birmingham press logoAn article in the Birmingham Press focussed on the laboratory tests, published last week by Friends of the Earth and GM Freeze, which found traces of the weedkiller glyphosate in the bodies of people across several European countries, including Britain.

A really disturbing assertion seen in another report is that all the volunteers who gave samples live in cities, and none had handled or used glyphosate products in the run up to the tests.

roundupAs the Press reported, “Glyphosate is one of the most widely-used weed- killers in the world, used by farmers, local government and gardeners, as well as sprayed extensively on some genetically modified crops which are then imported into Europe for use as animal feed. The biggest producer is Monsanto which sells it under the brand name Roundup. Despite its widespread use, its presence in food, animal feed or surface and ground water is rarely monitored by governments”.

The author of the Press article asked if we should be concerned; other research evidence suggests that we should take the issue very seriously indeed

There is a huge body of research into human exposure to glyphosate-based herbicides listed here, with a few examples below: “Even at very low doses may result in reproductive and hormonal problems, miscarriages, low birth weights, birth defects, and various cancers—especially haematological cancers such as non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and hormonal cancers such as breast cancer.”

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The most recent, published in the US Journal of Food Chemical Toxicology, links glyphosate with breast cancer as urine samples from people across Europe as research show that it induces growth of human breast cancer cells.

Are US and EU regulators in the US making an impartial assessment of the evidence?

Despite its widespread use, the presence of glyphosate in food, animal feed or surface and ground water is rarely monitored by governments and four new GM crops designed to be cultivated with glyphosate/Roundup are currently waiting for approval to be grown in Europe. Approval of these crops would inevitably lead to a further increase in the exposure of EU citizens.

Pete Riley Campaign Director of GM Freeze said: “The European Commission needs to sort this out immediately and improve monitoring. We need to know how this weed killer is getting into our bodies and what it is doing to us and our environment.”

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Some research papers:

McDuffie HH, Pahwa P, McLaughlin JR, Spinelli JJ, Fincham S, Dosman JA, Robson D, Skinnider LF, Choi NW. 2001. Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and specific pesticide exposures in men: cross-Canada study of pesticides and health. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers, Prev 10:1155-63

Gasnier C, Dumont C, Benachour N, Clair E, Chagnon M-C, Seralini G-E. 2009. Glyphosate-based herbicides are toxic and endocrine disruptors in human cell lines. Toxicology 262(3):184-91.

Garry VF, Harkins ME, Erickson LL, Long-Simpson LK, Holland SE, Burroughs BL. 2002. Birth defects, season of conception, and sex of children born to pesticide applicators living in the Red River Valley of Minnesota, USA. Environ Health Perspect110(suppl 3):441-9.

Arbuckle TE, Lin Z, Mery LS. 2001. An exploratory analysis of the effect of pesticide exposure on the risk of spontaneous abortion in an Ontario farm population.Environ Health Perspect 109:851-57

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