If you've been to this blog before, you've probably heard of Roundup - Monsanto's herbicide widely used to spray lawns, yards, and crops, especially those crops that have been genetically modified to resist Roundup's active ingredient, Glyphosate. You've probably also heard of the health dangers of Glyphosate as shown in numerous laboratory tests. What you may not know, however, is that one of the supposedly inert ingredients in Roundup, called polyethoxylated tallowamine, or POEA, has been shown to not only be more dangerous on its own than Glyphosate, but also increase the damage Glyphosate can do to cells on its own by combining with it to more effectively penetrate clothing, safety equipment, and cell walls in the body.
This article in Scientific American describes how a French team of scientists came to this conclusion after testing POEA and Roundup on human cells. An excerpt reads:
POEA, was more deadly to human embryonic, placental and umbilical cord cells than the herbicide itself – a finding the researchers call “astonishing.”
“This clearly confirms that the [inert ingredients] in Roundup formulations are not inert,” wrote the study authors from France’s University of Caen. “Moreover, the proprietary mixtures available on the market could cause cell damage and even death [at the] residual levels” found on Roundup-treated crops, such as soybeans, alfalfa and corn, or lawns and gardens.
The research team suspects that Roundup might cause pregnancy problems by interfering with hormone production, possibly leading to abnormal fetal development, low birth weights or miscarriages.The article then goes on to explain why an ingredient that causes more harm than the active ingredient can be labeled as inert:
The term “inert ingredient” is often misleading, according to Caroline Cox, research director of the Center for Environmental Health, an Oakland-based environmental organization. Federal law classifies all pesticide ingredients that don’t harm pests as “inert,” she said. Inert compounds, therefore, aren’t necessarily biologically or toxicologically harmless – they simply don’t kill insects or weeds.If you want to avoid POEA and Glyphosate, buying more organic food, and more generally, avoiding Genetically Modified Organisms - a primary use of Roundup - are great options. Support mandatory labeling for GE foods, and add your voice to those advocating for the passage of Prop 37 in California. Here in Connecticut, purchase groceries from a farmers market and get to know the farmer you're buying from. If you know the farmers who grow your food, and ask them questions, you will know your food as well.
Have a great weekend!