Friday, June 10, 2011

Roundup's Hidden History of Birth Defects Highlighted by New Report; California Wine Grape Growers' Use Up 40% Over 18 Years

One more reason to buy organic: an international panel of scientists says regulators in Europe and the U.S. have regularly overlooked scientific research on the toxic effects of the commonly used herbicide Roundup for decades in affecting frog and chicken embryos.

(While Roundup may not be present at detectable levels in wine made from wine grapes sprayed with Roundup, the pesticides' effects on the environment are measurable.)

See coverage of the story on Huffington Post here.

The report, published online by a group called Earth Open Source, says "Scientific research published in 2010 showed that Roundup and the chemical on which it is based, glyphosate, cause birth defects in frog and chicken embryos at dilutions much lower than those used in agriculture and garden spraying."

To see where Roundup is sprayed in California on wine grapes, visit the Agricultural Pesticide Mapping Tool from the California State Dept. of Health here. To use the tool, select "Service Options" and then select "wine grapes" and "glysophate." The tool allows you to select the region you want to see. Click on any point on the resulting map and you can view data by year or by bar charts. All data is from the California Dept. of Pesticide Regulation.

Average increase of Roundup in pounds per acre (for wine grapes only) from 1991 to 2009 in selected counties:

Lake County - up 100%
Mendocino County - up 61%
Napa County - up 5%
Sonoma County - up 76%

Statewide, during the same period, glysophate use increased 40%.

The report cites data and studies from numerous peer-reviewed journals and urges regulators to reconsider permissible levels of Roundup use.

In 2009, more than 341,000 acres of California wine grapes were sprayed with more than 367,000 pounds of Roundup. The average rate of application was one pound per acre.

It's likely that the increased use of Roundup is in response to the decreased use of more toxic synthetic chemicals - i.e. growers are replacing older, more toxic pesticides with the "less" toxic Roundup.

Of course, organic wine grape growers are not permitted to use Roundup. Alas, organic growers represent less than 3% of all wine grapes grown statewide.

Update: The Pesticide Action Network has now published its story on the new report. Read it here.

Results from the California Dept. of Health's map of Roundup in California on wine grapes.

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