Are You Roundup Ready?
Monsanto’s Recent Bozeman Acquisition Raises the Question
BY DR. JOSEPH MERCOLA
With the Monsanto Company having recently acquired the Bozeman-based agri-business WestBred, a research and development company for cereal grains, some have wondered what all the fuss is about. As a developer and marketer of Genetically Modified crops that are resistant to its flagship herbicide Roundup, or Roundup Ready, as they say in the trade, Monsanto raises the hackles of those concerned about the effects such crops have on human health and the environment.
Residues of Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide found in GM food and feed can cause cell damage and even death, even at very low levels. The authors of a study on the subject say their research "points to undesirable effects which are currently masked or hidden from scientific scrutiny."
Roundup herbicides are among the most commonly used in the world, especially on GM crops that are engineered to be Roundup resistant. Their residues are among the major pollutants, and they are authorized as residues contaminating GM foods and feed at the tested levels.
The researchers studied toxicity mechanisms of four different Roundup formulations in human cells. The formulations were diluted at minimal doses (up to 100,000 times or more), but they still caused cell death within a few hours. The researchers also noted membrane and DNA damages, and found the formulations inhibit cell respiration.
Roundup Ready soybean, cotton and corn crops are the world’s largest group of genetically modified crops. In fact, the GM Roundup Ready gene is part of more than 75 percent of soybeans, 65 percent of cotton and 10 percent of corn grown in the United States.
This particular variety of GM crops became so popular because it allows farmers to spray Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide directly onto their fields without harming the crops. Ordinarily, if you were to spray Roundup, or any other glyphosate-based herbicide, onto a plant, it would die.
Millions of pounds of Roundup are used every year on U.S. gardens, lawns and farms. It works by inhibiting an enzyme called EPSP synthase, which is necessary for plants to grow. Without it, plants are unable to produce essential proteins so they slowly yellow and die. The GM Roundup Ready crops, however, produce an enzyme that has the same function as EPSP synthase, but is not affected by Roundup.
As you might imagine, the use of Roundup herbicide has increased dramatically since the GM Roundup Ready crops were introduced, and serious problems have been reported ever since.
GM Crops May Contain Toxic Roundup Residues
It’s widely known that GM Roundup Ready crops contain Roundup residues. This latest study showed, for the first time, just how toxic these residues may be to your health. Even when researchers tested formulations of Roundup that were highly diluted (up to 100,000 times or more) on human cells, the cells died within 24 hours.
They also found damage to cell membranes and DNA, along with an inhibition of cell respiration.
Further, the researchers discovered that the mixture of components used as Roundup adjuv-ants (substances that increase resistance or immunity) actually amplified the action of the glyphosate, making at least one of its metabolites even more toxic.
The researchers wrote: This work clearly confirms that the adjuvants in Roundup formulations are not inert. Moreover, the proprietary mixtures available on the market could cause cell damage and even death around residual levels to be expected, especially in food and feed derived from Roundup formulation-treated crops.
More Troubling Roundup Research
Monsanto long used the slogans, “It's Safer than Mowing," "Biodegradable," and “Environmentally Friendly" to describe Roundup—until the real effects of this toxic herbicide were revealed and they were forced to discontinue their deceptive advertising.
Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, is the most commonly-reported cause of pesticide/herbicide illness among landscape maintenance workers in California. Additionally:
• The surfactant ingredient in Roundup is more acutely toxic than glyphosate itself, and the combination of the two is even more toxic.
• Glyphosate is suspected of causing genetic damage.
• Glyphosate is acutely toxic to fish and birds and can kill beneficial insects and soil organisms that maintain ecological balance.
• Laboratory studies have identified adverse effects of glyphosate-containing products in all standard categories of toxicological testing.
In one animal study, rats given 1,000 milligrams of glyphosate resulted in a 50 percent mortality rate, and skeletal alterations were observed in over 57 percent of fetuses.
GM crops that are resistant to Roundup are the most widely sold GM varieties. So if you eat GM foods, there is a very good chance those foods contain Roundup residues—and possibly hefty amounts of them.
According to Jeffrey Smith, leading spokesperson on the dangers of GM foods, by 2004, farmers used an estimated 86 percent more herbicide on GM soy fields compared to non-GM. Higher levels of herbicide residue in this GM soy might cause health problems, and many symptoms identified in one UK soy allergy study are also related to glyphosate exposure.
The allergy study identified irritable bowel syndrome, digestion problems, chronic fatigue, headaches, lethargy, and skin complaints including acne and eczema, all related to soy consumption.
Symptoms of glyphosate exposure include nausea, headaches, lethargy, skin rashes, and burning or itchy skin. It is also possible that glyphosate‘s breakdown product AMPA, which accumulates in GM soybeans after each spray, might contribute to allergies.
GM Foods Not Safe
This latest study is just one more reason why you should be very careful about keeping GM foods out of your diet. Aside from their potential to be contaminated with toxic Roundup residues, GM crops routinely create unintended proteins, alter existing protein levels, or even change the components and shape of the protein that is created by the inserted gene.
This results in brand new proteins that have never before existed in food, some of which may be causing severe allergic reactions.
Creating a GM crop can also produce massive changes in the natural functioning of the plant‘s DNA. Native genes can be mutated, deleted, permanently turned on or off, or change their levels of protein expression. No one knows how this will impact human health, but so far Jeffrey Smith has documented at least 65 serious health risks related to GM foods.
• Offspring of rats fed GM soy showed a five-fold increase in mortality, lower birth weights, and the inability to reproduce.
• Male mice fed GM soy had damaged young sperm cells.
• The embryo offspring of GM soy-fed mice had altered DNA functioning.
• Several US farmers reported sterility or fertility problems among pigs and cows fed GM corn varieties.
• Investigators in India have documented fertility problems, abortions, premature births, and other serious health issues, including deaths, among buffaloes fed GM cottonseed products.
Further, just last year a long-term feeding study commissioned by the Austrian Agency for Health and Food Safety confirmed GM corn seriously affects reproductive health in mice.
The results were so worrisome that GM opponents called for an immediate ban of all GM foods and GM crops in order to protect human health and the fertility of women around the world.
Dr. Mercola is the founder of the natural health web site Mercola.com.
Note: Monsanto's genetically engineered Roundup Ready crops allow farmers to apply the Monsanto herbicide glyphosate to kill weeds without killing crops like soy, corn, and canola.