A compilation provides more than 1,100 scientific studies that account for the health and environmental impacts of glyphosate, the most widely used herbicide in the country and the world. Bayer-Monsanto is one of the companies that produces and markets it.
There are more than 1,100 scientific studies that account for the effects of glyphosate on the environment and on health. They are detailed in a recent compilation and give an account of the health impact of the most widely used herbicide in the world, a pillar of the transgenic model. More than 200 of these scientific works are from public universities in the country. In Argentina, more than 270 million liters are used each year, control agencies do not measure the chronic toxicity of the chemical and, for decades, families and towns have been added to denounce the effects of fumigations.
"Toxicological Anthology of Glyphosate +1000", is the title of the work, 270 pages, compiled by Eduardo Martín Rossi and edited by the NGO Nature of Rights. At the beginning it is clarified that the 1108 scientific works cited were, all, submitted to review by a committee of scientists or peers, and approved for academic publication. Scientific databases were consulted until mid-2019 and in all cases they are available through an access link on the Internet.
In the first chapter of the Toxicological Anthology, studies are required that link glyphosate to cancer, malformations, encephalopathy, autism and Parkinson's. Chapter two addresses the mechanisms of cellular pathophysiology (cancer promoter), cell apostosis (programmed cell death), genotoxicity, and endocrine system disorders. The third chapter cites studies of glyphosate and its involvement in the reproductive, immune, digestive, nervous, renal and cardiovascular systems.
The German multinational Bayer bought Monsanto in 2018 for $ 66 billion. It thus became the largest transgenic and agro-toxic seeds company in the world. This week, the Bayer-Monsanto settlement with nearly 100,000 whistleblowers from the United States was made public. The multinational almena offered almost 11,000 million dollars to stop lawsuits for the health consequences of the pesticide. Details of the deal are not yet known. Three consecutive judicial convictions (2018 and 2019) had already determined the responsibility of the company and all had set millionaire compensation.
In Argentina glyphosate is applied on more than 28 million hectares. The fields of soybeans, corn and cotton are sprayed with the herbicide so that nothing grows, except the transgenic ones. It is also used in citrus, pome fruit trees (apple, pear, quince), vine, yerba mate, sunflower, pastures, pines and wheat. From the transgenic advance, the use of glyphosate, initially developed and marketed by Monsanto since the 1970s, increased geometrically, although the license expired in 2000.
Among the companies that market glyphosate in Argentina are Bayer-Monsanto, Syngenta, Red Surcos, Atanor, Asociación de Cooperativas Argentinas, Nufram, Agrofina, Nidera, DuPont, YPF and Dow. There are no official data on quantities of use, but the NGO Nature of Rights used the figures of the companies: in 2018 about 270 million liters were used. In 1996, when Monsanto's first GM soy was approved, 50 million liters were used.
The compilation also addresses the impact of the pesticide on fish, amphibians, birds and mammals. A whole section refers to the impact on the environment, classified in consequences in the air, water and soil, where it is confirmed that glyphosate remains in the environment for long periods of time and travels for long distances. Chapters six and seven address the impact on food, “nutritional interference” and the presence of the chemical in food and beverages.
This is the fifth compilation of studies on glyphosate published by Eduardo Rossi and Naturaleza de Derechos. “In the United States lawsuits, the company could not deny the internal emails from Monsanto, where it acknowledged that it was unaware of the real toxicity of Roundup (glyphosate's trademark). And in the same courts, studies were known that clearly link the agrotoxic with the affectation in the DNA and with mechanisms linked to cancer ”, affirmed Rossi.
For many years Monsanto argued that there was "no evidence" of the herbicide's consequences. Agricultural journalists and officials followed the same line of argument. Given the number of studies in recent decades, the new account indicates that "there are two libraries" regarding glyphosate. Eduardo Rossi rejected this business argument and stressed that there are more than 200 scientific papers from public universities in Argentina, researchers from Conicet and public organizations (such as INTA) that confirm the negative impacts of the chemical. While the only works that point out the benefits of the product are those of the companies that produce it or of scientists who receive funding from those same companies.
In Argentina the studies of the Senasa (National Service of Agrifood Health and Quality) that classify glyphosate as "low toxicity" are not public. Chronic effects (over long periods of time) are not taken into account either.
Rossi highlighted, among other works, the investigations of the Genetics and Environmental Mutagenesis (GEMA) group of the National University of Río Cuarto (UNRC), which for more than a decade has been investigating the effects of agrochemicals. And, through dozens of publications, he confirmed that glyphosate produces genetic damage, an indicator of diseases such as cancer. All his works are cited on his own website (contaminantesambientales.ar).
"Free ourselves from the poison"
The foreword to the "Glyphosate Toxicological Anthology" is written by renowned Indian researcher and activist Vandana Shiva. “This anthology on glyphosate provides detailed evidence of the damage glyphosate has caused to our health and to the health and biodiversity of the planet. It is urgent to free ourselves from the poison, ”said Shiva. And he remarked that the problem is not just a chemical one: "The highly inefficient industrial agriculture model based on pesticides and monocultures is contributing, in multiple ways, to the health emergency." He specified the impacts of agribusiness in Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, Bolivia and Paraguay, what the multinational Syngenta called in a historic advertisement "the united republic of soybeans." Vandana Shiva remarked that this model of agriculture based on pesticides "is an agriculture that degrades the planet and health". And he specified that already in 2015 the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC, WHO) classified the herbicide as a probable carcinogen.
- By Darío Aranda. Article published on June 29, 2020 in the newspaper Página12.