Sunday, June 17, 2012

USGS Release: Widely Used Herbicide Commonly Found in Rain and Streams in the Mississippi River Basin (8/29/2011 8:19:35 AM)

Released: 8/29/2011 8:19:35 AM
Contact Information:
U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey

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Glyphosate, also known by its tradename Roundup, is commonly found in rain and rivers in agricultural areas in the Mississippi River watershed, according to two new USGS studies released this month.

Glyphosate is used in almost all agricultural and urban areas of the United States. The greatest glyphosate use is in the Mississippi River basin, where most applications are for weed control on genetically-modified corn, soybeans and cotton. Overall, agricultural use of glyphosate has increased from less than 11,000 tons in 1992 to more than 88,000 tons in 2007.

"Though glyphosate is the mostly widely used herbicide in the world, we know very little about its long term effects to the environment," says Paul Capel, USGS chemist and an author on this study. "This study is one of the first to document the consistent occurrence of this chemical in streams, rain and air throughout the growing season. This is crucial information for understanding where management efforts for this chemical would best be focused."

In these studies, Glyphosate was frequently detected in surface waters, rain and air in areas where it is heavily used in the basin. The consistent occurrence of glyphosate in streams and air indicates its transport from its point of use into the broader environment. 

Additionally, glyphosate persists in streams throughout the growing season in Iowa and Mississippi, but is generally not observed during other times of the year.  The degradation product of glyphosate, aminomethylphosphonic acid (AMPA), which has a longer environmental lifetime, was also frequently detected in streams and rain.

Detailed results of this glyphosate research are available in "Occurrence and fate of the herbicide glyphosate and its degradate aminomethylphosphonic acid in the atmosphere," published in volume 30 of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry and in "Fate and transport of glyphosate and aminomethylphosphonic acid in surface waters of agricultural basins," published online in Pest Management Science. Copies of the reports are available from the journals or from Paul Capel (

Research on the transport of glyphosate was conducted as part of the USGS National Water-Quality Assessment (NAWQA) program. The NAWQA program provides an understanding of water-quality conditions, whether conditions are getting better or worse over time, and how natural features and human activities affect those conditions. Additional information on the NAWQA program can be found online.

Roundup herbicide linked to Parkinson’s-related brain damage

By Anne Sewell
Apr 21, 2012 in Health

Monsanto's controversial herbicide, Roundup, has now been linked to Parkinsonism related disorders according to research reported in the Neurotoxicology & Teratology journal.
This month a new and alarming study has been published in the journal Neurotoxicology and Teratology which supports the emerging connection between glyphosate, Roundup's active ingredient, and the emergence of neurodegenerative conditions including Parkinson's disease and Parkinsonian disorders. The new study, entitled "Glyphosate induced cell death through apoptotic and authophagic mechanisms," was arranged to investigate potential brain-damaging effects of herbicides which authors of the study stated "have been recognized as the main environmental factor associated with neurodegenerative disorders, such as Parkinson’s disease." With the current wide use of Roundup herbicide in the U.S.A., it is considered to be a contaminant in air, groundwater, rain and food, making it virtually impossible to avoid. Researchers in the new study found that glyphosate inhibited the viability of differentiated test cells (PC12, adrenal medula derived), in both dose-and-time dependent manners. They also discovered "glyphosate induced cell death via authophagy pathways in addition to activating apoptotic pathways." There is a growing body of experimental evidence which indicates that besides its neurotoxicity, Roundup also has the following modes of toxicity:
Carcinogen Endocrine Disruptor Genotoxic Biocide Cytotoxic Bioaccumulator Hepatotoxic Teratrogenic Clastogenic Oxidant Aquacidal Mutagenic Aromatase Disruptor Glutathione Down-regulator Malondialdehyde Up-regulator Necrotic Nephrotox
Monsanto, the original patent holder and manufacturer of Roundup, once marketed the herbicide as "safe as table salt". However, evidence now points to the fact that it is toxic to human DNA, even at concentrations diluted 450-fold lower than those used in agricultural applications. The current study only adds to the case reports of glyphosate poisoning and also occupational exposure in which neurological damage was a direct consequence. In 2011 a case study was published in the journal Parkinsonism Related Disorders, entitled "Parkinsonism after chronic occupational exposure to glyphosate," In the report the following incident was quoted:
Here we report a patient with parkinsonism following chronic occupational exposure to glyphosate. A previously healthy 44-year-old woman presented with rigidity, slowness and resting tremor in all four limbs with no impairment of short-term memory, after sustaining long term chemical exposure to glyphosate for 3 years as a worker in a chemical factory. The chemical plant produced a range of herbicides including: glyphosate, gibberellins, and dimethyl hydrogen phosphite; however, the patient worked exclusively in the glyphosate production division. She only wore basic protection such as gloves or a face mask for 50 h each week in the plant where glyphosate vapor was generated. She frequently felt weak. Two months before she came to our clinic, she had experienced severe dizziness and blurred vision.
A further study which was published in 2003 also reported a case of Parkinsonism subsequent to glyphosate exposure. The case studies have also been backed up with animal research. In a study using the roundworm (Caenorhabditis elegans) model of glyphosate exposure, the chemical results in neurodegeneration directly associated with damage to the dopamine and GABA producing neurons. In the rat model case studies, published in 2005, it was found that glyphosate exposure results in oxidative brain damage, particularly the substantia nigra, where the highest concentration of dopamine-producing cells reside, and which is the primary locus of neurological damage in Parkinson’s disease. Glyphosate exposure is now significant, with 88,000 tons used in the U.S.A. in 2007 alone. Add to this the likely billions of pounds used worldwide, this is now a serious matter indeed. There is accumulating evidence to indicate that glyphosate is resistant to biodegradation and in the areas where it has been applied, now contaminates the air, rain and groundwater.

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