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posted by janrinok on Wednesday July 30 2014, @07:04PM   Printer-friendly
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.

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  • (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 [] 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.

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

    by VLM (445) 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.

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

      by frojack (1554) 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.