The little herbicide that could. That's what comes to mind as EPA proposes to up the residue levels of RoundUp allowed on food — despite a fresh round of studies pointing to possible human health effects from exposure.
The latest science examines links between Monsanto's flagship product and endocrine disruption, including a laboratory study that suggests an effect on cells similar to that of estrogen — a hormone that plays a role in stimulating breast cancer. PAN scientists are taking a careful look at these findings; given the widespread use of RoundUp (more than 180 million pounds every year) the public health implications could be dramatic.
On Monday, EPA closed the comment period on their proposal to raise the "tolerance levels" for glyphosate — the active ingredient in RoundUp — just as this new science tumbles in.
Increasing allowable levels makes little sense, especially when we already have evidence suggesting exposure may be associated with birth defects in lab animals — not to mention the serious on-farm problems with the rapid evolution of RoundUp-resistant "superweeds."
As PAN senior scientist Dr. Marcia Ishii-Eiteman notes, the ecological, economic and agronomic disaster accompanying herbicide-tolerant crops is already clear and well understood. For the last several seasons, farmers have faced disturbing developments like these:
"... over 10 million acres of superweeds resistant to Monsanto’s weedkiller, RoundUp; farm machinery breaking on RoundUp-resistant pigweed thick as a baseball bat; Monsanto paying farmers to spray their fields with competitors’ herbicides; a new generation of transgenic crops in the pipeline engineered to withstand older even more dangerous chemicals like 2,4-D."
New EPA rules that encourage more use of RoundUp? What is the agency thinking?