[NAFEX] Roundup

Dylan Ford dford at suffolk.lib.ny.us
Mon May 9 09:33:54 EDT 2005

Folks,  As a balance to the many paeans being posted regarding Roundup use, I am reposting (with permission) a contemplation of some possible consequences, that originally appeared on the BDNow discussion list. (Biodynamic Ag) It was written by Hugh Lovel, a farmer and researcher, and I think it is worth a bit of consideration.  Sincerely,  dylan


If you visit the Monsanto website about roundup you'll find Monsanto presents it quite differently from Agent Orange (a.k.a. 2,4,5-T). Roundup (a.k.a. glyphosate) inhibits the synthesis of tyrosine, phenlyanaline and tryptophan in plants, rendering them unable to grow. It even gets algae. But it contains neglible dioxins.

Monsanto asserts that since animals have alternate pathways for synthesis of these 3 amino acids (which are the basis of the feel good chemistry of our brains and central nervous systems) then animals are not affected. Roundup kept in your barn for a few years gets old and doesn't do its legendary thing after a while, leading Monsanto to further assert that it breaks down and becomes non-toxic in the environment.

Nevertheless, roundup was found as a widespread contaminant of groundwater in Denmark leading to its ban in that country. Moreover, although animals do have an alternate or possibly more than one alternate pathway of synthesis of these key amino acids Monsanto has not demonstrated that animals contaminated by roundup manage to maintain levels of these amino acids comparable to what they would have had were they uncontaminated.

Farmers in such places as rural Alberta where roundup use is heavy and contaminates ground water wonder why in their small rural high schools the rates of suicide (presumably resulting from depression) are so much higher than comparable populations of inner city schools where students seem to have less attractive prospects in life. Americans in general might wonder why such a large percentage (over 20%) of their population takes prozac as a remedy for depression. Is food in these regions deficient in tyrosine, phenylanaline and tryptophan these days? Is groundwater contamination depressing the levels of these precursors for serotonin, dopamine, tryptamine, etc., the "feel good" chemistry of the brain? Is there a connection between the use and contamination of the environment with roundup and depression? Or is it all just coincidence?

Since Monsanto is so proud of their product that they brag about how it works on their web page maybe they ought to fund a little more research into the subject. If they kicked in a penny for every $10 they've made from roundup, their most profitable chemical ever, that might seem a fair levy to ask them to put in the pot, but since they have not conducted this research so far they really must let someone else do the research. Their favorite trick is to let one of their employees quit and go to work for the EPA or the FDA to conduct research about the safety of their products--and once these are certified as safe the scientist gives up his government job and goes back to work for Monsanto. So maybe a private research laboratory or a univeristy that gets no funding from Monsanto would have to be found. 

If you asked me whether roundup was as safe as Monsanto claims I'd have to say there's very little chance of it. But wouldn't you say the public has a right to KNOW?

Hugh Lovel

Dylan Ford is the author of the proposal at www.ideaforpresident.com , a website devoted to an idea that could provide an avenue to address pollution issues, food safety, social justice, prison reform and healthcare.
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