Monsanto: Environmental and Public Health Violations Related to Pesticides and Genetically Modified Crops

NGOs criticize the wide use of Monsanto’s herbicide, “Roundup”, which contains glyphosate, a chemical that poses severe risks to human health and the environment. Glyphosate is toxic to any plant not genetically modified to resist it and can be fatal to humans. A study commissioned by Friends of the Earth Europe (FOEE) on the consequences of the use of glyphosate found traces of the herbicide in urine samples from people in all 18 European countries surveyed.[1] Glyphosate can be toxic to human cells and can cause damage to the endocrine system. FOEE uncovered reports of glyphosate exposure taken from various South American soy-growing regions. The reports showed increased birth defects in Paraguay, increased rates of genetic abnormalities and miscarriage in Ecuador and Colombia, and increases in cancer rates in Argentina.[2] In 2012, an Argentine court found two soy farmers guilty of contaminating a community for violating regulations that banned spraying pesticides near residential areas.[3]

Pesticides and genetically modified crops also pose a threat to bee populations. A study conducted by Purdue University found that the use of neonicotinoid pesticides is strongly linked to the declining bee population.[4] Neonicotinoid insecticides are found in some of Monsanto’s seeds.[5] A decline in the bee population could endanger the world’s food supply. The European Commission has instituted a 2-year ban on neonicotinoid pesticides in response to these findings.[6]

Monsanto is currently battling a lawsuit in the U.S. for testing genetically modified wheat on a farm in Oregon without authorization. The Center for Food Safety declared that Monsanto’s tests put the food supply and export markets at risk. The price of wheat fell shortly after the discovery as Japan and South Korea restricted U.S. wheat imports.[7]

In 2013, a French court found Monsanto guilty of poisoning a farmer after he used Monsanto’s herbicide, “Lasso”.[8]

The European Commission announced that it would permit the import of the highly controversial, genetically engineered SmartStax corn in September/October 2013.[9] Studies have found that SmartStax corn contains six different insecticides and therefore bears a high possibility of negative health effects.[10]

 

[1] Medical Laboratory Bremen (2013): Determination of Glyphosate residues in human urine samples from 18 European countries (accessed 31.07.2013).

[2] Friends of the Earth Europe (2013): Glyphosate – Media Briefing. Reasons for concern (accessed 31.07.2013).

[3] BBC News (2012): Argentina convicts two over illegal agrochemicals use, 22 August (accessed 31.07.2013); Zukunftsstiftung Landwirtschaft (2012):

Argentinien. Gericht bestraft Pestizid-Vergiftungen, 24 August: www.epo.de/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=8695:argentinien-gericht-bestraft-pestizid-vergiftungen&catid=14&Itemid=88, (accessed 31.07.2013).

[4] Christian H. Krupke, Greg J. Hunt, Brian D. Eitzer, Gladys Andino and Krispn Given (2012): “Multiple Routes of Pesticide Exposure for Honey Bees Living Near Agricultural Fields”, PLoS ONE, 7(1) (accessed 31.07.2013).

[5] David Jolly (2013): Hoping to Save Bees, Europe to Vote on Pesticide Ban, 14 March (accessed 31.07.2013).

[6] Elizabeth Grossman (2013): “Declining Bee Populations Pose A Threat to Global Agriculture”, Environment360, Report, 30 April (accessed 31.07.2013); European Commission (2013): “Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) No 485/2013 of 24 May 2013”, Official Journal of the European Union, 25 May (accessed 31.07.2013).

[7] Ian Berry (2013): “UPDATE. Farmers, Food Safety Group Sue Monsanto After Oregon Wheat Incident”, Wall Street Journal, 6 June (accessed 31.7.2013).

[8] Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (2012): Gerichtsentscheid in Frankreich Monsanto hat Landwirt vergiftet, 13 Febuary (accessed 31.7.2013).

[9] Marlies Uken (2013): „Monsanto. Super-Genmais darf nach Europa“, Zeit, 12 August  (accessed 15.08.2013).

[10] Astrid Halder and Hendrik Loven (2013): “Frisch auf den Markt. Umstrittener Gen-Mais kommt nach Europa“, Report München, 30 July (accessed 27.07.2013).

Affected topics
  • Environmental and Climate protection
Directly and indirectly (through shareholding) involved companies Indirect investors through shareholding

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