We started to report the dangers associated with glyphosate in June 2011 (1). When an Anglo-Irish-Brazilian research group published the report ‘Roundup and birth defects: is the public being kept in the dark?’. It was late, and other tests have meanwhile emerged, under the culpable indifference of the authorities in every part of the world who should protect the health of people and animals, as well as the environment. When is it going to stop?
Glyphosate is the most widely used herbicide worldwide, in agriculture as well as in the maintenance of gardens and flower gardens, urban and domestic. It is produced by Monsanto, already famous for its production of Agent Orange, a chemical weapon used in the Vietnam War, maintaining the patent on ‘Roundup’ until 2001. The American giant kept one move ahead of the game, regarding the days of ordinary expiration of the international patent on glyphosate, manipulating the DNA of corn, soybeans and cotton just to ensure the only survival of its GMO to its deadly pesticide. A successful operation, soon followed by other big players in the Franken-Food industry like Dow Agrochemicals, Bayer, BASF. The wide distribution of the seed, in the last two decades, has made the growth of the sales of both the poison and the seeds designed to resist it possible.
Already beck in 1980 the American authorities were aware of the malformation to laboratory animals caused by glyphosate, as highlighted in the report ‘Roundup and birth defects: Is the public being kept in the dark?’ (2). In 1985 the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) qualifying the glyphosate as a potential carcinogen, as a result of tests on rats and of the set of studies in Canada and Sweden that associated the exposure to it to the onset of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. But thanks to the powerful lobby of Monsanto, the same US Agency for environmental protection, transferred glyphosate in the group of ‘substances which have not demonstrated carcinogenic potential in at least two animal studies, appropriately carried out on different species, or in both animal and epidemiological studies’.
In 2010 in Argentina the government agency research CONICET published a study where a high risk of birth defects in frogs and poultry was associated to the exposure to glyphosate in dilutions much lower than those normally used to combat weeds. An alarming piece of news in itself, since even then in Argentina more than 50% of the land was cultivated with GMO glyphosate-resistant soybeans (‘Roundup Ready’). Yet the German authorities ‘for Consumer Protection and Food Safety’ (German Federal Office for Consumer Protection and Food Safety, BVL), to which Europe had given the risk assessment of glyphosate and other pesticides, promptly denied Argentine evidence.
US agencies and the European Commission are very effective in protecting the business of poisons:
– In 2011 the European Commission decided to postpone by three years- to 2015- the audit of the checks on the safety of glyphosate that was originally set for 2012 (3),
– In 2013 the US Agency for Environmental Protection yet increased the tolerances for residues of glyphosate permitted in crops. Because the weeds had gradually adapted to the poison, they needed more doses to kill them too … and to increase sales,
– To this day the Commission is hiding the scientific paper on the risks linked to endocrine disrupting chemicals (4) contained in 31 authorized pesticides in Europe. The British newspaper The Guardian published an investigation in this regard, in February 2015, where it refers to the dangers of fetal deformations with loss of IQ, genital mutilation, infertility and carcinogenesis (5). The European Authority for Food Safety stated as early as 2013 the criteria to adopt for the risk assessment, but the European roadmap is still without any application (6).
In March 2015, WHO Agency for Research on Cancer – IARC, ‘International Agency for Research on Cancer’ – has confirmed the serious risks associated with glyphosate. The report, published in ‘The Lancet Oncology’ (7) after three years of research coordinated by 17 experts in 11 countries, reveals a strong epidemiological link between the exposure to glyphosate and non-Hodgkin lymphoma. In addition to the already known increase in occurrence of infant leukemia and neurodegenerative diseases, Parkinson’s in first place.
The many petitions launched in different countries, with the contribution of NGOs such as Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth International (8), are all intended to get the ban on the use of glyphosate on the basis of converging studies that reveal the danger to human health , animals and the environment. Highlighting how the poisonous pesticide has already polluted, far and wide, groundwater and soils, up to contaminating the bodies and the DNA of people of all ages. Millions of signatures, no response.