Roundup: UN finds it “probably” causes cancer

At last the UN has spoken out against the widely-used weedkiller Roundup.

The UN’s International Agency for Research on Cancer has identified glyphosate, the principle ingredient in Roundup, as a probable carcinogen. They also include as probable carcinogens the insecticides malathion and diazinon, both used in New Zealand. All three will be even more dangerous to health when used than the UN is stating, if the other ingredients mixed into sprays like Roundup are considered.

Monsanto, the owner and manufacturer of Roundup, is contesting the UN classification, but has known the risks of Roundup for decades and has actively promoted its product, effectively dosing much of the world’s environment and food supply with a possible carcinogen. Monsanto deserves a massive class action against it.

Much of the soy and canola products for food or animal feed coming into New Zealand are from Monsanto’s Roundup Ready GE crops. Close to 80% of GE crops are Roundup resistant. Maximum Residue Limits (MRLs) in food, for Roundup’s principal ingredient glyphosate, were increased 200 times to 20mg/kg as acceptable and safe, as those GE crops came on stream globally, because spraying with Roundup across the food crop was of course going to increase residues in the final food products. More Roundup in our kai, yet Monsanto and regulators were aware of the science that said this was risky stuff. Shame!

No-Till farming systems are also increasing as a means of reducing ploughing and windblown soil erosion in New Zealand and around the world, and herbicide manufacturers and salespeople seem to think it’s fine to put stock on to graze the herbicide-sprayed pasture ahead of sowing, yet mechanical means of no-till exist that would stop farm animals being exposed to these toxins. A report last year on a pilot study showed glyphosate in American mothers’ breast milk at 1,000 times higher level than acceptable European drinking water.

Herbicides including Roundup are also increasingly being used to ‘wilt’ baleage animal feed crops, and ‘even’ ripening in grain crops here in New Zealand, but should have no place in our food supply or in our streets and parks.

New Zealand’s chemical regulator, the EPA (Environmental Protection Authority – yeah right), and MPI (Ministry for Primary Industries)  who are tasked with monitoring and ensuring food safety, both consistently make decisions based on trade rather than for environmental or human health reasons, allowing the continued us of chemicals such as glyphosate, malathion and diazinon unless a serious threat to trade.

I have submitted on several chemical reassessments, including diazinon, to the EPA, which was well aware of research results and many of the very serious health effects that are possible from exposure to diazinon and related organophosphate insecticides. However the EPA allowed the continued use of most organophosphates, and just a year and a half ago, Ravensdown Fertilizer Co-op was given until the end of June 2028 to carry out the importation or manufacture of a diazinon product here.

What we need here is our EPA and agricultural and food safety agencies to get serious about agrichemicals and risk assessment. They should be using the precautionary principle inherent in the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act. Even better, government needs to actively assist a transition to organic production systems. A pesticide reduction strategy and insisting on the removal of pesticide residues in food are first steps.



4 Comments Posted

  1. we need to build up environment and our natural resources to act decisively against harmful toxins. this is very great topic to discuss and sharing with peoples.

  2. Lets be honest though. As much as we need to act decisively against toxins in our natural and built up environments, would the Green Party be prepared to legislate against Roundup et al or is this just a flash in the pan? We know we need to act against neonicotinoids, which affect our bee population, but again, has any party in Parliament given serious thought as to how these might be dealt with?

  3. As someone diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease due to heavy metals from mining residues in my brain, I can also say I wonder about spray residues while farming and living in rural environments.

    Figures I have read say Parkinson’s is on the increase, especially in the farming community – possibly up to 60% of cases can have a farming or rural background, and spray residues are a known factor in the brain cell damage. Given the number of farmers to urban dwellers the figures are huge.

    I often joke that it is the farm sprays that are making the farmers so blind to what they are doing, but it isn’t really a joke.

  4. No till has been promoted for intensive cropping in conjunction with herbicide use. An absolute sham. NZ efforts to make no till commercial have been backed by Monsanto et al.

    Another case of toxic greenwash for proliferation of herbicide and systematic pollution of our food supply.

    At Mystery Creek a stand laden with tons of roundup and screeds of written information on display, doesn’t mention toxicity to animals or toxic soil residues and ground water contamination.

    The Roundup stand promoting sales did not seem to have any supervising staff who admitted knowing about the toxicity of glyphosate nor the US court cases and judgements against Monsanto and the widespread environmental and health damage caused. Claims of Roundup being 100$ safe to humans just are not backed by any evidence. Quite the contrary.

    Farmers buy the toxic herbicide in apparent ignorance or in response to advise from rural advisers/ financial managers who also pedal fertiliser recommendations.

    The NZ public blithely consume the residues in their mainstream food supply.

    Mothers breast milk is found to contain the toxic residues that are linked with a range immune system disorders and chronic conditions.

    How do we NZders avoid this toxic stuff.

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