Glyphosate: The all-round killer - German press articles
The Earth Open Source report mentioned in the articles is "Roundup and birth defects is the public being kept in the dark?"
This report showed that industry (including Monsanto) knew from its own studies conducted in the 1980s that glyphosate caused birth defects in lab animals at high doses; from the 1990s, industry knew that these effects also occurred at lower and mid doses.
The German government, the "rapporteur" member state for glyphosate, knew from 1998 from its own reading of these same industry studies. Germany explained away the birth defects by redefining them as "developmental variation[s]" – along with other 'creative' reasoning.
The EU Commission knew from 2002, when it approved glyphosate, incorrectly claiming that the birth defects only occurred at high doses that poisoned the mothers. This is the 9-year-old document referred to so blithely by the German government official in the article below–who suggests that it fully informs the public of the risks of glyphosate!
Only last year, the German Federal Office of Consumer Protection and Food Safety (BVL) told the Commission that there was "no evidence of teratogenicity" (ability to cause birth defects) for glyphosate. In making this claim, BVL was ignoring not only independent studies showing that glyphosate and Roundup cause birth defects, including at low realistic levels, but industry's own studies from as long ago as the 1980s.
In the light of all this, it's interesting to read BVL's defence, below.
Glyphosate: The Problematic Victory
By Stephan Bornecke
11 July 2011
The All-Round Killer
11 July 2011
For urls see footnotes below
BIOTECHNOLOGY THE CULTIVATION OF GENETICALLY MODIFIED SOY POSES ALSO A THREAT TO HUMAN HEALTH, SAY SCIENTISTS. BY LICENSING ALLEGEDLY NON”HAZARDOUS GRAINS FROM SOUTH AMERICA THE ENVIRONMENTAL GROUP WWF HAS COME UNDER CRITICISM.
Frankfurt a. M. It is the most widely applied herbicide in the world and closely linked with genetic engineering in agriculture. But now glyphosate is suspected of posing a health risk to humans.
Known by the brand name Roundup, glyphosate began its conquest of the market back in 1974, when the US agribusiness giant first promoted it as a complete herbicide.
But it was the development of genetically engineered soybeans in 1996 that really ensured its victory. Since then, corn, canola, cotton, and sugar beets have been developed that are Roundup resistant. At this point, fully 83 per cent of genetically modified plants are resistant to this herbicide.
However, it seems that the product does not live up to its initial promise that glyphosate would simplify farming, and even enhance environmental protection. More and more studies have shown that the herbicide, which will be up for re”evaluation by the EU, negatively impacts wild plants, soil
biota, aquatic life forms, and even the plants it is designed to protect, for instance, by increasing the incidence of fungal attacks. And that’s not all. Other plants have also developed resistance to it, which means more spraying, not less.
Now new investigations have revealed another dimension to the problem. Apparently, glyphosate is more damaging to mammals and other vertebrates, including perhaps humans, than was previously assumed. And there’s more: such undesirable side effects have apparently been known to EU authorities and German regulatory authorities with EU responsibility since the end of the 1990s.
To cite one example, Argentine Professor Andrés Carrasco published a study in 2009 that substantiated the dangers of Roundup spray. He concluded that the herbicide caused dysplasia in frog and chicken embryos even at doses lower than levels commonly used in agriculture The consequences observed in animals are comparable to those found "in humans exposed to glyphosate during pregnancy."
There must have been serious findings pointing in this direction early on, and they must have been known not only to the industry but to regulatory authorities as well. At least that is the claim of an international group of Earth Open Source researchers led by Michael Antoniou, a molecular geneticist teaching in London. The study, Roundup and birth defects is the public being kept in the dark?, points to miscarriages and birth defects in new”borns in Argentina and Paraguay whose parents live near fields of genetically modified soybeans. A study of regulatory approval documents also shows that German authorities knew about foot deformities in rats and rabbits. These consequences were also observed in some cases at dosage levels in soybeans that are approved for humans.
The report by the EU health commissioner in charge at the time downplayed possible embryo abnormalities, opining that such deformities would only ensue if the mothers had ingested a deadly dose of the herbicide.
In response to a question from the German daily Frankfurter Rundschau, the German Federal Office of Consumer Protection and Food Safety (BVL), which is also the EU rapporteur, called the criticism "baseless", stating that no important information was withheld from the public. Andreas Tief, spokesperson for the BVL, added that Antoniou had relied on "a document that is available to the public, and has been for nine years now".
In light of the emerging awareness of the risk to the human reproductive system, Christoph Then, a Munich”based scientist, is demanding completely new standards at the upcoming EU re”approval proceedings for glyphosate that have been postponed for three years, to 2015. Many consumers are not aware that they are in fact the end consumers of genetically modified soybeans when they consume the meat of animals that have consumed them.
Copyright © 2011 Frankfurter Rundschau
Copyright © 2011 Berliner zeitung
1. The German original of this article was published on 11 July 2011 in two almost identical versions simultaneously in Frankfurter Rundschau (FR) and Berliner Zeitung (BZ), two daily broadsheet newspapers that are well known beyond the regional limits where they are published. The online source for FR is
for BZ it is
2. Translation from the original article in German by Larass Translations, Ottawa (http://www.larrasstranslations.com); the two versions have been integrated.
3 Study downloadable from http://scr.bi/RRbirthdef