By Jack Kittredge
Glyphosate [N-(phosphonomethyl)glycine] is a broad-spectrum systemic herbicide and crop desiccant. It is an organophosphorus compound, specifically a phosphonate, which acts by inhibiting the plant enzyme 5-enolpyruvylshikimate-3-phosphate synthase. It is used to kill weeds, especially annual broadleaf weeds and grasses that compete with crops.
Monsanto brought it to market for agricultural use in 1974 under the trade name Roundup, but its last commercially relevant United States patent expired in 2000.
Farmers quickly adopted glyphosate for agricultural weed control, especially after Monsanto introduced glyphosate-resistant Roundup Ready crops, enabling farmers to kill weeds without killing their crops. In 2007, glyphosate was the most used herbicide in the United States’ agricultural sector and the second-most used (after 2,4-D) in home and garden, government and industry, and commercial applications. From the late 1970s to 2016, there was a 100-fold increase in the frequency and volume of application of glyphosate-based herbicides (GBHs) worldwide, with further increases expected in the future, partly in response to the global emergence and spread of glyphosate-resistant weeds requiring greater application to maintain effectiveness. The development of glyphosate resistance in weed species is emerging as a costly problem.
By Jack Kittredge
For many Americans glyphosate, the active ingredient in the herbicide Roundup, and its maker, the chemical company Monsanto, are examples of the worst aspects of American business. Despite concerns raised by scientists and health professionals about human carcinogenicity among those exposed to the compound, Monsanto (and now Bayer which recently bought the company) have denied any such possibility and initiated campaigns to discredit studies and professionals that warn about its danger to health.
By Sustainable Pulse
1961: Glyphosate was patented in the U.S. as a Descaling and Chelating Agent by the Stauffer Chemical Co.
Due to its strong metal chelating properties, glyphosate was initially used as a descaling agent to clean out calcium and other mineral deposits in pipes and boilers of residential and commercial hot water systems. Descaling agents are effective metal binders, which grab on to Calcium, Magnesium and heavy metals to make the metal water soluble and easily removable.
1970: Glyphosate was discovered to be a herbicide (weedkiller) by Monsanto scientist John Franz and was patented as such.
1974: Monsanto brought glyphosate to market under the trade name Roundup.
1982: Monsanto was already working on creating Roundup Ready genetically modified crops. So was Luca Comai, a scientist from Calgene (a biotech company that Monsanto would later acquire).
By Carey Gillam
Five years ago Monsanto executives realized they had a big problem on their hands. It was September 2014 and the company’s top-selling chemical, the weed killer called glyphosate that is the foundation for Monsanto’s branded Roundup products, had been selected as one among a handful of pesticides to undergo scrutiny by the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). Monsanto had spent decades fending off concerns about the safety of glyphosate and decrying scientific research indicating the chemical might cause cancer or other diseases. And even though the IARC review was still months away, Monsanto’s own scientists knew what the outcome would likely be—and they knew it wouldn’t be good.
Internal company records show not just the level of fear Monsanto had over the impending review, but notably that company officials fully expected IARC scientists would find at least some cancer connections to glyphosate. Company scientists discussed the “vulnerability” that surrounded their efforts to defend glyphosate amid multiple unfavorable research findings in studies of people and animals exposed to the weed killer. In addition to epidemiology studies, “we also have potential vulnerabilities in the other areas that IARC will consider, namely, exposure, genetox and mode of action…” a Monsanto scientist wrote in October 2014. That same email discussed a need to find allies and arrange funding for a “fight”—all months before the IARC meeting in March 2015.
By Jack Kittredge
Glyphosate Sourced From Controversial Mines
Roundup, the world’s top herbicide, has been mired in controversy in recent months as the jurors in three court cases have found it causes cancer. Bayer Crop Science, the company that produces Roundup, has been ordered to pay billions of dollars in damages, and thousands of other cancer cases are pending in state and federal courts. And while the majority of the nation’s corn, soybean, and cotton growers continue to use it, Roundup’s damage to soil health and history of producing herbicide-tolerant “superweeds” are also critical concerns to farmers and consumers.
But few people know that Roundup is equally contentious at its source.
Glyphosate, the herbicide’s main ingredient, isn’t manufactured in a lab, but originates in a mine. To produce it, phosphate ore is extracted and refined into elemental phosphorus. While Bayer, which recently bought Monsanto, touts its sustainable mining process, environmentalists contend that the process involves stripping away the soil off mountaintops, which destroys vegetation, contaminates water and creates noise and air pollution that is detrimental to wildlife and the environment for years to come.
By Don Huber
Forty plus years ago, U.S. agriculture started a conversion to a primarily monochemical herbicide program focused around glyphosate (Roundup®). The near simultaneous shift from conventional tillage to no-till or minimum tillage stimulated this chemical conversion that was reinforced by the subsequent introduction of genetically modified crops tolerant to glyphosate. The introduction of genetically modified (Roundup Ready®, RR) crops has greatly increased the volume and scope of glyphosate usage, and the conversion of major segments of crop production to a monochemical herbicide strategy. The promotion of glyphosate based herbicides (GBH) as readily biodegradable, non-toxic and environmentally friendly by the Monsanto Company masked the fact that glyphosate is a powerful mineral chelater, artificial amino acid, and broad spectrum antibiotic that interferes with mineral nutrition to increase plant, environmental, animal and human disease. Fraudulent safety reports of non-toxicity provided a false-sense of safety as adoption expanded throughout the environment. Although previously over-looked, long-term damage to the soil, environment, crop, animal and human diseases have become more prevalent each year as glyphosate accumulation and residual effects escalate and become more apparent.
By Mike Nadeau
A long, long time ago, far, far away, in the town of Mount Santo, there started a congregation of citizens, the Herbicidalists, that was in the occupation of forming a great new reality. They created a Magical Elixir that was spread over everything, and everything was rendered uniform, simplified. The Company the Herbicidalists spawned ensured that all the Mount Santoites were enlightened many times daily to this new way of living via this miraculous potion, its virtues touted on television, the Internet and social media, for the benefit of all. Everywhere there were beautiful young mothers with even more beautiful children and Golden Retrievers and kittens cavorting on the perfect green lawns of Mount Santo. Grownup Yuppie larvae husbands came home to their own personal golf courses, replete with landscape linoleum plantings, and nary a not-so-dandy lion to be seen – all thanks to this simple solution. Life was wonderful there – easy, simple, and so green. The Company was governed by a federation of people called the Knights of the Roundup Table. The leader, King Gly of Phosate, wanted all his subjects to know that he and his Knights had everything well in-hand; there was no reason to think or even question this new existence. All was well and always will be well. Should a problem pop up, the Knights had Dr. Spin and his merry band of Fixers on retainer to take care of any trifles.
Genetically Engineered Crops, Glyphosate and the Deterioration of Health in the United States of America
By Jack Kittredge
excerpted by from a study by Nancy L. Swanson, Andre Leu, Jon Abrahamson and Bradley Wallet
A huge increase in the incidence and prevalence of chronic diseases has been reported in the United States over the last 20 years. Similar increases have been seen globally. The herbicide glyphosate was introduced in 1974 and its use is accelerating with the advent of herbicide-tolerant genetically engineered (GE) crops. Evidence is mounting that glyphosate interferes with many metabolic processes in plants and animals and glyphosate residues have been detected in both. Glyphosate disrupts the endocrine system and the balance of gut bacteria, it damages DNA and is a driver of mutations that lead to cancer.
In the present study, US government databases were searched for GE crop data, glyphosate application data and disease epidemiological data. Correlation analyses were then performed on a total of 22 diseases in these time-series data sets. The correlation coefficients are highly significant between glyphosate applications and hypertension, stroke, diabetes prevalence, diabetes incidence, obesity, lipoprotein metabolism disorder, Alzheimer’s, senile dementia, Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, autism, inflammatory bowel disease, intestinal infections, end stage renal disease, acute kidney failure, cancers of the thyroid, liver, bladder, pancreas, kidney and myeloid leukemia.
By Jack Kittredge based on a NY Times story by Patricia Cohen
In September the NY Times ran a story challenging whether the lawsuits being awarded against Bayer and it’s recent acquisition Monsanto, based on findings that their herbicide glyphosate caused Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma among applicators, will be enough to destroy the value of the product to the companies. The paper interviewed farmers who dismissed the court’s findings, arguing that it is too valuable a product for them to stop using it.
“Roundup is still a fabulous tool,” said one, Andy Bensend, who farms 5000 acres in northwestern Wisconsin and grows corn, soybeans and alfalfa. He says he relies on Roundup’s key ingredient — glyphosate — to easily kill weeds, helping increase his yields and reduce his costs.
“The faith that American farmers like Mr. Bensend have in Roundup,” the paper says, “is what prompted the German company Bayer to spend $63 billion in 2018 to buy Monsanto, the herbicide’s creator. And it is now what undergirds Bayer’s confidence that Roundup will remain a moneymaker, even if the company ends up paying billions of dollars to settle the legal morass it inherited with the sale.”
By Chandler Marrs, PhD
Are you struggling with your weight? Are you eating well and exercising but still not losing weight? Well then, it might be time to consider what’s on or in what you are eating or what you are eating eats. Sound complicated? It’s not. An emerging body of evidence shows a strong link between eating foods sprayed with commercial herbicides and eating meats raised on commercial feedlots (that are born and bred on a cocktail of chemicals) and obesity.
After years of eating highly processed and chemically laden fruits, vegetables and meats, the bacteria in our guts shift radically towards a species that emit what are called endotoxins. These endotoxin releasing bacteria induce inflammation, which then shifts a series biochemical pathways that favor fat storage as a protective and compensatory reaction to the steady state of chemicals coming from our diet and the lack of nutrients contained within these foods. Indeed, what we now call autoimmune reactions, the continued elevation in inflammation and antibodies, may be a result of the food we eat (and the other pharmacological and environmental chemical exposures). It turns out, that the constant state of inflammation many of us find ourselves in is the body’s way of trying to clear those toxins.
By Jack Kittredge
Machais, NY, in western New York State is just a few miles south of the long east-west stretch of limestone-based upland soils that supports abundant crops and runs along central New York from Schenectady to Buffalo. When it comes to soils, however, even a few miles is a miss and the Machais region developed small dairy operations when farming spread there two hundred years ago.
Now the dairy squeeze, driven by a long-term drop in the price of milk, has forced out all others and the only remaining dairy farm in town shipping milk is Perry-Dice Organics, owned by Bernard Perry.
“I grew up helping my parents and my siblings on the homestead,” says Perry, who comes from a long line of dairymen. “There were fifteen of us siblings. I am the twelfth child — ten boys and five girls, and each and every one of us helped on the farm. We considered it life. What could ever be better — one family pulling for one another?”
By Independent Science News Nov., 2019
Mackenzie Feldman, Founder of Herbicide-Free Campus, has been working to end herbicide use by the University of California campus system. This May, the University announced a ban on glyphosate citing “concerns about possible human health and ecological hazards”.
ISN: What events caused you to protest chemicals on your campus?
Mackenzie: Recently at the 2019 Brower Youth Awards, I spoke about some of the defining moments that catalyzed my activism. During my time at UC Berkeley, I took an environmental biology class taught by Dr. Ignacio Chapela. On one of our field trips, Professor Chapela told our class that herbicides like Roundup were sprayed on campus. I was shocked, and I wanted to do something about this. I wrote a research paper on this subject for class, titled “Can the Campus of UC Berkeley Be Turned Into an Herbicide-Free Campus?” but didn’t know what to do from there.
By Carey Gillam, August 9, 2019 in the Guardian
As a journalist who has covered corporate America for more than 30 years, very little shocks me about the propaganda tactics companies often deploy. I know the pressure companies can and do bring to bear when trying to effect positive coverage and limit reporting they deem negative about their business practices and products.
But when I recently received close to 50 pages of internal Monsanto communications about the company’s plans to target me and my reputation, I was shocked.
I knew the company did not like the fact that in my 21 years of reporting on the agrochemical industry – mostly for Reuters – I wrote stories that quoted skeptics as well as fans of Monsanto’s genetically engineered seeds. I knew the company didn’t like me reporting about growing unease in the scientific community regarding research that connected Monsanto herbicides to human and environmental health problems. And I knew the company did not welcome the 2017 release of my book, Whitewash – The Story of a Weed Killer, Cancer and the Corruption of Science, which revealed the company’s actions to suppress and manipulate the science surrounding its herbicide business.
By Beyond Pesticides
Despite the prevalent myth that this widely-used herbicide is harmless, glyphosate (N-phosphono-methyl glycine) is associated with a wide range of illnesses, including non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL), genetic damage, liver and kidney damage, endocrine disruption, as well as environmental damage, including water contamination and harm to amphibians. Researchers have also determined that the “inert” ingredients in glyphosate products, especially polyethoxylated tallow amine or POEA – a surfactant commonly used in glyphosate and other herbicidal products, are even more toxic than glyphosate itself. Monsanto, manufacturer of glyphosate, formulates many products such as Roundup TM and Rodeo TM and markets formulations exclusively used on genetically engineered (GE) crops. Glyphosate is one of the most widely used herbicides in the world, due in large part to the increased cultivation of GE crops that are tolerant of the herbicide.