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Another win for Monsanto: US raises allowable levels of company’s pesticide in crops

Published time: July 23, 2013 17:14
Edited time: July 24, 2013 18:12
AFP Photo / Karen Bleier

AFP Photo / Karen Bleier

Biotech giant Monsanto has been awarded yet another victory by the federal government thanks to a recent Environmental Protection Agency decision to allow larger traces of the herbicide glyphosate in farm-grown foods.

Despite a number of studies linking exposure to the chemical with diseases including types of cancer, the EPA is increasing the amount of glyphosate allowed in oilseed and food crops.

The EPA announced their plans on May 1 and allowed critics two months to weigh in and object to the ruling. Following little opposition, though, the EPA is on path to soon approve of levels of glyphosate being found in crops several times over the current concentration.

Glyphosate, a weed-killing chemical developed by Monsanto in 1970, is the key ingredient in the company’s “Roundup” label of herbicides. In the decades since, Monsanto has created and patented a number of genetically-modified organisms and genetically-engineered crops resisted to glyphosate that are sold worldwide under the company’s “Roundup Ready” brand. Those GMO products are then planted in fields where glyphosate, namely Roundup, is used en masse to eliminate weeds from taking over harvest. With scientists linking that chemical to cancerous diseases, though, critics decry the EPA decision and caution it could do more harm than good.

Through the EPA’s new standards, the amount of allowable glyphosate in oilseed crops such as flax, soybeans and canola will be increased from 20 parts per million (ppm) to 40 ppm, which GM Watch acknowledged is  over 100,000 times the amount needed to induce breast cancer cells. Additionally, the EPA is increasing limits on allowable glyphosate in food crops from 200 ppm to 6,000 ppm.

Just last month, The Cornucopia Institute concluded a study by finding glyphosate “exerted proliferative effects in human hormone-dependent breast cancer.” A similar study released in April concluded that “glyphosate enhances the damaging effects of other food borne chemical residues and environmental toxins.”

Negative impact on the body is insidious and manifests slowly over time as inflammation damages cellular systems throughout the body,” independent scientist Anthony Samsel and MIT’s Stephanie Seneff concluded in the April study. “Consequences are most of the diseases and conditions associated with a Western diet, which include gastrointestinal disorders, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, depression, autism, infertility, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.”

Dr. Don M. Huber, emeritus professor of plant pathology at Purdue University, found in yet another examination that “Glyphosate draws out the vital nutrients of living things,” in turn removing most nutritional value from GMO foods.

A press release issued by the group Beyond Pesticides criticized the decision as well. “Given that alternative methods of growing food and managing weeds are available, like those that exist in organic agriculture, it is unreasonable for EPA to increase human exposures to Roundup,” they wrote.

In the past, Monsanto has long-defended their use of the chemical. “We are very confident in the long track record that glyphosate has,” Jerry Stainer, Monsanto’s executive vice president of sustainability, stated previously. “It has been very, very extensively studied.”


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