More Recent Comments

Friday, March 16, 2007

Roundup® Is Safe

There have been dozens of studies on the possible harmful effects of Roundup®. There are many well-funded organizations and tons of lawyers who would like nothing better than to sue Monsanto into bankruptcy. Given the millions of farmers and suburban gardeners who slop Roundup® on themselves on a regular basis, you'd think it would be easy to come up with some who have died of cancer or, at least, suffered serious health problems.

Hasn't happened. Most of the scientific studies find no harmful effects of Roundup® on humans. Here's a bit from a study done for THE COMMONWEALTH OF MASSACHUSETTS in 2003.
Acute (Mammalian)
Glyphosate has reported oral LD5Os of 4,320 and 5,600 mg/kg in male and female rats (15,4). The oral LD5Os of the two major glyphosate products Rodeo and Roundup are 5,000 and 5,400 mg/kg in the rat (15). A dermal LD5O of 7,940 mg/kg has been determined in rabbits (15,4). There are reports of mild dermal irritation in rabbits (6), moderate eye irritation in rabbits (7), and possible phototoxicity in humans (9). The product involved in the phototoxicity study was Tumbleweed marketed by Murphys Limited UK (9). Maibach (1986) investigated the irritant and the photo irritant responses in individuals exposed to Roundup (41% glyphosate, water, and surfactant); Pinesol liquid, Johnson Baby Shampoo, and Ivory Liquid dishwashing detergent. The conclusion drawn was that glyphosate has less irritant potential than the Pinesol or the Ivory dishwashing liquid (120).
Elimination of glyphosate is rapid and very little of the material is metabolized (6,106).
Subchronic/Chronic Studies (Mammalian)
In subchronic tests, glyphosate was administered in the diet to dogs and rats at 200, 600, and 2,000 ppm for 90 days. A variety of toxicological endpoints were evaluated with no significant abnormalities reported (15,10). In other subchronic tests, rats received 0, 1,000, 5,000, or 20,000 ppm (57, 286, 1143 mg/kg) in the diet for 3 months. The no observable adverse effect level (NOAEL) was 20,000 ppm (1,143 mg/kg) (115). In the one year oral dog study, dogs received 20, 100, and 500 mg/kg/day. The no observable effect level (NOEL) was 500 mg/kg (116).

You may not like Monsanto and genetically-modified food for ethical reasons or because the company exploits third-world farmers. These are valid, if controversial, reasons for opposing the spread of genetically-modified crops. Personally I don't have a problem with genetically modified foods, but I do have a problem with the power of large international for-profit companies.

Express your opposition, if it's rational and scientifically based, but don't fall into the trap of opposing GM foods because you think Roundup® is dangerous. This kind of opposition (see below) is just plain silly. It is a superstitious, anti-science, way of thinking.
If You Think Monsanto's Roundup is a Safer Pesticide,
Please read the articles and papers on this page! Roundup is a pesticide as defined by the EPA.

If you're still not convinced that Roundup is a highly toxic and persistent pesticide, read on, while at the same time remembering the other contributions that Monsanto has made to society such as:
Saccharin, Astroturf, agent orange, dioxin, sulphuric acid, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), plastics and synthetic fabrics, research on uranium for the Manhattan Project that led to the construction of nuclear bombs, styrene monomer, an endless line of pesticides and herbicides (Roundup), rBGH (recombinant bovine growth hormone that makes cows ill), genetically engineered crops (corn, potatoes, tomatoes, soy beans, cotton), and it's most significant product to date; Lies, Factual Distortions and Omissions.
[from Everything You Never Wanted to Know About Monsanto's Modus Operandi (M.O.)]


  1. Monsanto invented sulphuric acid? Now that is one nasty chemical that would weigh heavily on any user's conscience.

  2. There are many well-funded organizations and tons of lawyers who would like nothing better than to sue Monsanto into bankruptcy

    That’s because studies to determine the long term cumulative effects of pesticides in the biosphere haven’t been conducted, I don’t think. Indeed I don’t think we’ve developed the conceptual tools yet to determine correctly the effect of a pesticide on animate systems that include us. What kind of studies found roundup safe? There is a holism/reductionism dichotomy in science which is evident in conflicting interpretations of experimental findings (toxicology vs. environmental oncology – controlled toxicological trials in a lab correspond poorly to specimens in their environment) and in setting priorities for research (developing pesticides instead of learning to live without them, for example.)

    Monsanto can go to hell.

  3. Yes, you can drink it. It goes best with tequila but gin will do in a pinch. Don't forget the slice of lime.

  4. The LD50 (animals) of glyphosate is higher than the LD50 for aspirin. The only danger of glyphosate is potential contamination of equipment to be used for fertilizing plants. It poses no danger to animals.

    There are pesticides that are potential dangers to the environment. Glyphosate is not one of them.

  5. The problem with Round Up in Denmark is that it has contaminated the groundwater. Regardless of the health risk, the policy is never to allow pollutants in drinking water, which I personally think is an admirable position.

    Several water drillings have been closed due to large amounts of round up in the water, so one should never forget that use of pesticides should be considered, and tempered according to each situation.

  6. Søren K says,

    Several water drillings have been closed due to large amounts of round up in the water, so one should never forget that use of pesticides should be considered, and tempered according to each situation.

    Do you have a reference to support this claim? My understanding is that glyphosate has a short half-life so it's very unlikely that groundwater could be "contaminated" except right after a field is sprayed.

  7. Read for yourselves:

  8. Just used roundup this morning, i'm still alive! Look people just use your common sense, use everything in moderation and appropriately. You can never do enough research on anything! that is a fact. Even if you eat celery and celery alone.. you will DIE, and that is a fact. too much of anything is bad for you.

  9. Question: If the chemical only enters the plant that it it sprayed on, not the soil surrounding it. And then dissipates, the how does it get to water?

  10. Studies show that pesticides increase the risk of ADHD symptoms. I applaud Canada for banning them. The U.S. however... as usual, they are not responding in kind. Big Pharma is just so powerful that the FDA isn't going to budge when Monsanto is involved. Too much money in it.

    The good news is... some devoted non-allopathic doctors are successfully ridding the body of heavy metals and other toxins through oral chelation, exercise, supplements, and diet. One of these days people will finally realize that as long as we continue to pollute our bodies, we will continue to be riddled with disease and die. It's not rocket science.

  11. Molly says,

    The good news is... some devoted non-allopathic doctors are successfully ridding the body of heavy metals and other toxins through oral chelation, exercise, supplements, and diet.

    I like to think of Sandwalk as a science blog but I allow people to post ridiculous non-scientific statements in the comments section.

    This is an example of a non-scientific statement. It looks a lot like a lie, doesn't it?

  12. You are missing the study by Lennart Hardell " A Case-Control Study of Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma and Exposure to Pesticides". You have also not considered the amount of waterfowl that die directly from exposure from Roundup in third world countries. You obviously still have not seen the documented evidence from "Homo Toxicus" as well. Round up is dangerous. You were no friend to Rachel Carson and have not even considered bioaccumulation. Shame.

  13. All comments posted here are directly in support of Roundup and defending the chemical even. Are you getting an incentive for defending the chemical as a biochemist? Another PR stunt my Monsanto?

  14. This is an example of a non-scientific statement. It looks a lot like a lie, doesn't it?

    Well, in defense of said practitioners, I've no doubt whatsoever that 'non-allopathic' 'doctors' have had excellent results using said techniques to remove significant quantities of silver, nickel, and copper from their clients' wallets, anyway...

  15. anonymous says,

    All comments posted here are directly in support of Roundup and defending the chemical even. Are you getting an incentive for defending the chemical as a biochemist?

    Nope. I'm just using common sense. Roundup has been sprayed massively over thousands of acres of farmland for decades and there doesn't seem to have been any harmful effects on humans. Furthermore, most of us have spilled in all over ourselves on several occasions when we use it in the yard. I'm still fine, thank-you for being concerned.

    I also use something called "scientific evidence." Perhaps you've heard of it? It's the sum total of all the studies that have been done on the possible toxic effects of Roundup. (Cherry picking a small part of the evidence isn't scientific.)

    Finally, there's the political argument. Thousands of people all over the world have been trying to destroy Monsanto for years and they still haven't come up with any reason to ban Roundup or sue the company. Makes you wonder.

  16. To those who keep touting the harmful effects of pesticides, get the record straight at least, Roundup is an herbicide, not a pesticide.

  17. I think there have been several studies that show problems with Roundup, including toxicity to insects and humans, lower crop yields, degradation of the soil by destruction of mychorhizae and nitrogen fixing function, and the development of super weeds resistant to GLA. See:​Glyphosate-Factsheet

  18. We are being threatened with roundup on our allotment so it is now a concern and hence stumbled across your blog. I am a scientific officer in a government laboratory in the UK so understand there can be a lot of scaremongering by environmental groups in particular. However, despite you arguements you quite clearly state at the beginning of your article that MOST scientific studies show roundup not to be harmful to humans. In my scientific paradym ALL scientific studies should show that something is safe - if it is a scientific proof. The fact that some studies indicate the opposite should be what you should be focusing on ie:
    Savitz DA, Arbuckle , Kaczor D, Curtis KM. Male pesticide exposure and pregnancy outcome. Am J Epidemiol 2000, 146, 1025-36.
    Richard S, Moslemi S, Sipahutar H, Benachour N. and Seralini GE.Differential effects of glyphosate and roundup on human placental cells and aromatase.Environ Health Perspect. 2005 Jun;113(6):716-20
    Marc J, Le Breton M, CormierP, Morales J, Belle´R and Mulner-Lorillo O. A glyphosate-based pesticide impinges on transcription. Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology 2005, 203, 1-8.
    Benedetti AL, de Lourdes Vituri C, Trentin AG, Dominguesc MAC and Alvarez-Silva M. The effects of sub-chronic exposure of Wistar rats to the herbicide Glyphosate-Biocarb. Toxicology Letters 2004, 153, 227–32.
    De Roos AH, Zahm SH, Cantor KP, et al. Integrative assessment of multiple pesticides as risk factors for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma among men. Occup Environ Med 2003, 60, E11
    Hardell L, Eriksson M, Nordstrom M. Exposure to pesticides as risk factor for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and hairy cell leukemia: pooled analysis of two Swedish case-control studies. Leuk Lymphoma 2002, 43,1043–1049.
    McDuffie HH, Pahwa P, McLaughlin JR, Spinelli JJ, Fincham S, Dosman JA, et al. 2001. Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and specific pesticide exposures in men: cross-Canada study of pesticides and health. 2001, Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 2001,10,1155–63.
    De Roos AJ, Blair A, Rusiecki JA, Hoppin JA, Svec M, Dosemeci M, Sandler DP and Alavanja MC. Cancer incidence among glyphosate-exposed pesticide applicators in the agricultural health study. Environ Health Perspect 2005, 113, 49-54.

    To be fair they are not all roundup but they focus on the principle chemical component.

    Don't get me wrong it is great as a scientist you present a rational response to this problem but as a scientist you should also be objective and present all the evidence.
    Regards J. C. Day M.Sc. Ph.D.

  19. How much did you get paid to spread this disinformation? Hope it was worth selling out your integrity as an earthling.

  20. What a paper tiger you are Anonymous! What is evident is your extreme anger which keeps you from being rationale. That is a matter of simple psychology.

  21. Thank you for the common sense and the levity on your blog. I have been doing a lot of research on Round Up and Round Up generic products and the overwhelming results are that Round Up is just as you say it is: not a threat. In response to the alarmist Monsanto haters here is a reminder from history: More people have suffered and died from eating moldy rye! Now correct me if I'm wrong, but that would be organic, right?

  22. The trouble with environmentalists is that they generally do little research. If some article is written about roundup in ground water, all the environmental groups will claim how evil Monsanto is without even reading the study. To me environmentalists are as unscientific and irrational as Christians or other religious groups are. Even if roundup is mildly toxic, it has to be balanced by its benefits. One may believe that roundup and GM foods are destroying the world, but its only a belief and not science based upon evidence.

  23. This fucker is a paid goon by Monsanto, the world's most diabolical terrorist group. It doesn't give a fucking damn about people only about profit. This moron actually wants us to believe toxic chemicals and weird perversions of plant life is all right, not harmful, all the time saying, "Look at me, I'm professor in biochemistry, actually he's a paid whore for industrial farming psychopaths whose metality is deficient, their morals in the tank and their direction is taking humankind into the abyss. We already have one foot off the cliff and the other on a slippery slope and along comes this moron, Monsanto, GMO non-foods and Roundup to add the coupe de grace to life. Bill Gates is not that bright, he's an egomaniac with only one goal, more money, attention, and control over our lives.

    1. My, what a scientific analysis by someone with no obvious emotional bias against capitalism.

  24. Thank you Prof Moran for posting the research and hosting the spiral of sillies. Use of Roundup is apparently causing a brain fever epidemic right now around Washington Park in Denver, although hydraulic fracturing just 50 miles away may also be implicated.
    Half life of Roundup in soil is said to be on the order of 30 days according to Monsanto (but its bioavailability is very limited) so its getting into groundwater is just about impossible.