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One Little Piggy Had Birth Defects: Is Monsanto's Roundup to Blame?

For related articles and information, please visit OCA's Genetic Engineering page and our Millions Against Monsanto.

A pig farm in Denmark. A renewed charge against Monsanto's Roundup pesticide is being led by a Danish pig farmer who realized the chemical's effects on his livestock. (Photo: Jan Ingemansen / Flickr)

One little piglet was born with only one large eye. A second piglet was missing an ear. A third piglet had a large hole in its skull. A fourth piglet had a monstrously huge "elephant tongue." A female piglet was born with testes. Still others had malformed limbs, spines, skulls and gastrointestinal tracts.

The pigs in question belonged to a Danish pig farmer. For three years he had fed his pigs ordinary, non-genetically modified soy. When he ran out, he bought the cheaper genetically modified (GM) soy pig feed. His herdsman, unaware of the feed switch, immediately noticed that the pigs lost their appetite and that the piglets developed diarrhea. Even worse was the sudden and shocking increase in birth defects. The farmer, eager to understand the cause, had 38 of the deformed pigs euthanized and tested for glyphosate, the herbicide used on the GM soy. The results were published in the April 2014 issue of the Journal of Environmental and Analytic Toxicology. The samples of lung, liver, kidney, brain, gut wall, heart and muscle all tested positive.

Glyphosate is the world's most frequently used herbicide. First marketed by Monsanto in the 1970s under the trade-name "Roundup," it is used extensively wherever GM crops are grown. Monsanto has touted Roundup's safety, claiming that, since it attacks an enzyme system not present in animals, it is harmless to people and to pets. We are beginning to find out that this is simply not true. As scientists start to investigate the effects of glyphosate residues in humans and animals, a horrifying story is beginning to emerge. It begins with what we have learned about glyphosate's propensity to cause birth defects.