Posts Tagged ‘Toxic chemicals’
Campaigns to ban and phase out the chemical across the world intensify with major successes
Dr Eva Sirinathsinghji The Institute of Science in Society June 10, 2015
Could it be that the World Health Organisation’s classification of glyphosate as a ‘probable carcinogen’ (see  Glyphosate ‘Probably Carcinogenic to Humans’ Latest WHO Assessment, SiS 66) will be the final nail in the coffin for the world’s most popular herbicide and Monsanto’s flagship product.
Recent weeks have seen the intensification of campaigns to ban or remove the product as well as lawsuits being filed against Monsanto; in the US for false safety claims of glyphosate, and in China, for hiding toxicity studies from the public. (El Salvador has already banned the chemical though yet to be signed into law , while the Netherlands last year banned private sales . Sri Lanka had a partial ban in place in regions most afflicted by chronic kidney disease that has been linked to glyphosate use (see later)).
People have known the truth for years. Industry and government regulators have conspired to bury copious evidence of toxicity for decades, and they feel to some extent vindicated by the latest WHO assessment (see  Glyphosate and Cancer, SiS 62) and  EU Regulators and Monsanto Exposed for Hiding Glyphosate Toxicity, SiS 51). More importantly, governments are finally beginning to take action.
Colombia has taken the lead, deciding to suspend aerial spraying of illegal coca as well as poppy plants, which is expected to come into effect in a few weeks’ time following a majority 7 to 1 vote for the ban by the National Narcotics Council . The day before the ban, the Interamerican Association for Environmental Defence (AIDA) delivered 24 000 signatures to the Minister of Justice who also chairs the Narcotics Council to push for this decision .
Colombia had been employing US contractors to spray glyphosate for two decades, covering an estimated 1.6 million hectares of land. This spraying for the “war on drugs” has been ineffective in eradicating illegal cocaine production, but has instead caused rising illness in local communities, killing local crops and polluting land and water supplies. Indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities have borne the brunt of the fumigation programs, prompting protests against both coca production and glyphosate use that has been displacing people from ancestral lands . Colombia is not alone.
Bermuda, the British overseas territory in the Atlantic also banned glyphosate imports with immediate effect following the WHO assessment, as announced by their Minister of Health, Jeanne Atherden, whose decision was supported by local farmers . The Minister said she believes the “action we are taking today is prudent and in the best interests of a safe environment….Like any area of science, there are competing studies and a wealth of information on both sides of the argument…. I am satisfied that this action is warranted and we are committed to conducting an open and thorough investigation” .
Sri Lanka is the latest country to declare an outright ban. The decision follows the election of the new president, a farmer and previously the Health Minister, Maithripala Sirisena taking the decision due the epidemic of chronic kidney disease .The spread of kidney disease highlights the wide-ranging toxicity of glyphosate not limited to carcinogenicity. The country’s battle to ban the chemical precedes the WHO declaration, coming after studies by Sri Lankan researchers linked the chemical to hard water, heavy metal contaminants and glyphosate use (see  Sri Lanka Partially Bans Glyphosate for Deadly Kidney Disease Epidemic, SiS 62). This prompted an initial ban, which was later restricted to certain regions of the country following intense lobbying pressure. With the government paying for healthcare of over 25 000 residents and supplying them with fresh water, the latest decision for an outright ban could not come soon enough.
Imminent bans, protests, and fresh calls for bans
Brazil is facing growing pressure to follow suit, with the country’s public state prosecutor writing to Brazil’s National Health Surveillance Agency (ANVISA) asking it to urgently re-evaluate their stance on glyphosate and also revoke authorisations on glyphosate-tolerant GM crops . He has even gone as far as launching an investigation into whether regulatory authorisations are legal for the GM crops. ANVISA are stalling their decision however, until the full report by the WHO is published.
In Argentina, 30 000 health professionals belonging to the union of doctors and health professionals (FESPROSA) have come out in support of the WHO decision , claiming that glyphosate “not only causes cancer. It is also associated with increased spontaneous abortions, birth defects, skin diseases, and respiratory and neurological disease.” The statement continues: “Health authorities, including the National Ministry of Health and the political powers, can no longer look away. Agribusiness cannot keep growing at the expense of the health of the Argentine people. The 30,000 health professionals in Argentina in the FESPROSA ask that glyphosate is now prohibited in our country and that a debate on the necessary restructuring of agribusiness is opened, focusing on the application of technologies that do not endanger human life.”
Similarly, the Society of Paediatric Haematology-Oncology (SAHOP) issued a statement calling for an immediate ban of glyphosate fumigation, signed by the President of the Paediatric society Pedro Zubizarreta. They objected to the massive use of toxic products being sprayed in ever increasing concentrations in combinations of both insecticides and herbicides, and being sold as ‘technological advancements’. They also warned of storing the grains in plastic bags, which leaves grains teeming with aflatoxins, categorised by the WHO’s IARC as a known carcinogen since 1993 . Glyphosate has already been previously linked to the growth of these fungi in scientific studies, along with many other crop diseases .
Successful protests in Argentina were also recently mobilised to prevent Dr Medardo Ávila Vázquez from losing his job after the agribusiness-funded university threatened to sanction him for conducting and disseminating studies showing the high levels of cancers affecting his region as a result of agrichemical spraying . These protests are a tribute to his work in exposing the toxicity of glyphosate, as well as the groundswell of opposition to glyphosate spraying in the country despite support by the national government. Local residents are gaining strength to voice their concerns following the WHO news as well as the recent decision by the Ministry of Production in the province of Santa Fe to ban aerial spraying of 2,4-D within 6 km of residents, confirming the health risks of the chemical agricultural system that leaves children covered in chemical and dust particles as they walk to school .
In Europe, the International Society of Doctors for the Environment (ISDE) (an influential body with member organizations in 27 countries) has written to officials at the EU parliament and Commission asking for an immediate ban of glyphosate herbicides and for insecticides also judged by the WHO to be carcinogens, without exceptions . A member of the EU commission stated in the 2015 GMO-free conference 2015 in Berlin, Germany that they will include the WHO assessment in their re-evaluation procedures that is due to be completed later this year. However the corrupt process of reassessment that was led by a consortium of chemical companies (see  Scandal of Glyphosate Re-assessment in Europe, SiS 63) means that EU campaigners will have to push hard to force the EU to have some semblance of integrity in their final decision making.
Written by laudyms
June 11, 2015 at 7:27 am
Two days ago, an agency of the World Health Organization issued a report concluding that glyphosate, the key ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup, likely causes cancer in humans.
If you eat foods that contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs), you are consuming glyphosate—because the U.S. EPA not only allows glyphosate residue on your food, the agency actually raised the allowed limits in 2013.
How do you know you’re eating GMO foods? You don’t. Because Monsanto and the EPA, USDA and FDA made certain of that by refusing to require labels on GMO foods. Even though about 80 percent of processed foods in the U.S. contain GMO ingredients.
You may be thinking, is it worth it to keep funding these state GMO labeling campaigns, when Monsanto and Big Food come in with their hundreds of millions of dollars to snuff them out?
The answer is a resounding yes. Here’s why.
First, it’s more urgent than ever for your health. The FDA just signed off on the GMO apple and the GMO potato, and will likely sign off on GMO salmon and GMO wheat. This, in addition to new GMO corn and soy varieties the USDA recently approved—crops engineered to withstand massive doses of a toxic combination of both glyphosate and 2,4-D (a form of which was used to make Agent Orange).
More and more studies are being done on the toxic effect of glyphosate on human health. But this most recent study, from the World Health Organization, may be the most incriminating of all. Yet, we have no indication from the U.S. government that it will heed this new warning and take action.
Second, Monsanto’s lobbyists are pushing Congress to pass a law that would kill states’ rights to pass GMO labeling laws.
Word is that within weeks, if not sooner, Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.) will reintroduce what activists have labeled the DARK ACT—Deny Americans the Right to Know. The bill is an attempt to strip states’ of their constitutional right to pass GMO labeling laws.
If we pass GMO labeling laws in Maine, Rhode Island and Massachusetts, in addition to the law already passed in Vermont, we’ll make it much more difficult for Congress to take on all four of these states.
In what is a clear sign that Pompeo is about to reintroduce his bill, the House Agriculture Committee is holding a full committee hearing on the costs and impacts of GE food labeling, The Gene Giants and Big Food will pack that hearing with their lobbyists.
Third, it is absolutely essential that we not give up this fight—your fight—or we risk sending the wrong message to Monsanto, and state and federal lawmakers.
We may have (very narrowly) lost several key state battles, but those battles launched a massive national public education campaign, and helped launch similar initiatives and legislative campaigns in more than 20 states.
Without the support of people like you—concerned consumers, voters, moms and dads, from every generation and every point across the political spectrum—most Americans still wouldn’t know what a GMO is or why it matters, much less that they are being denied this basic information on food packaging—information that consumers in more than 60 countries rightfully have.
Instead, thanks to you, more than 90 percent of Americans are now standing up to demand the right to know.
It is absolutely critical that we keep this fight alive. So state and federal lawmakers know that we are serious. That’s why we’re asking for your support so we can provide resources to these important GMO labeling battles in New England.
We need to raise another $145,000 to meet our goal of $200,000 by March 31 to fund GMO labeling in Maine, and in other New England states, including Massachusetts. Details on how to donate online, by check or by phone here.
Donations made to the Organic Consumers Fund, our 501(c) 4 lobbying arm, are not tax-deductible. If you want to support the grassroots advocacy and education campaigns in these states, you can make a tax-deductible donation to our 501(c)3 here.
National Director, Organic Consumers Association and Organic Consumers Fund
P.S. These campaigns in New England are urgent. We must stop attempts by Monsanto to strip states of the right to pass GMO labeling laws, especially in light of this new declaration by the World Health Organization that glyphosate probably causes cancer in humans.
Genetically engineered crops, glyphosate and the deterioration of health in the United States of America
Within the last 20 years there has been an alarming increase in serious illnesses in the US, along with a marked decrease in life expectancy (Bezruchka, 2012). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that the cost of diabetes and diabetes-related treatment was approximately $116 billion dollars in 2007. Estimated costs related to obesity were $147 billion in 2008 and cardiovascular diseases and stroke were $475.3 billion in 2009. Health care expenditures in the US totaled 2.2 trillion dollars in 2007 (CDC, 2013a). The onset of serious illness is appearing in increasingly younger cohorts. The US leads the world in the increase in deaths due to neurological diseases between 1979-81 and 2004-06 for the 55-65 age group (Pritchard et al., 2013). These mental disorder deaths are more typical of the over 65 age group. There have been similar findings for obesity, asthma, behavior and learning problems, an d chronic disease in children and young adults (Van Cleave et al., 2010). Type II diabetes in youth is being called an epidemic (Rosenbloom et al., 1999). The rate of chronic disease in the entire US population has been dramatically increasing with an estimated 25% of the US population suffering from multiple chronic diseases (Autoimmunity Research Foundation, 2012). These findings suggest environmental triggers rather than genetic or age-related causes.
To genetically modify a plant for herbicide tolerance, genes are identified which convey tolerance of the active chemical in the herbicide to the organism. In the case of glyphosate, glyphosate-tolerant genes were isolated from a strain of Agrobacterium. These were inserted into the genome of the plant via a multi-step process resulting in a plant that can withstand the direct application of the herbicide. Genetic modification is also utilised for developing insect resistant plants by using insecticidal proteins from Bacillus thuringiensis, or Bt toxin. The promoter used to drive the expression of the foreign genes is generally the 35S promoter from the Cauliflower Mosaic Virus (CaMV). Not only are the virus and bacteria genes themselves potentially harmful (Ho, 2013; Ewen & Pusztai, 1999), but the plants are sprayed directly with herbicides. The herbicide-tolerant plants absorb the poisons and humans and domestic animals eat them. ….
Written by laudyms
March 20, 2015 at 5:33 pm
A Roundup of Roundup® Reveals Converging Pattern of Toxicity from Farm to Clinic to Laboratory Studies
We need to ban glyphosate from our own communities as most governments fail to protect citizens
Institute of Science in Society 1/19/15
**please support research of Seralini’s team on analysing glyphosate residues in rats exposed to Roundup here: http://www.i-sis.org.uk/Support_Seralini_Team_for_New_GMO_Risk_Research.php
What is glyphosate?
Glyphosate, perhaps surprisingly for a chemical so ubiquitously associated with our food, was not first used as an agricultural chemical but instead first patented as a metal chelator in 1964 by Stauffer Chemical company (US 3160632 A)  and used as an industrial pipe cleaner. It was later patented by Monsanto as an herbicidal agent in 1974 (US3799758 A)  based on its ability to block the shikimate pathway involved in the production of aromatic amino acids in both plants and bacteria. It has become the most popular herbicide in the world especially since glyphosate tolerant genetically modified (GM) crops were commercialized in the mid-1990s, together with the assumption (perpetrated by Monsanto) that the herbicide is safe for health and the environment. In 2010, it was also patented by Monsanto as an antibiotic agent. Moreover, it is being increasingly used as a pre-harvest desiccant for drying seeds, a process that results in contamination of non-GM grains, one of the main exposure routes in the EU where GM crops are not commonly grown. Thus, an estimated 70 % of UK oil seed rape (canola) and 50-60 % of EU sunflowers are sprayed with glyphosate , resulting in products of major food brands in the UK testing positive for glyphosate residues in a 2014 analysis by GM Freeze, with glyphosate the most commonly detected of all chemicals .
All of glyphosate’s chemical properties already mentioned have implications for the health of both people and planet. Scientific research has additionally implicated glyphosate as an endocrine disruptor and a DNA mutagen; and it affects over 291 different enzymes in the body . It is increasingly linked with a wide variety of illnesses, the sharp rises in illnesses occurring in parallel with glyphosate application across various GM cultivating regions of the world.
The most convincing evidence of glyphosate toxicity is the consistent pattern of diseases associated with glyphosate that has emerged from the farm to the clinic and from scientific studies to citizen testimonials.
Glyphosate widespread in the environment and in our bodies
Glyphosate’s popularity is due in large measure to its concomitant use with the most widely planted type of GM crops, those tolerant to glyphosate-herbicides. Monsanto commercialised the first Roundup-ready crop in 1996 (Roundup being the commercial formulation containing ‘adjuvants’ that make it much more toxic than the active ingredient glyphosate alone, see later). In countries such as Argentina where large swaths of the country have been dubbed soy deserts, GM soybean cultivation has resulted in an 858 % rise in glyphosate use (see  Devastating Impacts of Glyphosate Use with GMO Seeds in Argentina, to appear). Similarly, the US has seen even greater rises of 2 500 % from 1987 to 2007 .
This widespread and massive application of glyphosate herbicides has resulted in almost ubiquitous contamination of the environment. A 2014 study on US water systems across 38 states found glyphosate and its principle metabolite AMPA (aminomethylphosphonic acid) not only in rivers, lakes and streams, but also rain, soil and sediment, ditches and drains and groundwater (see ). Some 70 % of rain samples tested positive for glyphosate. Similarly in Europe, (in Catalonia, a large region of Spain) it was found that all 11 groundwater sites were positive for glyphosate despite it being a region free from glyphosate-tolerant crop cultivation; 41 % of samples were above detection limits . The detection in groundwater goes against one of the claims on glyphosate safety that its propensity to bind to soil and sediment means it will not leach into our fresh water supplies. In Argentina, new data of rain sample measurements averaged an extreme 6.5 µg/L and reaching as high as 67 µg/L (67 ppt) across four regions from October 2012 to April 2014 . These levels are far higher than those seen in US rain samples where the average and maximum concentrations were 0.11 µg/L and 2.5 µg/L respectively . Read the rest of this entry »
Written by laudyms
January 19, 2015 at 12:01 pm
Most comprehensive study reveals glyphosate and AMPA in the environment over 9 years and across 38 states
Dr Eva Sirinathsinghji 10/08/14 Institute of Science in Society
The most comprehensive research to date on environmental glyphosate levels exposes the widespread contamination of soil and water in the US, as well as its water treatment system. Looking at a wide range of geographical locations, researchers from the US Geological Survey (USGS) analysed 3 732 water and sediment samples and 1 081 quality assurance samples collected between 2001 and 2010 from 38 states in the US and the District of Colombia. They found glyphosate in 39.4 % of samples (1 470 out of 3 732) and its metabolite AMPA (α-Amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionic acid) in 55 % of samples . Water samples included streams, groundwater, ditches and drains, large rivers, soil water, lakes, ponds and wetlands, precipitation, soil and sediment, and waste water treatment plants.
These results are to be expected when the use of glyphosate has steadily increased in the US (and similarly in Canada) over the years, particularly since the introduction of genetically-modified crops tolerant to the herbicide. The rise of glyphosate-resistant weeds also means that farmers need to spray more chemicals than before in order to protect their crops (see  Monsanto Defeated by Roundup Resistant Weeds, SiS 53). Glyphosate accounted for 32-36% of all pesticide (insecticides, herbicides and fungicides) use in the US in 2007 according to EPA data . It is the top pesticide in agriculture and the second for home and garden and commercial settings. Agricultural use has gone up from 3 180 tonnes (of active ingredient) in 1987 to 82 800 tonnes in 2007. Non-agricultural use of the herbicide has also risen steadily in the US, from 2 270 tonnes in 1993 to 9 300 tonnes in 2007 (Figure 1). The common use of glyphosate in urban areas is also exacerbated by the impervious surfaces of cities, resulting in substantial pesticide inputs to urban drainage systems. Until recently data had been lacking on glyphosate occurrence in the environment, though studies published over the last couple of years are raising concerns. Detecting glyphosate in surface waters, rain and even groundwater, contradicts the producers’ claim that its chemical propensity to bind to sediment will prevent it from leaching into groundwater supplies (see  GM Crops and Water – A Recipe for Disaster, SiS 58).
Figure 1 Use of Glyphosate and Planted Hectares of Corn and Soybeans From 1987-2008
Data collection had previously been limited not only by glyphosate’s high solubility and polarity which make its detection more difficult, especially at environmentally relevant levels, but also due to the official line taken by authorities that glyphosate is safe. This makes assessment of its presence in our environment less of a priority, and hence left unstudied and unregulated. The safety claim has also encouraged farmers to overuse glyphosate, mostly sprayed on crops “post-emergence” or after crops and weeds have emerged from the soil and often applied repeatedly throughout the season, especially with the rise of glyphosate-resistant weeds. In addition, they are liberally used on non-GM crops as a dessicant (drying agent) to facilitate harvesting (see  How Roundup® Poisoned my Nature Reserve, SiS 64).
To address the lack of knowledge in this area, researchers at the USGS began developing their own methods in the 2000s, using solid-phase extraction and liquid chromatography/mass spectroscopy, which is able to detect both glyphosate and its metabolite AMPA at levels as low as 0.02 μg/l (0.02 part per billion, ppb) for both compounds.
The results are shown in Table 1. Glyphosate and AMPA were most frequently detected in soil, followed by drains and ditches, rain and large rivers. For soil and sediment, and soil water a total of 45 soil and sediment samples were collected from seven sites in Mississippi and Indiana, with both glyphosate and AMPA being detected at least once in samples from all seven sites. Both were detected in 90 % of sediment samples with concentrations frequently above 10 μg/kg, with an average of 9.6 μg/kg. In 116 soil samples glyphosate and AMPA were detected in 34.5 % and 66.5 % respectively. Large rivers showed average levels of 0.03 μg/kg in 53.1 % of samples tested. Least frequent but detectable levels were found in groundwater samples, with 5.8 % and 14 % of samples testing positive for glyphosate and AMPA respectively.
Glyphosate is claimed by biotech proponents not to leach into groundwater supplies, but this work and a previous study performed in Catalonia, Spain have both detected its presence in groundwater supplies , a major source of drinking water.
The present study also found an increase in concentrations over time, showing higher levels from 2006-2010 compared to earlier years (2001-2005), consistent with rises in both agricultural, home and commercial use of the herbicide. Temporal patterns however, were not recorded and these likely change with agricultural seasons.
The study highlights the ubiquitous contamination of the environment with glyphosate herbicides at ever increasing levels. This herbicide is highly toxic to humans, farm animals, and wildlife, and at levels as low as 0.1 ppb; there is indeed a strong case for halting its use altogether (see  Ban GMOs Now, Special ISIS report).
Table 1 Concentrations of both glyphosate and its metabolite AMPA in US environment
|Hydrologic Setting||Number of Samples||Percentage and (number) with Glyphosate Detections||Median Glyphosate in μg/l or μg/kg||Maximum Glyphosate in μg/l or μg/kg||Percentage and (number) with AMPA Detections||Median AMPA in μg/l or μg/kg||Maximum AMPA in μg/l or μg/kg|
|All sites||3 732||39.4 (1,470)||<0.02||476||55.0 (2,052)||0.04||397|
|Streams||1 508||52.5 (791)||0.03||73||71.6 (1,079)||0.20||28|
|Groundwater||1 171||5.8 (68)||<0.02||2.03||14.3 (168)||<0.02||4.88|
|Ditches and drains||374||70.9 (265)||0.20||427||80.7 (302)||0.43||397|
|Large rivers||318||53.1 (169)||0.03||3.08||89.3 (284)||0.22||4.43|
|Soil water||116||34.5 (40)||<0.02||1.00||65.5 (76)||0.06||1.91|
|Lakes, ponds, and wetlands||104||33.7 (35)||<0.02||301||29.8 (31)||<0.02||41|
|Precipitation||85||70.6 (60)||0.11||2.50||71.8 (61)||0.04||0.48|
|Soil and sediment||45||91.1 (41)||9.6||476||93.3 (42)||18.0||341|
|WWTP outfall||11||9.09 (1)||<0.02||0.30||81.8 (9)||0.45||2.54|
- Battaglin WA, Meyer MT, Kuivila KM, and Dietze JE. Glyphosate and Its Degradation Product AMPA Occur Frequently and Widely in U.S. Soils, Surface Water, Groundwater, and Precipitation. Journal of the American Water Resources Association (JAWRA) 2014, 50, 275-290. DOI: 10.1111/jawr.12159
- Sirinathsinghji E. Monsanto Defeated By Roundup Resistant Weeds. Science in Society 53, 40-41, 2011.
- 2006-2007 Pesticide Market Estimates, 3.4 Amount of Pesticides Used in the United States: Conventional. US Environmental Protection Agency. http://www.epa.gov/opp00001/pestsales/07pestsales/usage2007_2.htm
- Sirinathsinghji E. GM Crops and Water – A Recipe for Disaster. Science in Society 58, 8-10, 2013.
- Mason, R. How Roundup Poisoned My Nature Reserve, SiS 64, to appear
- Ho MW and Sirinathsinghji E. Ban GMOs Now, ISIS, London, June 2013,http://www.i-sis.org.uk/Ban_GMOs_Now.php
This week, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) hit a major milestone that some people, including leaders at the agency itself, think shouldn’t be celebrated.
On Wednesday, the agency released a final risk assessment for trichloroethylene (TCE), an industrial solvent used by artists, car mechanics, dry cleaners and others. The EPA’s in-depth report, released after a two-year analysis, shows that long-term exposure to TCE can cause cancer and other health issues, and recommends that workers take serious precautions if they must use TCE.
But in its press release, the EPA acknowledged there was something wrong — not with the risk assessment itself — but with its timeline: It was the first final risk assessment for a chemical issued by the EPA since 1986.
“The American public shouldn’t have to wait 28 years between … chemical risk assessments,” wrote Jim Jones, EPA assistant administrator of chemical safety….. read full article here
Credo Action In case you weren’t sure yet if the massive use of the herbicide glyphosate – the primary ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup – was cause for concern, here’s the sobering takeaway from an MIT senior researcher who just conducted a review of the stuff:
“I’m certain at this point that glyphosate is the most important factor in an alarming number of epidemic diseases.”1
The introduction of Roundup in 1973 has corresponded with a rise in conditions including celiac disease (gluten intolerance), autism, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, obesity, pancreatic cancer, thyroid cancer, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, Parkinson’s and others.2
And its use – along with the rates of many of these diseases – has gone stratospheric over the last 15 years, with the approval of Monsanto’s GMO “Roundup Ready” crops specifically engineered to tolerate massive exposure to glyphosate. Roundup is now used all over the world on staple crops like wheat and soy, and has become the most widely used herbicide in the US.
Despite these trends, the EPA and FDA still consider glyphosate to be relatively safe and harmless – based largely on unpublished, industry-produced studies. That position is looking increasingly dangerous, and possibly wrong.
Written by laudyms
May 16, 2014 at 4:15 am