Quantcast

NTP Scientist: Glyphosate Formulations 'Much More Toxic' Than Chemical Itself

Health + Wellness
Mike Mozart / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Amid conflicting scientific studies and growing public concern over the impacts of the world's most widely used herbicide, the U.S. National Toxicology Program (NTP) has launched research to examine the health risks of glyphosate and glyphosate-formulations.

"Due to the multiple interpretations of evidence on the potential health risks of glyphosate exposure, major public concern about exposure risks, and reported differences in the toxicity of different glyphosate products, NTP is conducting more research on glyphosate and its formulations," according to the NTP website.


The NTP's initiative was first reported by Carey Gilliam in The Guardian. Gilliam is an author, investigative journalist and research director for U.S. Right to Know.

Glyphosate, the star ingredient in Monsanto's Roundup, is sprayed on agricultural fields around the world and helps beat back weeds in home gardens, golf courses and parks.

Gilliam noted, "Monsanto introduced its glyphosate-based Roundup brand in 1974. But it is only now, after more than 40 years of widespread use, that the government is investigating the toxicity of 'glyphosate-based herbicides' on human cells."

Jennifer Sass, a scientist with the Natural Resources Defense Council, commented to The Guardian, "This testing is important, because the EPA has only been looking at the active ingredient. But it's the formulations that people are exposed to on their lawns and gardens, where they play and in their food."

Glyphosate has been surrounded with controversy ever since March 2015, when the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified the chemical as "probably carcinogenic to humans." The panel also concluded that there was "strong" evidence for genotoxicity both for "pure" glyphosate and for glyphosate formulations.

Later that year, the European Food Safety Authority's (EFSA) released its own report that rejected the IARC's classification of glyphosate as a possible carcinogen, but admitted that conclusion was just for the chemical alone.

EFSA's report stated: "The genotoxic effects observed in some glyphosate-based formulations are related to the other constituents or 'co-formulants.'"

According to a poster of the NTP's research, glyphosate formulations decreased human cell "viability" by disrupting cell membranes. Also, the concoctions "significantly altered" cell viability. (The poster does not necessarily represent any final NTP determination or policy.)

"We see the formulations are much more toxic. The formulations were killing the cells," Mike DeVito, acting chief of the National Toxicology Program Laboratory, told The Guardian. "The glyphosate really didn't do it."

Here are the specific aims of NTP:

  • Evaluate whether glyphosate is genotoxic (causes DNA damage)
  • Evaluate whether glyphosate induces oxidative damage
  • Compare the effects of glyphosate on measures of genotoxicity, oxidative stress, and cell viability to the effects of glyphosate-based formulations
  • Identify data gaps on the effects of glyphosate and glyphosate-based formulations on human health outcomes other than cancer.

Monsanto has adamantly defended the safety of its product. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency also says that glyphosate is not likely to be carcinogenic to humans.

Other governments have taken action on such formulations. In 2016, the European Union banned glyphosate products mixed with the adjuvant POE-tallowamine due to its perceived risks to human health.

Tallowamine, which aids the effectiveness of glyphosate, was once found in Monsanto's Roundup. The inert ingredient was found to be "more deadly to human embryonic, placental and umbilical cord cells than [glyphosate] itself," Scientific American reported in 2009, citing a French study.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Pixabay

By Alina Petre, MS, RD (CA)

Purple cabbage, also referred to as red cabbage, belongs to the Brassica genus of plants. This group includes nutrient-dense vegetables, such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and kale.

Read More Show Less
Pexels

By Lauren Wolahan

For the first time ever, the UN is building out a roadmap for curbing carbon pollution from agriculture. To take part in that process, a coalition of U.S. farmers traveled to the UN climate conference in Madrid, Spain this month to make the case for the role that large-scale farming operations, long criticized for their outsized emissions, can play in addressing climate change.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Pexels

By Rachael Link, MS, RD

In recent years, acai bowls have become one of the most hyped-up health foods on the market.

They're prepared from puréed acai berries — which are fruits grown in Central and South America — and served as a smoothie in a bowl or glass, topped with fruit, nuts, seeds, or granola.

Read More Show Less
Investing in grid infrastructure would enable utilities to incorporate modern technology, making the grid more resilient and flexible. STRATMAN2 / FLICKR

By Elliott Negin

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences' recent decision to award the 2019 Nobel Prize in Chemistry to scientists who developed rechargeable lithium-ion batteries reminded the world just how transformative they have been. Without them, we wouldn't have smartphones or electric cars. But it's their potential to store electricity generated by the sun and the wind at their peak that promises to be even more revolutionary, reducing our dependence on fossil fuels and protecting the planet from the worst consequences of climate change.

Read More Show Less
Two Javan rhinos deep in the forests of Ujung Kulon National Park, the species' last habitat on Earth. Sugeng Hendratno / WWF

By Basten Gokkon

The global population of the critically endangered Javan rhinoceros has increased to 72 after four new calves were spotted in the past several months.

Read More Show Less