Readying the Last Roundup:
by Sayer Ji
Roundup Herbicide 125 Times More Toxic Than Regulators Say
Titled, "Major pesticides are more toxic to human cells than their declared active principles," the study evaluated to what extent the active principle (AP) and the so-called 'inert ingredients,' i.e. adjuvants, in globally popular formulations account for the toxicity of 9 major pesticides: 3 herbicides, 3 insecticides, and 3 fungicides.
The Deceptive Semantics of Pesticide Formulations And Their Regulation
The paper describes how the agrochemical industry conceals the true toxicity of their chemical formulations by focusing on the health risks associated with only one so-called 'active principle' (AP) in their complex formulations, and sets the public up for mass poisoning through the determination of an 'acceptable level of harm' via the calculation of the so-called 'acceptable daily intake (ADI)' based on the toxicological risk profile of only a single ingredient:
"Pesticides are used throughout the world as mixtures called formulations. They contain adjuvants, which are often kept confidential and are called inerts by the manufacturing companies, plus a declared active principle (AP), which is the only one tested in the longest toxicological regulatory tests performed on mammals. This allows the calculation of the acceptable daily intake (ADI)—the level of exposure that is claimed to be safe for humans over the long term—and justifies the presence of residues of these pesticides at "admissible" levels in the environment and organisms. Only the AP and one metabolite are used as markers, but this does not exclude the presence of adjuvants, which are cell penetrants."
The problem of underestimated toxicological risk is so severe that the researchers describe previous research which found unexpected toxicity in so-called 'inert' adjuvants that were up to 10,000 times more toxic than the so-called active principle glyphosate itself, revealing them to be a greater source for secondary side effects than the main ingredient itself. [i] They also note that this 'synergistic toxicity' may explain the results of previous long-term animal research where glyphosate-based formulations showed toxicity in the parts-per-trillion range (.1 part per billion) that could not be explained by glyphosate alone.[ii] [iii]
Dr. Kelly Brogan, MD, commented on this phenomena in connection with the study recently on her blog: "Similar to the non-placebo-controlled trials on vaccines, adjuvants and preservatives are considered innocent bystanders in the consideration of risk profile." According to Dr. Brogan, an understanding of "Toxicant synergy has exploded the simplistic notion of "the dose makes the poison.""
The Test Method and Results
In order to ascertain the toxicity of various chemical formulations and their ingredients, the researchers used embryonic (HEK293), placental (JEG3), and hepatic (HepG2) human cell lines, "because they are well characterized and validated as useful models to test toxicities of pesticides, corresponding to what is observed on fresh tissue or primary cells." They noted, "these cells lines are even in some instances less sensitive than primary cells, and therefore do not overestimate cellular toxicity."
The researchers describe the their method of determining toxicity:
We assayed their mitochondrial succinate dehydrogenase (SD) activity (MTT assay) after 24h pesticide exposure, which is one of the most accurate cytotoxicity assays for measuring the toxicity of pesticide adjuvants such as surfactants . Cytotoxicity was confirmed by the measurement of apoptosis and necrosis, respectively, by caspases 3/7 activation  and adenylate kinase leakage after membrane alterations 
The results of the study were clear. Except for one pesticide (Matin), "All formulations were cytotoxic and far more toxic than their APs [active principles]."
Key findings included:
- On human cells, among the tested products, fungicides were the most toxic (Figure 1), being cytotoxic from doses 300–600 times lower than agricultural dilutions, followed by herbicides (except Matin) and then insecticides.
- In all cell types, fungicides were the most toxic (mean LC50 12ppm).
- The herbicide Roundup (LC50 63ppm) was next in toxicity to fungicides, twice as toxic as Starane, and more than 10 times as toxic as the 3 insecticides, which represent the less toxic group (mean LC50 720ppm).
The researchers noted that in the present study, the cells were exposed to the chemicals for no longer than 48 hours, but in previous research they observed increased toxicity with time (i.e. "time-amplifying effect"), such that, "the differential toxicity between the AP [active principle] glyphosate and Roundup is increased by 5 times in 72h." In accordance with this phenomena, they provide the example:
For instance, in this experiment, after 24h, 63ppm of Roundup was found to be toxic to cells, but in our previous experiment, after two years in rats, only 0.1ppb of Roundup was found to be sufficient to provoke pathologies .
The study discussion also addressed the profound problem in semantics indicated by the use of the term "inert" to describe chemical adjuvants that amplify the toxicity of the active principle (AP) in a herbicidal formulation by up t 1,000 times:
"Adjuvants in pesticides are generally declared as inerts, and for this reason they are not tested in long-term regulatory experiments. It is thus very surprising that they amplify up to 1000 times the toxicity of their APs in 100% of the cases where they are indicated to be present by the manufacturer (Table 1). In fact, the differential toxicity between formulations of pesticides and their APs now appears to be a general feature of pesticides toxicology. As we have seen, the role of adjuvants is to increase AP solubility and to protect it from degradation, increasing its half-life, helping cell penetration, and thus enhancing its pesticidal activity  and consequently side effects. They can even add their own toxicity . The definition of adjuvants as "inerts" is thus nonsense; even if the US Environmental Protection Agency has recently changed the appellation for "other ingredients," pesticide adjuvants should be considered as toxic "active" compounds."
According to the researchers, Roundup herbicide is emblematic of the cognitive dissonance between scientific fact and industrial claim to the still widely held belief that many of the chemicals routinely applied to our food and feed crops are relative safety:
It is commonly believed that Roundup is among the safest pesticides. This idea is spread by manufacturers, mostly in the reviews they promote [39, 40], which are often cited in toxicological evaluations of glyphosate-based herbicides. However, Roundup was found in this experiment to be 125 times more toxic than glyphosate. Moreover, despite its reputation, Roundup was by far the most toxic among the herbicides and insecticides tested. This inconsistency between scientific fact and industrial claim may be attributed to huge economic interests, which have been found to falsify health risk assessments and delay health policy decisions .
The researchers conclude their study by proposing their experimental results challenge the ultimate relevance of the acceptable daily intake (ADI), "because it is calculated today from the toxicity of the AP alone in vivo." They go further and suggest that the ADI's should be revised taking into account an "adjuvant factor," which would require a reduction by at least 100 be applied to ADIs, especially if their preliminary cell research is confirmed through future animal studies. This would mean that the present ADI for glyphosate which is .3 ppm should be reduced to 3 parts per billion or less. They note, however, that this will not replace direct study of the commercial formulation with its adjuvants in regulatory tests. They conclude the study with the following remarks:
"[A]n exposure to a single formulated pesticide must be considered as coexposure to an active principle and the adjuvants. In addition, the study of combinatorial effects of several APs together may be very secondary if the toxicity of the combinations of each AP with its adjuvants is neglected or unknown. Even if all these factors were known and taken into account in the regulatory process, this would not exclude an endocrine-disrupting effect below the toxicity threshold. The chronic tests of pesticides may not reflect relevant environmental exposures if only one ingredient is tested alone."
Clearly, research like this represents a paradigm shift in the way we look at agrochemical toxicity and the risk of exposure. If the harm's associated with pesticidal or herbicidal contamination of our food, water, or air, are up to 1,000 times higher than the present regulatory system believes, we can no longer label as 'an acceptable level of harm' the mass poisoning we are experiencing at the hands of the industrial, biotech and chemical-industry driven agricultural system.
[ii] Seralini GE, Mesnage R, Defarge N, et al. Answers to critics: why there is a long term toxicity due to NK603 Roundup-tolerant genetically modified maize and to a Roundup herbicide. Food and Chemical Toxicology. 2013;53:461–468. [PubMed] [Ref list]
[iii] Roundup inhibits steroidogenesis by disrupting steroidogenic acute regulatory (StAR) protein expression. Walsh LP, McCormick C, Martin C, Stocco DM Environ Health Perspect. 2000 Aug; 108(8):769-76. [PubMed] [Ref list]
Roundup Herbicide Toxicity Vastly Underestimated
Glyphosate, the most well-known ingredient in the herbicide Roundup, has recently been the focus of an intense debate over whether or not it is dangerous, even carcinogenic, to those exposed to it through food and the environment.
Monsanto, the original creator and patent-holder of glyphosate, and of the most famous glyphosate formulation Roundup, has funded research denying the emerging glyphosate-cancer link, but the latest (and only known) long-term feeding study from an industry independent research group out of France indicates that the transgenic material within Roundup-Ready Monsanto corn, as well as Roundup itself, are highly carcinogenic, and should be banned to protect the millions who are already consuming it on a daily basis.
Glyphosate, however, is only one dimension of a complex toxicological problem. What is often overlooked is the role of adjuvants in glyphosate formulations like Roundup, which while being labeled "inert" or "non-active," are in no way neutral, and which amplify glyphosate toxicity far beyond what toxicological risk assessments presently are designed to ascertain.
Glyphosate-Formulations Dramatically More Toxic Than Glyphosate Alone
Back in Feb. of 2012, the journal Archives of Toxicology published a shocking study showing that Roundup is toxic to human DNA even when diluted to concentrations 450-fold lower than used in agricultural applications.[i] This effect could not have been anticipated from the known toxicological effects of glyphosate alone. The likely explanation is that the surfactant polyoxyethyleneamine within Roundup dramatically enhances the absorption of glyphosate into exposed human cells and tissue.
If this is true, it speaks to a fundamental problem associated with toxicological risk assessments of agrichemicals (and novel manmade chemicals in general), namely, these assessments do not take into account the reality of synergistic toxicologies, i.e. the amplification of harm associated with multiple chemical exposures occurring simultaneously.
"Inactive Ingredients" In Herbicide Formulations Are Actively Poisoning Us
But adjuvants in glyphosate formulations do not just increase the toxicity of glyphosate -- they are themselves highly toxic. Indeed, a study published in the journal Toxicology September, 2011 titled "Ethoxylated adjuvants of glyphosate-based herbicides are active principles of human cell toxicity," found 24 hour exposures on liver, embryonic and placental cell lines at concentrations as low as 1 ppm – a dose well within "acceptable" environmental and occupational doses – resulted in negative effects on cellular respiration and membrane integrity.[ii] The authors reported their findings as such:
Altogether, these results challenge the establishment of guidance values such as the acceptable daily intake of glyphosate, when these are mostly based on a long term in vivo test of glyphosate alone. Since pesticides are always used with adjuvants that could change their toxicity, the necessity to assess their whole formulations as mixtures becomes obvious. This challenges the concept of active principle of pesticides for non-target species.
What the consumer of GM-contaminated food must understand is that glyphosate, and the many insufficiently tested "inactive" ingredients sprayed on these foods, enter the body and have real, adverse effects that are cumulative, even if mostly subclinical. The only way we can be sure to reduce our exposure to these agrichemicals is through consciously refraining from consuming them. And how do we do that? Get the stuff labeled, and give the consumer a choice not to eat it.
Please lend your support to California's Proposition 37, and vote with your fork as well, by buying only organic food, whenever possible.
- [i] Verena J Koller, Maria Fürhacker, Armen Nersesyan, Miroslav Mišík, Maria Eisenbauer, Siegfried Knasmueller. Cytotoxic and DNA-damaging properties of glyphosate and Roundup in human-derived buccal epithelial cells. Arch Toxicol. 2012 Feb 14. Epub 2012 Feb 14. PMID: 22331240
- [ii] R Mesnage, B Bernay, G-E Séralini. Ethoxylated adjuvants of glyphosate-based herbicides are active principles of human cell toxicity. Toxicology. 2012 Sep 21. Epub 2012 Sep 21. PMID: 23000283
Lethality of Roundup 'Weedkiller' Extends Beyond Plants To Humans, Study Suggests
A shocking new study finds that glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup herbicide, "...may be the most biologically disruptive chemical in our environment," capable of contributing to a wide range of fatal human diseases.
A new report published in the journal Entropy links the active ingredient in Roundup herbicide known as glyphosate with a wide range of fatal diseases.[i]
Glyphosate is the world's most popular herbicide and is designed to kill all but genetically modified "Roundup Ready" plants, such as GM corn, soy, beet, cottonseed and canola. Over 180 million pounds of the chemical are now applied to US soils each year,[ii] and while agrichemical manufacturers and government regulators have considered it 'relatively safe,' an expanding body of biomedical research indicates that it may cause over 30 distinct adverse health effects in exposed populations at far lower concentrations than used in agricultural applications.
The new report, authored by Stephanie Seneff, a research scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Anthony Samsel, a retired science consultant from Arthur D. Little, Inc., brings to the forefront concerns voiced by an outspoken minority that Roundup and related glyphosate herbicide formulations are contributing to diseases as far-ranging as inflammatory bowel disease, anorexia, cystic fibrosis, cancer, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease, and infertility. In fact, the authors propose that glyphosate, contrary to being essentially nontoxic, "...may be the most biologically disruptive chemical in our environment."
The researchers identified the inhibition and/or disruption of cytochrome P450 (CYP) enzymes as a hitherto overlooked mechanism of toxicity associated with glyphosate exposure in mammals.
CYP enzymes are essential for detoxifying xenobiotic chemicals from the body. Glyphosate therefore enhances the damaging effects of other food borne chemical residues and environmental toxins. The researchers also showed how interference with CYP enzymes acts synergistically with disruption of the biosynthesis of aromatic amino acids by gut bacteria (e.g. tryptophan), as well as impairment in serum sulfate transport, a critical biological system for cellular detoxification (e.g. transulfuration pathway which detoxifies metals).
These effect, according to the researchers, can contribute to causing or worsening "...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."
This new report may help to explain why over 30 adverse health effects associated with Roundup herbicide exposure have been identified in the peer-reviewed and published literature so far. The full report in PDF form can be obtained here. Please help us spread this information, as well as our Roundup Toxicity Research and GMO Research pages, by sharing them with other concerned individuals and groups.
- [i] Samsel A, Seneff S. Glyphosate's Suppression of Cytochrome P450 Enzymes and Amino Acid Biosynthesis by the Gut Microbiome: Pathways to Modern Diseases. Entropy. 2013; 15(4):1416-1463.
- [ii] Huffingtonpost.com, Roundup, An Herbicide, Could Be Linked To Parkinson's, Cancer And Other Health Issues, Study Shows
Roundup 'Weed Killer' Threatens Coral Reefs, Persists In Seawater
The coral reefs are dying and the seas are increasingly depleted of sea life. Could Roundup 'weed killer' be partially to blame?
A highly concerning new study published in the journal Marine Pollution Bulletin indicates that the world's most popular herbicide glyphosate (aka Roundup), used primarily in GM agriculture, is particularly resistant to biodegradation in coral reef collected sea water, and could therefore be a major contributor to the decline of marine coral reef systems such as the Great Barrier Reef.
The Great Barrier Reef is the world's biggest single structure made by living organisms, and is so massive it is visible from outer space.[i] Sadly, according to a study published in 2012 by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the reef has lost more than half its coral cover since 1985,[ii] which is believed to be caused by a combination of factors, including climate change induced acidification of the ocean, outbreaks of predator species and extensive pollution. Despite the established role of agrichemicals in harming sea life, glyphosate has yet to be included in marine monitoring programs for its impacts on the reef -- this despite being used at a rate of 30,000,000 lbs annually in Australia.
In the new study titled, "Glyphosate persistence in seawater," Australian marine researchers describe "increasing concern over the global loss of corals and seagrass and this has been particularly well documented for the World Heritage listed Great Barrier Reef (GBR)," pointing out that extensive agriculture activities impact water quality around reefs and seagrass beds, especially during the summer wet season from November to March, when rain-induced flooding delivers "runoff containing excess sediments, nutrients, and pesticides," and with satellite imagery reveals their associated plumes travel up to 50 km offshore as far as the midshelf coral reefs.
In order to ascertain the potential impact of glyphosate, they quantified its biodegradation using "simulation" flask tests with native bacterial populations and coastal seawater from the Great Barrier Reef. They discovered that, "the half-life for glyphosate at 25°C in low-light was 47 days, extending to 267 days in the dark at 25°C and 315 days in the dark at 31°C, which is the longest persistence reported for this herbicide."
When compared to previously reported half-life estimates for glyphosate biodegradation in soil and fresh waters, the sea water estimates are dramatically higher. Previous soil and water data described glyphosate's biodegration half-life to be as rapid as 5 days for field soil and 49 days for bog and natural water.* If the new sea water flask experiments accurately reflect real world conditions, glyphosate's maximal 315 day half life in sea water would add up to 63 fold increased persistence to the chemical's toxicological profile. The researchers also pointed out that flooding events which would bring glyphosate to sea would involve co-occurrence of massive quantities of sediment to which glyphosate readily binds, which would further prevent glyphosate's biodegradation, potentially greatly enhancing its persistence and toxic effects.
Despite previous assurances by both the manufacturer (Monsanto) and regulatory bodies that glyphosate is safe to the environment and highly biodegradable, an increasingly alarming body of experimental data on glyphosate's toxicity indicates that the chemical is extremely toxic, exhibiting potentially carcinogenic endocrine disrupting activity in the parts-per-trillion concentration range, as well as a laundry list of multiple modes of toxicity to animal life. For direct access to the biomedical data on glyphoste's toxicological profile, view our section on the topic: Glyphosate Toxicity.
*Note: accumulating evidence reveals that these original estimates are inaccurate and that glyphosate's persistence in the soil, groundwater, and even air, is a far greater problem than officially acknowledged.
[ii] Eilperin, Juliet. "Great Barrier Reef has lost half its corals since 1985, new study says". The Washington Post. Retrieved 1 October 2012.
From Green Med Info @ http://www.greenmedinfo.com/blog/roundup-herbicide-125-times-more-toxic-regulators-say?page=1 , http://www.greenmedinfo.com/blog/research-roundup-herbicide-toxicity-vastly-underestimated , http://www.greenmedinfo.com/blog/lethality-roundup-weedkiller-may-extend-beyond-plants-humans-study-shows and http://www.greenmedinfo.com/blog/roundup-weed-killer-threatens-coral-reefs-persists-seawater
For more information about Roundup and glyphosate see http://nexusilluminati.blogspot.com/search/label/roundup
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