Roundup (herbicide)

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Roundup
Manufacturing status
ManufacturerBayer
TypeHerbicide
Introduced to market1976[1]
Purposes
Agriculturenon-selective post-emergence weed control
Herbicide properties
SurfactantPolyethoxylated tallow amine (most common)
Main active ingredientisopropylamine salt of Glyphosate
Mode of action5-enolpyruvylshikimate-3-phosphate synthase(EPSPS) inhibitor

Roundup is the brand name of a systemic, broad-spectrum glyphosate-based herbicide originally produced by the U.S. company Monsanto, which was acquired by Bayer in 2018,[2] and contains the active ingredient glyphosate. Glyphosate is the most widely used herbicide in the USA.[3] As of 2009, sales of Roundup herbicides still represented about 10% of Monsanto's revenue despite competition from Chinese producers of other glyphosate-based herbicides;[4] the overall Roundup line of products (which includes GM seeds) represented about half of Monsanto's yearly revenue.[5]

Monsanto developed and patented the glyphosate molecule in the 1970s, and marketed Roundup from 1973. It retained exclusive rights to glyphosate in the US until its US patent expired in September, 2000; in other countries the patent expired earlier. The Roundup trademark is registered with the US Patent Office and still extant. However, glyphosate is no longer under patent, so similar products use it as an active ingredient.[6]

The main active ingredient of Roundup is the isopropylamine salt of glyphosate. Another ingredient of Roundup is the surfactant POEA (polyethoxylated tallow amine).

Monsanto also produced seeds which grow into plants genetically engineered to be tolerant to glyphosate, which are known as Roundup Ready crops. The genes contained in these seeds are patented. Such crops allow farmers to use glyphosate as a post-emergence herbicide against most broadleaf and cereal weeds.

Composition[edit]

Beyond the glyphosate salts content, commercial formulations of Roundup contain surfactants, which vary in nature and concentration. As a result, the effects of this herbicide are not with the main active ingredient alone, but with complex and variable mixtures.[7]

Acute toxicity[edit]

Roundup contains the surfactant polyethoxylated tallow amine (POEA), which makes it more toxic for aquatic species than some other glyphosate formulations.[8][9] Independent scientific reviews and regulatory agencies have regularly concluded that glyphosate-based herbicides do not lead to a significant risk for human or environmental health when the product label is properly followed.[10]

Human[edit]

The acute oral toxicity for mammals is low,[8] but death has been reported after deliberate overdose of concentrated Roundup.[11] The surfactants in glyphosate formulations can increase the relative acute toxicity of the formulation.[12] Surfactants generally do not, however, cause synergistic effects (as opposed to additive effects) that increase the acute toxicity of glyphosate within a formulation.[12] The surfactant POEA is not considered an acute toxicity hazard, and has an oral toxicity similar to vitamin A and less toxic than asprin.[13] Deliberate ingestion of Roundup ranging from 85 to 200 ml (of 41% solution) has resulted in death within hours of ingestion, although it has also been ingested in quantities as large as 500 ml with only mild or moderate symptoms.[14] Consumption of over 85 ml of concentrated product is likely to cause serious symptoms in adults, including burns due to corrosive effects as well as kidney and liver damage. More severe cases lead to "respiratory distress, impaired consciousness, pulmonary edema, infiltration on chest X-ray, shock, arrhythmias, renal failure requiring haemodialysis, metabolic acidosis, and hyperkalaemia" and death is often preceded by bradycardia and ventricular arrhythmias.[12]

Skin exposure can cause irritation, and photocontact dermatitis has been occasionally reported. Severe skin burns are very rare.[12] In a 2017 risk assessment, the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) wrote: "There is very limited information on skin irritation in humans. Where skin irritation has been reported, it is unclear whether it is related to glyphosate or co-formulants in glyphosate-containing herbicide formulations." The ECHA concluded that available human data was insufficient to support classification for skin corrosion or irritation.[15]

Inhalation is a minor route of exposure, but spray mist may cause oral or nasal discomfort, an unpleasant taste in the mouth, or tingling and irritation in the throat. Eye exposure may lead to mild conjunctivitis. Superficial corneal injury is possible if irrigation is delayed or inadequate.[12]

Aquatic[edit]

Glyphosate formulations with POEA, such as Roundup, are not approved for aquatic use due to aquatic organism toxicity.[16] Due to the presence of POEA, glyphosate formulations only allowed for terrestrial use are more toxic for amphibians and fish than glyphosate alone.[16][17][18] Terrestrial glyphosate formulations that include the surfactants POEA and MON 0818 (75% POEA) may have negative impacts on various aquatic organisms like protozoa, mussels, crustaceans, frogs and fish.[8] Aquatic organism exposure risk to terrestrial formulations with POEA is limited to drift or temporary water pockets.[16] While laboratory studies can show effects of glyphosate formulations on aquatic organisms, similar observations rarely occur in the field when instructions on the herbicide label are followed.[10]

Studies in a variety of amphibians have shown the toxicity of products containing POEA to amphibian larvae. These effects include interference with gill morphology and mortality from either the loss of osmotic stability or asphyxiation. At sub-lethal concentrations, exposure to POEA or glyphosate/POEA formulations have been associated with delayed development, accelerated development, reduced size at metamorphosis, developmental malformations of the tail, mouth, eye and head, histological indications of intersex and symptoms of oxidative stress.[18] Glyphosate-based formulations can cause oxidative stress in bullfrog tadpoles.[19] The use of glyphosate-based pesticides are not considered the major cause of amphibian decline, the bulk of which occurred prior to widespread use of glyphosate or in pristine tropical areas with minimal glyphosate exposure.[20]

A 2000 review of the toxicological data on Roundup concluded that "for terrestrial uses of Roundup minimal acute and chronic risk was predicted for potentially exposed nontarget organisms". It also concluded that there were some risks to aquatic organisms exposed to Roundup in shallow water.[21]

Carcinogenicity[edit]

There is limited evidence that human cancer risk might increase as a result of occupational exposure to large amounts of glyphosate, such as agricultural work, but no good evidence of such a risk from home use, such as in domestic gardening.[22] The consensus among national pesticide regulatory agencies and scientific organizations is that labeled uses of glyphosate have demonstrated no evidence of human carcinogenicity.[23][24] Organizations such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Food and Agriculture Organization, European Commission, Canadian Pest Management Regulatory Agency, and the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment[25] have concluded that there is no evidence that glyphosate poses a carcinogenic or genotoxic risk to humans.[23] The final assessment of the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority in 2017 was that "glyphosate does not pose a carcinogenic risk to humans".[23][26] The EPA has classified glyphosate as Group E, meaning "evidence of non-carcinogenicity in humans".[23][27] Only one international scientific organization, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), affiliated with the WHO, has made claims of carcinogenicity in research reviews. The IARC has been criticized for its assessment methodology by failing to consider the broad literature and only assessing hazard rather than risk.[23]

Legal[edit]

On 10 August 2018, Dewayne Johnson, who has non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, was awarded $289 million in damages after a jury in San Francisco found that Monsanto had failed to adequately warn consumers of cancer risks posed by the herbicide,[28] a decision the company plans on appealing.[29] Johnson had routinely used two different glyphosate formulations in his work as a groundskeeper, RoundUp and another Monsanto product called Ranger Pro.[30][31] The jury's verdict addressed the question of whether Monsanto knowingly failed to warn consumers that RoundUp could be harmful, but not whether RoundUp causes cancer.[32] Court documents from the case show the company's efforts to influence scientific research via ghostwriting.[33] After the IARC classified glyphosate as "probably carcinogenic" in 2015, over 300 federal lawsuits have been filed that were consolidated into a multidistrict litigation called In re: RoundUp Products Liability.[34]

False advertising[edit]

In 1996, Monsanto was accused of false and misleading advertising of glyphosate products, prompting a law suit by the New York State attorney general.[35] Monsanto had made claims that its spray-on glyphosate based herbicides, including Roundup, were safer than table salt and "practically non-toxic" to mammals, birds, and fish, "environmentally friendly", and "biodegradable".[36][37] Citing avoidance of costly litigation, Monsanto settled the case, admitting no wrongdoing, and agreeing to remove the offending advertising claims in New York State.[37]

Environmental and consumer rights campaigners brought a case in France in 2001 accusing Monsanto of presenting Roundup as biodegradable and claiming that it left the soil clean after use; glyphosate, Roundup's main ingredient, is classed by the European Union as "dangerous for the environment" and "toxic for aquatic organisms". In January 2007, Monsanto was convicted of false advertising.[38] The result was confirmed in 2009.[39]

Falsification of test results[edit]

Some tests originally conducted on glyphosate by contractors were later found to be have been fraudulent, along with tests conducted on other pesticides. Concerns were raised about toxicology tests conducted by Industrial Bio-Test Laboratories in the 1970s[40] and Craven Laboratories was found to have fraudulently analysed samples for residues of glyphosate in 1991.[41] Monsanto has stated that the studies have since been repeated.[42]

Genetically modified crops[edit]

Roundup was first developed in the 1970s by Monsanto. It was initially used in a similar way to paraquat and diquat, as a non-selective herbicide. Attempts were made to apply glyphosate-based herbicides to row crops, but problems with crop damage kept them from being widely used for this purpose. In the USA, use of Roundup experienced rapid growth following the commercial introduction of a glyphosate-resistant soybean in 1996.[43] "Roundup Ready" became the company trademark for its patented line of crop seed that are resistant to Roundup. Between 1990 and 1996 sales of Roundup increased around 20% per year.[44] As of 2015 it is used in over 160 countries.[45] Roundup is used most heavily on corn, soy, and cotton crops that have been genetically modified to withstand the chemical, but since 2012 glyphosate was used in California to treat other crops like almond, peach, cantaloupe, onion, cherry, sweet corn, and citrus.[45]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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  2. ^ "Monsanto No More: Agri-Chemical Giant's Name Dropped In Bayer Acquisition". NPR.org. Retrieved 2018-08-17.
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  8. ^ a b c Van Bruggen, A.H.C.; He, M.M.; Shin, K.; Mai, V.; Jeong, K.C.; Finckh, M. R.; Morris, J.G. (2018-03-01). "Environmental and health effects of the herbicide glyphosate". Science of the Total Environment. 616-617: 255–268. doi:10.1016/j.scitotenv.2017.10.309. ISSN 0048-9697. PMID 29117584. Retrieved 2018-08-15.
  9. ^ Effects of Surfactants on the Toxicity of Glyphosate, with Specific Reference to Rodeo (PDF), Syracuse Environmental Research Associates, Inc. (SERA), retrieved 2018-08-20
  10. ^ a b Rolando, Carol; Baillie, Brenda; Thompson, Dean; Little, Keith (12 June 2017). "The Risks Associated with Glyphosate-Based Herbicide Use in Planted Forests". Forests. 8 (6): 208. doi:10.3390/f8060208.
  11. ^ Sribanditmongkol P, Jutavijittum P, Pongraveevongsa P, Wunnapuk K, Durongkadech P (Sep 2012). "Pathological and toxicological findings in glyphosate-surfactant herbicide fatality: a case report". The American Journal of Forensic Medicine and Pathology. 33 (3): 234–7. doi:10.1097/PAF.0b013e31824b936c. PMID 22835958.
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  13. ^ Williams, Gary M.; Kroes, Robert; Munro, Ian C. (April 2000). "Safety Evaluation and Risk Assessment of the Herbicide Roundup and Its Active Ingredient, Glyphosate, for Humans". Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology. 31 (2): 117–165. doi:10.1006/rtph.1999.1371. PMID 10854122.
  14. ^ Talbot AR, Shiaw MH, Huang JS, Yang SF, Goo TS, Wang SH, Chen CL, Sanford TR (Jan 1991). "Acute poisoning with a glyphosate-surfactant herbicide ('Roundup'): a review of 93 cases". Human & Experimental Toxicology. 10 (1): 1–8. doi:10.1177/096032719101000101. PMID 1673618.
  15. ^ Committee of Risk Assessment Opinion proposing harmonised classification and labelling at EU level of glyphosate (ISO); N-(phosphonomethyl)glycine
  16. ^ a b c "SS-AGR-104 Safe Use of Glyphosate-Containing Products in Aquatic and Upland Natural Areas" (PDF). University of Florida. Retrieved 13 August 2018.
  17. ^ Gary L. Diamond and Patrick R. Durkin February 6, 1997, under contract from the United States Department of Agriculture. Effects of Surfactants on the Toxicity of Glyphosate, with Specific Reference to RODEO
  18. ^ a b Mann RM, Hyne RV, Choung CB, Wilson SP (2009). "Amphibians and agricultural chemicals: Review of the risks in a complex environment". Environmental Pollution. 157 (11): 2903–2927. doi:10.1016/j.envpol.2009.05.015. PMID 19500891.
  19. ^ "IARC monograph on glyphosate" (PDF). IARC. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2015-09-05. Retrieved September 27, 2015.
  20. ^ Wagner N, Reichenbecher W, Teichmann H, Tappeser B, Lötters S (Aug 2013). "Questions concerning the potential impact of glyphosate-based herbicides on amphibians". Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry / SETAC. 32 (8): 1688–700. doi:10.1002/etc.2268. PMID 23637092.
  21. ^ JP Giesy, KR Solomon, S Dobson (2000). "Ecotoxicological Risk Assessment for Roundup Herbicide". Reviews of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology 167: 35-120
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  24. ^ Tarazona, Jose V.; Court-Marques, Daniele; Tiramani, Manuela; Reich, Hermine; Pfeil, Rudolf; Istace, Frederique; Crivellente, Federica (3 April 2017). "Glyphosate toxicity and carcinogenicity: a review of the scientific basis of the European Union assessment and its differences with IARC". Archives of Toxicology. 91 (8): 2723–2743. doi:10.1007/s00204-017-1962-5. PMC 5515989. PMID 28374158.
  25. ^ "The BfR has finalised its draft report for the re-evaluation of glyphosate - BfR". Retrieved 2018-08-18.
  26. ^ Guston, David; Ludlow, Karinne (2010). "Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority". Encyclopedia of Nanoscience and Society. 2455 Teller Road, Thousand Oaks California 91320 United States: SAGE Publications, Inc. ISBN 978-1-4129-6987-1.
  27. ^ US EPA, OCSPP (2017-12-18). "EPA Releases Draft Risk Assessments for Glyphosate" (Announcements and Schedules). US EPA. Retrieved 2018-08-18.
  28. ^ "Monsanto ordered to pay $289 million in world's first Roundup..." Reuters. 2018-08-11. Retrieved 2018-08-17.
  29. ^ "Weedkiller 'doesn't cause cancer' - Bayer". BBC News. 2018-08-11. Retrieved 2018-08-11.
  30. ^ Johnston, Gretel (2018-08-11). "Dying cancer patient awarded $395m in Monsanto Roundup case". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 2018-08-18.
  31. ^ Fee, Dawn M; Company, Monsato; Street, I. "United States Environmental Protection Agency Washington, D.C. 20460": 33.
  32. ^ Ebersole, Rene (2018-08-17). "Monsanto Just Lost a Case Linking Its Weed Killer to Cancer". The Nation. ISSN 0027-8378. Retrieved 2018-08-18.
  33. ^ "Monsanto Emails Raise Issue of Influencing Research on Roundup Weed Killer". Retrieved 2018-10-13.
  34. ^ "Monsanto's Cancer Fight Judge Pictures Weed Killer Showers". Bloomberg.com. 2018-03-14. Retrieved 2018-08-17.
  35. ^ mindfully.org. "Attorney General of the State of New York. Consumer Frauds and Protection Bureau. Environmental Protection Bureau. 1996. In the matter of Monsanto Company, respondent. Assurance of discontinuance pursuant to executive law § 63(15). New York, NY, Nov". Mindfully.org. Retrieved 2010-08-22.
  36. ^ "Monsanto pulls Roundup advertising in New York", Wichita Eagle, Nov. 27, 1996.
  37. ^ a b "Monsanto Agrees to Modify Roundup Ads in New York State". Associated Press. 25 November 1996. Retrieved 14 October 2018.
  38. ^ "Monsanto Fined in France for 'False' Herbicide Ads - Organic Consumers Association". Organicconsumers.org. 2007-01-26. Retrieved 2010-08-22.
  39. ^ "Monsanto guilty in 'false ad' row". BBC. 2009-10-15. Retrieved 2009-10-16.
  40. ^ "Summary of the IBT review program". U.S. EPA Office of pesticides and Toxic Substances. July 1983.
  41. ^ Times, Keith Schneider and Special To the New York (1991-03-02). "U.S. Seeks to Learn if Tests On Pesticides Were Falsified". Retrieved 20 September 2018.
  42. ^ Backgrounder: Testing Fraud: IBT and Craven Labs, June 2005, Monsanto background paper on RoundUp [1]
  43. ^ Duke, Stephen O. (June 2017). "The history and current status of glyphosate". Pest Management Science. 74 (5): 1027–1034. doi:10.1002/ps.4652. PMID 28643882. Retrieved 20 August 2018.
  44. ^ "Top-selling herbicide not close to withering". Wall Street Journal. 1996-01-08. Archived from the original on 2018-08-13. Retrieved 2018-08-12.
  45. ^ a b "What Do We Really Know About Roundup Weed Killer?". National Geographic News. 2015-04-23. Archived from the original on 2018-08-13. Retrieved 2018-08-13.

Further reading[edit]

  • Baccara, Mariagiovanna, et al. Monsanto's Roundup, NYU Stern School of Business: August 2001, Revised July 14, 2003.
  • Pease W S et al. (1993) Preventing pesticide-related illness in California agriculture: Strategies and priorities. Environmental Health Policy Program Report. Berkeley, CA: University of California. School of Public Health. California Policy Seminar.
  • Wang Y, Jaw C and Chen Y (1994) Accumulation of 2,4-D and glyphosate in fish and water hyaacinth. Water Air Soil Pollute. 74:397-403

External links[edit]