Possible cancer-causing herbicide being used on GMO crops

Possible cancer-causing herbicide being used on GMO crops

Group calls for limited use and a review of a key ingredient to determine if it is hazardous to humans.

The New England Journal of Medicine is calling for a new assessment of a herbicide being more widely used on genetically modified (GMO) crops, saying U.S. regulators used flawed and outdated data to allow expanded use of a chemical contained in the spray.

A Fox News article reported on the opinion piece, written by Dr. Phillip Landrigan, Dean of Global Health at the Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York, and Chuck Benbrook, an adjunct professor at Washington State University’s crops and science department.

The article cites two factors that make urgent regulatory action necessary: a dramatic increase in herbicides applied to GMO food crops, and the fact that these herbicides contain glyphosate, a chemical that the World Health Organization (WHO) has recently identified is probably a human carcinogen.

Professor Benbrook stated there is growing evidence that glyphosate has adverse effect on cells in several ways and we should be limiting its use until we can complete more studies to determine if increased exposure is harmful to the population.

The column makes the argument that GMO foods with herbicides applied to them may be hazardous to humans in ways that have not been previously evaluated.  It continues by saying the writers think it is time to reconsider all aspects of plant biotechnology safety.

The researchers say the Environmental Protection Agency made a mistake by allowing the use of a new herbicide containing glyphosate, arguing the agency used outdated studies commissioned by the manufacturers and did not give adequate consideration for the effects on children exposed to the chemical.

Glyphosate is used in more that 700 products worldwide and is the key ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup, one of the most widely used herbicides.  It is used on crops genetically modified to be resistant to the herbicide, and in some cases, non-GMO crops like wheat.  Residues have been found in food and water.

The WHO’s cancer research unit had classified glyphosate as probably carcinogenic to humans earlier this year, but agrichemical companies and regulators still say it is among the safest herbicides being used today.

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