Saturday, April 16, 2011

Future use of Roundup questionable as EPA investigates agricultural and health effects

Glyphosate, the main ingredient in Roundup herbicide and the focus of several lawsuits, is now under review by regulators in United States and Canada to determine its future use. "The Environmental Protection Agency is examining the issue and has set a deadline of 2015 for determining if glyphosate should continue to be sold or in some way limited," Carey Gillam reports for Reuters.

In 2007, EPA reported U.S. farmers used about 185 million pounds of glyphosate, double the amount used six years earlier, Gillam reports. Meanwhile, more than 130 herbicide-resistant weeds have appeared in more than 40 states. "Experts estimate glyphosate-resistant weeds have infested close to 11 million acres, threatening U.S. farmers' yields."

Monsanto, maker of Roundup and Roundup Ready corn, soybeans and cotton, which are resistant to the chemical, announced a collaboration with German conglomerate BASF "to develop alternative herbicide formulations using 'dicamba' and to create dicamba-tolerant soybeans, corn, cotton and canola," Gillam reports. However, "that is going to spell big problems ... even larger problems with herbicide-resistant weeds," Center for Food Safety analyst Bill Freese told Gillam. "It will just accelerate this toxic spiral of increased pesticide use."

Herbicide-resistant weeds are not the only concerns of glyphosate use, scientists have been warning of glyphosate's effects on livestock and humans. Plant pathologist and retired Purdue University professor Don Huber wrote Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack "warning of tests that indicated glyphosate could be contributing to spontaneous abortions and infertility in pigs, cattle and other livestock," Gillam writes. "Another study being looked at by the EPA cited detectable concentrations of glyphosate in the urine of farmers and their children in two U.S. states." (Read more)

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