Selling Weedkiller, Scientists Say.” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/06/24/roundup-scientists-birth-defects_n_883578.html
Antoniou,M, Habib, M, Vyvyan, M., Howard, C., Jennings, R., Leifert, C., Nodari, R, Robinson, C., Fagan, J. “Roundup And Birth Defects: Is The Public Being Kept In The Dark? http://www.scribd.com/doc/57277946/RoundupandBirthDefectsv5
ISAAA. “ISAAA Brief 39-2008: Contents” http://www.isaaa.org/resources/publications/briefs/39/contents/default.html
USDA “ Adoption of Genetically Engineered Crops in the U.S.” http://www.ers.usda.gov/Data/BiotechCrops/