Monsanto's Roundup Herbicide Threatens Public Health

(Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2002 -- CropChoice news) -- The following
information comes from
Rachel's Environment and Health News, issue 751, Sept. 5, 2002.

Two new studies indicate that Monsanto's herbicide, Roundup, is a
hormone-disruptor and is associated with birth defects in humans.

Farm families that applied pesticides to their crops in Minnesota were
studied to see if their elevated exposure to pesticides caused birth
defects in their children. The study found that two kinds of pesticides
-- fungicides and the herbicide Roundup -- were linked to statistically
increases in birth defects. Roundup was linked to a 3-fold increase in
neurodevelopmental (attention deficit) disorders. [EHP Supplement 3,
Vol. 110 (June 2002), pgs. 441-449.]

A recent test tube study reveals that Roundup can severely reduce the
ability of mouse cells to produce hormones. Roundup interferes with a
fundamental protein called StAR (steroidogenic acute regulatory
protein). The StAR protein is key to the production of testosterone in
men (thus controlling male characteristics, including sperm production)
but also the production of adrenal hormone (essential for brain
development), carbohydrate metabolism (leading to loss or gain of
weight), and immune system function. The authors point out that "a
disruption of the StAR protein may underlie many of the toxic effects of
environmental pollutants." [EHP Vol. 108, No. 8 (August 2000), pgs.

Monsanto, the St. Louis chemical giant and creator of Roundup as well as
PCBs, is now a leader in genetically engineered crops. Monsanto sells
"Roundup ready" seeds for corn, soybeans, and cotton; wheat and lawn
grasses will be next. These are seeds engineered to withstand a thorough
dousing with Roundup, which kills weeds without killing the
Roundup-ready crops. To make Monsanto's "Roundup ready" seeds legal,
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had to triple the amount of
Roundup residues that it allows on crops. For years, Roundup has been
Monsanto's most profitable product, and genetic engineering has now
allowed the firm to sell much more of it. See RACHEL'S #637, #639, #660,
#686, #726.

For example, a 1999 study of soybean farming in the U.S. midwest found
that farmers planting Roundup Ready soybeans used 2 to 5 times as many
pounds of herbicide per acre as farmers
using conventional systems, and ten times as much herbicide as farmers
using Integrated Weed Management systems, which are intended to reduce
the need for chemical herbicides.[3,pg.2]

More chemical dangers probably lie ahead as new products of genetic
engineering come to market. According to the NEW YORK TIMES, Scotts
Company is collaborating with Monsanto to develop
Roundup Ready grass for lawns.[4] Children and pregnant women, beware.

Access Rachel's and the Environmental Research Foundation at

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