Product Liability

Report links herbicide Roundup to birth defects

Pesticide industry regulators knew as long as 30 years ago that Roundup, the world’s top selling herbicide, causes birth defects, yet they did nothing to warn the public, according to a new report, “Roundup and birth defects: Is the public being kept in the dark?” The report was published by Earth Open Source, an organization that uses open source collaboration to advance sustainable food production.

Roundup, made by Monsanto, is based on the chemical glyphosate, which the report says was linked in the 1980s to birth defects in laboratory animals. The report also found that the German government knew since 1998 that glyphosate caused “malformations” and that the EU Commission’s expert scientific panel knew of these risks as early as 1999. Despite the data, the German Federal Office for Consumer Protection and Food Safety told the European Commission that there was no evidence that glyphosate causes birth defects.

But the data paints a different picture. Numerous independent studies summarized in the report show glyphosate and Roundup cause an array of health issues including birth defects, cancer, genetic damage, endocrine disruption, and other serious problems often at low doses. Yet, the public was kept in the dark about these concerns. As a result, Roundup has made its way from farmlands to home gardens and schoolyards. It is almost impossible to know how many people have been harmed by the herbicide.

The safety of glyphosate was due to be reviewed by the European Commission in 2012, however the commission opted late last year to delay the review until 2015. The chemical is expected to pass through the review with little issue, which would give it another 15 years of immunity before it goes up against a more up-to-date review in 2030, “A time when companies are applying to the EU for permission to cultivate genetically modified glyphosate-tolerant seeds in Europe,” the report states. “This would lead to a huge increase in the use of glyphosate, as has happened in North and South America. The beneficiary of the Commission’s delay will be the pesticide industry; the victim will be public health.”

Earth Open Science
The Ecologist