Glyphosate - possible problems?

I hate to rain on everyone's parade but I've just come across this paper.

As it's a long, technical, academic paper, I thought I'd quite the abstract here:

"Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup®, is the most popular herbicide used worldwide. The industry asserts it is minimally toxic to humans, but here we argue otherwise. Residues are found in the main foods of the Western diet, comprised primarily of sugar, corn, soy and wheat. Glyphosate's inhibition of cytochrome P450 (CYP) enzymes is an overlooked component of its toxicity to mammals. CYP enzymes play crucial roles in biology, one of which is to detoxify xenobiotics. Thus, glyphosate enhances the damaging effects of other food borne chemical residues and environmental toxins.  Negative impact on the body is insidious and manifests slowly over time as inflammation damages cellular systems throughout the body.  Here, we show how interference with CYP enzymes acts synergistically with disruption of the biosynthesis of aromatic amino acids by gut bacteria, as well as impairment in serum sulfate transport.  Consequences are most of the diseases and conditions associated with a Western diet, which include gastrointestinal disorders, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, depression, autism, infertility, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.  We explain the documented effects of glyphosate and its ability to induce disease, and we show that glyphosate is the “textbook example” of exogenous semiotic entropy: the  disruption of homeostasis by environmental toxins."

This may be too technical for some.  The gist of it is that glyphosate may make a long list of diseases and disorders (from Alzheimer's to obesity) worse.  I should emphasise that this is just one paper and I don't want to be a Daily Mail scaremonger.

This is important because , since it's non-persistent, it's the herbicide most often used by 'nearly-organic' gardeners, which is what many of us are.  The stuff's also made by Monsanto!

Any comments?   I don't yet know what the balance of the evidence is.



  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 42,805

    I read something the other day that was blaming it for causing Autism too. 

    I've no idea of the veracity of the research or the researchers - however I do think that if there is any suspicion at all that this may have even just a snippet of truth, it really does need looking into.

    One of the main aims of Monsanto's involvement with GM is, as I understand it, to produce crops that are resistant to Round-up so that they can all be sprayed with it image


    Gardening is cheaper than therapy, and you get tomatoes. 
  • fidgetbonesfidgetbones Posts: 11,099

    I came across this last year. As I understand it, Glyphosate  is sprayed on to GM crops which are resistant to it as a weedkiller. All other weeds in the field are killed. BUT the GM crop absorbs some of the glyphosate.  Glyphosate is a hormone disrupter in humans, with all the problems that would entail.

    So by eating GM produced food, you also eat some glyphosate.

    As a gardener, I do not grow any GM crops. I only use glyphosate on land I want to clear, indeed it would kill any crop I grow. I got some on my wellies once and left a trail of dead grass footprints down the garden.

    I'm not worried about it in my garden. I am worried about the use of GM crops in the general food chain. I wont touch anything with Soy in, because 95% of Soy is GM.

    It's not a mess, it's a nature reserve.
  • rosemummyrosemummy Posts: 1,974

    Oh gosh, just bought some,have had it 2 weeks as am always hesitant to use anything none organic, that'llstay on the shelf then

  • Steve 309Steve 309 Posts: 2,754

    Yes Dove  - it was my OH telling me a friend's neighbour had been spraying it indiscriminately and she'd done some research and found that it could "cause" autism.  Mr Google will come up with a variety of scare stories if you search for "glyphosate autism" but since they're written by journalists rather than scientists they're unlikely to be reliable.

    The research is published in what I think is a reputable scientific journal and as far as I can see from the headings, the authors aren't in the pay of any of the environmental organisations, so it looks authentic.  But, as I said, it's only one paper and there may be others with opposing evidence.

  • Steve 309Steve 309 Posts: 2,754

    The conclusion includes the phrase, "The pathologies to which glyphosate could plausibly contribute include..." so they're not exactly dogmatic about it!

  • Mark 499Mark 499 Posts: 379

    It's not only GM crops that are sprayed with it , Oilseed Rape & Wheat crops in the UK are routinely sprayed 2 weeks before harvest so that the seed is all dry at the same time.

  • Steve 309Steve 309 Posts: 2,754

    fidget; not all GM crops are resistant to glyphosate;  from memory I think you're righgt about soya, and also Monsanto's variety of maize.  They've put a glyphosate resistance gene into the genome of those plants so that they can do exactly what you describe.

    What's particularly nasty is that they've also done something that prevents the seeds of the plants that you get from germinating, so the farmers can't save their own seed as they used to but have to buy more from the company.

  • Steve 309Steve 309 Posts: 2,754

    Rosemummy - I think it should be OK if you use it on weeds growing away from food plants, avoid drift and wait a couple of weeks before planting anything else in that area.  Although they've already had your money.....

  • Steve 309Steve 309 Posts: 2,754

    This PowerPoint presentation (in pdf format) explains some of the information in the paper more accessibly.

    How much of it you believe ......  A cursory viewing brings up a couple of inconsistencies.

  • ObelixxObelixx Posts: 10,169

    I teach English conversation to Belgian research scientists who told me several years ago that glyphsate is under investigation by the EU as it has been found in water courses and is causing problems so is not as inert as is claimed once it hits the soil.  In South America where they allow GM crops it is sprayed at high concentrations by aeroplane so there is drift and locals living nearby have unusually high levels of cancer and children born with defects.

    Chances are it will be banned sooner or later but Monsanto has a powerful lobbying arm so maybe later.

    The Vendée, France
  • Steve 309Steve 309 Posts: 2,754

    I agree with most of that, Verdun, but...

    'Boffins' is not really a helpful term.  Most scientists nowadays at least (including, I like to think, myself) have at least a modicum of common sense and everyday experience.  The time of the 'boffin' locked away in his (they were almost all male) laboratory and lacking everyday social contact was 50 years ago.  I remember the crop circles incident - clearly the people investigating it weren't up to speed, and it's questionable whether any real science was involved.  The essence of science is questioning, testing and changing your hypothesis till it stands up to the tests.

    The effect of TV watching is easy - square eyes.  My mum told me that.    And tea makes you produce compost activator.

  • Steve 309Steve 309 Posts: 2,754

    Are you in Belgium, Obelixx?  I'm in West Flanders at the moment.

    The paper says glyphosate is adsorbed onto the soil particles more or less immediately and broken down by bacteria within a few days.  But yes, if it finds its way into watercourses there's nothng there to break it down and of course it's not removed at water treatment works.

    I don't use it either, Verdun, but I know lots of people do.

  • Dave MorganDave Morgan Posts: 3,122

    I use it, but sparingly, I don't use it near any veg preferring to dig out any weeds or hoe them out. I trust these companies about as much as trusting a slug not to be hungry, I am cynical about claims made over a range of products supplied to us as the general public. Companies are there to make money whether to sell us food or luxury goods and everything in between, so should we be surprised when they make claims which turn out to be either false or misleading. A touch of cynicism is no bad thing. A bit of honesty didn't hurt anyone.

  • Steve 309Steve 309 Posts: 2,754


  • ObelixxObelixx Posts: 10,169

    Near Gembloux.   I use it sparingly too on paths and pernicious weeds if I can't dig them out.  I do it on still, dry days so it gets nowhere near water.  I never buy the branded Monsanto stuff.  Dreadful company.

    The Vendée, France
  • Steve 309Steve 309 Posts: 2,754


    Yes - it would be easy, assuming there's a suitable test.  B ut no-one's done it because (I suppose) (a) no-one cares and (b) it's only recently been considered a problem.  None of us had heard of it till a few hours ago!

    Anyway, we don't spray it on crops.  I still think it's probably OK to use it carefully on otherwise ineradicable weeds in otherwise vacant land.  If we can find any that's not made by M*ns*nt*, which is unlikely.

    Moderation in all things, including moderation.  You can have too much moderation, you know.

    And eggs are now OK, apparently.

  • nutcutletnutcutlet Posts: 24,050

    No chemical ever does exactly what you want and nothing else.

    eg. a course of antibiotics or chemotherapy. They don't just do the job, they have side effects.


  • Steve 309Steve 309 Posts: 2,754

    True 'nuff.

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