El Roundup está en el Suelo, los Alimentos y la Lluvia

Donde sea que el producto químico de Monsanto se utiliza, este deja el suelo, y llueve sobre nuestras cabezas.

Traducción Luis R. Miranda
GMFreeze.org
22 de octubre 2011

Un estudio de la U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) encontró que el glifosato y su producto derivado, el ácido aminometilfosfónico (conocido como AMPA) se encontraron con frecuencia en la lluvia y los ríos de la cuenca del Mississippi, donde la mayoría de los cultivos tolerantes al glifosato se cultivan. [1]

Glifosato (el producto básico en el Roundup de Monsanto) es ampliamente utilizado en los EE.UU. con los productos conocidos como RoundupReady, que fueron modificados genéticamente para tolerar herbicidas, para que sobrevivan cuando los campos son rociados con este producto. Plantas modificadas genéticamente son tolerantes a herbicidas no son cultivadas en el Reino Unido debido a la preocupación por los efectos perjudiciales causados por los herbicidas sobre la fauna, que incluyen la pérdida de hábitat. Pero Monsanto continuamente pide su adopción. La soja y el maíz RoundupReady son importados de EE.UU. para ser usados como alimento animal, y así, los productos lácteos y la carne están infestados de transgénicos los cuales no son etiquetados en muchos supermercados británicos y del mundo.

Los resultados del USGS se basan en dos estudios de agua de lluvias y las cuencas fluviales en las zonas agrícolas de la cuenca del Mississippi, donde existe el “mayor uso” de glifosato para controlar las malezas que crecen cerca de maíz, algodón y soya genéticamente modificados que son tolerantes al glifosato / Roundup. Los informes del USGS muestran que el uso de glifosato aumentó en ocho veces, a 88.000 toneladas en 15 años hasta 2007, erosionando aún más el mito de que los cultivos transgénicos reducen el uso de productos químicos.

Monsanto negó varias veces que el glifosato es fácilmente lavado de los terrenos en cantidades significativas, alegando que el herbicida penetra en la tierra y, por tanto, no se puede lavar. [2]

Los resultados del USGS confirman las advertencias de otros países que el glifosato es más móvil en el suelo de lo que algunas empresas de biotecnología admiten. [3]

La presencia de glifosato y AMPA en aguas superficiales significa que la calidad del agua utilizada por la vida acuática puede estar en riesgo. Los estudios han demostrado que muchas especies acuáticas se ven afectadas por el herbicida y su producto de degradación, y cada vez hay más preocupación por la seguridad de productos para la salud humana. [4] Además, el uso excesivo de glifosato en soja transgénica, el algodón y el maíz ha aumentado la propagación de malas hierbas que se han vuelto resistentes al herbicida, lo que significa que el Roundup se debe utilizar más a menudo en combinación con otros herbicidas en un intento de controlar las nuevas “súper malezas”.

El USGS encontró glifosato en más del 60% de las muestras de aire y la lluvia en tres localidades de Mississippi, Iowa e Indiana, y AMPA en el 50% de las muestras en concentraciones de hasta 9.1ng/metro y 0.49ng/metros cúbicos, respectivamente . [5] Los investigadores del USGS estiman que aproximadamente el 1% de glifosato rociado llega a las fuentes de agua en las cuatro áreas en las que ha estado monitoreando. Las concentraciones variaron en diferentes sistemas fluviales que forman parte del Programa de Monitoreo. El nivel más alto de glifosato se ha detectado en 5.7μg/litro. [6] Esto no sería un nivel permitido en el agua potable de acuerdo a la Directiva de la Unión Europea.

Este año, la Comisión decidió posponer la revisión sobre la seguridad del glifosato en la Unión Europea hasta el 2015. [7]

Al comentar a GM Freeze, Pete Riley, dijo:

“La cuenca del Mississippi fue sometida a la aplicación de glifosato a gran escala en los últimos 15 años. Como resultado de este experimento gigantesco sin control, el USGS está encontrando que los productos de descomposición del glifosato están apareciendo en la precipitación y ríos, y no, como Monsanto nos quiere hacer pensar, que este se queda en el suelo en forma segura.

“Los políticos y los reguladores deben tomar nota de estos resultados y suspender el uso de cultivos tolerantes al Roundup para proteger el agua que abastece a la fauna y la salud pública. El primer paso es volver a programar una revisión urgente de seguridad del glifosato, garantizar la transparencia y que los proveedores de datos y estudios sean independientes de la industria de biotecnología.

“Debido a la oposición pública y algunos Estados miembros, la UE ha escapado del experimento de Monsanto y dijo ‘No’ a los cultivos modificados genéticamente y tolerantes a herbicidas, que ahora son parte de la carrera armamentista química que se inició en la década de 1950. Basado en la última encuesta de la USGS, es el momento de utilizar nuevas tácticas. La evidencia sobre la inseguridad y el movimiento de glifosato acumulan méritos para la prohibición de los cultivos transgénicos. ”

Notas:

[1] USGS press release, 29 August 2011. “Widely Used Herbicide Commonly Found in Rain and Streams in the Mississippi River Basin

[2] “From soil and plant applications of glyphosate herbicide it is expected that a small amount of the applied glyphosate may enter surface waters through runoff or attached to soil particles that wash off treated fields.” Monsanto. 2003. Backgrounder. Glyphosate and water quality. Updated November 2003.

[3] See GM Freeze report Herbicide Tolerance and GM crops – Why the world should be ready to Roundup glyphoste. Chapter 4

[4] See GM Freeze report Herbicide Tolerance and GM crops – Why the world should be ready to Roundup glyphoste. Chapters 2, 3, 5, 6 and 7

[5] Chang FC, Simcik MF and Capel CD, 2011. “Occurrence and fate of the herbicide glyphosate and its degradate Aminomethylphosphonic acid in the atmosphere”. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, 30, 548–555

[6] Coupe RH, Kalkhoff SK, Capel PD and Gregoire C, 2011. “Fate and transport of glyphosate and aminomethylphosphonic acid in surface waters of agricultural basin”. Pesticide Management Science, 67, doi: 10.1002/ps.2212

[7] See GM Freeze action Is Roundup Safe?

Roundup está no Solo, os Alimentos e a Chuva

Onde for que o químico da Monsanto é usado, ele deixa o solo, sobe e desce sobre as nossas cabeças.

Tradução Luis R. Miranda
GMFreeze.org
Outubro 22, 2011

Monitoramento pela U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) revelou que o glifosato e o seu subproduto, o Acido Aminometilfosfônico (conhecido como AMPA) foram frequentemente encontrados na chuva e rios na Bacia de Mississippi, onde a maioria das culturas tolerantes ao glifosato são cultivadas. [1]

Glifosato (a base do produto Roundup da Monsanto) é amplamente utilizado nos EUA com produtos conhecidos como RoundupReady, que foram geneticamente modificados para tolerar o herbicida, para que eles sobrevivam quando os campos são pulverizados com este produto. Plantas tolerantes a herbicidas geneticamente modificados não são cultivados no Reino Unido devido a preocupações sobre os impactos adversos causados pelos herbicida sobre a fauna que incluem a perda de habitat. Mas Monsanto continuamente pede a sua adopção. Soja e Milho RoundupReady são importados dos EUA para utilização na alimentação animal, produtos lácteos e de carne estão infestados de transgénicos e não são rotulados em muitos supermercados britânicos e do mundo.

Os resultados da USGS são baseados em dois estudos de chuva e bacias hidrográficas em áreas agrícolas da Bacia do Mississippi onde o existe o “maior uso” de glifosato para controlar ervas daninhas que crescem perto do milho, algodão e soja geneticamente modificada e que são tolerantes ao glifosato / Roundup. Os relatórios da USGS mostram que o uso do glifosato aumentou em oito vezes, para 88,000 mil toneladas, nos 15 anos até 2007, corroendo ainda mais o mito de que as culturas geneticamente modificadas reduzem o uso de químicos.

Monsanto negou múltiplas vezes que o glifosato seja lavado dos campos em quantidades significativas, alegando que o herbicida se liga ao solo e, por tanto, não pode ser lavado. [2]

Os resultados da USGS confirmam as advertências de outros países que o glifosato é mais móvel em solos do que algumas empresas de biotecnologia admitem. [3]

A presença de glifosato e AMPA em águas de superfície significa que a qualidade da água que e usada pela fauna aquática pode estar em risco. Estudos têm demonstrado que muitas espécies aquáticas são afetadas pelo herbicida e seu produto de degradação, e há cada vez mais preocupações com a segurança do produto para a saúde humana. [4] Além disso, o uso excessivo do glifosato na soja transgênica, algodão e milho está aumentando a propagação de ervas daninhas que se tornam resistentes ao herbicida, o que significa que mais Roundup deve ser utilizado, frequentemente em combinação com outros herbicidas, em uma tentativa para controlam as novas “super ervas”.

O USGS encontrou glifosato em mais de 60% do ar e chuva amostrados em três locais no Mississippi, Iowa e Indiana, com AMPA encontrado em 50% das amostras, em concentrações de até 9.1ng/metro cúbico e 0.49ng/metro cúbico, respectivamente. [5] Pesquisadores da USGS estimam que cerca de 1% do glifosato pulverizado acabou nas águas nas quatro áreas ONDE FOI feito o monitoramento de rios. As concentrações variaram em diferentes sistemas fluviais que formaram parte do Programa de Monitoramento. O mais alto nível de glifosato detectado foi de 5.7μg/litro. [6] Este não seria um nível permitido no abastecimento de água potável segundo a Directiva da União Europeia.

Este ano, a Comissão Europeia adiou para 2015 a revisão de segurança na aprovação europeia de uso de glifosato. [7]
Comentando para GM Freeze, Pete Riley disse:

“A Bacia do Mississippi foi submetida a aplicação de glifosato em grande escala nos últimos 15 anos. Como resultado deste experimento gigante e descontrolado, o USGS está encontrando agora que produtos de degradação do glifosato estão aparescendo nas chuvas e rios, e não, como Monsanto querem nos fazer pensar, que este fica no solo com segurança.

“Os políticos e os reguladores precisam tomar nota destas descobertas e suspender o uso de culturas tolerantes a Roundup para proteger a água, que abastece a vida selvagem e a saúde pública. O primeiro passo e reagendar urgentemente a revisão de segurança de glifosato, garantindo a transparência e que os fornecedores dos dados e estudos sejam independentes da indústria.

“Graças a oposição do público e alguns Estados-Membros, a UE tem escapado de ser parte do experimento da Monsanto e disseram ‘Não’ às culturas tolerantes a herbicidas geneticamente modificados, que agora é justamente visto como uma escalada da corrida armamentista química que começou na década de 1950. Com base no último levantamento da USGS, é hora de usar novas táticas. A evidência sobre a segurança de e movimentação de glifosato acumula méritos para a proibição de transgênicos tolerantes. ”

Notas

[1] USGS press release, 29 August 2011. “Widely Used Herbicide Commonly Found in Rain and Streams in the Mississippi River Basin

[2] “From soil and plant applications of glyphosate herbicide it is expected that a small amount of the applied glyphosate may enter surface waters through runoff or attached to soil particles that wash off treated fields.” Monsanto. 2003. Backgrounder. Glyphosate and water quality. Updated November 2003.

[3] See GM Freeze report Herbicide Tolerance and GM crops – Why the world should be ready to Roundup glyphoste. Chapter 4

[4] See GM Freeze report Herbicide Tolerance and GM crops – Why the world should be ready to Roundup glyphoste. Chapters 2, 3, 5, 6 and 7

[5] Chang FC, Simcik MF and Capel CD, 2011. “Occurrence and fate of the herbicide glyphosate and its degradate Aminomethylphosphonic acid in the atmosphere”. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, 30, 548–555

[6] Coupe RH, Kalkhoff SK, Capel PD and Gregoire C, 2011. “Fate and transport of glyphosate and aminomethylphosphonic acid in surface waters of agricultural basin”. Pesticide Management Science, 67, doi: 10.1002/ps.2212

[7] See GM Freeze action Is Roundup Safe?

Roundup is on the Soil, Food and Rain

Wherever Monsanto’s chemical is used, it leaves the soil, goes back up and down on our heads.

GMFreeze.org
October 22, 2011

Monitoring by the US Geological Survey (USGS) has revealed that glyphosate and its breakdown product Aminomethylphosphonic acid (known as AMPA) are frequently found in rainfall and rivers in the Mississippi Basin, where most GM crops tolerant to glyphosate are grown. [1]

Glyphosate (the basis of Monsanto’s brand name product Roundup) is widely used in the US with Monsanto’s Roundup Ready GM crops, which have been genetically modified to tolerate the weedkiller, so they survive when a field is sprayed with it. Herbicide tolerant GM plants are not currently grown in the UK due to concerns about adverse impacts on wildlife associated with the loss of habitat caused by the weedkiller. However Monsanto has lobbied persistently for their introduction. Roundup Ready soya and maize are imported from the US for use in animal feed, and meat and dairy products fed on GM feed are not labelled in many British supermarkets.

The USGS results are based on two studies of rain and watersheds in agricultural areas of the Mississippi Basin where the “the greatest use” of glyphosate takes place to control weeds in GM maize, soya and cotton tolerant to glyphosate/Roundup. The USGS reports that glyphosate use rose by more than eight fold, to 88,000 tons, in the 15 years to 2007, further eroding the myth that GM crops reduce chemical use.

Monsanto has repeatedly denied that glyphosate washes off fields in significant amounts, claiming the herbicide binds to soil particles and therefore cannot be leached. [2]

The USGS results confirm warnings from other countries that glyphosate is more mobile in some soils than the biotech corporation is prepared to admit. [3]

The presence of glyphosate and AMPA in surface waters means that drinking water quality and aquatic wildlife may be put at risk. Studies have shown many aquatic species are affected by the herbicide and its breakdown product, and there is growing concern about the safety of the product for human health. [4] In addition the overuse of glyphosate on GM soya, cotton and maize crops is driving an escalation and spread of problem weeds resistant to the weedkiller, meaning even more Roundup has to be used, often in combination with other herbicides, in an attempt to control these new “super” weeds.

The USGS found glyphosate in more than 60% of air and rain sampled at three locations in Mississippi, Iowa and Indiana, with AMPA found in more than 50% of samples, at concentrations up to 9.1ng/cubic metre and 0.49ng/cubic metre respectively. [5] Researchers from the USGS estimate that about 1% of glyphosate sprayed in catchments ended up in surface waters in the four areas where monitoring was conducted in streams and rivers. Concentrations varied between different river systems that formed part of the monitoring programme. The highest median level of glyphosate detected was 5.7μg/litre. [6] This level would not be allowed to enter public supply untreated under the EU Drinking Water Directive.

This year the European Commission postponed to 2015 a scheduled safety review of the European approval of glyphosate. [7]

Commenting Pete Riley of GM Freeze said:

“The Mississippi Basin has been subjected to glyphosate application on a massive scale for the last 15 years. As a result of this giant uncontrolled experiment, the USGS is now finding that glyphosate and its breakdown products are turning up in rainfall and rivers, and not, as Monsanto would have us think, being safely locked up in the soil.

“Politicians and regulators need to take note of these findings and suspend the use of Roundup tolerant crops wherever they are grown to protect water supply, wildlife and public health. The first step should be to urgently reschedule the safety review of glyphosate, ensuring it is both transparent and independent of data supplied by the industry.

“Thanks to opposition from the public and some Members States, the EU has escaped being part of the Monsanto experiment and has the opportunity to say ‘No’ to GM herbicide tolerant crops, which are now rightly seen as an escalation of the chemical arms race which began in the 1950s. On the basis of this latest USGS survey results, it’s time to use new tactics. The mounting evidence on the safety and movement of glyphosate now merits a ban on GM tolerant crops. ”

Notes

[1] USGS press release, 29 August 2011. “Widely Used Herbicide Commonly Found in Rain and Streams in the Mississippi River Basin

[2] “From soil and plant applications of glyphosate herbicide it is expected that a small amount of the applied glyphosate may enter surface waters through runoff or attached to soil particles that wash off treated fields.” Monsanto. 2003. Backgrounder. Glyphosate and water quality. Updated November 2003.

[3] See GM Freeze report Herbicide Tolerance and GM crops – Why the world should be ready to Roundup glyphoste. Chapter 4

[4] See GM Freeze report Herbicide Tolerance and GM crops – Why the world should be ready to Roundup glyphoste. Chapters 2, 3, 5, 6 and 7

[5] Chang FC, Simcik MF and Capel CD, 2011. “Occurrence and fate of the herbicide glyphosate and its degradate Aminomethylphosphonic acid in the atmosphere”. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, 30, 548–555

[6] Coupe RH, Kalkhoff SK, Capel PD and Gregoire C, 2011. “Fate and transport of glyphosate and aminomethylphosphonic acid in surface waters of agricultural basin”. Pesticide Management Science, 67, doi: 10.1002/ps.2212

[7] See GM Freeze action Is Roundup Safe?

Monsanto’s Roundup Triggers Over 40 Plant Diseases

New Diseases Endanger Human and Animal Health

By Jeffrey Smith
January 19, 2011

While visiting a seed corn dealer’s demonstration plots in Iowa last fall, Dr. Don Huber walked passed a soybean field and noticed a distinct line separating severely diseased yellowing soybeans on the right from healthy green plants on the left (see photo). The yellow section was suffering from Sudden Death Syndrome (SDS), a serious plant disease that ravaged the Midwest in 2009 and ’10, driving down yields and profits. Something had caused that area of soybeans to be highly susceptible and Don had a good idea what it was.

The diseased field on the right had glyphosate applied the previous season. Photo by Don Huber

Don Huber spent 35 years as a plant pathologist at Purdue University and knows a lot about what causes green plants to turn yellow and die prematurely. He asked the seed dealer why the SDS was so severe in the one area of the field and not the other. “Did you plant something there last year that wasn’t planted in the rest of the field?” he asked. Sure enough, precisely where the severe SDS was, the dealer had grown alfalfa, which he later killed off at the end of the season by spraying a glyphosate-based herbicide (such as Roundup). The healthy part of the field, on the other hand, had been planted to sweet corn and hadn’t received glyphosate.

This was yet another confirmation that Roundup was triggering SDS. In many fields, the evidence is even more obvious. The disease was most severe at the ends of rows where the herbicide applicator looped back to make another pass (see photo). That’s where extra Roundup was applied.

Don’s a scientist; it takes more than a few photos for him to draw conclusions. But Don’s got more—lots more. For over 20 years, Don studied Roundup’s active ingredient glyphosate. He’s one of the world’s experts. And he can rattle off study after study that eliminate any doubt that glyphosate is contributing not only to the huge increase in SDS, but to the outbreak of numerous other diseases. (See selected reading list.)

Roundup: The perfect storm for plant disease

Sudden Death Syndrome is more severe at the ends of rows, where Roundup dose is strongest. Photo by Amy Bandy.

More than 30% of all herbicides sprayed anywhere contain glyphosate—the world’s bestselling weed killer. It was patented by Monsanto for use in their Roundup brand, which became more popular when they introduced “Roundup Ready” crops starting in 1996. These genetically modified (GM) plants, which now include soy, corn, cotton, canola, and sugar beets, have inserted genetic material from viruses and bacteria that allows the crops to withstand applications of normally deadly Roundup.

(Monsanto requires farmers who buy Roundup Ready seeds to only use the company’s Roundup brand of glyphosate. This has extended the company’s grip on the glyphosate market, even after its patent expired in 2000.)

The herbicide doesn’t destroy plants directly. It rather cooks up a unique perfect storm of conditions that revs up disease-causing organisms in the soil, and at the same time wipes out plant defenses against those diseases. The mechanisms are well-documented but rarely cited.

  • The glyphosate molecule grabs vital nutrients and doesn’t let them go. This process is called chelation and was actually the original property for which glyphosate was patented in 1964. It was only 10 years later that it was patented as an herbicide. When applied to crops, it deprives them of vital minerals necessary for healthy plant function—especially for resisting serious soilborne diseases. The importance of minerals for protecting against disease is well established. In fact, mineral availability was the single most important measurement used by several famous plant breeders to identify disease-resistant varieties.
  • Glyphosate annihilates beneficial soil organisms, such as Pseudomonas and Bacillus bacteria that live around the roots. Since they facilitate the uptake of plant nutrients and suppress disease-causing organisms, their untimely deaths means the plant gets even weaker and the pathogens even stronger.
  • The herbicide can interfere with photosynthesis, reduce water use efficiency, lower lignin , damage and shorten root systems, cause plants to release important sugars, and change soil pH—all of which can negatively affect crop health.
  • Glyphosate itself is slightly toxic to plants. It also breaks down slowly in soil to form another chemical called AMPA (aminomethylphosphonic acid) which is also toxic. But even the combined toxic effects of glyphosate and AMPA are not sufficient on their own to kill plants. It has been demonstrated numerous times since 1984
  • The actual plant assassins, according to Purdue weed scientists and others, are severe disease-causing organisms present in almost all soils. Glyphosate dramatically promotes these, which in turn overrun the weakened crops with deadly infections.

    Glyphosate with sterile soil (A) only stunts plant growth. In normal soil (B), pathogens kill the plant. Control (C) shows normal growth.

“This is the herbicidal mode of action of glyphosate,” says Don. “It increases susceptibility to disease, suppresses natural disease controls such as beneficial organisms, and promotes virulence of soilborne pathogens at the same time.” In fact, he points out that “If you apply certain fungicides to weeds, it destroys the herbicidal activity of glyphosate!”

By weakening plants and promoting disease, glyphosate opens the door for lots of problems in the field. According to Don, “There are more than 40 diseases of crop plants that are reported to increase with the use of glyphosate, and that number keeps growing as people recognize the association between glyphosate and disease.”

Roundup promotes human and animal toxins

Photo by Robert Kremer

Some of the fungi promoted by glyphosate produce dangerous toxins that can end up in food and feed. Sudden Death Syndrome, for example, is caused by the Fusarium fungus. USDA scientist Robert Kremer found a 500% increase in Fusarium root infection of Roundup Ready soybeans when glyphosate is applied (see photos and chart). Corn, wheat, and many other plants can also suffer from serious Fusarium-based diseases.

But Fusarium’s wrath is not limited to plants. According to a report by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, toxins from Fusarium on various types of food crops have been associated with disease outbreaks throughout history. They’ve “been linked to the plague epidemics” of medieval Europe, “large-scale human toxicosis in Eastern Europe,” oesophageal cancer in southern Africa and parts of China, joint diseases in Asia and southern Africa, and a blood disorder in Russia. Fusarium toxins have also been shown to cause animal diseases and induce infertility.

As Roundup use rises, plant disease skyrockets

When Roundup Ready crops were introduced in 1996, Monsanto boldly claimed that herbicide use would drop as a result. It did—slightly—for three years. But over the next 10 years, it grew considerably. Total herbicide use in the US jumped by a whopping 383 million pounds in the 13 years after GMOs came on the scene. The greatest contributor is Roundup.

Over time, many types of weeds that would once keel over with just a tiny dose of Roundup now require heavier and heavier applications. Some are nearly invincible. In reality, these super-weeds are resistant not to the glyphosate itself, but to the soilborne pathogens that normally do the killing in Roundup sprayed fields.

Having hundreds of thousands of acres infested with weeds that resist plant disease and weed killer has been devastating to many US farmers, whose first response is to pour on more and more Roundup. Its use is now accelerating. Nearly half of the huge 13-year increase in herbicide use took place in just the last 2 years. This has serious implications.

As US farmers drench more than 135 million acres of Roundup Ready crops with Roundup, plant diseases are enjoying an unprecedented explosion across America’s most productive crop lands. Don rattles off a lengthy list of diseases that were once under effective management and control, but are now creating severe hardship. (The list includes SDS and Corynespora root rot of soybeans, citrus variegated chlorosis (CVC), Fusarium wilt of cotton, Verticillium wilt of potato, take-all root, crown, and stem blight of cereals, Fusarium root and crown rot, Fusarium head blight, Pythium root rot and damping off, Goss’ wilt of corn, and many more.)

In Brazil, the new “Mad Soy Disease” is ravaging huge tracts of soybean acreage. Although scientists have not yet determined its cause, Don points out that various symptoms resemble a rice disease (bakanae) which is caused by Fusarium.

Corn dies young

In recent years, corn plants and entire fields in the Midwest have been dying earlier and earlier due to various diseases. Seasoned and observant farmers say they’re never seen anything like it.

“A decade ago, corn plants remained green and healthy well into September,” says Bob Streit, an agronomist in Iowa. “But over the last three years, diseases have turned the plants yellow, then brown, about 8 to 10 days earlier each season. In 2010, yellowing started around July 7th and yield losses were devastating for many growers.”

Bob and other crop experts believe that the increased use of glyphosate is the primary contributor to this disease trend. It has already reduced corn yields significantly. “If the corn dies much earlier,” says Bob, “it might collapse the corn harvest in the US, and threaten the food chain that it supports.”

A question of bugs

In addition to promoting plant diseases, which is well-established, spraying Roundup might also promote insects. That’s because many bugs seek sick plants. Scientists point out that healthy plants produce nutrients in a form that many insects cannot assimilate. Thus, farmers around the world report less insect problems among high quality, nutrient-dense crops. Weaker plants, on the other hand, create insect smorgasbords. This suggests that plants ravaged with diseases promoted by glyphosate may also attract more insects, which in turn will increase the use of toxic pesticides. More study is needed to confirm this.

Roundup persists in the environment

Monsanto used to boast that Roundup is biodegradable, claiming that it breaks down quickly in the soil. But courts in the US and Europe disagreed and found them guilty of false advertising. In fact, Monsanto’s own test data revealed that only 2% of the product broke down after 28 days.

Whether glyphosate degrades in weeks, months, or years varies widely due to factors in the soil, including pH, clay , types of minerals, residues from Roundup Ready crops, and the presence of the specialized enzymes needed to break down the herbicide molecule. In some conditions, glyphosate can grab hold of soil nutrients and remain stable for long periods. One study showed that it took up to 22 years for glyphosate to degrade only half its volume! So much for trusting Monsanto’s product claims.

Glyphosate can attack from above and below. It can drift over from a neighbors farm and wreak havoc. And it can even be released from dying weeds, travel through the soil, and then be taken up by healthy crops.

The amount of glyphosate that can cause damage is tiny. European scientists demonstrated that less than half an ounce per acre inhibits the ability of plants to take up and transport essential micronutrients (see chart).

As a result, more and more farmers are finding that crops planted in years after Roundup is applied suffer from weakened defenses and increased soilborne diseases. The situation is getting worse for many reasons.

  • The glyphosate concentration in the soil builds up season after season with each subsequent application.
  • Glyphosate can also accumulate for 6-8 years inside perennial plants like alfalfa, which get sprayed over and over.
  • Glyphosate residues in the soil that become bound and immobilized can be reactivated by the application of phosphate fertilizers or through other methods. Potato growers in the West and Midwest, for example, have experienced severe losses from glyphosate that has been reactivated.
  • Glyphosate can find its way onto farmland accidentally, through drifting spray, in contaminated water, and even through chicken manure!

    Wheat affected after 10 years of glyphosate field applications.

Imagine the shock of farmers who spread chicken manure in their fields to add nutrients, but instead found that the glyphosate in the manure tied up nutrients in the soil, promoted plant disease, and killed off weeds or crops. Test results of the manure showed glyphosate/AMPA concentrations at a whopping 0.36-0.75 parts per million (ppm). The normal herbicidal rate of glyphosate is about 0.5 ppm/acre.

Manure from other animals may also be spreading the herbicide, since US livestock consume copious amounts of glyphosate—which accumulates in corn kernels and soybeans. If it isn’t found in livestock manure (or urine), that may be even worse. If glyphosate is not exiting the animal, it must be accumulating with every meal, ending up in our meat and possibly milk.

Add this threat to the already high glyphosate residues inside our own diets due to corn and soybeans, and we have yet another serious problem threatening our health. Glyphosate has been linked to sterility, hormone disruption, abnormal and lower sperm counts, miscarriages, placental cell death, birth defects, and cancer, to name a few. (See resource list on glyphosate health effects.)

Nutrient loss in humans and animals

The same nutrients that glyphosate chelates and deprives plants are also vital for human and animal health. These include iron, zinc, copper, manganese, magnesium, calcium, boron, and others. Deficiencies of these elements in our diets, alone or in combination, are known to interfere with vital enzyme systems and cause a long list of disorders and diseases.

Alzheimer’s, for example, is linked with reduced copper and magnesium. Don Huber points out that this disease has jumped 9000% since 1990.

Manganese, zinc, and copper are also vital for proper functioning of the SOD (superoxide dismustase) cycle. This is key for stemming inflammation and is an important component in detoxifying unwanted chemical compounds in humans and animals.

Glyphosate-induced mineral deficiencies can easily go unidentified and untreated. Even when laboratory tests are done, they can sometimes detect adequate mineral levels, but miss the fact that glyphosate has already rendered them unusable.

Glyphosate can tie up minerals for years and years, essentially removing them from the pool of nutrients available for plants, animals, and humans. If we combine the more than 135 million pounds of glyphosate-based herbicides applied in the US in 2010 with total applications over the past 30 years, we may have already eliminated millions of pounds of nutrients from our food supply.

This loss is something we simply can’t afford. We’re already suffering from progressive nutrient deprivation even without Roundup. In a UK study, for example, they found between 16-76% less nutrients in 1991, compared to levels in the same foods in 1940.

Livestock disease and mineral deficiency

Roundup Ready crops dominate US livestock feed. Soy and corn are most prevalent—93% of US soy and nearly 70% of corn are Roundup Ready. Animals are also fed derivatives of the other three Roundup Ready crops: canola, sugar beets, and cottonseed. Nutrient loss from glyphosate can therefore be severe.

This is especially true for manganese (Mn), which is not only chelated by glyphosate, but also reduced in Roundup Ready plants (see photo). One veterinarian finds low manganese in every livestock liver he measures. Another vet sent the liver of a stillborn calf out for testing. The lab report stated: No Detectible Levels of Manganese—in spite of the fact that the mineral was in adequate concentrations in his region. When that vet started adding manganese to the feed of a herd, disease rates dropped from a staggering 20% to less than ½%.

Veterinarians who started their practice after GMOs were introduced in 1996 might assume that many chronic or acute animal disorders are common and to be expected. But several older vets have stated flat out that animals have gotten much sicker since GMOs came on the scene. And when they switch livestock from GMO to non-GMO feed, the improvement in health is dramatic. Unfortunately, no one is tracking this, nor is anyone looking at the impacts of consuming milk and meat from GM-fed animals.

Alfalfa madness, brought to you by Monsanto and the USDA

As we continue to drench our fields with Roundup, the perfect storm gets bigger and bigger. Don asks the sobering question: “How much of the hundreds of millions of pounds of glyphosate that have been applied to our most productive farm soils over the past 30 years is still available to damage subsequent crops through its effects on nutrient availability, increased disease, or reduced nutrient of our food and feed?”

Instead of taking urgent steps to protect our land and food, the USDA just made plans to make things worse. In December they released their Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on Roundup Ready alfalfa, which Monsanto hopes to reintroduce to the market.

Alfalfa is the fourth largest crop in the US, grown on 22 million acres. It is used primarily as a high protein source to feed dairy cattle and other ruminant animals. At present, weeds are not a big deal for alfalfa. Only 7% of alfalfa acreage is ever sprayed with an herbicide of any kind. If Roundup Ready alfalfa is approved, however, herbicide use would jump to unprecedented levels, and the weed killer of choice would of course be Roundup.

Even without the application of glyphosate, the nutritional quality of Roundup Ready alfalfa will be less, since Roundup Ready crops, by their nature, have reduced mineral . When glyphosate is applied, nutrient quality suffers even more (see chart).

The chance that Roundup would increase soilborne diseases in alfalfa fields is a near certainty. In fact, Alfalfa may suffer more than other Roundup Ready crops. As a perennial, it can accumulate Roundup year after year. It is a deep-rooted plant, and glyphosate leaches into sub soils. And “Fusarium is a very serious pathogen of alfalfa,” says Don. “So too are Phytophthora and Pythium,” both of which are promoted by glyphosate. “Why would you even consider jeopardizing the productivity and nutrient quality of the third most valuable crop in the US?” he asks in frustration, “especially since we have no way of removing the gene once it is spread throughout the alfalfa gene pool.”

It’s already spreading. Monsanto had marketed Roundup Ready alfalfa for a year, until a federal court declared its approval to be illegal in 2007. They demanded that the USDA produce an EIS in order to account for possible environmental damage. But even with the seeds taken off the market, the RR alfalfa that had already been planted has been contaminating non-GMO varieties. Cal/West Seeds, for example, discovered that more than 12% of their seed lots tested positive for contamination in 2009, up from 3% in 2008.

In their EIS, the USDA does acknowledge that genetically modified alfalfa can contaminate organic and non-GMO alfalfa, and that this could create economic hardship. They are even considering the unprecedented step of placing restrictions on RR alfalfa seed fields, requiring isolation distances. Experience suggests that this will slow down, but not eliminate GMO contamination. Furthermore, studies confirm that genes do transfer from GM crops into soil and soil organisms, and can jump into fungus through cuts on the surface of GM plants. But the EIS does not adequately address these threats and their implications.

Instead, the USDA largely marches lock-step with the biotech industry and turns a blind eye to the widespread harm that Roundup is already inflicting. If they decide to approve Monsanto’s alfalfa, the USDA may ultimately be blamed for a catastrophe of epic proportions.