Are You Roundup Ready? High Levels of Glyphosate in City Folks' Urine, and More Bad Monsanto News

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A new study from the Ithika Journal of Ecology has found significant concentrations (5 to 20 times the limit for drinking water) of glyphosate, the main ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup, in the urine of city dwellers. Glyphosate is linked to birth defects, endocrine disruption, cancerand abnormal sperm. Studies have also discovered traces of it in our blood and found that it even crosses the placental barrier to enter unborn fetuses.

Roundup has a variety of uses, but is primarily applied to genetically engineered "Roundup Ready" crops, which are bred to withstand its application. Not surprisingly, the ubiquitous – and toxic – herbicide is present in groundwater, streams, precipitation and even in the air in US agricultural areas, but is used far less frequently (mostly for sidewalk weed removal) in urban areas, so the results of the study are cause for concern.

City folk peeing glyphosate isn’t the only news that’s garnered Monsanto headlines recently. Here’s a “roundup” (ouch) of important Monsanto and GMO news:

  • The US District Court for the Southern District of New York has officially dismissed a lawsuit brought by The Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association (OSGATA) and dozens of other plaintiff growers and organizations against Monsanto Company.  To add insult to injury, the court claimed that OSGATA and plaintiffs had engaged in a "transparent effort to create a controversy where none exists," in spite of the fact that Monsanto has threatened hundreds of farmers with legal action over the years, including some whose land was contaminated when pollen from genetically engineered crops from neighboring fields drifted onto non-GE farms.
  • Between 1949 and 1971, Monsanto produced an herbicide which was used in Agent Orange in a chemical plant in Nitro, West Virginia. A class-action lawsuit was filed on behalf of the residents of Nitro who claim Monsanto spread toxic substances all over town, mainly dioxins, which have been linked to cancer. Late last month, Monsanto agreed to pay $93M to thousands of current and former Nitro residents for testing and treatment of disease and to scrub their homes of contaminants.
  • The use of Roundup has spawned the development of so-called “superweeds,” requiring farmers to hop on what some refer to as “the chemical treadmill” and use more and of the toxic chemical, and leading to the development of ever more novel crops, including one that is resistant to other, older toxic pesticides such as 2, 4-D, an active ingredient in the Vietnam-era defoliant, Agent Orange, which has been linked to a variety of cancers in veterans.
  • In 2004, French Farmer Paul François breathed in the vapor of Monsanto’s Lasso weed killer while cleaning out the tank of a crop sprayer. He lost consciousness and later suffered from memory loss and headaches. This month, a French court found that Monsanto should be held liable for poisoning François.
  • Monsanto’s Roundup Ready sweet corn has been approved, and this year it could be coming to a store near you—but you wouldn’t know, because it won’t be labeled. It also has not been tested by the USDA. Food & Water Watch has initiated a national campaign to pressure Walmart (the world’s most powerful retailer) to join Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods and General Mills in refusing to sell or use the GE corn in any of their products. The word on the street is that the petition recently made its way to corporate headquarters and even though nothing is conclusive, Walmart does not plan on selling it this summer.
  • NGO’s are calling out The International Service for the Acquisition of Agribiotic Applications (ISAAA), an industry body funded by GM companies including Monsanto, Bayer CropScience and CropLife International, for what they believe are false claims by the ISAAA suggesting a rise of 8% internationally in the acreage of GM crops in 2011. Wenonah Hauter of Food and Water Europe has accused the ISAAA of using deceptive tactics to portray acreage statistics as much larger than they actually are.
  • The Union of Concerned Scientists has published a new web feature giving Monsanto an “F” in sustainable agriculture. The feature illustrates how Monsanto is failing to live up to its promises to make agriculture more sustainable and is in fact only succeeding at increasing its profits, at the expense of conservation and long-term sustainability. The feature outlines eight ways Monsanto fails in the sustainability department.
  • All over the country-- in courtrooms, online, Occupy sites and with petitions and lawsuits— a debate rages on as farmers and consumers stand up for their right to know what’s in their food and whether it contains ingredients that have been genetically engineered foods labeled, as well as protect crops from becoming contaminated with GM seeds.