EPA Glyphosate 'Safe' Levels May Be Dangerously High
A new study on glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto's Roundup—one of the world's most widely used weedkillers—is fueling persistent concerns about the pesticide's impact on sexual development, genotoxicity and intestinal bacteria, even when exposure is limited to a level currently considered "safe" by U.S. regulators.
While the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), a branch of the World Health Organization (WHO), and California have classified glyphosate as a probable human carcinogen, U.S. and European regulators have continued to authorize farmers to use it, and Republicans in Congress have even threatened to cut off funding to the WHO over the issue.
Researchers at the Ramazzini Institute in Italy collaborated with experts from the U.S. and Europe to conduct the new crowdfunded pilot study, which will be detailed in three peer-reviewed papers set to be published in the journal Environmental Health later this month. They exposed rats to glyphosate-based herbicides (GBHs) in drinking water at the "safe" level set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over a three-month period, "starting from prenatal life until 13 weeks after weaning."
"The results show that GBHs—even at doses deemed safe and over a relatively short exposure time (which in human-equivalent terms correspond from embryo life to 18 years of age)—are able to alter certain important biological parameters, markers chiefly relating to sexual development, genotoxicity, and alteration of the intestinal microbiome ... especially in females," according to the study's website.
Daniele Mandrioli, associate director of the institute's cancer research center, explained to the Guardian that this "shouldn't be happening," and noted that in humans, "disruption of the microbiome has been associated with a number of negative health outcomes, such as obsesity, diabetes, and immunological problems."
Philip J. Landrigan, a member of the study's research team and a professor at New York's Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, expressed worries that glyphosate may pose a long-term cancer risk "that might affect a huge number of people, given the planet-wide use of the glyphosate-based herbicides."
Acknowledging that "by its very nature and purpose, the pilot study does not resolve the uncertainties puzzling the various agencies," Landrigan concluded that "these early warnings must be further investigated in a comprehensive long-term study."
Consumer advocates in the U.S. also responded with calls for further studies, pointing out that "there have been no long-term, peer-reviewed studies of the potential health impact of glyphosate exposure at levels lower than the EPA's guidelines."
"This new pilot study confirms what many responsible scientists have been saying all along: There is no such thing as 'safe' levels when it comes to glyphosate, especially when it comes to children," remarked Ronnie Cummins, international director of the U.S.-based Organic Consumers Association (OCA), which supports the testing food products—including Ben & Jerry's ice cream—for levels of glyphosate.
"What your average consumer needs to know is that there's absolutely no scientific evidence backing up the EPA's claims of 'safe levels,'" OCA U.S. Director Katherine Paul told Common Dreams. "So when Ben & Jerry's says it doesn't matter that there's glyphosate in their ice cream—because the levels are beneath EPA guidelines—that's total bunk."
Meanwhile, Monsanto—which has tried to influence scientific health reports about Roundup—maintains that "there is no link between glyphosate and cancer," and accused the Ramazzini Institute of being "an activist organization with an agenda." The institute has supported the study of cancer for more than two decades and, according to its website, its top priorities are conducting scientific research, performing early diagnosis, and spreading information about "environmental toxic and carcinogenic risks."
Reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.
At first glance, you wouldn't think avocados and almonds could harm bees; but a closer look at how these popular crops are produced reveals their potentially detrimental effect on pollinators.
Migratory beekeeping involves trucking millions of bees across the U.S. to pollinate different crops, including avocados and almonds. Timothy Paule II / Pexels / CC0<p>According to <a href="https://www.fromthegrapevine.com/israeli-kitchen/beekeeping-how-to-keep-bees" target="_blank">From the Grapevine</a>, American avocados also fully depend on bees' pollination to produce fruit, so farmers have turned to migratory beekeeping as well to fill the void left by wild populations.</p><p>U.S. farmers have become reliant upon the practice, but migratory beekeeping has been called exploitative and harmful to bees. <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2019/05/10/health/avocado-almond-vegan-partner/index.html" target="_blank">CNN</a> reported that commercial beekeeping may injure or kill bees and that transporting them to pollinate crops appears to negatively affect their health and lifespan. Because the honeybees are forced to gather pollen and nectar from a single, monoculture crop — the one they've been brought in to pollinate — they are deprived of their normal diet, which is more diverse and nourishing as it's comprised of a variety of pollens and nectars, Scientific American reported.</p><p>Scientific American added how getting shuttled from crop to crop and field to field across the country boomerangs the bees between feast and famine, especially once the blooms they were brought in to fertilize end.</p><p>Plus, the artificial mass influx of bees guarantees spreading viruses, mites and fungi between the insects as they collide in midair and crawl over each other in their hives, Scientific American reported. According to CNN, some researchers argue that this explains why so many bees die each winter, and even why entire hives suddenly die off in a phenomenon called colony collapse disorder.</p>
Avocado and almond crops depend on bees for proper pollination. FRANK MERIÑO / Pexels / CC0<p>Salazar and other Columbian beekeepers described "scooping up piles of dead bees" year after year since the avocado and citrus booms began, according to Phys.org. Many have opted to salvage what partial colonies survive and move away from agricultural areas.</p><p>The future of pollinators and the crops they help create is uncertain. According to the United Nations, nearly half of insect pollinators, particularly bees and butterflies, risk global extinction, Phys.org reported. Their decline already has cascading consequences for the economy and beyond. Roughly 1.4 billion jobs and three-quarters of all crops around the world depend on bees and other pollinators for free fertilization services worth billions of dollars, Phys.org noted. Losing wild and native bees could <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/wild-bees-crop-shortage-2646849232.html" target="_self">trigger food security issues</a>.</p><p>Salazar, the beekeeper, warned Phys.org, "The bee is a bioindicator. If bees are dying, what other insects beneficial to the environment... are dying?"</p>
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Australia is one of the most biodiverse countries in the world. It is home to more than 7% of all the world's plant and animal species, many of which are endemic. One such species, the Pharohylaeus lactiferus bee, was recently rediscovered after spending nearly 100 years out of sight from humans.
Scientists have newly photographed three species of shark that can glow in the dark, according to a study published in Frontiers in Marine Science last month.
- 10 Little-Known Shark Facts - EcoWatch ›
- 4 New Walking Shark Species Discovered - EcoWatch ›
- 5 Incredible Species That Glow in the Dark - EcoWatch ›
FedEx's entire parcel pickup and delivery fleet will become 100 percent electric by 2040, according to a statement released Wednesday. The ambitious plan includes checkpoints, such as aiming for 50 percent electric vehicles by 2025.
- Which Is Worse for the Planet: Beef or Cars? - EcoWatch ›
- Greenhouse Gas Levels Hit Record High Despite Lockdowns, UN ... ›
- 1.8 Billion Tons More Greenhouse Gases Will Be Released, Thanks ... ›