Friday, September 9, 2011

EPA to Study Banning Roundup

A 2009 article published in Scientific
American on the toxic impacts of Roundup
Link to this article
The Pesticide Action Network's latest email is all about Roundup - and good news from the EPA that the government agency will look into the potential health impacts of this commonly used herbicide.

• Roundup has health impacts

Previous studies have focused on residues in food, but the agency has not examined other impacts including:

• groundwater contamination (as well as air)

• ingestion when metabolized to N-nitroglysophate

•"inert" ingredients on human cells (found to be toxic by a French study published in Scientific American)

"One specific inert ingredient, polyethoxylated tallowamine, or POEA, was more deadly to human embryonic, placental and umbilical cord cells than the herbicide itself – a finding the researchers call “astonishing.”
Studies on animals have found that it causes birth defects in lab animals.
Meanwhile, the wine industry in California alone is pouring 450,000 pounds of Roundup across the state every year - about a pound an acre where it's used.

Monsanto has done a magnificent job of convincing most people in the wine grape growing world that Roundup is safe and "goes away" - disperses quickly. But where does it go?

We need more answers before allowing this toxic substance to be so widely used.

If you care about restricting the use of Roundup, there are steps you can take - ask your grocery, restaurants, and wine stores to put more pressure on wineries to offer them organically grown alternatives.

• Drinking Organically Grown Wine - Costs the Same as Pesticide-Grown Wine

At the moment, organically grown wine is no more expensive than other wine in the marketplace  - which is a great deal for those of us who care about health and the environment. (Using Roundup is banned under organic certification.)

And as I am finding out in the process of writing my app about 200+ organically grown wines for $20 or less, the organic segment of the industry has a wildly disproportionate number of spots on Top 100 Wineries (Wine & Spirits), 90+ pts ratings (even from Robert Parker), and other high-quality characteristics. Leave out the non-organic wines, and you suddenly discover a pool of mostly better wines (along with better feelings about what you're drinking). And you're not paying for the privilege - you're just getting the benefit.

• Costs to Growers: $10 an Acre for Certification

If people tell you that it is too expensive for them to get certified - ask them how much they think it will cost. According to Lake County's CCOF certifier, the costs are about $10 an acre (after government rebates - which refund 75% of certification fees to the grower).

• Paperwork for Growers: Yes There is Some

Perhaps we could set up an intern-run service bureau to help growers get certified. The paperwork is not that awful - hundreds of growers do manage, provided they have incentives. About 40% of Mendocino County growers are CCOF certified. That may be because they have had - for the last 20 years - a major organic-only buyer (Bonterra) or it may be that they also have - hand in hand with a local buyer - developed a different culture and group norm.

• Action Beyond Consuming Alone

If you want to expand your sphere beyond individual actions, read on to learn more about what PAN's most recent newsletter says:

Like many people, I once believed in the safety of RoundUp. Back in the 1980s when I was a young graduate student in ecology, it was the “safe” herbicide of choice for clearing weeds from study plots.
Monsanto would like us to continue to believe their flagship product is safe, but the data are increasingly saying otherwise. The latest? Widespread exposure is a near certainty, since RoundUp — now linked to birth defects — shows up regularly in our water and air.
Glyphosate, RoundUp’s active ingredient, was found in every stream studied and in most air samples taken in a recent study conducted by government researchersin Mississippi and Iowa. And it's undoubtedly in other states too. Across the U.S. it's used commonly on corn, soybeans, cotton and rice, to the tune of 180-185 millions of pounds in 2007 — more tonnage than any other pesticide.
And that's only use on farms. RoundUp is also the second most commonly used pesticide in homes and gardens across the country.

Scientists bust Monsanto's safety myth

Glyphosate is now known to cause birth defects, and at extremely low levels it can kill placental cells and disrupt the human hormone system. Yet regulatory authorities still only formally recognize its potential to contaminate groundwater
SafeLawns recently pointed out that while glyphosate is not listed by EPA as highly toxic when inhaled, it may become highly toxic in the human digestive system where it is metabolized to N-nitrosoglyphosate — a chemical known to cause tumors.
It can be expensive to test for pesticides in air and water, which is why we haven't before seen the kind of data recently collected in Mississipi and Iowa. Independent testing for health effects can also be costly. Yet these are precisely the kind of data that should be required for continued use of any product. Are we exposed? Does it harm us? How does it affect children's health and development?
One common-sense solution: manufacturers should be required to fund (through not conduct) such testing if they want to keep their pesticides on the market.

EPA agrees to take action — eventually

EPA has set 2015 for deciding if glyphosate should continue to be sold, or should have its use in some way limited.
We know the regulatory process can be woefully slow, even when science is very clear that a pesticide is harming human health. Yet this remains one important route for grassroots efforts. Meanwhile, educate yourself and your friends about the serious threats posed by Monsanto's biggest seller, and help build the public voice to get rid of it once and for all.
There's a LOT more dirt on glyphosate — from additional impacts on human health to serious impacts on plant and soil health (my bailiwick). Stay tuned.

1 comment:

  1. I wonder how much RoundUp they'll try to sell before 2015? 4 more years of crazy profits!!