RODALE NEWS, EMMAUS, PA—Environmental health, plant, and food experts have been sounding the alarm about health risks associated with the popular weed killer Roundup for years, saying it leads to hormone disruption and more than three dozen plant diseases. One study even found its main ingredient, glyphosate, killed human cells in the lab. A new report published this month also alleges that regulators and the pesticide industry have long known about the birth defect link—some for more than two decades—but kept the details hidden from the general public. While millions of pounds of Roundup are sprayed on food crops each year, many people still also freely spray Roundup in weedy areas of their lawn. It's been found in drinking water, and even inside our food.
THE DETAILS: A group of respected scientists published the report this month as the maker of Roundup, chemical company Monsanto, pushes the European Union to allow plantings of its genetically engineered seeds that rely on heavy Roundup sprayings (something that has been done in the United States for more than a decade). The authors allege that European government agencies and the European Commission, tasked with regulating chemicals, knew about birth defects associated with the product for years and, despite that, did not place stronger restrictions on the project. (Roundup is used in farming, but commonly as a home weed killer, too.)
At issue is the fact that Roundup seems to be exempt from regulators' taking a closer look at its health impacts. The European Union is set to adopt much stricter pesticide laws this summer; however, Roundup and more than three dozen other pesticides have received a free pass, and won't need to be reviewed until 2015. (Greenpeace and Pesticide Action Network are currently suing over this. The report authors say Roundup could actually ward off reviews until 2030.) "The beneficiary will be the pesticide industry; the victim will be public health," they write.