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Ban the use of Glyphosate(Roundup) nationwide.

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Glyphosate (G) is the largest selling herbicide worldwide; the most common formulations (Roundup, R) contain polyoxyethyleneamine as main surfactant. Recent findings indicate that G exposure may cause DNA damage and cancer in humans. Aim of this investigation was to study the cytotoxic and genotoxic properties of G and R (UltraMax) in a buccal epithelial cell line (TR146), as workers are exposed via inhalation to the herbicide. R induced acute cytotoxic effects at concentrations >40 mg/l after 20 min, which were due to membrane damage and impairment of mitochondrial functions. With G, increased release of extracellular lactate dehydrogenase indicative for membrane damage was observed at doses >80 mg/l. Both G and R induced DNA migration in single-cell gel electrophoresis assays at doses >20 mg/l. Furthermore, an increase of nuclear aberrations that reflect DNA damage was observed. The frequencies of micronuclei and nuclear buds were elevated after 20-min exposure to 10-20 mg/l, while nucleoplasmatic bridges were only enhanced by R at the highest dose (20 mg/l). R was under all conditions more active than its active principle (G). Comparisons with results of earlier studies with lymphocytes and cells from internal organs indicate that epithelial cells are more susceptible to the cytotoxic and DNA-damaging properties of the herbicide and its formulation. Since we found genotoxic effects after short exposure to concentrations that correspond to a 450-fold dilution of spraying used in agriculture, our findings indicate that inhalation may cause DNA damage in exposed individuals.

Hazard Symbol : Xn - Harmful
N - Dangerous for the Environment
Risk Phrases : Harmful by inhalation (R20).
Irritating to eyes (R36).
Toxic to aquatic organisms, may cause long-term adverse effects in the aquatic environment (R51/53).
Safety Phrases : Keep out of reach of children (S2).
In case of contact with eyes, rinse immediately with plenty of water and seek medical advice (S26).
This material and its container must be disposed of in a safe way (S35).
Use appropriate containment to avoid environmental contamination (S57).
Refer to the Product Label for full Local Regulatory Authority label precautions.

Roundup Reactions

Many people reason that Roundup would not be on sale if it weren’t safe, or that it is safe as long as you use it according to the manufacturer’s instructions. However,
accumulating data suggests neither assumption is correct.

Short-term exposure to glyphosate can cause breathing difficulties, loss of muscle control and convulsions. Farm workers exposed even to small amounts of Roundup – by rubbing an eye, for example – report swelling of the eye, eyelid or face, a rapid heartbeat and elevated blood pressure, all as a result of the residues transferred from the hands after touching leaky equipment. Accidental drenching is known to cause eczema of the hands and arms that can last for months.

More recently a group of scientists from the University of Caen, in France, found that human placental cells are very sensitive to Roundup at concentrations lower than those currently used in agricultural applications. The study of Ontario farming populations showed that exposure to glyphosate nearly doubled the risk of late miscarriages. It also found that the ethoxylated surfactant used in the Roundup formulation studied doubled the toxic effect of the glyphosate.

The label of Fast Action Roundup weedkiller claims it biodegrades leaving no soil residues. What actually happens is that glyphosate attaches itself, rather like a magnet, to minerals in the soil and remains more or less in situ until the soil is moved – by heavy rain, for instance. That is when the glyphosate can move into water supplies and have a more widespread environmental impact.

In April 2005, work by scientists at the University of Pittsburgh, US, suggested that Roundup is lethal to lifeforms other than plants – in this case amphibians. In an extensive study on the effects of pesticides on these ‘non-target’ organisms in a natural setting, the researchers found that Roundup caused a 70 per cent decline in amphibian biodiversity and an 86 per cent decline in the total mass of tadpoles. Leopard frog tadpoles and gray tree frog tadpoles were nearly eliminated by exposure to the herbicide.

Monsanto disputed the findings, saying Roundup was not intended for waterways, but this is hardly a relevant argument. Because of its widespread use, Roundup can be found in most waterways as a result of runoff – and it has the potential also to contaminate surface waters.

Spray Drift

Glyphosate spray drift from both ground and aerial applications has been measured from 400 to 800 meters from the target site. Studies have shown that Glyphosate drift will cause more severe and extensive damage than many other herbicides. This is because it is a broad spectrum, non-selective herbicide and it is transported throughout the plant causing damage to the unexposed parts. This damage, when it does not kill the plants, can last for many years.

Drift that is one thousand times less than the usual application rates has been shown to damage surrounding vegetation, including the killing of wild plants. This is an important reason why it should not be used in national parks and environmentally sensitive areas for weed control.

Acknowledgements and References

Most of the information for this article came from an excellent paper authored by Caroline Cox in the JOURNAL OF PESTICIDE REFORM, Fall 1998, Vol.18, No. 3

Updated 01-02, Northwest Coalition Against Pesticides, Eugene, Oregon.

Hardell L. and Eriksson M. (1999), "A Case-Control Study of Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma and exposure to Pesticides," CANCER Vol.85, No. 6 (March 15, 1999), pgs. 1353-1360.

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