Drowning in Herbicide: Monsanto Ignores Health Concerns

weedMonsanto, a self-proclaimed solver of global agriculture problems, has really just brought more and more chemicals into our food supply. GAP coalition partner, the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), gave the company a failing grade yesterday in documenting eight ways Monsanto has taken agriculture in the wrong direction.

In addition to suppressing independent research on its controversial products and spending millions to lobby Congress against measures that threaten the industrial agriculture status quo, Monsanto has brought troubling threats to human and environmental health with the widespread application of its glyphosate (Roundup) herbicide. UCS points out that the genetically engineered (GE) crops Monsanto produced to tolerate glyphosate were supposedly meant to decrease overall herbicide use, but the result has been millions of pounds more instead. Possible links between glyphosate and birth defects, not to mention threats to biodiversity, make this increase unsettling.

But even this higher rate of herbicide use is still not enough for Monsanto. The company has just requested that the European Union raise the acceptable residue levels for glyphosate in lentils by 100-150 times … most likely because that's how much is actually ending up on the crop already.

To fight off weeds that have grown resistant to glyphosate, Monsanto wants to introduce new GE crops that can tolerate even older herbicides, including one that was a major ingredient in Agent Orange

Instead of acknowledging concerns for its products, Monsanto continues to pump them as solutions. But it's not the only one. Agribusiness company Syngenta continues to tout atrazine, the second most commonly used herbicide in the U.S. – despite an ongoing feud with the biologist Syngenta hired to study atrazine, who then tried to expose the herbicide’s harmful effects. PR Watch also published a lengthy piece yesterday on the company's tactics to defend attacks against atrazine, including paying thousands of dollars to the president of the American Council for Science and Health who pushed the notion of “chemophobia,” an irrational fear of chemicals.

These chemical companies clearly have a fear of losing profits, given all the concerns that they simply dismiss. Increased use of herbicides, as UCS reported, ultimately means more pesticide use as well. If we didn't have enough to worry about already, whistleblower Renee Dufault has previously explained the negative health impacts of pesticide exposure in food, including Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder prevalence in kids. It's not a pretty picture overall.

Sarah Damian is New Media Associate for the Government Accountability Project, the nation's leading whistleblower protection and advocacy organization.


Comments (7)

  1. I see that in the last few days that a case brought forward by organic farmers against Monsanto was thrown out of court.
    It appears that yet again when it comes to fighting against the wrong doings of a major corporation that the 'little man' has far to go. I take comfort in the fact that tobacco companies had the same impact as Monsanto did, look at tobacco companies now and peoples opinions towards them. Things will change, people will realise but its just in the meantime Monsanto can and do cause so much damage to our eco-system and that's the terrifying reality of it. For the time being the chemical giant will continue to win but the more we educate people, the more their name reaches mainstream media the more we can do to change their tactics.

    I wrote a similar article as yourself, in connection with a food corporation called Fonterra. As you can see its a sad reality that unless we educate ourselves we have very little control over what we eat.

  2. The very health of all citizen's in the whole world is deeply being affected because of this wickedness and those responsible should be imprisoned for life for there Treasonous Acts. The company Monsanto and the rest should have all asset's frozen and rightfully given to the Farmers to rebuild what has been both taken and destroyed.
  3. So, it's kinda like the no child left behind approach...just raise the bar. Worked well for Bush...right? :)
  4. Yes Tom, 'Food Inc' is an eye-opening documentary largely focusing on Monsanto, another documentary that is worth digesting (pardon the pun) is 'The Corporation' I would recommend it for further research. All though I agree that Monsanto's name is very blackened, the issue at hand is whether the means of growing food should be controlled by a small group of commercial interests?. Can we except companies to be ethical? , concern themselves with the the health of people over profit making? What The Corporation documentary highlights is that corporations such as Monsanto have major influence over government policy. So can we even expect the government to make the best decisions for consumers when both the government and the corporations are often involved with one another.
  5. Thanks, Tom and William, for sharing! It's definitely disconcerting that Monsanto has faced little accountability for all of its offenses. What makes matters worse is its ability to block transparency, such as preventing independent research of its controversial products. Monsanto has also lobbied in support of anti-whistleblower legislation. We need to be protecting the individuals capable of exposing problems along the supply chain, not criminalizing them.
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