Industry and EU regulators knew as long ago as the 1980s-1990s that Roundup, the world’s best selling herbicide, causes birth defects – but they failed to inform the public. This is the conclusion of a new report, “Roundup and birth defects: Is the public being kept in the dark?” co-authored by a group of international scientists and researchers and released yesterday.
The report reveals that industry’s own studies (including one commissioned by Monsanto) showed as long ago as the 1980s that Roundup’s active ingredient glyphosate causes birth defects in laboratory animals.
The German government has known about these findings since at least the 1990s, when as the “rapporteur” member state for glyphosate, it reviewed industry’s studies for the EU approval of the herbicide. The European Commission has known since at least 2002, when it signed off on glyphosate’s approval.
But this information was not made public. On the contrary, regulators have consistently misled the public about glyphosate’s safety. As recently as last year, the German Federal Office for Consumer Protection and Food Safety, BVL, told the Commission there was “no evidence of teratogenicity” (ability to cause birth defects) for glyphosate.
BVL made this comment in its rebuttal of an independent scientific study published last year by Argentine scientists. The study showed that Roundup and glyphosate cause birth defects in frogs and chickens at concentrations much lower than those used in agricultural spraying. The study was prompted by reports of high rates of birth defects and cancers in areas of South America growing genetically modified (GM) Roundup Ready soy, which is engineered to tolerate being sprayed liberally with glyphosate herbicide.
In its rebuttal of the Argentine study, BVL cited as proof of glyphosate’s safety the industry studies submitted for the Commission’s 2002 approval of glyphosate (the approval that is currently in force).
But the authors of the new report obtained the approval documents and found that contrary to BVL’s claim, industry’s own studies, conducted in the 1980s and 1990s, showed that glyphosate/Roundup causes birth defects in experimental animals. In some cases, these effects occurred at low doses.
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