A column published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine calls for a new review of herbicides, saying U.S. regulators have been relying on flawed and outdated research. [1]

The authors of the opinion piece are Dr. Philip Landrigan, a Harvard-educated pediatrician and epidemiologist who is Dean for Global Health at the Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York, and Chuck Benbrook, an adjunct professor at Washington State University’s crops and soil science department.

Landrigan and Benbrook wrote that there are two key factors that necessitate regulatory action to protect human health: a spike in herbicide applied to widely-planted genetically modified (GMO) crops used in food, and the World Health Organization’s (WHO) recent classification of the most commonly used herbicide, known as glyphosate (Roundup), as a probable human carcinogen.

“There is growing evidence that glyphosate is geno-toxic and has adverse effects on cells in a number of different ways,” Benbrook said. “It’s time to pull back … on uses of glyphosate that we know are leading to significant human exposures while the science gets sorted out.”

Landrigan and Benbrook said they are concerned that previous research failed to assess some of the hazards associated with GMOs and glyphosate.

“We believe that the time has therefore come to thoroughly reconsider all aspects of the safety of plant biotechnology,” the column states.

The scientists also slammed the EPA’s recent decision to approve a new herbicide that uses glyphosate, saying the agency relied on outdated studies commissioned by the manufacturers and gave minimal consideration to potential health effects in children.

Roundup is manufactured by Monsanto and is the most well-known, glyphosate-containing herbicide on the market, but glyphosate is used in more than 700 products. It is sprayed directly over GMO crops like corn that has been genetically engineered to tolerate the herbicide, as well as non-GMO crops, such as wheat. Glyphosate residues have been detected in food and water supplies.

Glyphosate has even been found in the blood, urine, and breast milk of people around the nation.

After years of reviewing scientific research from different countries, the WHO’s cancer research unit on March 20 finally classified glyphosate and “probably carcinogenic to humans.” Many regulators and companies in the U.S. continue to insist that the substance is harmless. [1]

Monsanto announced in July that the company had arranged for an outside review of the WHO finding.

This article originally appeared at Natural Society.


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