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

    by VLM (445) 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.

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  • (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: []

    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.

      And there is no Alkibiades to come back and save us from ourselves.