It’s official: Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide causes birth defects

  • Published on June 8th, 2011

A new report by some top scientists has nailed it down, and Monsanto isn’t going to be happy. The Agri-giant has built its entire business model, including genetically modified (GMO) crops that dominate the US market, around its Roundup brand herbicide.

The last thing they want to admit is that it causes birth defects.

But that’s just what a group of scientists from a diverse group – including Cambridge University, the King’s College London School of Medicine, and the Institute of Biology, UNICAMP, São Paulo, Brazil – have found.

Key findings:

  • Industry (including Monsanto) has known since the 1980s that glyphosate causes malformations in experimental animals at high doses.
  • Industry has known since 1993 that these efects could also occur at lower and mid doses
  • The German government has known since at least 1998 that glyphosate causes malformations
  • The EU Commission’s expert scientifc review panel knew in 1999 that glyphosate causes malformations
  • The EU Commission has known since 2002 that glyphosate causes malformations. This was the year its DG SANCO division published its final review report, laying out the basis for the current approval of glyphosate.

The report goes into a good deal of technical detail to show how regulators bent over backwards to discount those studies, and make it look like there were no problems with Roundup.

-> Next Page: How to hide behind bad science

About the Author

Jeremy Bloom is the Editor of RedGreenAndBlue. He lives in New York, where he combines his passion for the environment with his passion for film, and is working on making the world a better place.


  • […] Originally Posted by rpt Glyphosate (the active ingredient in Roundup) is actually considered one of the safest pesticides although, as has been said, it should be a last resort. A – it's not a pesticide – it's a herbicide B – if you say so…It’s official: Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide causes birth defects […]

  • Earth Open Source has produced other bad studies or reviews before. They’re owned by a company that makes money certifying products as non-gmo. So, in short they have a vested interest in people being scared of GMOs and anything commonly related to them. Though they are reviewing studies that may have been peer reviewed elsewhere. This itself is not a peer reviewed publication, it’s self-published. What many term “gray literature”.

  • Grow your own food, whenever possible, from reputable seed distributors (organic). I use heirlooms from my Granny, now 25 years gone and gather at the end of the season. Buy local, from local organic farmers, they’re easy enough to find. You can make a hanging garden from a canvas shoe holder for goodness sake. Don’t support the big M. Don’t buy their stuff. $$$$ is the only thing they understand!! Unless you are ready to get off your own ass and help yourself and your neighbors STOP COMPLAINING!!

    • I agree with everything you say up until your all-caps admonition to stop complaining. I think we need to keep on complaining to get this information out into the public. If the media are not reporting on it, it needs to be spread virally through social media. People need to be made aware that their food is being poisoned- then they can begin to make the choice to short at farmers’ markets, grow their own, etc. If people don’t complain, how will anyone know this is happening?

  • I think any reporting on this topic is incomplete as long as alternative herbicides and their risks are not taken into consideration. as the world is full of evils, one should choose the least of them.

  • We have 7 billion people on the planet and have been using this stuff for about 20 odd years to feed ourselves right? Somebody ought to be looking into widespread birth defects to see if this is the cause. Hasn’t enough time elapsed for any cumulative effects to show up? Where are those studies? We’re going to have a hard time feeding the world’s ever growing population as it is with global warming playing havoc with harvests. We’d better figure out better ways of doing it or only the rich will be able to afford to eat. That’s not a world I look forward to.

  • Monsanto government supporters are making the USA look Bad! The rest of us are NOT ignorant of what has been going on. It’s time to get rid of corporate dominance and big money influence! Where is the moral value to human life? Ethics and conviction is the right thing to do not greed, power and money!

  • As a lay person, I have to take a “wait and see” attitude about this. Depending on people’s political viewpoints, they tend to jump on bandwagons a select the findings they find most congenial to their prejudices.

    I remember well the hysteria about Bt corn pollen wiping out monarch butterflies. It was a myth.

    As for glyphosate: as a small farmer, I will say this is a wonderful product that would be sorely missed if taken off the market. The four of us on our farm are in our fifties and sixties and Roundup has been a boon for keeping invasive weeds at bay. There is simply no risk of “birth defect” (assuming the findings are true) in the way we use the product.

    We must never forget that the dose makes the poison. All sorts of everyday products present HAZARDS but the actual RISKS are minute.

  • A good article, but hardly excellent.

    Roundup is nothing more than filtered and cleaned ‘Agent Orange’, so this is hardly new information. Many groups have been trying to get compensation for the Veterans of the South East Asian war, where virtually everyone was exposed to AO at one time or another. Maybe this information will finally get the Government – the Va to do something – don’t hold your breath.

    Lastly, I see the article as conservative pushing on liberals to get off their duff and do something, but a few folks said Monsanto is supported by conservatives(?). As Obama and the Dems are hiring Mosanto people, that falls in the liberal lap.

    Conservatives have been working with veterans for compensation – AO / Roundup has been a target for some time.

    • Actually agent orange was a combination of 2-4 D and 2-4-5 T, and the latter has been banned since 1985. There was no glyphosate involved.

  • Your dismissal of GLP is far to glib and is reminiscent of the many conspiracy theories that I have read regarding other topics (e.g., 9/11 being and inside job, moon landings were faked, JFK was killed by LBJ, Osama Bin Laden not being dead, etc.) It’s true that GLP doesn’t guarantee good science; people, being the miserable lot that they are in the aggregate, can subvert legitimate science by committing fraud. What GLP’s do provide is that the testing is carried out in a well documented, systematic manner, that the results are properly reviewed, and that the testing protocol is approved prior to testing taking place. Because the hypothesis is stated prior to testing and the outcome’s meaning clearly identified, it prevents “testing into compliance” and obligates an ethical operation to act responsibly. Of course people can fudge the data, but that doesn’t mean that GLP’s are tyrannical.

  • the crazy thing about this corporation that not too many people know besides the above is BILL GATES owns 500,000. shares of this this company’s stock…and MONSANTO, BILL GATE AND THE ROCKEFELLERS own a HUGE heirloom seed bank in the arctic….now why would Maonsanto be interested in non roundup ready (HEIRLOOM seeds) and why would a BILLIONAIRE who owns a HEIRLOOM SEED BANK have any interest in a GMO company….oh, and to add insult to injury BILL GATES has been into this lately….Think about it…CHEM TRAILS BABY…just what the heck are they spraying on us, ourt food and our water???

  • This is no surprise to us who have suffered at the hand of Monsanto and their evil products. They need to be stopped for it’s too late for all. The children of American Vietnam veterans exposed to agent orange suffer from the intergenerational effects of agent orange another one of Monsanto’s miracle products. How a corporation such as Monsanto can continue to crank out poisonous products and still be able to operate is what is surprising. If you are the child of a Vietnam veteran join us today Sharon Perry, Founder

  • I understand the frustration of having science overlooked in favor of big business, but there is more to this than just a chemical. I looked everywhere for the Suresh study. I still can’t find it. It is not directly referenced in the report, nor is it found through Google scholar, JSTOR, or PubMed. I agree that the Germany should have demanded that the study be repeated. Or at the very least there should have been further testing. But the sad fact is, many of the things that you eat, and take for granted are not tested nearly as vigorously as these recombinant DNA crops. For example, the use of Copper(II) sulfate as a pesticide is approved for organic rice farming. And as little as 11mg/kg of body weight is toxic (NIOSH).
    I’m not about to defend all of the pitfalls of Monsanto’s business practices, but I will defend the science. Look at the pesticides or herbicides you keep in your own home. Heck, lawn fertilizers are a bigger environmental issue.
    Glyphosate (Roundup) is toxic, that was never disputed. Agriculture has used chemicals known to cause birth defects before, that’s why there are all of those liability signs at parks.
    And blaming an administration for cooperating with businesses? In a country that is so die hard capitalist, how else can the government compete when all of the money is sucked up in the private sector.
    I don’t think Monsanto should do their own safety testing, THAT is “Bad Science”. Not this “cover up” and burying of information.
    Food is a touchy subject for people, it is a crucial part of culture. But we are in need of an agricultural overhaul as global warming ruins crop yield (The New York Times just wrote an article:
    And maybe Monsanto takes the blame because they were pioneers in a field that had never existed before. I don’t like big business, and you can hate them for the lobbying and the profit margins. But please, don’t hate them for the science.
    If you read this far before being angry with me, I hope you understand that I am trying to see your side of the argument, but I still support Roundup Ready crops.

  • I don’t think there’s a lot here honestly. The main study that document refers to is the Paganelli et al. 2010 article which tests some commercial formulation on Xenopus laeVis and chicken embryos. There are two obvious problems with the study.

    1. They didn’t test glyphosate by itself – it may have been the surfactant (basically soap) that caused the problems.
    2. The embryo’s received a commercial dose – and it’s highly unlikely that even if you sprayed a pregnant woman in a field, or chicken etc.., with a commercial does that the amount received by the embryo would be even a small percentage of that amount.

    Maybe I just didn’t read far enough, perhaps finding out that there are tons of mutant frogs near roundup sites, and this is independent of different formulations and surfactants (ie. it really is the glyphosate) but I still see no smoking gun and remain unconvinced.

    • The problem is the overuse of chemical herbicides, like roundup, by industrial/conventional farmers. These farmers tend to overspray, especially on “Roundup-Ready” crops and the chemicals end up in ground water, and other major waterways polluting ecosystems. Yes they may reach humans in small doses through unwashed produce consumption, and polluted ground water, which may not seem that harmful from a relatively short scientific study, but what are the long term affects?

    • Actually Paganelli et al DID test glyphosate by itself… and still found malformations. So not the surfactant. Also the main point of the report is that INDUSTRY”S OWN TESTS FOUND MALFORMATIONS FROM ROUNDUP. Even if you decide not to believe Paganelli et al, are you gonna disbelieve the industry studies that found a problem and the other independent studies that also found malformations?

    • Oh, and the embryos did not receive a commercial dose, but a fraction of the commercial dose. This is made clear in Paganelli’s paper, and in the new report. Did you not read either?

  • This has not been picked up at ALL by any media outlets. Is Monsanto that powerful that they can suffocate news as important and impactful as this? People should contact editors of their newspapers and broadcast news programs. In L.A. and New York, especially. This story needs sunlight.

  • Oh, I feel sooooo sorry for those Monsanto people.. They get what they deserve.. I only hope that somebody actually does something about these results, but they’ve got the politicians in their pockets!!

  • Jeremy Bloom is to be congratulated for this article. Roundup has been of great concern to me for some time now as the manufacturer is Monsanto the same company that already is the world’s largest producer of GMSeeds and its aim is to dominate the world’s food.

    Monsanto was also the US Company, along with 35 others like Dow and DuPont, that manufactured Agent Orange, that was used on Vietnam by US Forces resulting in the deaths of many thousands of innocent Vietnamese. Thousands died in the wombs of their mothers. Today, 50 years after it began to be sprayed over South Vietnam, Vietnam has near to four million people of all ages suffering from illnesses and deformaties due to Agent Orange.

    I would urge all who read this article to raise it with their governments to get this and other products of Mionsanto Banned.

  • Does beg the question: if all these new studies and reports are all “wrong” and slanderous, why isn’t Monsanto suing? What is it that makes them hold back? Possibly their own testing or lack of, will have to come out in court?

  • Que hijos de Puta!!!!!!!Sinvergüenzas capaces de cualquier atrocidad todo por dinero,ojalá que quiebre monsanto y que los encarceles

  • So what? If you’re going to make a fair article, be sure to include the higher crop yields due to using roundup. Be sure to calculate how that lowers food costs, thereby allowing the poor to afford more and/or better quality food.

    It’s like DDT. We saves some birds (supposedly) buy doomed millions upon millions to die from malaria.

    You guys live in a dream world.

    The company doesn’t “treat” people/farmers. They get on board with whatever the consequences are when they VOLUNTARILY buy the product. They do this because YOU AND I don’t want to pay MUCH higher food costs.

    • 1) If it was discovered that Monsanto killed babies, and I reported that, would you insist that it wasn’t a fair article unless I also mentioned all the babies Monsanto DIDN’T kill?
      2) Farmers use Roundup Ready seeds because they’re less work than conventional, NOT because of higher yields (In their promo, Monsanto advertises that their new Roundup Ready 2 Yield soybeans are 9% better than their old Roundup Ready beans, but makes no comparison to conventional soy). Its less work because you don’t have to weed – you just dump Roundup on your fields. Bad news: Superweeds have developed resistance to Roundup, so that advantage is being lost, too.
      3) It is, in fact, just like DDT – because you’re spouting right-wing talking points, not actual facts. Do a little research – even check the wikipedia page! – you’ll discover that

      DDT is NOT banned in the third world (where THE MALARIA IS)
      DDT has been over-used in agriculture in the third world, which is why DDT is NO LONGER EFFECTIVE, as overuse leads to mosquitoes developing immunity
      The World Health Organization is trying to ban DDT for AGRICULTURAL use for that reason. NOT trying to ban it for malaria control.

      4) You’re the one living in the dream world – the right wing echo chamber where you just repeat whatever glib talking point you get from Rush or Anne Coulter, and fact-check yourself at Conservapedia
      5) Finally, yes, farmers and consumers voluntarily buy their product BECAUSE MONSANTO SAYS IT’S SAFE. If it’s KILLING UNBORN CHILDREN do you really think people are going to want this stuff sprayed in their communities?

      • Great article, I’m downloading the full document in order to read it and then maybe I will come back for comments.
        Usually I don’t like conspiracy’s stories but Monsanto and the GMO world in general is using such a amount of power and money to spread their products at the edge of legality, crush down any real sound researches, and as until now offered such scary products (superweeds are the latest, Monsanto and pals offered to the world PCB, DDT, agent orange, glyphosphate and more) that anyone shall acknowledge the truth.
        I recommend absolutely to anyone who wants information to read the book “The World according to Monsanto” from Marie-Monique Robin (in French but also English) and/or see the related documentary, also available for English speakers I think).
        Lobbying to hide the truth and continue to quietly kill people, but government and lack of understanding unable this industry to do absolutely want they want.
        In Europe too, despite more freedom for researches on GMO’s potential toxicity, pressure is growing against the scientists. Why needing to silence people if there is no danger?
        Finally, just take a look at the statistics of suicide of Indian farmers due to less yield of GMO crops (especially cotton) at the opposite of what the sellers claim).
        I hope more clever men like Jeremy will rise and spread the data about the real sides effects on GMO’s dark side. It’s not about good VS bad guys, just truth to save farmers and consumers.

        Thank you Jeremy

    • The farmers usually don’t “voluntarily” buy the product; it’s blown onto their land when Monsanto ships their seed across country in open trailers. They are either then forced to destroy their crop or pay back Monsanto for the “theft.”

      Or your argument: Nobody else agrees with me, they all must be wrong/delusional/making things up. Keep on reaching.

    • Hey genius. Higher crop yield means sh* if our babies are gonna be born f*d up. Then again, to be fair maybe the article should mention how the poor and their one armed babies get cheaper food, so they can have more crippled babies, and maybe their babies will be born without ANY arms.

      But of course its the fault of those buying the product and food treated with the product, Monsanto doesn’t have to acknowledge the dangers of their product until an outsider reveals it, and if an outsider doesn’t reveal it, hey what you don’t know can’t hurt you and your one armed baby.

    • There is more to cost than just financial cost. Factor in ALL costs including ecological services (so called by deluded economists as “externalities”) and it is apparent that actions that destroy the living biosphere of the planet (or “base capital”) is totally unsane. When the energy moving throughout the complex webs of inter-relationships of the living biosphere AND our human created systems are taken into full account, it will be clear that is more profitable in the fullest sense (and also the narrower folding-stuff sense) to, for example: leave a forest intact rather than chopping it down. When the Primary Economy of nature is threatened, the Secondary Economy (human activity) upon which is relies becomes unsustainable.

  • Peer review? This report is not science if there is no good testing of claims. I suspend judgment until I see a report in an academic journal.

    • Um, dude? Did you even bother to read this?
      This is a review of peer-reviewed science that was already published in academic journals.

      • Um, dude? If you’re going to report on something, you need to dig a little further back than the current administration. Otherwise it looks like you don’t even bother to fact-check.

        • Um, dude? Do you even both to read? Michael R. Taylor has been bouncing between Monsanto and regulatory agencies since 1976.
          And then there’s current Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, who worked for Monsanto as a young lawyer, and recently ruled in Monsanto’s favor.
          Again, you might want to actually read the article

  • What does the ‘secret muzlim’ have to do with this? You do realize that you just turned a valid story into a conspiracy (kook story) by mentioning Obama when he has absolutely nothing to do with any part of this story. Montaso is such an easy target, why bring in Obama? I would think the news you tried to convey was more important then your hatred of the president.

    If you need to trash him for everything he does and does not do and especially when he is absolutely unrelated to the story, you are not permitted to question why his supporters figure you people are racist. Such hatred is hard to explain without falling back to bigotry.

    You turned a real story into an attack on Obama for no apparent reason so facts are less important then the theme you wish to convey. Your story became a glenn beck / ann coulter style rant so we’ll have to wait until someone else reports this news to see if it actually is real. It’s too bad, apart from one line you had a real story going. Now you have trash.

    • One more time: Follow the link.
      I do NOT hate President Obama. Do you?
      I DO resent the fact that he has allowed his Department of Agriculture to continue to be little more than a revolving door for Monsanto lobbyists, who are put in charge of “regulating” their former boss for a while before they go back on the payroll.
      If you had followed the link, you would have read:

      For years, there’s been an open revolving door in Washington – sending workers from the Federal government to Monsanto and Monsanto back to the Federal government. This has a tendency to make people question the fairness and objectivity of the folks who are supposed to be overseeing the giant agricultural corporation.

      For example:

      Michael R Taylor, started off as a partner at the law firm that represented Monsanto on GBH issues. Then, as the FDA’s deputy commissioner for policy, he wrote the FDA’s rBGH labelling guidelines – the ones that insisted there was no difference between rGBH and regular milk. He also deleted references to problems with GMO foods, over the objection of staff scientists. Then he spent a few years working directly for Monsanto. And now? Barak Obama brought him back to the FDA to oversee Monsanto again, as his food safety issues czar!

    • I like Obama, but was disappointed when he put an ex Monsanto
      employee in charge of agriculture.
      As far as this previous message goes, your ranting puts you on their level. Very unattractive and loses any message you are trying to convey!

  • “How to hide behind bad science”? Artificially dose an embryo with 2,000 times the legal limit and claim you’ve identified a problem.

    • I believe you missed the point.
      That’s what Monsanto was doing – artificially dosing an embryo with 2,000 times the legal limit, and then saying, “Well, of course there are problems, the dosage is ridiculous, so there’s nothing to worry about at low dosages…”
      But they didn’t DO the experiments with low dosage.
      And when other scientists DID experiments with low dosage, Monsanto suppressed the results.
      THAT’S how you hide behind bad science.

  • Thank you for posting – this company is an absolute freggin disgrace. I cannot believe that we live in a country where this awful company is allowed to monopolize and treat farmers and consumers with such carelessness. Screw them. I hope they rot.

Comments are closed.