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Studies show Roundup herbicide to be hormone disruptor

(Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2002 -- CropChoice news) -- The following information comes from Rachel's Environment and Health News, issue 751, Sept. 5, 2002.

Two new studies indicate that Monsanto's herbicide, Roundup, is a hormone-disruptor and is associated with birth defects in humans.

Farm families that applied pesticides to their crops in Minnesota were studied to see if their elevated exposure to pesticides caused birth defects in their children. The study found that two kinds of pesticides -- fungicides and the herbicide Roundup -- were linked to statistically significant increases in birth defects. Roundup was linked to a 3-fold increase in neurodevelopmental (attention deficit) disorders. [EHP Supplement 3, Vol. 110 (June 2002), pgs. 441-449.]

A recent test tube study reveals that Roundup can severely reduce the ability of mouse cells to produce hormones. Roundup interferes with a fundamental protein called StAR (steroidogenic acute regulatory protein). The StAR protein is key to the production of testosterone in men (thus controlling male characteristics, including sperm production) but also the production of adrenal hormone (essential for brain development), carbohydrate metabolism (leading to loss or gain of weight), and immune system function. The authors point out that "a disruption of the StAR protein may underlie many of the toxic effects of environmental pollutants." [EHP Vol. 108, No. 8 (August 2000), pgs. 769-776.]

Monsanto, the St. Louis chemical giant and creator of Roundup as well as PCBs, is now a leader in genetically engineered crops. Monsanto sells "Roundup ready" seeds for corn, soybeans, and cotton; wheat and lawn grasses will be next. These are seeds engineered to withstand a thorough dousing with Roundup, which kills weeds without killing the Roundup-ready crops. To make Monsanto's "Roundup ready" seeds legal, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had to triple the amount of Roundup residues that it allows on crops. For years, Roundup has been Monsanto's most profitable product, and genetic engineering has now allowed the firm to sell much more of it. See RACHEL'S #637, #639, #660, #686, #726.

For example, a 1999 study of soybean farming in the U.S. midwest found that farmers planting Roundup Ready soybeans used 2 to 5 times as many pounds of herbicide per acre as farmers using conventional systems, and ten times as much herbicide as farmers using Integrated Weed Management systems, which are intended to reduce the need for chemical herbicides.[3,pg.2]

More chemical dangers probably lie ahead as new products of genetic engineering come to market. According to the NEW YORK TIMES, Scotts Company is collaborating with Monsanto to develop Roundup Ready grass for lawns.[4] Children and pregnant women, beware.

Access Rachel's and the Environmental Research Foundation at http://www.rachel.org.