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Q:
What about this study linking the preferred GMO Crop herbicide, RoundUp (glyphosate) to birth defects? Here is an article saying that roundup - the preferred herbicide used on GMO crops - is linked to birth defects. http://www.getholistichealth.com/35707/scientists-link-monsantos-glyphos... I have read several such articles, and this one includes a link to several sources for their info, including the scientific report, you can read for yourself: http://www.getholistichealth.com/35707/scientists-link-monsantos-glyphos... So what about it, Monsanto? Are these scientists liars, poor researchers, Communists, or ... what?? Glyphosate is perfectly safe, or imperfectly health-damaging? In any case studies have shown that organic farming can be just as successful as agribusiness (read: using poisons to grow food) farming. So why do we need to use pesticides and herbicides at all? Isn't it just another attack on our air, soil and water? Isn't it just putting us another step closer to making our planet inhabitable?
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A:Expert Answer

As a toxicologist who focuses on pesticide safety, I can tell you that glyphosate herbicides are backed by one of the most extensive worldwide human health, safety and environmental databases ever compiled for a pesticide product. This herbicide has been thoroughly reviewed and registered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and other regulatory agencies around the world.


Regulatory authorities and independent experts agree that glyphosate does not cause adverse reproductive effects in adult animals or birth defects in offspring of these adults exposed to glyphosate, even at doses far higher than relevant environmental or occupational exposure.  As a mother, I am always reviewing studies with that eye – assuring that my children and yours would not be harmed by appropriate uses of our products.

 

The authors of the Earth Open Source document that you refer to provide an account of glyphosate toxicity from a biased selection of studies. It is important not to ignore other data establishing the safety of glyphosate including the fact that glyphosate is not a reproductive toxin or teratogen (cause of birth defects), for example:

 

 

Following are a few other details about glyphosate that I’d ask you to consider:

 

  • When used according to label directions, Roundup branded products have a long history of safe use. The safe use of these products is backed by extensive studies as well by the first-hand experience of millions of farmers and home gardeners who have used these products for decades.
  • Glyphosate inhibits an enzyme that is essential to plant growth; this enzyme is not found in humans or other animals, contributing to the low risk to human health from the use of glyphosate according to label directions.
  • Biotech crops undergo a rigorous safety assessment following international guidelines and no verifiable cases of harm to human or animal health have occurred.
  • Roundup herbicides are the cornerstone of weed management programs on many farms and provide environmental and economic benefits of conservation tillage which are sustainable and provide effective weed management.
  • Regarding your comments and questions about organic farming:
  • Organic farmers still use pesticides to control weeds and prevent insects/diseases from destroying their crops.  So the belief that organic farming does not include the use of pesticides is not true.  See:  http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/science-sushi/2011/07/18/mythbusting-101-organic-farming-conventional-agriculture/
  • The National Organic Program (NOP) is a regulatory program housed within the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service.  The NOP is responsible for developing national standards for organically-produced agricultural products. These standards assure consumers that products with the USDA organic seal meet consistent, uniform standards. Their regulations do not address food safety or nutrition. Organic is therefore a labeling term that indicates that the food or other agricultural product has been produced through approved methods.
  • One of the key activities of the NOP is to manage the National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances. This list identifies substances (including pesticides) that may and may not be used in organic crop and livestock production.  Below are the links to the NOP home page and the National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances:
  • http://www.ams.usda.gov/AMSv1.0/ams.fetchTemplateData.do?template=TemplateA&navID=NOPHomeLinkNOPAboutUs&rightNav1=NOPHomeLinkNOPAboutUs&topNav=&leftNav=NationalOrganicProgram&page=NOPNationalOrganicProgramHome&resultType=&acct=no
  • http://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?c=ecfr&SID=9874504b6f1025eb0e6b67cadf9d3b40&rgn=div6&view=text&node=7:3.1.1.9.32.7&idno=7
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