Monsanto is a U.S. multinational agricultural and biotechnology company. Founded in 1901, it has become one of the world leaders in genetically engineered seeds (it provides the technology for 90 percent of the world’s genetically engineered seeds) and the company is the No. 1 producer of the herbicide glyphosate. Glyphosate is sold and distributed under the trademark of Roundup.
A new study published in the journal Chemical Research in Toxicology has just reported that the company’s herbicide, Roundup, could be causing birth defects. The study, which was conducted by researchers in Argentina in August, confirmed what many scientist and farmers have suggested for years, that the world’s most used chemical herbicide glyphosate, is a hazard to both man and animals.
The lead scientist, Professor Andrés Carrasco, head of the Laboratory of Molecular Embryology at the University of Buenos Aires Medical School, demonstrated that the main active ingredient in Roundup, glyphosate, causes malformations in frog and chicken embryos at doses far lower than those used in agricultural spraying. The research was conducted due to exorbitant rates of birth defects occurring in rural areas of Argentina where Monsanto’s genetically modified Roundup Ready (RR) soybeans are grown and sprayed regularly from airplanes to kill weeds while the crop is growing.
The first widespread reports of human birth defects started to occur in Argentina beginning in 2002, two years after widespread aerial spraying of Roundup and planting of RR soybeans started. Professor Carrasco’s team used embryos that were obtained through in vitro fertilization. The team concluded, “The results presented above argue that both GBH and glyphosate itself interfere with key molecular mechanisms regulating early development.”
Monsanto has a history with respect to developing and using hazardous chemicals. Other major products they developed include DDT and Agent Orange. The latter was used during the Vietnam War and eventually determined to be a highly carcinogenic chemical. They also developed the artificial sweetener aspartame (NutraSweet). In 2009, the company was investigated by the U.S. Justice Department. –torrance stephens, ph.d.