The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
NTP Scientist: Glyphosate Formulations 'Much More Toxic' Than Chemical Itself
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.
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
By Tara Lohan
When armed militants with a grudge against the federal government seized the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in rural Oregon back in the winter of 2016, I remember avoiding the news coverage. Part of me wanted to know what was happening, but each report I read — as the occupation stretched from days to weeks and the destruction grew — made me so angry it was hard to keep reading.
A searing heat wave has begun to spread across Europe, with Germany, France and Belgium experiencing extreme temperatures that are set to continue in the coming days.
In the 1980s, a Greenlandic subsistence hunter shot and killed a whale with bizarre features unlike any he had ever seen before. He knew something was unique about it, so he left its abnormally large skull on top of his toolshed where it rested until a visiting professor happened upon it a few years later.
A UN expert painted a bleak picture Tuesday of how the climate crisis could impact global inequality and human rights, leading to a "climate apartheid" in which the rich pay to flee the consequences while the rest are left behind.
Millions of solar panels clustered together to form an island could convert carbon dioxide in seawater into methanol, which can fuel airplanes and trucks, according to new research from Norway and Switzerland and published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal, PNAS, as NBC News reported. The floating islands could drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions and dependence on fossil fuels.
More than 40 percent of insects could go extinct globally in the next few decades. So why did the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) last week OK the 'emergency' use of the bee-killing pesticide sulfoxaflor on 13.9 million acres?
EcoWatch teamed up with Center for Biological Diversity via EcoWatch Live on Facebook to find out why. Environmental Health Director and Senior Attorney Lori Ann Burd explained how there is a loophole in the The Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act under section 18, "that allows for entities and states to request emergency exemptions to spraying pesticides where they otherwise wouldn't be allowed to spray."