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posted by janrinok on Wednesday July 30 2014, @07:04PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the Monsanto-is-having-a-bad-week dept.

Monsanto's RoundUp, a widely used pesticide, uses the active ingredient Glyphosate and it may be up for another serious beating. Medical specialists and scientists in Sri Lanka has found that when glyphosate comes in contact with heavy metals like cadmium, arsenic, manganese and cobalt which exist naturally in the soil or fertilizer, it becomes highly toxic and has a high likelihood of causing fatal kidney disease for anyone that comes into contact with it. And because the substance binds to metals it will not show up in current tests. The report (and another one) is published in International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health and has resulted in that the Sri Lanka president to ban glyphosate immediately.

Exposure to glyphosate causes a drop in amino acid tryptophan levels, which interrupts the necessary active signalling of the neurotransmitter serotonin, which is associated with weight gain, depression, Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease. The report show that industry and regulators knew as long ago as the 1980's and 1990's that glyphosate causes malformation, but that information was not made public. Glyphosate is also a teratogenic.

Monsanto has been in the news quite recently.

Related Stories

Monsanto Ordered to Pay $93M to Small Town for Poisoning Citizens 21 comments

Natural Society reports

The West Virginia State Supreme Court finalized a big blow to the biotech giant Monsanto this month, finishing a settlement causing Monsanto to pay $93 million to the tiny town of Nitro, West Virginia for poisoning citizens with Agent Orange chemicals. The settlement was approved last year, but details were worked out only weeks ago as to how the funds were to be spent.

The settlement will require Monsanto to do the following:

  • $9 million will be spent to clean dioxin contaminated dust from 4500 homes.
  • $21 million will be spent to test to see if people have been poisoned with dioxin.
  • Citizens will be monitored for such poisoning for 30 years, not just a few months.
  • An additional $63 million is to be allotted if additional tests for dioxin contamination testing is necessary.
  • Anyone who lived in the Nitro area between Jan. 1, 1948, and Sept. 3, 2010 will be tested for dioxin. Although they must show proof they lived in the area, they will be eligible for testing even if they no longer live in Nitro.
  • Former or present employees of Monsanto are not eligible for any of these benefits.
  • An office will be set up to organize testing for Nitro citizens. The registration of participants is to be overlooked by Charleston attorney Thomas Flaherty, who was appointed by the court.
  • Residents have a right to file individual suits against Monsanto if medical tests show they suffered physical harm due to dioxin exposure.
Monsanto No More 52 comments

Monsanto, a brand name activists love to hate, will disappear as Bayer takes over:

These days Monsanto is shorthand for, as NPR's Dan Charles has put it, "lots of things that some people love to hate": Genetically modified crops, which Monsanto invented. Seed patents, which Monsanto has fought to defend. Herbicides such as Monsanto's Roundup, which protesters have sharply criticized for its possible health risks. Big agriculture in general, of which Monsanto was the reviled figurehead.

And soon Monsanto will be no more. Bayer, the German pharmaceutical giant and pesticide powerhouse, announced in 2016 it would be buying Monsanto in an all-cash deal for more than $60 billion. Now, as the merger approaches, Bayer has confirmed what many suspected: In the merger, the politically charged name "Monsanto" will be disappearing. The combined company will be known simply as Bayer, while product names will remain the same. The move is not exactly a surprise — it makes sense that Bayer might want to weed out some of the intense negative associations associated with the Monsanto brand. In a way, it's an indication of how successful anti-Monsanto protesters have been in shaping public perception.

In the company's latest statement, Bayer implicitly acknowledged how hostile debates over genetically modified crops and other agricultural products have become. "We aim to deepen our dialogue with society. We will listen to our critics and work together where we find common ground," the chairman of Bayer's board of management, Werner Baumann, said in the statement. "Agriculture is too important to allow ideological differences to bring progress to a standstill. We have to talk to each other. We need to listen to each other. It's the only way to build bridges."

Also at Reuters.

Previously: Bayer AG Offers to Buy Monsanto
Bayer Purchases Monsanto for Around $66 Billion

Roundup: Monsanto Ordered to Pay $93M to Small Town for Poisoning Citizens
RoundUp Glyphosate Found to Cause Kidney Failure and Elude Tests
Cancer Hazard vs. Risk - Glyphosate
Use of Dicamba-Resistant Monsanto Crops Leads to Soybean Death
GMO Grass That 'Escaped' Defies Eradication, Divides Grass Seed Industry
Glyphosate Linked to Liver Damage


Original Submission   Alternate Submission

Removing Heavy Metals with Banana Tree Biomass 28 comments

Heavy metals contaminate ground and surface waters from a variety of sources such as industrial effluent or fertilizers or pesticide applications. Cadmium and lead are the most common and toxic metals found in aqueous environments. They are persistent, they migrate, they accumulate in biological tissues, and they are carcinogenic. Removing these metals effectively and cheaply has been a big environmental challenge. There are a number of approaches to remove them including reverse osmosis, ion-exchange, chemical precipitation, coagulation, electrochemical treatment, and physical adsorption. Of these, adsorption is seen as very promising due to it being cost-effective, widely available, and easy to implement. There are a wide variety of adsorbent materials from the mundane (activated carbon, diatomaceous earth, polymers, etc.) to the exotic (carbon nanotubes and graphene oxide), but biochar has shown to be very efficient and cost-effective.

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  • (Score: 4, Informative) by VLM on Wednesday July 30 2014, @07:10PM

    by VLM (445) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday July 30 2014, @07:10PM (#75640)

    From the first source:

    http://cellularinnergy.com/ [cellularinnergy.com]

    Because vibrant health of body and mind is dependent on a healthy electromagnetic field, CELLULAR INNERGY focuses on clearing out anything that could interfere with this optimum frequency, and then restoring the compromised cells and tissues to their natural electromagnetic signatures.

    Um, yeah, good luck with that.

    This doesn't prove they're wrong on a completely different subject, but does make them look awful. Hopefully their biochemists aren't as incompetent as their physicists.

    • (Score: 3, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 30 2014, @07:41PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 30 2014, @07:41PM (#75653)

      The people who wrote the paper have nothing to do with the loon site. So tarring unrelated people is pretty poor form.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 30 2014, @07:48PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 30 2014, @07:48PM (#75656)

        but quite American

      • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 30 2014, @07:51PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 30 2014, @07:51PM (#75657)

        > The people who wrote the paper have nothing to do with the loon site.
        > So tarring unrelated people is pretty poor form.

        Kaszz did the tarring, not VLM.

        When you link to a loon site as a source for a story, then you have discredited the story from the start.
        Like linking to a fox news story about non-conservatives or an RT story about russia, or a dailymail story about nearly anything.

        • (Score: 2) by etherscythe on Wednesday July 30 2014, @09:12PM

          by etherscythe (937) on Wednesday July 30 2014, @09:12PM (#75692) Journal

          Or anything associated with Alex Jones. I immediately apply my salt shaker when I see infowars.com or prisonplanet

          --
          "Fake News: anything reported outside of my own personally chosen echo chamber"
        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 31 2014, @09:47AM

          by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 31 2014, @09:47AM (#75841)

          Not to mention the fact that Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's disease have nothing to do with serotonin.

      • (Score: 2) by VLM on Wednesday July 30 2014, @08:22PM

        by VLM (445) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday July 30 2014, @08:22PM (#75669)

        "The people who wrote the paper have nothing to do with the loon site."

        Roger that, I should have emphasized in my three posts of comments that its strictly one source per comment aside from the "someone is trying to sabotage the argument by linking to a nutcase site right next to real scientific papers".

    • (Score: 2) by kaszz on Thursday July 31 2014, @01:16AM

      by kaszz (4211) on Thursday July 31 2014, @01:16AM (#75765) Journal

      The source gathering except for the papers were fast in less than 100% mode of operations..

  • (Score: 4, Informative) by MrGuy on Wednesday July 30 2014, @07:19PM

    by MrGuy (1007) on Wednesday July 30 2014, @07:19PM (#75645)

    ..A teratogenic is a substance that causes developmental abnormailities, including birth defects.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Teratology [wikipedia.org]

    Feedback for the editor - if you're going to include a sentence like the last one, please consider linking definitions for potentially unfamiliar words like this.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 31 2014, @02:55PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 31 2014, @02:55PM (#75934)
      I'm not worried about birth defects; I was already born.
  • (Score: 4, Informative) by VLM on Wednesday July 30 2014, @07:23PM

    by VLM (445) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday July 30 2014, @07:23PM (#75647)

    The first real paper, as opposed to the woo woo electromagnetic therapy link, seems quite reasonable. If you drink borderline toxic water thats severely contaminated with heavy metals, it seems possible that a chelating agent would help you adsorb more heavy metals, thus killing the victims, and one roundup decay product can act like a chelating agent.

    That's a long way from saying it actually caused those problems. Hopefully they have samples somewhere or can run an experiment on mice or something?

    Kind of like discussing JFK assassination theories, a whole bucket of "could have" doesn't boil down to much.

    Something I don't understand about the epidemic in the 1st paper, is nothing has likely changed with respect to herbicide use, heavy metal contamination of the groundwater, and drinking water treatment. So the farmers should still be dropping like flies today, just like in the 90s. Why not?

    Its kind of important because everyone loves to hate roundup, but maybe the mystery chelating agent is some unmentioned insecticide or an industrial accident or a contaminant due to poor quality control in any of the above or in the roundup itself. So banning the wrong thing won't save any lives at all. On the other hand, if you know your drinking water is shit tier quality, adding any chelating agent of any kind would be kind of stupid, so banning a known chelating agent is wise although only a partial cure. If you're drinking shit tier water on a regular basis then banning one of a zillion ways to kick it over the limit and kill people isn't wise.

    • (Score: 4, Informative) by frojack on Wednesday July 30 2014, @08:29PM

      by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday July 30 2014, @08:29PM (#75673) Journal

      Pretty much sums up my assessment as well.

      Roundup isn't supposed to be found in drinking water. But then neither is that boatload of metals they mentioned.

      The water is so hard in the areas mentioned that there were significant problems before Roundup.

      (a) The number of villagers who complain that the ground water hardness in CKDu endemic
      area has increased steadily over the last two decades.

      (b) Certain shallow wells (2-5 m), which were previously been used for drinking purposes are
      now abandoned due to high hardness and bad taste.

      (c) There are a few natural springs located in the CKDu endemic area where water is not hard.

      People who consume water from these sources have been determined to be free from the
      disease.

      (d) Individuals who drink treated water from large water supply schemes (especially in the two cities of Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa), while living in the same endemic areas,
      do not have the disease.

      (e) In the adjoining farming areas of the Northern Province of Sri Lanka, where the ground
      water hardness level is known to also be hard or very hard, there have not been any
      significant number of CKDu cases reported.

      Oh, and that very hard water in the northern province but no liver disease?

      From later in the study:

      Furthermore, a comparatively low amount of agrochemicals has been used in the Northern Province of Sri Lanka, primarily due to a prohibition imposed by the government in this province. The prohibition was due to the potential of these agrochemicals being used in the production of Improvised Explosive Devices

      So their little built in (but unintended) experiment suggests it wasn't the roundup (Glyphosate is not explosive), it was probably the fertilizer they have been using, to excess, while continuing to drink heavy metal contaminated ground water which has the addition of fertilizer run-off.

      Much as we love to hate on Monsanto, this looks like the it could be a combination of many fertilizer products (as well as pesticides) in combination with water that should not be consumed.

      --
      No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
      • (Score: 2) by Reziac on Friday August 01 2014, @02:31AM

        by Reziac (2489) on Friday August 01 2014, @02:31AM (#76212) Homepage

        Wells of 2 to 5 meters? that's not even groundwater as such; that's percolated runoff. I'd expect a shitload of undesirables in that water (including a more than average pathogen load). If our well here in Montana was that shallow, it'd be full of arsenic, just from natural leeching.

        Betcha their water doesn't pass muster no matter what you test it for, and the Roundup is, if anything, a minor element.

        Here's a hint, folks: don't stop digging when you hit first water. Drill down to 2nd water, and a host of bad-water issues go away.

  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by caseih on Wednesday July 30 2014, @07:28PM

    by caseih (2744) on Wednesday July 30 2014, @07:28PM (#75650)

    What amount of exposure is required for this build-up to happen? As the saying goes, it's the dose that makes the poison.

    • (Score: 3, Funny) by bob_super on Thursday July 31 2014, @12:16AM

      by bob_super (1357) on Thursday July 31 2014, @12:16AM (#75755)

      I"m surprised they haven't banned buying 2-gallon jugs of water yet.

  • (Score: 2) by gman003 on Wednesday July 30 2014, @07:36PM

    by gman003 (4155) on Wednesday July 30 2014, @07:36PM (#75652)

    Okay, it's been way too long since I waded into the deep end of the science pool. Is this understanding of the situation correct?:

    Glyphosphate itself is toxic in high, acute doses, but is water-soluble and easily removed from crops. As such it is mainly a danger to those spraying it, and it is an easily-managed danger.

    However, when it encounters certain heavy metals in the environment, it drastically increases their ability to penetrate biological defenses (sort of like how methylmercury is a much more bioavailable form of mercury) and becomes harder to wash away. Even then, the glyphosphate is not the danger, just the metal it bonded with. This is, however, a significant danger in regions with high natural levels of those heavy metals.

    Is that understanding right, or did I miss something?

    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by VLM on Wednesday July 30 2014, @08:02PM

      by VLM (445) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday July 30 2014, @08:02PM (#75661)

      A chelating agent is not a soap, but its close enough to imagine it is. Sorta. Or like an emulsificant like egg yolk.

      So say your mixing bowl is full of water and a poisonous oil and for the sake of argument you can't adsorb the oil. But you add some yolk to it and whip the heck out of it and now you've got toxic mayonnaise which you can adsorb so then you get sick. This is one screwed up analogy.

      Anyway back to the real stuff, it biodegrades and most of the shards are really boring, but one of the shards is a theoretical chelating agent which means it kind of wraps it self around / eats heavy metals which live wrapped up inside it. That's really awesome if you're trying to get them out of a system and you've got something that disposes of chelating agents easier than it disposes directly of heavy metals. On the other hand, from the article, it would kind of suck if chelated heavy metals wrapped up and hidden snuck past defenses to destroy something. Like something in your kidneys that protects them from direct attack by heavy metals, but a "trojan horse" wrapped up inside a chelating agent can sneak past, get inside, and destroy them.

      Well, the paper is all "in theory" not exactly proven in the lab. And they haven't even identified which trojan horse of many is actually causing the problem, much less the dudes sneaking around in the trojan horse. But the overall historical battle sounds like this trojan horse story. Kinda. Although theres absolutely no evidence.

      So you unwrap your new xbox game, and the cellophane gets repurposed to wrap up some homemade sugar candies which you later eat and get diabetes from a lifetime of high carb intake. Now does that mean "xbox games cause diabetes", no, only an idiot would say that, its actually the sugar that did it. On the other hand, if the only source of cellophane wrapping paper was xbox games and the only way to shove raw sugar down your throat was homemade candies wrapped in used xbox game wrappings, well, then maybe banning xbox games isn't all that dumb after all.. if thats the only way it can happen. If. Kind of a philosophical argument. Of course the more intelligent thing to do would be to not have sugar candies laying everywhere or to filter what you eat, and then you can have all the xbox games you want without getting diabetes. Unfortunately the paper doesn't prove the diabetes was caused by either the sugar candies or the xbox wrappers, although something like this has happened before and both are present in the house so it can't be proven that it didn't happen. I like this analogy quite a bit.

      • (Score: 2) by Reziac on Friday August 01 2014, @02:37AM

        by Reziac (2489) on Friday August 01 2014, @02:37AM (#76215) Homepage

        If your drinking water has such a high level of toxic metals that you have to worry about ingesting secondary compounds, you've got more problems than metals chelated by glyphosphate (theoretical or otherwise).

        And aren't we missing something here? One of the ways toxic metals are medically *removed* from the body is by ingesting a chelating agent, which in due course is excreted with along with the chelated metal. Now I'm wondering if maybe this hypothetical chelation might be helping more than harming.

    • (Score: 4, Informative) by cafebabe on Wednesday July 30 2014, @08:09PM

      by cafebabe (894) on Wednesday July 30 2014, @08:09PM (#75663) Journal

      You missed something. Glyphosate with or without heavy metals are a problem for consumers. Glyphosate is absorbed when plants grow [wikipedia.org] and it is only delay between spraying and harvesting which reduces the level of glyphosate present in food. Adverse conditions, such as bad weather or a shady corner of a field, may lead to elevated levels of glyphosate.

      Regardless, ingested glyphosate interferes with tryptophan. This reduces serotonin. This can cause depression, deformed babies and other bad things. Apparently, some of this was known in the 1980s.

      --
      1702845791×2
      • (Score: 2) by VLM on Wednesday July 30 2014, @08:28PM

        by VLM (445) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday July 30 2014, @08:28PM (#75672)

        "only delay between spraying and harvesting which reduces the level of glyphosate present in food."

        Yes and that may be an important key to the problem. Obviously only an idiot would spend a substantial amount of money by spraying for weeds the day before a harvest, that stuff costs money and smart farmers go out of business all the time, so dumb ones aren't going to last long at all.

        The likely problem is something like contamination. So some dude aerial sprays his corn and downwind it lands on some radishes or something that are being harvested.

        The "cure" for the problem might be as simple as being a little more careful about application.

        Could also be accidental exposure as in industrial style leaks, improperly cleaned equipment, just plain old human stupidity. Again, more careful regulation might be all that's needed.

        Maybe a radiotracer study would be interesting. If you find that stuff in your radishes or whatever, how exactly did it get there?

        • (Score: 2) by cafebabe on Wednesday July 30 2014, @09:03PM

          by cafebabe (894) on Wednesday July 30 2014, @09:03PM (#75688) Journal

          I hadn't considered the problem of cross-contamination. Perhaps I should have given that Monsanto has sued farmers for patent infringement after their crops were cross-contaminated with Monsanto products.

          Anyhow, I'm not sure that a radio-tracer would be a good proxy. It could go either way. The problem is that glyphosate absorption occurs when plants grow. Plant growth is almost linear with light - if there is sufficient water and nutrients. Meanwhile, glyphosate decay would be weakly related to plant growth. I'm not sure if a radio-tracer would model all of this accurately.

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          1702845791×2
        • (Score: 3, Informative) by frojack on Wednesday July 30 2014, @10:03PM

          by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday July 30 2014, @10:03PM (#75722) Journal

          This is Sri Lanka.

          Rice. Not corn. As far as I know, there are no roundup ready crops grown in that country.

          Therefore, the roundup would have been used (likely to excess) well before planting season. You would never put that on crops near harvest, because it pretty much kills everything that hasn't had roundup tolerance engineered in.

          It breaks down very quickly. (days). So the exposure window is during application, and probably contamination of the drinking water, (which again would only last days).

          Because it is a poor country application is likely to be done via backpack sprayers/foggers rather than aerial or mechanized. So the exposure could be intense since they are out there in the field spraying and breathing it before the planting season.

           

          --
          No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by VLM on Wednesday July 30 2014, @07:42PM

    by VLM (445) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday July 30 2014, @07:42PM (#75654)

    I was very unimpressed with the conclusions drawn from the second paper. Its a meta statistical analysis of 44 previous studies looking for trends and the like among active ingredient groups.

    2 of 44 papers found a rather tenuous link between glyphosate and a peculiar form of cancer. Whats very carefully not being reported is 42 of 44 papers did not.

    This doesn't necessarily prove its an outright disinfo campaign or falsified results. Further research into why 96% of studies found no link and 4% found a rather tenuous link is probably a good idea.

    One huge problem is glyphosate is rather carefully controlled such that there's only a couple (just one?) formulation which is mostly inactive ingredients. And I donno what its mixed with, but I assure you from personal experience applying the stuff, its unholy stinky, some kind of organic solvent, and probably not terribly good for you. Much as an apple might be healthy to neutral, preserving it in a vat of formaldehyde and then eating both the formaldehyde and apple will make you extremely sick, because of the formaldehyde, but that doesn't prove apples are unhealthy.

    There is a peculiarity of techies and SN is no exception that everything is binary. Either stuff is mothers milk and its pure and organic and healthy for all and we all should have the government force us to drink it, or its pure unadulterated evil. The problem is the real world doesn't work like that and people who try to think like that in the real world are pretty much idiots. As an example of what I'm getting at, probably we need to spend our time and money lining up anyone who uses arsenic based insecticides up against a wall and then shoot them, all of them. Thats some real bad shit and no one disagrees and it seems fairly conclusive. Glyphosate? Well, it doesn't seem very harmful despite and immense amount of use although further research is probably advisable. And what are we going to replace it with? Don't BS me about organic farming... we'll probably replace it with something that is known to be worse, but doesn't have the scary name.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 30 2014, @07:55PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 30 2014, @07:55PM (#75659)

      Glyphosate is an herbicide.

      • (Score: 3, Interesting) by VLM on Wednesday July 30 2014, @08:18PM

        by VLM (445) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday July 30 2014, @08:18PM (#75668)

        "Glyphosate is an herbicide."

        I assume you're commenting on "arsenic based insecticides".

        Yeah see thats the weird part about glyphosate, I don't have chloroplasts so it sounds ridiculous unlikely that it would have any effect on me. Kind of like that diatomaceous earth that kills any bug with an exoskeleton by dehydration, well, I don't have an exoskeleton so I should be able to bathe in that stuff with no effect at all. So I'm not an herb, so the most carefully targeted herbicide known to humanity probably shouldn't do anything to me at all, like this whole topic is just a joke. None the less biochemistry is strange and there could be a side effect, although most of the literature is along the lines of "wifi causes cancer" variety because there isn't any real literature showing a problem, mostly crackpots.

        I was using the arsenic insecticides as the gold standard (however inaccurately) of WTF are you thinking spraying that kind of stuff anywhere nearby food. On the number line spectrum of dumb vs good ideas, its no question thats pretty far along the dumb idea edge whereas glyphosate is probably leaning around the good side although the error bars do technically slightly extend into the maybe a bad idea part of the spectrum. Scientific research might gradually start pushing glyphosate from "neutral" to "bad", that might be correct, maybe not, my gut feeling is "not", but the summary and the woo woo website link implies its an obvious and well known fact its worse than nerve gas, which is fairly idiotic.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 30 2014, @08:31PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 30 2014, @08:31PM (#75674)

          Yep, I was going for a +1 pedantic.

          Biological systems are complicated. Unfortunately, there's profit and progress to be made, and we can't run experimental trials on humans (anymore/yet), so we'll just keep making incremental improvements in our choice of chemicals until we're only a little over the neutral line into the bad territory.

        • (Score: 1, Offtopic) by opinionated_science on Wednesday July 30 2014, @09:50PM

          by opinionated_science (4031) on Wednesday July 30 2014, @09:50PM (#75715)

          however, we (and plants) do have mitochondria which are strongly related i.e. they produce ATP. Mess with that at your peril...

          • (Score: 2) by opinionated_science on Thursday July 31 2014, @01:42AM

            by opinionated_science (4031) on Thursday July 31 2014, @01:42AM (#75770)

            to moderators, I was replying to the "we dont have chloroplast" point. Relying on a lack of homology from two capture microbial mechanisms is very dodgy indeed. Let's not forget that R-CN targets the electron transport cascade in the mitochondria...

        • (Score: 4, Informative) by TheLink on Thursday July 31 2014, @02:09PM

          by TheLink (332) on Thursday July 31 2014, @02:09PM (#75915) Journal

          Here's the problem: Roundup is not only glyphosate:
          http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/weed-whacking-herbicide-p/ [scientificamerican.com]

          Until now, most health studies have focused on the safety of glyphosate, rather than the mixture of ingredients found in Roundup. But in the new study, scientists found that Roundup's inert ingredients amplified the toxic effect on human cells-even at concentrations much more diluted than those used on farms and lawns.

          One specific inert ingredient, polyethoxylated tallowamine, or POEA, was more deadly to human embryonic, placental and umbilical cord cells than the herbicide itself - a finding the researchers call "astonishing."

          So many of those tests saying Roundup is safe because glyphosate is safe are in doubt.

          • (Score: 2) by Reziac on Friday August 01 2014, @03:02AM

            by Reziac (2489) on Friday August 01 2014, @03:02AM (#76224) Homepage

            But that can be an It Depends: If we mix glyphospate with X, Y, and Z to create Roundup, can we use less Roundup, and less of various chemicals in total? Or are X Y and Z required to get a good level of kill in the field? without X Y and Z, might we need a whole bunch higher level of glyphosphate to do the same job?

            I recall the uproar over malathion spraying in California... turns out the malathion wasn't the problem; it was the petroleum-based carrier that ate car paint and was potentially toxic.

    • (Score: 2) by cafebabe on Wednesday July 30 2014, @08:40PM

      by cafebabe (894) on Wednesday July 30 2014, @08:40PM (#75678) Journal

      I donno what its mixed with, but I assure you from personal experience applying the stuff, its unholy stinky, some kind of organic solvent, and probably not terribly good for you.

      After browsing glyphosate [wikipedia.org] and ester odorants [wikipedia.org], I presume it smells worse than rancid milk.

      --
      1702845791×2
      • (Score: 3, Interesting) by VLM on Wednesday July 30 2014, @09:08PM

        by VLM (445) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday July 30 2014, @09:08PM (#75691)

        Most of the bottle is solvent / buffer solution, not much actual glyphosate in a sprayer bucket.

        Kind of like "everyone knows what paint smells like" but they're actually talking about liquid paint aka the solvents that evaporate away. Obviously paint doesn't smell once all the solvents are gone.

        You see this in non-paint finishes too. Urethane is odorless once it polymerizes, but the benzene or WTF it is in the "paint" can is really stinky.

        I can't be the only SN guy who's ever sprayed roundup, I think it stinks like fresh paint, and just like paint, as soon as it dries (minutes) I can't smell it anymore. I am almost motivated enough to kill some weeds and let the stuff dry on the leaves and give it a big sniff. I mostly use it in places where I can't safely use a weedeater like by the natural gas meter (what could possibly go wrong?)

        • (Score: 2, Interesting) by turtledawn on Thursday July 31 2014, @03:56PM

          by turtledawn (136) <{turtledawn} {at} {gmail.com}> on Thursday July 31 2014, @03:56PM (#75969)

          There are a fair number of compounds that bind so strongly to scent receptors that after only the shortest exposure, you are physically incapable of smelling them anymore until new receptors are generated, a matter of minutes to hours depending on the receptor in question. The disappearance of a scent absolutely cannot be taken to mean that the responsible compound is no longer present - that's a good way to get yourself killed in some industrial situations.

    • (Score: 2) by Bot on Thursday July 31 2014, @07:06AM

      by Bot (3902) on Thursday July 31 2014, @07:06AM (#75817) Journal

      > There is a peculiarity of techies and SN is no exception that everything is binary

      To me it is, but I don't see the situation as a dichotomy.
      I see it as: released chemicals are basically untested because the combinations with other released chemicals and existing substances is too high.
      Now, a sane society would have stopped this ages ago, but we aren't in one.

      --
      Account abandoned.
    • (Score: 2) by Reziac on Friday August 01 2014, @02:51AM

      by Reziac (2489) on Friday August 01 2014, @02:51AM (#76219) Homepage

      Until ivermectin came along, arsenic-based insecticides (well, helminthicides -- would you call it that if it kills blood-borne worms?, but anyway) were all that stood between your dog and a heartworm infection. Yes, it had bad side effects (low-grade liver damage which mainly manifested as reduced tolerance for certain drugs), but in a heartworm area, not-using it had worse effects (heartworm infection is nearly always fatal if untreated, and not trivial or risk-free to treat). Arsenic-based drugs are still used to treat advanced infections, as the alternative is proving worse:
      http://www.veterinarypartner.com/Content.plx?A=610 [veterinarypartner.com]
      (go down to "Ivermectin only")

      So while arsenic-based insecticides might be a bad thing, whether they should be banned depends whether there is a better alternative, or if not-using them might be worse.

  • (Score: 2) by kbahey on Wednesday July 30 2014, @08:35PM

    by kbahey (1147) on Wednesday July 30 2014, @08:35PM (#75676) Homepage

    Here is a research paper [nih.gov] from Sri Lanka on the topic.

    There is anecdotal evidence that in Egypt, the surge in kidney failures since the 80s/90s is also due to pesticides.

    My own uncle lived there, and died from kidney failure complications, after several years on dialysis 3 times a week. Incidentally, he owned a farm and visited it daily for 3 or so decades.

  • (Score: 2) by meisterister on Wednesday July 30 2014, @09:08PM

    by meisterister (949) on Wednesday July 30 2014, @09:08PM (#75690) Journal

    Poison is poisonous!

    News at 11.

    But on a more serious note, maybe it isn't the best idea to soak your lawn/crops in this stuff.

    --
    (May or may not have been) Posted from my K6-2, Athlon XP, or Pentium I/II/III.
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 30 2014, @10:23PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 30 2014, @10:23PM (#75733)

      > Poison is poisonous!

      Everything is poisonous. The dose makes the poison.
      The problem alluded to here is that Monsanto hasn't properly informed people of the dose.

    • (Score: 2) by evilviper on Thursday July 31 2014, @01:48AM

      by evilviper (1760) on Thursday July 31 2014, @01:48AM (#75771) Homepage Journal

      You might mean yard, rather than "lawn". Once glyophosphate touches your lawn, you don't have a lawn, anymore.

      --
      Hydrogen cyanide is a delicious and necessary part of the human diet.