Roundup Weed Killer Kills More Than Weeds

Alarming new research on the health hazards of Roundup weed killer is shining a harsh light on a regulatory process that was meant to protect us.


| December 2009/January 2010


To protect our health, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sets maximum legal residue levels for every pesticide, for dozens of crops. But a new study in the respected journal Toxicology has shown that, at low levels that are currently legal on our food, Roundup weed killer could cause DNA damage, endocrine disruption and cell death. The study, conducted by French researchers, shows glyphosate-based herbicides are toxic to human reproductive cells.

The potential real-life risks from this are infertility, low sperm count, and prostate or testicular cancer. But, “Symptoms could be so subtle, they would be easy to overlook,” says Theo Colborn, president of The Endocrine Disruption Exchange. “Timing is of critical importance. If a pregnant woman were to be exposed early in gestation, it looks like these herbicides could have an effect during the sexual differentiation stage. They really lock in on testosterone.” The bottom line is more research is needed before we can fully understand the effects of glyphosate exposure.

A Perfect Poison

The researchers’ most disturbing findings were not only the cytotoxic and hormonal responses to low-dose exposures, but the fact that the “active” ingredient — glyphosate — had much less of a toxic impact alone than the branded chemical mixtures sold to homeowners and farmers nationwide.

Solvents and surfactants, legally considered “inert ingredients,” are mixed with glyphosate in products such as Roundup weed killer to create chemical formulations that increase mobility and more direct access to the cells. “Those same factors that aid penetration into a plant, also aid penetration into the skin,” says Vincent Garry, professor emeritus of pathology at the University of Minnesota. “These chemicals are designed to kill cells.”

Despite being termed “inert,” these added (and usually secret) ingredients are anything but benign, as the manufacturers have claimed for decades. The new French research found the surfactants not only amplify the effects of glyphosate, but glyphosate also amplifies the effects of the surfactants. Basically, one plus one equals something larger than two.

Herbicide manufacturers are subject to fewer rules in the testing of inert ingredients than they are for active ingredients, explains Caroline Cox, research director at the Center for Environmental Health in Oakland, Calif. “The tests the EPA requires for inert ingredients cover only a small range of potential health problems,” Cox says. “Testing for birth defects, cancer, and genetic damage are required only on the active ingredients. But we’re exposed to both.”

juanfrieswiddat
7/22/2017 10:04:04 AM

I realize this is an old article but would like a citation for the french research reported in Toxicology. There isn't enough information provided in the article for me to find it.


juanfrieswiddat
7/21/2017 3:38:07 PM

I'd like to read the journal article mentioned in this article, can you post a complete citation? "But a new study in the respected journal Toxicology has shown that, at low levels that are currently legal on our food, Roundup weed killer could cause DNA damage, endocrine disruption and cell death. The study, conducted by French researchers, shows glyphosate-based herbicides are toxic to human reproductive cells."


hmfog2
6/30/2017 10:51:45 AM

There's a lot out there about this, but the stories never cover the nature of the exposure. It seems like you need to be exposed to the chemical before it's applied. That would make sense since once applied the chemical deteriorates in days. That is evident by the fact that you can replant in a week and things grow just fine. Has anyone seen a study of the residual impact on the soil days, weeks or month's later?






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