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Scientist Warning of Health Hazards of Monsanto's Herbicide Receives Threats

There are reports coming out of Argentina of attempts to intimidate the lead researcher of the study showing that Roundup - the glyphosate herbicide developed by Monsanto could cause brain, intestinal and heart defects in fetuses.

The lead researcher for the new study, carried out in Argentina where Roundup is used on a massive scale in conjunction with GM herbicide-resistant soy, is embryology professor, Dr. Andres Carrasco.

Dr. Carrasco has worked for nearly thirty years in embryonic development, and was President and Assistant Secretary of Conicet (The National Commission for Scientific Research) and now works at the Defense Ministry in the Science and Technology innovation department. He apparently conducted the experiments in his laboratory of molecular embryology, based at the Institute of Cell Biology and Neuroscience, at the Faculty of Medicine of the Universidad Nacional de Buenos Aires.

Dr. Carrasco has warned that the doses of herbicide used in his study "were much lower than the levels used in the fumigations," and so the situation "is much more serious" that the study suggests because "glyphosate does not degrade".

According to an article in the Argentine press, after news about the study broke, Dr. Carrasco was the victim of an act of intimidation, when four men arrived at his laboratory in the Faculty of Medicine and acted extremely aggressively.

Two of the men were said to be members of an agrochemical industry body but refused to give their names. The other two claimed to be a lawyer and notary. They apparently interrogated Dr. Carrasco and demanded to see details of the experiments. They left a card Basílico, Andrada & Santurio, attorneys on behalf of Felipe Alejandro Noël.

Dr. Carrasco also reports being subjected to offensive phone calls and there have been disparaging references to his research in newspapers with links to agribusiness. Dr. Carrasco however is resisting the intimidation, saying, "If I know something, I will not shut my mouth."

Click here to read he news report in Spanish.

Herbicide Used in Argentina Could Cause Birth Defects
Latin American Herald Tribune

BUENOS AIRES ­ The herbicide used on genetically modified soy ­ Argentina's main crop ­ could cause brain, intestinal and heart defects in fetuses, according to the results of a scientific investigation released Monday.

Although the study "used amphibian embryos," the results "are completely comparable to what would happen in the development of a human embryo," embryology professor Andres Carrasco, one of the study's authors, told Efe.

"The noteworthy thing is that there are no studies of embryos on the world level and none where glyphosate is injected into embryos," said the researcher with the National Council for Scientific and Technical Research and director of the Molecular Embryology Laboratory.

The doses of herbicide used in the study "were much lower than the levels used in the fumigations," and so the situation "is much more serious" that the study suggests because "glyphosate does not degrade," Carrasco warned.

In Argentina, farmers each year use between 180 and 200 million liters of glyphosate, which was developed by the multinational Monsanto and sold in the United States under the brand name Roundup.

Carrasco said that the research found that "pure glyphosate, in doses lower than those used in fumigation, causes defects ... (and) could be interfering in some normal embryonic development mechanism having to do with the way in which cells divide and die."

"The companies say that drinking a glass of glyphosate is healthier than drinking a glass of milk, but the fact is that they've used us as guinea pigs," he said.

He gave as an example what occurred in Ituzaingo, a district where 5,000 people live on the outskirts of the central Argentine city of Cordoba, where over the past eight years about 300 cases of cancer associated with fumigations with pesticides have turned up.

"In communities like Ituzaingo it's already too late, but we have to have a preventive system, to demand that the companies give us security frameworks and, above all, to have very strict regulations for fumigation, which nobody is adhering to out of ignorance or greed," he said.

The researcher also said that, apart from the research he carried out, "there has to be a serious study" on the effects of glyphosate on human beings, adding that "the state has all the mechanisms for that."

In the face of the volley of judicial complaints related to the disproportionate use of agrochemicals in the cultivation of GM soy, last February the Health Ministry created a group to investigate the problem in four Argentine provinces.

Argentina is the world's third-largest exporter of soy.