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Beyond the Rows is a Monsanto Company blog focused on one of the world’s most important industries, agriculture. Monsanto employees write about Monsanto’s business, the agriculture industry, and the farmer.
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June 2011 Earth Open Source Report on Roundup

We are aware of the report released by Earth Open Source regarding Roundup herbicides and glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup herbicides. Monsanto health and environmental experts are reviewing the report in detail.

Based on our initial review, the Earth Open Source report does not appear to contain any new health or toxicological evidence regarding glyphosate. Regulatory authorities and independent experts around the world agree that glyphosate does not cause adverse reproductive effects in adult animals or birth defects in offspring of these adults exposed to glyphosate, even at doses far higher than relevant environmental or occupational exposures.

The authors of the report create an account of glyphosate toxicity from a selected set of scientific studies, while they ignored much of the comprehensive data establishing the safety of the product. Regulatory agencies around the world have concluded that glyphosate is not a reproductive toxin or teratogen (cause of birth defects) based on in-depth review of the comprehensive data sets available. Additionally, we have anecdotal results from first-hand experience of millions of farmers and home gardeners who have used this product for decades. Roundup agricultural herbicide provides environmental and economic benefits of conservation tillage which are sustainable and provide effective weed management.

To understand the herbicide’s active ingredient, it helps to know that glyphosate inhibits an enzyme that is essential to plant growth; this enzyme is not found in humans or other animals, contributing to the low risk to human health from the use of glyphosate according to label directions.

Earth Open Source authors take issue with the decision by the European Commission to place higher priority on reviewing other pesticide ingredients first under the new EU pesticide regulations, citing again the flawed studies as the rationale. While glyphosate and all other pesticide ingredients will be reviewed, the Commission has decided that glyphosate appropriately falls in a category that doesn’t warrant immediate attention.

A few outlets covering the story have also mentioned other reports that we have addressed previously. For more information on them, please look at the following:

Sudden Interest in Dated Argentine Research by Carrasco on Glyphosate

Alleged Plant Pathogen Potentially Associated with Roundup Ready Crops (Huber)

2 Responses to "June 2011 Earth Open Source Report on Roundup"

  1. The authors seem to get tied up in pages and pages of hand-wringing about the studies used to come up with the agreed no observed adverse effect level (NOAEL) before quickly mentioning the fact that a 100 fold safety margin is applied by the regulatory authorities. This completely negates everything that goes before it.

    I was lectured by one of the authors at University and in fact he helped me get my first industrial placement. I feel ashamed of his lack of critical evaluation of the science involved here.

    There are factual and scientific inaccuracies and unattributed quotes throughout this document and they don’t even seem to know what the UK pesticide regulatory authorities are called, despite most of the authors living there. They also advocate a purely hazard-based rather than risk-based approach to pesticide assessment (they say it is “vital” that attempts to use risk-based approaches “do not succeed”). If applied to the food we consume such approaches would outlaw most of what we eat.

    The report also completely ignores the hundreds of other herbicides out there with worse regulatory profiles than Roundup which glaringly betrays the political reason for the whole sorry excercise.


  2. Just noticed my name has gone down as Jonathan above my post. The form autofilled with the details of someone else who uses this computer and I hadn’t noticed.



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