Don’t Eat it: Linked to Cancer and Gets into Your Blood

February 7, 2012
Don’t Eat it: Linked to Cancer and Gets into Your Blood

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2012/02/07/colorado-bans-gmo-crops.aspx?e_cid=20120207_DNL_art_1

Don’t Eat it: Linked to Cancer and Gets into Your Blood Posted By Dr. Mercola | February 07 2012 Story at-a-glance •Genetically modified crops will be phased out from being grown in Boulder County, where the Parks and Open Space Advisory Committee voted to no longer allow GMOs on county-owned land •The decision to transition out GM crops came from a recommendation from the county’s Food and Agriculture Policy Council, and was in large part influenced by a turnout of 250 residents at a public meeting, most of whom voiced their opinion against GMOs •The health effects of eating genetically engineered foods are largely unknown, but research to date suggests they may play a role in cancer, birth defects, lung damage, organ disruption, allergies, DNA damage and more •A 2012 California Ballot Initiative is underway that would require mandatory labeling of genetically engineered foods and food ingredients. If California voters pass this ballot initiative, it will likely be the beginning of the end for genetically engineered food in the U.S. — find out how you can get invoBy Dr. MercolaIn November 2011, about 250 Boulder County residents attended a public meeting to discuss the planting of GM (genetically modified) crops on county-owned land.
Their turnout, together with an anti-GMO (genetically modified organism) recommendation from the county’s Food and Agriculture Policy Council, led county officials to vote for a phase out of genetically engineered crops on open space.
This is a powerful testimony to the influence residents can have on their local regulations when they stand together for a cause; you, too, can work toward enacting such a phase out in your area as well.

Boulder Residents, County Officials Say “No” to GMOs Boulder’s Parks and Open Space Advisory Committee voted 5-4 in support of the Food and Agriculture Policy Council’s recommendation to phase out the planting of GM crops on the county’s open space.
Currently, about 16,000 acres of county-owned land are planted with genetically engineered corn; the new rule will mean these crops will be transitioned out in favor of traditional GMO-free farming practices.
The area has been a hot-spot for GMO debate since 2009, when local farmers wanted to plant genetically engineered sugar beets in the county.
Following public outcry, County commissioners delayed the farmers’ request. Since then, a local survey showed that 56 percent of Boulder County residents supported a ban on GM crops, and now their voices have been heard. As reported by the Boulder Daily Camera, Parks and Open Space Advisory Committee member John Nibarger said:
“There’s the voters’ side of this, and there’s the farmers’ side of this … I think we heard rather strongly … (that a lot of voters) don’t want to see GM crops.”

Americans Already Eating GM Foods, While Other Countries Have Banned ThemGM corn, soybeans, canola, and sugar beets have made their way into approximately 80 percent of current U.S. processed grocery store items, now that up to 90 percent of several U.S. grown crops are grown with genetically engineered seed. So if you live in the United States, you have most certainly already been exposed to GM foods — most likely a lot of them.
This is why Boulder’s move to phase out GM crops is such a breath of fresh air, as finally a governing body in the United States is stepping up to protect its residents from this massive, uncontrolled experiment — a move that has already taken place in other parts of the world, and in four counties in California and a city in Maine.
Genetically engineered seeds are banned in Hungary, as they are in several other European countries, such as Germany and Ireland. Peru is also following the precautionary principle, and has even passed a law that bans genetically modified ingredients within the nation for 10 years.
The issue of protecting farmland from invading GMOs is a serious one, so much so that Hungary recently destroyed nearly 1,000 acres of corn crops because they were found to be mistakenly grown with GM seeds. The discovery that the farmland was planted with GM seeds came when the season was already underway, so the harvest was completely lost.
What would prompt the Hungarian government to take such a drastic step?
Perhaps it is the fact that GM crops simply cannot be contained, and inevitably will contaminate the environment with GM DNA. Or it could be that they do not want superweeds, triggered by the overuse of Roundup herbicide on GM Roundup Ready crops, overtaking their farmland the way they are now doing in the United States. Then again, it could be the unknown threats to human health — and the fact that new research shows toxins from GM crops are now appearing in human blood — that made them think twice.
The other, and more serious issue, is the hidden one. Nearly all GM crops are designed with genes to resist a potent herbicide called Round Up or glyphosate. The newest science is showing that glyphosate is actually FAR more dangerous than people realize. It just is not widely appreciated yet, and the U.S. is spreading massive amounts of it every year. The consequences of this chemical abuse will have profoundly devastating consequences and the longer we wait to remove this toxin the worse it will be.
Either way, they, and a growing number of people around the world, are clearly well educated about the dangers of GM foods … which is a lesson the U.S. government still needs to learn.

Genetically Engineered “Pesticide” Toxin Now Found in Human BloodUpwards of 65 percent of U.S. corn crops contain a special gene added that allows them to produce an insecticide. This way, when bugs attempt to eat the corn they’re killed right away (specifically their stomach is split open) because the plant contains an invisible, built-in pesticide shield.
The particular gene added to most corn crops is a type of Bt-toxin — produced from Bacillus thuringiensis bacteria. Genetic engineers remove the gene that produces the Bt in bacteria and insert it into the DNA of corn (and cotton) plants. They claim that Bt-toxin is quickly destroyed in human stomachs — and even if it survived, it won’t cause reactions in humans or mammals …
But studies are now showing that this is not the case, as Bt toxin is readily passing into the human bloodstream and animal studies have already shown that Bt-toxin does cause health effects in animals, including potentially humans. As Jeffrey Smith, executive director of the Institute for Responsible Technology, wrote:
“Mice fed natural Bt-toxin showed significant immune responses and caused them to become sensitive to other formerly harmless compounds. This suggests that Bt-toxin might make a person allergic to a wide range of substances. Farm workers and others have also had reactions to natural Bt-toxin, and authorities acknowledge that “People with compromised immune systems or preexisting allergies may be particularly susceptible to the effects of Bt.”
In fact, when natural Bt was sprayed over areas around Vancouver and Washington State to fight gypsy moths, about 500 people reported reactions—mostly allergy or flu-like symptoms. Six people had to go to the emergency room.
… The Bt-toxin produced in the GM plants is probably more dangerous than in its natural spray form. In the plants, the toxin is about 3,000-5,000 times more concentrated than the spray, it doesn’t wash off the plants like the spray does, and it is designed to be more toxic than the natural version. In fact, the GM toxin has properties of known allergens and fails all three GM allergy tests recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) and others.”
It’s reasons such as this why the precautionary principle should absolutely be used in regard to exposing humans and the environment to GM crops. Unfortunately, it appears Cry1Ab, a specific type of Bt toxin from GM corn, is already quite prevalent in humans; upon testing 69 pregnant and non-pregnant women who were eating a typical Canadian diet (which included foods such as GM soy, corn and potatoes), researchers found Bt toxin in:

•93 percent of maternal blood samples •80 percent of fetal blood samples •67 percent of non-pregnant women blood samples Other potential dangers have also been uncovered, including:

GM peas caused lung damage in mice Offspring of rats fed GM soy showed a five-fold increase in mortality, lower birth weights, and the inability to reproduce
GM potatoes may cause cancer in rats Male mice fed GM soy had damaged young sperm cells
Bacteria in your gut can take up DNA from GM food The embryo offspring of GM soy-fed mice had altered DNA functioning
GM foods lead to significant organ disruptions in rats and mice, specifically the kidney, liver, heart and spleen Several U.S. farmers reported sterility or fertility problems among pigs and cows fed on GM corn varieties
Bt corn caused a wide variety of immune responses in mice, commonly associated with diseases such as arthritis, Lou Gehrig’s disease, osteoporosis, and inflammatory bowel disease Investigators in India have documented fertility problems, abortions, premature births, and other serious health issues, including deaths, among buffaloes fed GM cottonseed products

Intense Lobbying Efforts Aim to Keep Americans in the Dark about GM FoodsThe food and agriculture biotechnology industry has spent more than $572 million in campaign contributions and lobbying expenditures in just over a decade, according to an analysis by Food & Water Watch. Key among the goals of this intense lobbying effort is to prevent GM food labeling and keep Americans in the dark about the contents of their food. The analysis states:
“The food and agriculture biotechnology industry has been flexing its financial political muscle to ease the regulatory oversight of genetically modified foods. Lobbying efforts for some of these firms and groups have included approval of cloned food and genetically engineered food, animals and livestock.
Companies are also fighting to eliminate or prevent labeling on genetically modified foods in the United States and preventing other countries from regulating genetically modified foods. These efforts have dovetailed with lobbying to tighten intellectual property law protections over patented seeds and animals in attempts to further benefit the biotech industry.”
Over 95 percent of Americans polled said they think GM foods should require a label, stating it’s an ethical issue and consumers should be able to make an informed choice.
Like Europeans, Americans are suspicious of GM foods, and a large part of why many continue to buy them is because they are unaware that they’re already in the food. A prominent GM food label would be a death sentence to U.S. GM crops, which are right now enjoying a free for all when it comes to entering the food market.
Industry lobbying is clearly working, as to date biotech companies have evaded mandatory labeling laws (although a new California initiative may change all of that). They also succeeded in getting GM alfalfa approved, which quite literally threatens the entire organic industry.
A large part of the problem, and one of the reasons why the United States has not taken a precautionary stance the way other countries have, is that the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are heavily influenced by biotech giant Monsanto. In the first quarter of 2011 alone, Monsanto spent $1.4 million on lobbying the federal government — and this was a drop from a year earlier, when they spent $2.5 million during the same quarter.
The FDA, the USDA, and the U.S. Trade Representative all have a special set of revolving doors leading straight to Monsanto, which has allowed this transnational giant to gain phenomenal authority and influence, as well as get their genetically engineered crops planted on the lion’s share of U.S. farmland.

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However, just as changes in Boulder could prove to be a tipping point that begins a trend toward eliminating GM crops from American soil, a 2012 ballot initiative has been launched in California, which will require mandatory labeling of genetically engineered foods and food ingredients — also an important step toward ultimately eliminating these toxic foods from the market.

You Can Join the Fight Against GMOsThe people of Boulder County have made it clear that they will not tolerate GM crops on their local land; now you, too, can let your opinion be heard. Several organizations, including Mercola.com, the Organic Consumers Association, the Institute for Responsible Technology, and the Environmental Working Group, are working to generate a tipping point of consumer rejection to make GMOs a thing of the past.
Here’s how you can get involved:

•If you live in California and are willing to attend a short training session and then start collecting petition signatures (you will be part of a team of 2-4 people) for the California Ballot Initiative, sign up here. (For more information see: The California Ballot Initiative: Taking Down Monsanto.) Also remember to share this information with family and friends in California! •Whether you live in California or not, please donate money to this historic effort •Talk to organic producers and stores and ask them to actively support the California Ballot. It may be the only chance we have to label genetically engineered foods. •Distribute WIDELY the Non-GMO Shopping Guide to help you identify and avoid foods with GMOs. Look for products (including organic products) that feature the Non-GMO Project Verified Seal to be sure that at-risk ingredients have been tested for GMO content. You can also download the free iPhone application that is available in the iTunes store. You can find it by searching for ShopNoGMO in the applications. •For timely updates, please join the Organic Consumers Association on Facebook, or follow them on Twitter •Look for in-depth coverage of the issue at the Institute for Responsible Technology, subscribe to Spilling the Beans, and check out their Facebook or Twitter. •You can also join the Non-GMO Project on Facebook, or Twitter In the meantime, the simplest way to avoid GM foods is to buy whole, certified organic foods. By definition, foods that are certified organic must never intentionally use GM organisms, must be produced without artificial pesticides and fertilizers and come from an animal reared without the routine use of antibiotics, growth promoters or other drugs. Additionally, grass-fed beef will not have been fed GM corn feed, although now that GM alfalfa is approved, grass-fed will not always mean GMO free.
You can also look for foods that are “non-GMO verified” by the Non-GMO Project.

Important Action Item: Support California’s Ballot Initiative to Label GMO’s!In 2007, then-Presidential candidate Obama promised to “immediately” require GM labeling if elected. So far, nothing of the sort has transpired.
Fortunately, 24 US states have (as part of their state governance) something called the Initiative Process, where residents can bring to ballot any law they want enacted, as long as it has sufficient support. California has been busy organizing just such a ballot initiative to get mandatory labeling for genetically engineered foods sold in their state. The proposed law will be on the ballot for 2012.
Michigan and Washington are also starting similar campaigns.
Since California is the 8th largest economy in the world, a win for the California Initiative would be a huge step forward, and would affect ingredients and labeling nation-wide. Last month, a coalition of consumer, public health and environmental organizations, food companies, and individuals submitted the California Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act to the State Attorney General. Now, they need 800,000 signatures to get the Act on next year’s ballot.
I urge you to get involved and help in any way you can.
If you live in California, volunteer to gather petition signatures. If you live outside of California, please donate to help support this Initiative and spread the word to everyone you know in California. Be assured that what happens in California will affect the remainder of the U.S., so please support this important state initiative, even if you do not live there!

Source: Daily Camera November 17, 2011 Related Links: Take Heed – Nearly Every Processed Food You Eat is Contaminated with this Material Hungary Destroys All Monsanto GMO Corn Fields Why Aren’t GMO Foods Labeled? Posted by John MacHaffie at 6:50 PM 0 comments

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Natural Health Remedies

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Tell USDA To Reject Agent Orange Corn

 Tell USDA To Reject Agent Orange Corn.   Dow Chemical is currently requesting an unprecedented USDA approval: a genetically engineered (GE) version of corn that is resistant to 2,4-D, a major component of the highly toxic Agent Orange. Agent Orange was the chemical defoliant used by the U.S. in Vietnam, and it caused lasting ecological damage as well as many serious medical conditions in both Vietnam veterans and the Vietnamese. Exposure to 2,4-D has been linked to major health problems that include cancer (especially non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma), lowered sperm counts, liver disease and Parkinson’s disease. A growing body of evidence from laboratory studies show that 2,4-D causes endocrine disruption, reproductive problems, neurotoxicity and immunosuppression. Further, industry’s own tests show that 2,4-D is contaminated with dioxins, a group of highly toxic chemical compounds that bioaccumulate, so even a minute amount can accumulate as it goes up the food chain, causing dangerous levels of exposure. Dioxins in Agent Orange have been linked to many diseases, including birth defects in children of exposed parents; according to EPA, 2,4-D is the seventh largest source of dioxins in the U.S. USDA approval of Dow’s GE corn will trigger a big increase in 2,4-D use – and our exposure to this toxic herbicide. Yet USDA has not assessed how much, nor analyzed the resulting impacts on public health, the environment or neighboring farmers (2,4-D is prone to drift and cause damage to nearby crops). Instead, USDA has once again bowed to the pesticide industry, by giving preliminary approval to still another pesticide-promoting crop that will likely harm people and their children, including farmers, and the environment. USDA claims to be adhering to a scientific process, yet the Agency is blatantly ignoring the science on 2,4-D. Tell USDA To Do Its Job And Reject 2,4-D Resistant GE Corn! Subject: Docket No. APHIS–2010–0103 Your Letter: I am writing to urge you not to approve Dow’s genetically engineered corn (DAS-40278-9) designed to survive repeated spraying of the toxic herbicide 2,4-D (Docket No. APHIS–2010–0103), a major component of Agent Orange, the chemical defoliant used by the U.S. military in Vietnam. The scientific community has sounded alarms about the dangers of 2,4-D for decades. Numerous studies link 2,4-D exposure to major health problems such as cancer, lowered sperm counts, liver toxicity and Parkinson’s disease. Lab studies show that 2,4-D causes endocrine disruption, reproductive problems, neurotoxicity, and immunosuppression: Further, industry tests show that 2,4-D is contaminated with dioxins. Dioxin contaminants in Agent Orange are thought to be a major cause of many serious medical conditions in both Vietnam veterans and the Vietnamese, including birth defects in the children of exposed parents. EPA has reported that 2,4-D is the seventh largest source of dioxins in the U.S. Commercial approval of Dow’s corn will trigger a large increase in 2,4-D use, but USDA has not conducted a meaningful review of the consequent harm to native ecosystems, crop injury from 2,4-D drifting onto neighboring fields, or the evolution of weeds resistant to 2,4-D. Despite its short half-life, 2,4-D is frequently detected in surface waters throughout the U.S. and in groundwater in five states and Canada. Even the existing uses of 2,4-D have been found likely to jeopardize protected species, such as Pacific salmon, the California red-legged frog and Alameda whipsnake; USDA’s proposed unrestricted approval of 2,4-D corn would worsen these impacts, as well as place many other similar and endangered species at risk. Yet the agency has refused to account for these adverse impacts. Additionally, Dow plans to sell this GE 2-4,D corn “stacked” with resistance to glyphosate—the active ingredient in Roundup—or yet other herbicides, yet neither Dow nor USDA has analyzed the potential synergistic or cumulative impacts that these planned combinations pose. Further, this corn has also been engineered to resist another herbicide (quizalofop) never before used in corn. This will likely cause a massive increase in the use of this herbicide, the increase of which has not been properly evaluated for human health or environmental impacts. Given the numerous inadequacies in the USDA’s Environmental Assessment (EA), an approval of this crop should not be considered without at least a full and rigorous Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). 2,4-D-resistant crops may also pose a new food safety risk in the introduction of 2,4-dichlorophenol (2,4-DCP), a breakdown product of 2,4-D when applied to resistant crops. French scientists who studied the matter concluded that 2,4-D-resistant plants sprayed with 2,4-D may not be acceptable for human consumption due to contamination with 2,4-DCP. Finally, Dow is hyping 2,4-D corn as the supposed solution to glyphosate-resistant weeds, which themselves were fostered by GE Roundup Ready crop systems. Yet studies already indicate this approach will rapidly generate weeds with resistance to both herbicides. As Dow and other pesticide firms develop new crops resistant to ever more herbicides, weeds will match and exceed them by evolving multiple resistances, and farmers will respond with increasingly toxic herbicidal cocktails. This chemical arms race with weeds means more pesticidal pollution, more disease, higher production costs, and of course increasing profits for firms like Dow that sell both GE seed and pesticide. At a time when farmers, citizens and government have worked hard to limit our use of, and exposure to, toxic chemicals like 2,4-D and dioxin, approving this crop would take us dramatically backwards, endangering human health and the environment. If USDA wants to adhere to a true scientific process, it should stop ignoring the science that doesn’t suit the interests of the biotechnology industry. I urge you to heed the warnings of the scientific and environmental communities and deny approval of 2,4-D resistant GE corn. Docket No. APHIS–2010–0103 USDA     Join the Network! Join our more than 190,000 members across the country saying no to industrial agriculture and yes to True Food! It’s free to join, and you will get updates and action alerts on simple things you can do to make a difference. Take Action!  Here is the url:   http://salsa3.salsalabs.com/o/1881/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=6981              Tell FDA and Obama to Label Genetically Engineered Food    Keep Pesticide-Ridden GMO Sweet Corn Off Your Dinner Plate    Tell U.S. Dairies You Don’t Want GE Alfalfa    Urge Congress To Take A Stand Against GE Fish!    Support Bills to Ban, Require Labeling Tell Mars and Hershey’s to Sign the Non-GM Beet Sugar Registry    Tell Congress to Create a Tracking System for Cloned Animals

BGH: Monsanto and the Dairy Industry’s Dirty Little Secret

BGH: Monsanto and the Dairy Industry’s Dirty Little Secret
Seven years ago, Feb. 4, 1994, despite nationwide protests by consumer groups, Monsanto and the FDA forced onto the US market the world’s first GE animal drug, recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH, sometimes known as rBST).  BGH is a powerful GE drug produced by Monsanto which, injected into dairy cows, forces them to produce 15%-25% more milk, in the process seriously damaging their health and reproductive capacity. 
Despite warnings from scientists, such as Dr. Michael Hansen from the Consumers Union and Dr. Samuel Epstein from the Cancer Prevention Coalition, that milk from rBGH injected cows contains substantially higher amounts of a potent cancer tumor promoter called IGF-1, and despite evidence that rBGH milk contains higher levels of pus, bacteria, and antibiotics, the FDA gave the hormone its seal of approval, with no real pre-market safety testing required. 

Moreover, the FDA ruled, in a decision marred by rampant conflict of interest (several key FDA decision makers, including Michael Taylor, previously worked for Monsanto), that rBGH-derived products did not have to be labeled, despite polls showing that 90% of American consumers wanted labeling — mainly so they could avoid buying rBGH-tainted products. 

All of the major criticisms leveled against rBGH have turned out to be true. Since 1994, every industrialized country in the world, except for the US, has banned the drug.  In 1998, Canadian government scientists revealed that Monsanto’s own data on feeding rBGH to rats, carefully concealed by the company and the FDA, indicated possible cancer dangers to humans. 

Since rBGH was approved, approximately 40,000 small and medium-sized US dairy farmers, 1/3 of the total in the country, have gone out of business, concentrating milk production in the hands of industrial-sized dairies, most of whom are injecting their cows with this cruel and dangerous drug.

In a 1998 survey by Family Farm Defenders, it was found that mortality rates for cows on factory dairy farms in Wisconsin, those injecting their herds with rBGH, were running at 40% per year. In other words, after two and a half years of rBGH injections most of these drugged and supercharged cows were dead.  Typically, dairy cows live for 15-20 years. 

Alarmed and revolted by rBGH, consumers have turned in droves to organic milk and dairy products or to brands labeled as rBGH-free. Nonetheless, use of the drug has continued to increase in the US (and in nations like Brazil and Mexico) especially in large dairy herds, so that currently 15% of America’s 10 million lactating dairy cows are being injected with rBGH. 

Compounding the problem of rBGH contamination, most of the nation’s 1500 dairy companies are allowing the co-mingling of rBGH and non-rBGH milk, thereby contaminating 80-90% of the nation’s milk and dairy supply (including all of the major infant formula brands). For a list of organic and rBGH-free dairies in the US consult the Organic Consumers Association (OCA) website.

The major reason that rBGH is still on the market is that it is not labeled. Supermarket dairy managers, following guidelines circulated by the rBGH and biotech lobby, routinely lie to consumers, telling them either that rBGH is not in their products, or that there’s no way to tell, and reassuring them that the FDA has certified that rBGH is safe.  Of course, every survey conducted since 1994 shows that if consumers were given a choice, they would boycott rBGH-tainted products. 

Responding to the global controversy surrounding the drug, Monsanto put BGH for sale in 1998, but there were no takers. Transnational PR firms working with the biotech industry have categorized Monsanto’s handling of the rBGH controversy as a “public relations disaster.”  Starbucks has been a target as 3/4 of the 32 million gallons of milk it buys every year in the US are coming from dairies that allow cows to be injected with rBGH. 

Once Starbucks’ 15 million customers learn that most of the latte or cappuccino drinks they’re paying top dollar for (3/4 of the volume of these drinks are milk) contain an extra dose of pus, antibiotics, and growth hormones and that Fair Trade and organic coffee constitute less than one percent of company sales, they may decide to take their business elsewhere.  Total annual sales for the company are approximately $2.5 billion.

The worst nightmare of Monsanto and the biotech industry is starting to materialize: a mass-based consumer and environmental marketplace pressure campaign in the heartland of GE foods-North America. A number of major US food companies are already responding to public pressure and starting to sweep GE foods off their products lists and their grocery shelves: Gerber (baby food), Heinz (baby food), Frito-Lay (at least for their corn), Whole Foods, Wild Oats, Trader Joe’s, and even McDonald’s (at least for their French fries).

Roundup -vs- Your Health

Food Safety , Environment , European Commission , Agriculture , Birth Defects , Epa , Farming , Herbicide , Monsanto , Pesticides , Regulators , Usda , Green News share this story
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Submit this storydigg reddit stumble                                                                                                                                           WASHINGTON — The chemical at the heart of the planet’s most widely used herbicide — Roundup weedkiller, used in farms and gardens across the U.S. — is coming under more intense scrutiny following the release of a new report calling for a heightened regulatory response around its use.

Critics have argued for decades that glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup and other herbicides used around the globe, poses a serious threat to public health. Industry regulators, however, appear to have consistently overlooked their concerns.

A comprehensive review of existing data released this month by Earth Open Source, an organization that uses open-source collaboration to advance sustainable food production, suggests that industry regulators in Europe have known for years that glyphosate, originally introduced by American agricultural biotechnology giant Monsanto in 1976, causes birth defects in the embryos of laboratory animals.

Founded in 2009, Earth Open Source is a non-profit organisation incorporated in the U.K. but international in scope. Its three directors, specializing in business, technology and genetic engineering, work pro-bono along with a handful of young volunteers. Partnering with half a dozen international scientists and researchers, the group drew its conclusions in part from studies conducted in a number of locations, including Argentina, Brazil, France and the United States.

Earth Open Source’s study is only the latest report to question the safety of glyphosate, which is the top-ranked herbicide used in the United States. Exact figures are hard to come by because the U.S. Department of Agriculture stopped updating its pesticide use database in 2008. The EPA estimates that the agricultural market used 180 to 185 million pounds of glyphosate between 2006 and 2007, while the non-agricultural market used 8 to 11 million pounds between 2005 and 2007, according to its Pesticide Industry Sales & Usage Report for 2006-2007 published in February, 2011.

The Earth Open Source study also reports that by 1993 the herbicide industry, including Monsanto, knew that visceral anomalies such as dilation of the heart could occur in rabbits at low and medium-sized doses. The report further suggests that since 2002, regulators with the European Commission have known that glyphosate causes developmental malformations in lab animals.

Even so, the commission’s health and consumer division published a final review report of glyphosate in 2002 that approved its use in Europe for the next 10 years.

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As recently as last year, the German Federal Office for Consumer Protection and Food Safety (BLV), a government agency conducting a review of glyphosate, told the European Commission that there was no evidence the compound causes birth defects, according to the report.

The agency reached that conclusion despite almost half a dozen industry studies that found glyphosate produced fetal malformations in lab animals, as well as an independent study from 2007 that found that Roundup induces adverse reproductive effects in the male offspring of a certain kind of rat.

German regulators declined to respond in detail for this story because they say they only learned of the Earth Open Source report last week. The regulators emphasized that their findings were based on public research and literature.

Although the European Commission originally planned to review glyphosate in 2012, it decided late last year not to do so until 2015. And it won’t review the chemical under more stringent, up-to-date standards until 2030, according to the report.

The European Commission told HuffPost that it wouldn’t comment on whether it was already aware of studies demonstrating the toxicity of glyphosate in 2002. But it said the commission was aware of the Earth Open Source study and had discussed it with member states.

“Germany concluded that study does not change the current safety assessment of gylphosate,” a commission official told HuffPost in an email. “This view is shared by all other member states.”

John Fagan, a doctor of molecular and cell biology and biochemistry and one of the founders of Earth Open Source, acknowledged his group’s report offers no new laboratory research. Rather, he said the objective was for scientists to compile and evaluate the existing evidence and critique the regulatory response.

“We did not do the actual basic research ourselves,” said Fagan. “The purpose of this paper was to bring together and to critically evaluate all the evidence around the safety of glyphosate and we also considered how the regulators, particularly in Europe, have looked at that.”

For its part, Earth Open Source said that government approval of the ubiquitous herbicide has been rash and problematic.

“Our examination of the evidence leads us to the conclusion that the current approval of glyphosate and Roundup is deeply flawed and unreliable,” wrote the report’s authors. “What is more, we have learned from experts familiar with pesticide assessments and approvals that the case of glyphosate is not unusual.

“They say that the approvals of numerous pesticides rest on data and risk assessments that are just as scientifically flawed, if not more so,” the authors added. “This is all the more reason why the Commission must urgently review glyphosate and other pesticides according to the most rigorous and up-to-date standards.”

Monsanto spokeswoman Janice Person said in a statement that the Earth Open Source report presents no new findings.

“Based on our initial review, the Earth Open Source report does not appear to contain any new health or toxicological evidence regarding glyphosate,” Person said.

“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,” she said, “even at doses far higher than relevant environmental or occupational exposures.”

While Roundup has been associated with deformities in a host of laboratory animals, its impact on humans remains unclear. One laboratory study done in France in 2005 found that Roundup and glyphosate caused the death of human placental cells. Another study, conducted in 2009, found that Roundup caused total cell death in human umbilical, embryonic and placental cells within 24 hours. Yet researchers have conducted few follow-up studies.

“Obviously there’s a limit to what’s appropriate in terms of testing poison on humans,” said Jeffrey Smith, executive director of the Institute for Responsible Technology, which advocates against genetically modified food. “But if you look at the line of converging evidence, it points to a serious problem. And if you look at the animal feeding studies with genetically modified Roundup ready crops, there’s a consistent theme of reproductive disorders, which we don’t know the cause for because follow-up studies have not been done.”

“More independent research is needed to evaluate the toxicity of Roundup and glyphosate,” he added, “and the evidence that has already accumulated is sufficient to raise a red flag.”

Authorities have criticized Monsanto in the past for soft-pedaling Roundup. In 1996 New York State’s Attorney General sued Monsanto for describing Roundup as “environmentally friendly” and “safe as table salt.” Monsanto, while not admitting any wrongdoing, agreed to stop using the terms for promotional purposes and paid New York state $250,000 to settle the suit.

Regulators in the United States have said they are aware of the concerns surrounding glyphosate. The Environmental Protection Agency, which is required to reassess the safety and effectiveness all pesticides on a 15-year cycle through a process called registration review, is currently examining the compound.

“EPA initiated registration review of glyphosate in July 2009,” the EPA told HuffPost in a written statement. “EPA will determine if our previous assessments of this chemical need to be revised based on the results of this review. EPA issued a notice to the company [Monsanto] to submit human health and ecotoxicity data in September 2010.”

The EPA said it will also review a “wide range of information and data from other independent researchers” including Earth Open Source.

The agency’s Office of Pesticide Programs is in charge of the review and has set a deadline of 2015 for determining if registration modifications need to be made or if the herbicide should continue to be sold at all.

Though skirmishes over the regulation of glyphosate are playing out at agencies across the U.S. and around the world, Argentina is at the forefront of the battle.

THE ARGENTINE MODEL

The Earth Open Source report, “Roundup and birth defects: Is the public being kept in the dark?” comes years after Argentine scientists and residents targeted glyphosate, arguing that it caused health problems and environmental damage.

Farmers and others in Argentina use the weedkiller primarily on genetically modified Roundup Ready soy, which covers nearly 50 million acres, or half of the country’s cultivated land area. In 2009 farmers sprayed that acreage with an estimated 200 million liters of glyphosate.

The Argentine government helped pull the country out of a recession in the 1990s in part by promoting genetically modified soy. Though it was something of a miracle for poor farmers, several years after the first big harvests residents near where the soy cop grew began reporting health problems, including high rates of birth defects and cancers, as well as the losses of crops and livestock as the herbicide spray drifted across the countryside.

Such reports gained further traction after an Argentine government scientist, Andres Carrasco conducted a study, “Glyphosate-Based Herbicides Produce Teratogenic Effects on Vertebrates by Impairing Retinoic Acid Signaling” in 2009.

The study, published in the journal Chemical Research in Toxicology in 2010, found that glyphosate causes malformations in frog and chicken embryos at doses far lower than those used in agricultural spraying. It also found that malformations caused in frog and chicken embryos by Roundup and its active ingredient glyphosate were similar to human birth defects found in genetically modified soy-producing regions.

“The findings in the lab are compatible with malformations observed in humans exposed to glyphosate during pregnancy,” wrote Carrasco, director of the Laboratory of Molecular Embryology at the University of Buenos Aires. “I suspect the toxicity classification of glyphosate is too low.”

“In some cases this can be a powerful poison,” he concluded.

Argentina has not made any federal reforms based on this research and has not discussed the research publicly, Carrasco told HuffPost, except to mount a “close defense of Monsanto and it partners.”

The Ministry of Science and Technology has moved to distance the government from the study, telling media at the time the study was not commissioned by the government and had not been reviewed by scientific peers.

Ignacio Duelo, spokesman for the the Ministry of Science and Technology’s National Council for Scientific and Technical Research [CONICET], told HuffPost in an statement that while Carrasco is one of its researchers, CONICET has not vouched for or assessed his work.

Duelo said that the Ministry of Science is examining Carrasco’s report as part of a study of the possible harmful effects of the glyphosate. Officials, he added, are as yet unable to “reach a definitive conclusion on the effects of glyphosate on human health, though more studies are recommended, as more data is necessary.”

REGIONAL BANS

After Carrasco announced his findings in 2009, the Defense Ministry banned planting of genetically modified glyphosate-resistant soy on lands it rents to farmers, and a group of environmental lawyers petitioned the Supreme Court of Argentina to implement a national ban on the use of glyphosate, including Monsanto’s Roundup product. But the ban was never adopted.

“A ban, if approved, would mean we couldn’t do agriculture in Argentina,” said Guillermo Cal, executive director of CASAFE, Argentina’s association of fertilizer companies, in a statement at the time.

In March 2010, a regional court in Argentina’s Santa Fe province banned the spraying of glyphosate and other herbicides near populated areas. A month later, the provincial government of Chaco province issued a report on health statistics from La Leonesa. The report, which was carried in the leftist Argentinian newspaper Página 12, showed that from 2000 to 2009, following the expansion of genetically-modified soy and rice crops in the region, the childhood cancer rate tripled in La Leonesa and the rate of birth defects increased nearly fourfold over the entire province.

MORE QUESTIONS

Back in the United States, Don Huber, an emeritus professor of plant pathology at Purdue University, found that genetically-modified crops used in conjunction with Roundup contain a bacteria that may cause animal miscarriages.

After studying the bacteria, Huber wrote Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack in February warning that the “pathogen appears to significantly impact the health of plants, animals, and probably human beings.”

The bacteria is particularly prevalent in corn and soybean crops stricken by disease, according to Huber, who asked Vilsack to stop deregulating Roundup Ready crops. Critics such as Huber are particularly wary of those crops because scientists have genetically altered them to be immune to Roundup — and thus allow farmers to spray the herbicide liberally onto a field, killing weeds but allowing the crop itself to continue growing.

Monsanto is not the only company making glyphosate. China sells glyphosate to Argentina at a very low price, Carrasco said, and there are more than one hundred commercial formulations in the market. But Monsanto’s Roundup has the longest list of critics, in part because it dominates the market.

The growth in adoption of genetically modified crops has exploded since their introduction in 1996. According to Monsanto, an estimated 89 percent of domestic soybean crops were Roundup Ready in 2010, and as of 2010, there were 77.4 million acres of Roundup Ready soybeans planted, according to the Department of Agriculture.

In his letter to the Agriculture Department, Huber also commented on the herbicide, saying that the bacteria that he’s concerned about appears to be connected to use of glyphosate, the key ingredient in Roundup.

“It is well-documented that glyphosate promotes soil pathogens and is already implicated with the increase of more than 40 plant diseases; it dismantles plant defenses by chelating vital nutrients; and it reduces the bioavailability of nutrients in feed, which in turn can cause animal disorders,” he wrote.

Huber said the Agriculture Department wrote him in early May and that he has had several contacts with the agency since then. But there’s little evidence that government officials have any intention of conducting the “multi-agency investigation” Huber requested.

Part of the problem may be that the USDA oversees genetically modified crops while the EPA watches herbicides, creating a potential regulatory loophole for products like Roundup, which relies on both to complete the system. When queried, USDA officials emphasized that they do not regulate pesticides or herbicides and declined to comment publicly on Huber’s letter.

A spokesman eventually conceded their scientists do study glyphosate. “USDA’s Agricultural Research Service’s research with glyphosate began shortly after the discovery of its herbicidal activity in the mid 1970s,” said the USDA in a statement. “All of our research has been made public and much has gone through the traditional peer review process.”

While Huber acknowledged his research is far from conclusive, he said regulatory agencies must seek answers now. “There is much research that needs to be done yet,” he said. “But we can’t afford to wait the three to five years for peer-reviewed papers.”

While Huber’s claims have roiled the agricultural world and the blogosphere alike, he has fueled skeptics by refusing to make his research public or identify his fellow researchers, who he claims could suffer substantial professional backlash from academic employers who received research funding from the biotechnology industry.

At Purdue University, six of Huber’s former colleagues pointedly distanced themselves from his findings, encouraging crop producers and agribusiness personnel “to speak with University Extension personnel before making changes in crop production practices that are based on sensationalist claims.”

Since it first introduced the chemical to the world in the 1970s, Monsanto has netted billions on its best-selling herbicide, though the company has faced stiffer competition since its patent expired in 2000 and it is reportedly working to revamp its strategy.

In a lengthy email, Person, the Monsanto spokeswoman, responded to critics, suggesting that the economic and environmental benefits of Roundup were being overlooked:

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.
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 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.

“The data was there but the regulators were glossing over it,” said John Fagan of Earth Open Source, “and as a result it was accepted in ways that we consider really questionable.”

CORNERING THE INDUSTRY?

Although the EPA has said it wants to evaluate more evidence of glyphosate’s human health risk as part of a registration review program, the agency is not doing any studies of its own and is instead relying on outside data — much of which comes from the agricultural chemicals industry it seeks to regulate.

“EPA ensures that each registered pesticide continues to meet the highest standards of safety to protect human health and the environment,” the agency told HuffPost in a statement. “These standards have become stricter over the years as our ability to evaluate the potential effects of pesticides has increased. The Agency placed glyphosphate into registration review. Registration review makes sure that as the ability to assess risks and as new information becomes available, the Agency carefully considers the new information to ensure pesticides do not pose risks of concern to people or the environment.”

Agribusiness giants, including Monsanto, Dow Chemical, Syngenta and BASF, will, as part of a 19-member task force, generate much of the data the EPA is seeking. But the EPA has emphasized that the task force is only “one of numerous varied third-party sources that EPA will rely on for use in its registration review.”

The EPA is hardly the only industry regulator that relies heavily on data supplied by the agrochemical industry itself.

“The regulation of pesticides has been significantly skewed towards the manufacturers interests where state-of-the-art testing is not done and adverse findings are typically distorted or denied,” said Jeffrey Smith, of the Institute for Responsible Technology. “The regulators tend to use the company data rather than independent sources, and the company data we have found to be inappropriately rigged to force the conclusion of safety.”

“We have documented time and time again scientists who have been fired, stripped of responsibilities, denied funding, threatened, gagged and transferred as a result of the pressure put on them by the biotech industry,” he added.

Such suppression has sometimes grown violent, Smith noted. Last August, when Carrasco and his team of researchers went to give a talk in La Leonesa they were intercepted by a mob of about a hundred people. The attack landed two people in the hospital and left Carrasco and a colleague cowering inside a locked car. Witnesses said the angry crowd had ties to powerful economic interests behind the local agro-industry and that police made little effort to interfere with the beating, according to the human rights group Amnesty International.

Fagan told HuffPost that among developmental biologists who are not beholden to the chemical industry or the biotechnology industry, there is strong recognition that Carrasco’s research is credible.

“For me as a scientist, one of the reasons I made the effort to do this research into the literature was to really satisfy the question myself as to where the reality of the situation lies,” he added. “Having thoroughly reviewed the literature on this, I feel very comfortable in standing behind the conclusions Professor Carrasco came to and the broader conclusions that we come to in our paper

“We can’t figure out how regulators could have come to the conclusions that they did if they were taking a balanced look at the science, even the science that was done by the chemical industry itself.”