Monsanto's Toxic Roundup

Back to GE Foods Dangers Page. Back to Health Page.

Enclosed is an article showing how Monsanto is dishonest about the toxicity of their herbicide, Roundup. This is followed by two articles showing the toxicity of Roundup which (despite industry claims otherwise) is used in significantly high amounts in genetically-engineered frankenfoods. You will then eat the residues of Monsanto's toxic herbicide!

Subject: IT'S OFFICAL Monsanto's Roundup NOT environmentaly friendly
PANUPS: Monsanto Agrees to Change Ads and EPA Fines Northrup King. January 10, 1997.
Pesticide Action Network North America
(PANNA), San Francisco, CA.

Monsanto Agrees to Change Ads

Monsanto Co. agreed to change its advertising for glyphosate- based products, including Roundup, in response to complaints by the New York Attorney General's office that the ads were misleading. Based on their investigation, the Attorney General's office felt that the advertising inaccurately portrayed Monsanto's glyphosate-containing products as safe and as not causing any harmful effects to people or the environment. According to the state, the ads also implied that the risks of products such as Roundup are the same as those of the active ingredient, glyphosate, and do not take into account the possible risks associated with the product's inert ingredients.

As part of the agreement, Monsanto will discontinue the use of terms such as "biodegradable" and "environmentally friendly" in all advertising of glyphosate-containing products in New York state and will pay $50,000 toward the state's costs of pursuing the case. The Attorney General has been challenging the ads since 1991.

Monsanto maintains that it did not violate any federal, state or local law and that its claims were "true and not misleading in any way." The company states that they entered into the agreement for settlement purposes only in order to avoid costly litigation.

According to a 1993 report published by the School of Public Health at the University of California, Berkeley, glyphosate was the third most commonly-reported cause of pesticide illness among agricultural workers. Another study from the School of Public Health found that glyphosate was the most commonly reported cause of pesticide illness among landscape maintenance workers. (Both studies were based on data collected between 1984 and 1990.)

In the first nine months of 1996, Monsanto's worldwide agrochemical sales increased by 21% to US$2.48 billion, due largely to increased sales of Roundup.

Pesticide Action Network North America (PANNA)
Phone: (415) 541-9140
Fax: (415) 541-9253
email: |

Biotech supporters have said that roundup is more environmentally friendly and less toxic. Dr. Joe Cummins located these two articles to show that this claim is not correct.

Title: Acute poisoning with a glyphosate-surfactant herbicide ('Roundup'): a review of 93 cases.

Authors: Talbot AR; Shiaw MH; Huang JS; Yang SF; Goo TS; Wang SH; Chen CL; Sanford TR
Address: Department of Critical Care Medicine, Changhua Christian Hospital, Taiwan, Republic of China.

Source Hum Exp Toxicol

Between 1 January 1980, and 30 September 1989, 93 cases of exposure to herbicides containing glyphosphate and surfactant ('Roundup') were treated at Changhua Christian Hospital. The average amount of the 41% solution of glyphosate herbicide ingested by non-survivors was 184 +/- 70 ml (range 85-200 ml), but much larger amounts (500 ml) were reported to have been ingested by some patients and only resulted in mild to moderate symptomatology. Accidental exposure was asymptomatic after dermal contact with spray (six cases), while mild oral discomfort occurred after accidental ingestion (13 cases). Intentional ingestion (80 cases) resulted in erosion of the gastrointestinal tract (66%), seen as sore throat (43%), dysphagia (31%), and gastrointestinal haemorrhage (8%). Other organs were affected less often (non-specific leucocytosis 65%, lung 23%, liver 19%, cardiovascular 18%, kidney 14%, and CNS 12%). There were seven deaths, all of which occurred within hours of ingestion, two before the patient arrived at the hospital. Deaths following ingestion of 'Roundup' alone were due to a syndrome that involved hypotension, unresponsive to intravenous fluids or vasopressor drugs, and sometimes pulmonary oedema, in the presence of normal central venous pressure.

MESH Headings Adolescence*; Adult*; Age Factors*; Aged*; Aged, 80 and over*; Cardiovascular Diseases*; Case Report; Central Nervous System Diseases*; Child*; Child, Preschool*; Female; Glycine*; Herbicides*; Human; Infant*; Kidney Diseases*; Leukocytosis*; Liver Diseases*; Lung Diseases*; Male; Middle Age*

NORML SPECIAL REPORT, November 12, 1996

DEA Herbicide Under Fire From Hawaii Residents

Locals Complain Of Nausea, Other Ailments Due To Aerial Spraying

Residents of the island of Hawaii are complaining of flu-like symptoms such as nausea, headaches, and fatigue and many are pointing fingers at the federal government and state law enforcement.
For nearly a decade, Drug Enforcement Agency-coordinated marijuana eradication efforts have targeted the island of Hawaii, often spraying a glyphosate-based herbicide from low-flying helicopters over suspected marijuana patches. Recently, however, some residents are claiming that the pesticide, a chemical weed-killer similar to "Round Up," is killing wildlife and making some citizens sick.

"You can actually taste it in your mouth," said Roger Christie of the Hawaii Hemp Council, who alleges that the pesticide is occasionally mixed with additives. Christie reports that gusts of wind disperse the pesticide to outlying communities, where it collects in rainwater catchments. Rooftop catchments are a common source of residents' drinking water. Christie is convinced that the spraying is directly linked to recently reported environmental and health problems.

"In the last two weeks, hundreds of people have come to me with their complaints and said that's why I'm feeling this way too," said Ka'u resident Susan Smith in an interview with KGMB-TV earlier this month. "[Law enforcement] are flying over my house every other day. ... It's like a war zone out here."

According to local area physician, Patricia Bailey, MD, Christie and Smith's claims are not without substance. Bailey has collected incident reports from some 40 persons, aged 9 months to 84 years, who claim that they have been affected by the spray. She cites generalized symptoms of eye and respiratory tract irritation. She further notes that about 75 percent of respondents suffered from diarrhea.

Affidavits attained by NORML report frequent complaints from residents of flu-like symptoms such as nausea and headaches, sometimes lasting for more than a week after the spraying. Others complain of experiencing fatigue, irritability, soar joints and throats, and frequent itchiness and burning of the eyes. In one of the most severe reported cases, an Ocean View resident complained of experiencing prolonged numbness in her arms. "The numbness was the most prominent and frightening [symptom,]" she explained. "[It] felt uncomfortable to wear my watch [so] I took it off and carried it. I kept rubbing my arms, trying to warm them and get blood back circulating." The resident described the experience as "unnerving."

"There is a statistical significance to the complaints," said Dr. Bailey. "I think [this] is serious now."

Studies on the potential dangers of glyphosate to both humans and the environment are mixed. According the 1986 federal Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), laboratory and greenhouse studies performed mostly by the manufacturer (The Monsanto Company) indicated that glyphosate was only a moderately toxic herbicide that posed little danger to the environment.

However, Noah Berry, vice president of EcoLaw Institute Inc., an Oklahoma organization that works to strengthen environmental laws, has examined the safety of glyphosate and concludes that the chemical "can do a lot of damage to our bio-diversity."3 In addition, a 1991 report by the Radian Corporation concludes that human exposure to glyphosate can cause "irritation of the skin, gastrointestinal tract and respiratory tract, convulsions and coma."

Lenny Terlip of the state Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) told NORML that claims of glyphosate harming the environment and endangering the health of residents were "erroneous." He denied reports that the herbicide was mixed with any additives and said that the sprayings were not being conducted near houses or residential areas. He further added that the helicopter-mounted spray-guns have "pin-point accuracy," a claim rebuked by a review of some of the available scientific literature.

According to the Journal of Pesticide Reform, "In general, movement of a pesticide through unwanted drift is unavoidable; drift of glyphosate is no exception." The article emphasized, however, that glyphosate drift is a "particularly significant problem ... [because] damage is likely to be much more extensive and more persistent than with many other herbicides."7 Two studies conducted in Canada measured glyphosate residues more than 650 feet away from target areas following helicopter applications to forest sites and a third study from California found glyphosate over 2,600 feet away following aerial application.9 By her own estimations, Smith judges that high wind gusts on the island of Hawaii can carry glyphosate residue even farther.

"Why do we have to wait [until] five years from now [for an answer?]" asked Smith. "Why do we have to wait ... till they tell us, okay, it's toxic and now it's outlawed?"

Recently, Smith gathered angry residents to an informal town meeting where they voiced their grievances with elected officials and state agency representatives, signed health impact affidavits, and met with news media. She and other area residents agreed to file a formal complaint with the DLNR.

Photographs on display at the meeting documented orange-sprayed foliage in forests and yards as well as dead bird carcasses. Many residents elaborated on the symptoms of their illnesses. Glenn Sahara, a spokesman for the Hawaii Department of Agriculture who attended the meeting, attempted to deny that the spraying played any role. Instead, he stated that the animal deaths might be due to heart failure caused by the noise of low-flying helicopters. Many residents remained unconvinced. "We are being poisoned," claimed one elderly gentleman. "It's the children I am thinking of. Stop the aerial spraying!"

This is an example of "law enforcement run amuck," claimed environmental activist and resident Jerry Rothstein. Rothstein has studied the original EIS and tells NORML that residents may file a lawsuit against both state and federal agencies for failure to comply with regulations mandated by the 1986 report. EIS rules require that law enforcement, "Take all reasonable steps to notify everyone, including residents, before spraying."

For the time being, Rothstein is encouraging residents to participate in the updating of the scheduled 1996 EIS supplement. Public comments on this notice were requested in the August 13, 1996 issue of the Federal Register and public hearings will be held before a final version is drafted.

"From the response of the Ka'u community, th[ese] latest aerial herbicide attack[s] appear to be among the worst yet," noted Rothstein. He said that in the past, law enforcement has attempted to dismiss complaints by alleging that they were only from marijuana growers attempting to protect their crops. These latest rounds of complaints, however, are too widespread to ignore, he said.

Currently, only one other state, South Dakota, engages in aerial herbicide spraying.1 Swindell, Bill. "State Will Dump Pesticide on Pot." Tulsa World News: June 11, 1996.

2. Cox, Caroline. "Glyphosate, Part 2: Human Exposure and Ecological Effects." J. of Pest. Rfm.: Vol. 15, Winter 1995.
3. Bishop, Hunter. "Herbicide causing illness?" Hilo Tribune-Herald: October 24, 1996.
4. NTP Chemical Repository. Radian Corporation: August 29, 1991.
5. Nivia, Elsa and Gips, Judith. "Drug Control and Herbicide Spraying in Columbia." Global Pesticide Campaigner, February 1993.
6. Cox, Caroline. "Glyphosate, Part 2: Human Exposure and Ecological Effects." J. of Pest. Rfm: Vol. 15, Winter 1995.
7. Freedman, B. "Controversy over the use of herbicides in forestry, with particular reference to glyphosate usage." J. Envir. Sci. Hlth.: Vol: C8(2), 1990-1991.
8. Cox, Caroline. "Glyphosate, Part 2: Human Exposure and Ecological Effects." J. of Pest. Rfm: Vol. 15, Winter 1995.
9. Ibid.
10. Personal conversation with Jerry Rothstein

OnSite: 13 NOV 96 =A9 copyright 1996, 1997 NORML