Monsanto’s herbicide Roundup linked to birth defects

Baby with hydrocephalus, or water on the brain, a common effect of agrochemical exposure – Photo by Jorge Galeano. Nearly all soy in the US is GM Roundup Ready soy.

By F. William Engdahl
Global Research

A major new scientific study has confirmed the growing conviction that the world’s most widely used chemical herbicide, Monsanto Corporation’s Roundup, is toxic and a danger to humans as well as animals. The latest scientific research carried out by a multinational scientific team headed by Professor Andrés Carrasco, head of the Laboratory of Molecular Embryology at the University of Buenos Aires Medical School and member of Argentina’s National Council of Scientific and Technical Research, presents an alarming demonstration that Monsanto and the biotech agribusiness industry have systematically lied about the safety of the product. Roundup in far lower concentrations than used in agriculture is linked to birth defects.

The health implications are huge. All major GMO crops on the market today are genetically manipulated to “tolerate” the herbicide Roundup.

Glyphosate was patented by Monsanto in the 1970’s well before GMO was commercialized, as a so-called broad-spectrum weed killer. It is typically sprayed and absorbed through the leaves, or used as a forestry herbicide. It was initially patented and sold by Monsanto under the trade name Roundup, which also contains non-disclosed added chemicals the company refuses to divulge for “trade secret” reasons. As of 2005, 87% of all US soybean fields were planted with glyphosate-resistant varieties of GMO soybeans and sprayed with Roundup.

Because the seeds of Monsanto Roundup Ready GMO soybeans or other crops have been manipulated solely to be “resistant” to Roundup, while all other plant life in the field is killed by it, farmers using Roundup Ready seeds must also purchase Roundup herbicide, making a captive market for both seed and chemicals. The problem with this cozy arrangement, aside from the fact that Roundup-resistant “super-weeds” are emerging as a new biological catastrophe (see Katastrophale Folgen von GVO-Pflanzen in den USA – eine Lektion für die EU), is that Glyphosate has now been demonstrated to be linked to birth defects as one of the most highly toxic substances in agriculture.

The US government’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) nonetheless continues to regard Roundup as “relatively low in toxicity, and without carcinogenic or teratogenic effects.” In the United States, federal agencies notoriously rely on test data from Monsanto and the agribusiness industry to make safety rulings, under the 1992 doctrine of Substantial Equivalence which asserts that GMO seeds are “substantially equivalent” to ordinary seeds and thereby need no independent health or safety tests. While herbicides are treated slightly different, the fact that the agribusiness industry influences much of US Government policy has insured the most benign regulatory treatment of Roundup to date.

Alarming results

Now a new international scientific team headed by Prof. Andres Carrasco and including researchers from the UK, Brazil, USA, and Argentina have demonstrated that Glyphosate, the main active ingredient in Roundup causes malformations in frog and chicken embryos at doses far lower than those used in agricultural spraying and well below maximum residue levels in products presently approved in the European Union.[1]

The Carrasco group was led to research the embryonic effects of glyphosate by reports of high rates of birth defects in rural areas of Argentina where Monsanto’s genetically modified “Roundup Ready” (RR) soybeans are grown in large monocultures sprayed from airplanes regularly. RR soy is engineered to tolerate Roundup, allowing farmers to spray the herbicide liberally to kill weeds while the crop is growing.

Carrasco presented his group’s findings at a press conference during the 6th European Conference of GMO Free Regions in the European Parliament in Brussels. He stated, “The findings in the lab are compatible with malformations observed in humans exposed to glyphosate during pregnancy.”

Widespread reports of human malformations began to be reported in Argentina beginning in 2002, two years after widespread aerial spraying of Roundup and planting of RR Soybeans was begun. The test animals used by Carrasco’s group share similar developmental mechanisms with humans. The authors concluded that the results “raise concerns about the clinical findings from human offspring in populations exposed to Roundup in agricultural fields.” Carrasco added, “The toxicity classification of glyphosate is too low. In some cases this can be a powerful poison.”

The maximum residue level (MRL) allowed for glyphosate in soy in the EU was raised 200-fold from 0.1 mg/kg to 20 mg/kg in 1997 after genetically manipulated Roundup Ready soy was commercialized in Europe. Carrasco found malformations in embryos injected with 2.03 mg/kg glyphosate. Soybeans can typically contain glyphosate residues of up to 17mg/kg.

In August 2010, an organized mob violently attacked people who gathered to hear Carrasco talk about his research in the town of La Leonesa, Chaco province. Witnesses implicated local agro-industry figures in the attack. Viviana Peralta, a housewife from San Jorge, Santa Fe, Argentina was hospitalized together with her baby after Roundup spraying from planes flying near her home. Peralta and other residents launched a lawsuit that resulted in a regional court ban on the spraying of Roundup and other agrochemicals near houses.


1. Paganelli, A., Gnazzo, V., Acosta, H., López, S.L., Carrasco, A.E. 2010. Glyphosate-based herbicides produce terato-genic effects on vertebrates by impairing retinoic acid signaling. Chem. Res. Toxicol., August 9.

18 responses to “Monsanto’s herbicide Roundup linked to birth defects

  1. Poor little innocent baby, this is coming to america, how sick is that?

  2. Monsanto, like BP, is a planet-killer corporation; as are shipping companies and chemical companies who dump waste and refuse into our oceans, waterways and air.

  3. THis should be no surprise…history, folks, history. Read Rachel Carson…Ask people who grew up with DDT and all those awful chemicals. Ask folks who have lived where there used to be old farms before regulation of chemicals. And remember: most of these chemicals that are supposed to be so wonderful (HA!) are bio-accumulative, which means that the more you are exposed, the more your body stores of the nasty stuff.

  4. @Morgana — Try actually learning the history of DDT. It was banned because it was “potentially” harmful to wildlife, a claim which was later refuted. There was a professor in the late 1970s who made DDT a part of his daily diet to show there were no harmful side effects, and there weren’t any. There are no recorded human deaths related to DDT.

    William Ruckelshaus who was the head of the EPA in 1972 was about to announce his decision to ban DDT confided to a friend, “There is no scientific basis for banning this chemical — this is a political decision.

    Remember there were no human deaths related to DDT, but millions related to it’s being banned. The startling conclusion that many have drawn from this decision is that DDT was saving too many 3rd world lives, and the fact that DDT was dirt cheap to produce while sales of other compounds were slow.

    I don’t agree with anything Monsanto has ever done. They are perhaps the most evil corporation on the planet, but learn your facts first before coming to a conclusion.

  5. @Morgana again — Oh, and Rachel Carson was one of the leading advocates to the banning of DDT. Find some of her statements about population control and her callous remakes regarding the people who would suffer due to the banning of DDT. The woman is a monster, responsible for every life lost due to DDT being banned.

    Do some more digging, the people in these countries have begged for a lift on the DDT ban.

  6. Is DDT a problem, the studies below say yes. Our policy on chemicals today is release the chemical into the environment and see what happens. Today 7 new chemicals will be released to business with no oversight control at all that is 2400 a year and at this point about 85,000 are in our environment. Then at the other end of the spectrum we have autoimmune diseases in 2006 when I first looked at them there were 65 and everyone thought that was a shocking number. Now we have over 147 and many don’t even have a name yet. These autoimmune diseases are at epidemic numbers of one in every 4 people in the USA one will have an autoimmune disease. Now ask a medical researcher to explain why we have even one of these diseases and he will say “I do not know”, hmmm. Here is how easy it is to trigger one these diseases; just from taking medication, a car accident, exercising, losing your job are just a few of the ways. Here is the kicker once you have one you are now susceptible to catch another and another. Now we are looking at a big reason why we have a health care crisis. Is there a link between chemicals in the environment and these diseases and many others many doctors and researchers say yes. So we have millions of chemically exposed people with multiple diseases on multiple drugs. The EPA and The Environmental Working both did studies of fetal cord blood of new born infants and found over 232 toxic chemicals in the cord blood.

    Reproductive and Developmental Effects notes that DDT has been associated with reproductive and developmental side effects. A 2005 review article in the journal, “Lancet,” concludes that studies have shown that exposure to DDT might cause premature births and low birth weights, while toxicological evidence indicates DDT’s endocrine-disrupting properties, and epidemiological evidence indicates DDT’s potential for disrupting semen quality, menstruation, gestational length and duration of lactation.

    Endocrine Effects also notes that DDT has been associated with endocrine disruption. DDT may be directly toxic to the human endocrine system, but it may also cause the creation of enzymes that are harmful. At the very least, DDT is considered an endocrine disruptor as it produces a metabolite that destroys androgen. states that organochlorine compounds, such as DDT, have been linked to liver damage and diabetes. The incidence of diabetes has shown to be higher in populations with high levels of DDT in their serums.

    Breast Cancer and DDT: High levels of p,p’- DDT, the primary component of DDT, in women exposed before mid-adolescence, were found to be predict a five-fold increase in breast cancer risk. Many American women heavily exposed to DDT in childhood have not yet reached 50 years of age, therefore the public health significance of DDT exposure in early life may be large.

    References DDT Overview
    Public Health Institute (2007, October 9). Breast Cancer Linked To Pesticide DDT, Study Suggests. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 3, DDT Toxicity Breast Cancer Study Linked to DDT
    “Environmental Health Perspectives”; Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT): ubiquity, persistence, and risks; Vladimir Turusov et al; Feb, 2002
    “Lancet”; Health risks and benefits of bis(4-chlorophenyl)-1,1,1-trichloroethane (DDT); W.J. Rogan et al; Aug, 2005

    Read more:

  7. hope someone sues Monsanto over Round-up soon. Losing money seems the only thing that gets their attention.

  8. PS: All I know is that my Great Dane got lymphoma after drinking out of the neighbor’s lawn runoff stream. Their Lab got stomach cancer about the same time. Both dogs died young. May not have been Round-up, but almost certainly lawn chemicals. Our precious lawns and our trust of gov’t and corporate self-regulation is killing our loved ones.

  9. No Rady, Snickerdoodle is fine and ornery as ever. That was Chopperdoodle who had cancer for a year before dying. I’m still sad and mad about that though.

  10. Let’s not forget that Monsanto also brought us PCBs, or polychlorinated biyphenyls, for decades. Because Monsanto ceased manufacturing of PCBs in the 1970s, and they spent a tremendous amount of money on PR damage, many people today don’t realize that the same monsters who are providing this dangerous herbicide also synthesized (and dumped) other toxic chemicals. Dare I even mention Agent Orange?
    It’s truly sad that this corporate machine has been allowed to persist as long as they have, given the amount of death and destruction they’ve been responsible for.

  11. Pingback: The Truth Revealed on Monsanto’s Roundup « LymphomActivist's Blog

  12. Pingback: This Supermarket “Health Food” Killed These Baby Rats in Three Weeks « Eclectic Thoughts


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  14. Thank you, Dr Blake, for setting the record straight.

  15. Absolutely stop using any pesticides around your home and try and get your neighbors to come on board also so all children and pets in neighborhood can be protected. Look at adding Nutramin for animals daily as bonds with toxins animals may come in contact. Dr. Al Plechner has 50+ years practicing and says that calcium montorillonite is what has helped him cure all kinds of animals that nothing else had helped them. Especially with allergies, skin problems and such as can be used inside and out. My dog has been lethargic from biting poisonous plant and just mixed with broth and got down throat and better in one day. Never want to be w/o it. Also Terramin for people (on Amazon). Dr. Plechner on Also info from top Consumer Reports scientist on Round Up toxicity. More toxic than ever.

  16. Reblogged this on And Another Thing… and commented:
    Monsanto’s herbicide Roundup linked to birth defects

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