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ISIS Report 26/03/14
Glyphosate and Cancer
New research shows that the low levels of glyphosate
found in human urine can promote the growth of human breast cancer cells,
confirming the carcinogenic potential of the herbicide known since the 1980s Dr Mae Wan Ho
GM and herbicide cancer warning suppressed in retracted
Among the unsettling results of the Séralini study ,
which almost certainly lie behind its notorious retraction by the journal
editor a year after it was published ( Retracting
Seralini Study Violates Science & Ethics, SiS 61), are cancers
in rats fed GM maize and/or exposed to Roundup. Although the word ‘cancer’ was
never used by the authors, they recorded three ‘metastases’ (i.e., cancers) -
two in females and one in a male - plus two kidney Wilm’s tumours in male rats,
which had to be euthanized a year early because the cancerous tumours grew to
more than 25 % of body size. This makes a total of at least 5 cancers in the
treatment groups, in addition to the excess of grotesquely large tumours, premature
deaths, pituitary, kidney, liver, and other pathologies compared with the
controls. The cancer cases certainly should not be ignored, and to make sure
this important paper is not erased from public record, it is now freely
available and permanently registered on thesparc
 a floating knowledge archive for the survival of people and planet. The
findings are especially important in the light of new research and indeed,
previous research on the carcinogenic potential of glyphosate (and GM food).
Glyphosate promotes growth of human breast cancer cells
at minute concentrations
A research team in Thailand led by Jutamaad Satayavivad at
the Center of Excellence on Environmental Health and Toxicology, Ministry of
Education, and The Chulabhorn Graduate Institute in Bangkok, published a paper
(see  for details) in the very same Journal from which the Séralini study was retracted. They
found that glyphosate at minute concentrations enhanced the proliferation of
human hormone-dependent breast cancer T47D cells, but not hormone-independent
breast cancer MDA-MB231 cells. Their detailed experiments showed that
glyphosate mimics the action of oestrogen, and uses the same molecular pathways
as the natural hormone to promote proliferation of the cancer cells. They also
found that glyphosate had synergistic effects in enhancing breast cancer cell
growth in combination with genistein, a common phytoestrogen in soybean.
Glyphosate at concentrations between 10-12
and 10-6 M (0.169 ng/L to 0.169 mg/L) boosted the proliferation of
T47D cells by 15 to 30 %, about half as effectively as the most potent
oestrogen, 17 b-estradiol (E2).
The same low concentrations of
glyphosate induced the activation of oestrogen response element (ERE) - a specific
DNA sequence promoting gene expression with high affinity for the oestrogen
receptor (ER) that binds oestrogen - thereby activating gene expression in
response to oestrogen. Furthermore, this activation was inhibited by an oestrogen
antagonist, ICI 182780, indicating that the estrogenic activity of glyphosate
was mediated via ERs.
The highest oestrogen mimicking effect was at
10-9M or 0.169 mg/L and the
effect was half that of oestrogen, the most potent growth-promoter in hormone-dependent
breast cancer cells. ICI 182780, a specific inhibitor of oestrogen at 1 nM reduced
the proliferative effects of both glyphosate and E2. At 10 nM it completely
inhibited the growth enhancing effects of glyphosate, suggesting that
glyphosate acts via the oestrogen receptor ER.
T47D-KBluc cells, with stably transfected
triplet oestrogen response element (ERE) promoter–luciferase reporter gene
construct, when treated with glyphosate at the concentration range of 10-12
to 10-6 M, proliferated at 5-13 fold of the controls without
glyphosate or E2, less than half that induced by oestrogen.
That is not all. Glyphosate-based
herbicides are widely used for soybean cultivation (especially for Roundup
Ready GM soybean); and the researchers also found an additive oestrogenic
effect between glyphosate and genistein, a soybean phytoestrogen.
Genistein phytoestrogen is a major isoflavone
in soybean. With a structure similar to E2, it acts like oestrogen via the ER
pathways. At concentrations ranging between 10-9 and 10-4M,
genistein produced concentration-dependent proliferation effects in T47D cells
(104 to 170 % of controls). Genistein also stimulated ERE-gene transcription
activity at the concentration range of 10-11 to 10-6M, to
5-25 fold the activity of controls.
The concentration ranges of glyphosate and
genistein inducing ERE activity more than 10 fold of control are individually
10-11 to 10-9M and 10-7 to 10-5 M
respectively. Glyphosate residues in soybean were found in the range of 0.1-5.6mg/g, while genistein were in the range of
0.01-1.2 mg/g. As mentioned earlier, glyphosate concentrations in human urine
could be 1.8 x 10-8 to 1.4 x10-6 M. Using these
concentrations as a guide, the interaction range between the two
oestrogenic mimics were set at genistein 10-7 to 10-5 M,
and glyphosate 10-11 to 10-9; the concentrations were
varied with a fixed ratio of both compounds. The results showed significant
enhancement of ERE activation in the combination of 10-10 glyphosate
with 10-6M genistein and 10-9 M glyphosate with 10-5M
genistein. At 10-7M genistein and 10-9M glyphosate, cell
proliferation was increased to 169 % of control, where individually, the
promotion was 145 %.
The important new finding is that glyphosate
mimics oestrogen activity at minute concentrations; it may be inhibitory for oestrogen
at high conentrations (while other toxicities also come into effect. Nonlinear
concentration dependence is characteristic of environmental pollutants with endocrine
disrupting effects (see ).
Glyphosate in humans and animals within the range with
The lab findings indicate that low, environmentally relevant
concentrations of glyphosate have oestrogen-like activity. Glyphosate concentrations
between 1.8 x 10-8 to 1.4 x10-6 M were found in human
urine in the United States . Analysis of urine samples
of 182 subjects from 18 European countries  found that 80 (43.9 %) have
glyphosate, with a mean of 0.21 mg/L (> 10-12M) and
a maximum of 1.82 mg/L (10-11M). AMPA (aminomethylphosphonic
acid), the main metabolite of glyphosate, was present in 65 (35.71 %), with a
mean of 0.18 mg/L and a maximum of 2.63mg/L. Malta, Latvia and UK
have the highest values of glyphosate, Croatia, Belgium and Malta have the
highest levels of AMPA. Glyphosate and AMPA do
not correlate very well, probably dependent on the precise amounts of
glyphosate and residue in people’s diet.
study led by Monika Krüger at University of Leipzig finds glyphosate residues
in livestock, wild life and humans in Germany and Denmark at average
concentrations of 9-5.4 mg/L in urine and 35 mg/kg cow tissues, including
intestine, liver, muscles spleen and kidney . Human urine samples average 5.4
+ 11.5 mg/L (range 0.01 to 40 mg/L);
those on predominantly organic food have significantly lower levels compared to
those on conventional foods, and individuals with chronic diseases have
significantly higher levels than healthy individuals. Cow urine samples
average 35 + 50 mg/L (range 0 to 164 mg/L). Germany cow urine samples
have significantly lower values than those of Danish cows, and cows from
GM-Free areas also have significantly lower concentrations of glyphosate than
cows under conventional husbandry. The tissues of cows from slaughter houses
have average glyphosate concentrations of 20 + 26 mg/kg
(range 4.7 to 108 mg/kg). Rabbit urine samples average 12.5 + 12.1 mg/L
(range 3.17 to 42 mg/L); significantly higher than in those of hares.
Carcinogenic potential of glyphosate known since the
The carcinogenic potential of
glyphosate has been known since the 1980s. An excellent review on glyphosate toxicity
written by Caroline Cox of Northwest Coalition for
Alternatives to Pesticides, Eugene, Oregon in the US published in 1995
showed that most if not all the toxic effects of glyphosate had already been
demonstrated in laboratory studies . Glyphosate was not only acutely toxic
to animals and human beings; subchronic studies showed that feeding glyphosate
to animals for three months caused “reduced weight gain, diarrhea, and salivary
gland lesion.” Lifetime feeding caused “excess growth and death of liver cells,
cataracts and lens degeneration, and increase in the frequency of thyroid,
pancreas and liver tumors.” Also documented were effects on fertility: reduced
sperm counts in males and lengthening of the oestrus cycle in females.
public were kept in the dark through a litany of outright fraud committed by
testing companies working for the corporations, deception, and half-truths.
carcinogenicity, Cox wrote : “The potential
of glyphosate to cause cancer has been a controversial subject since the first
lifetime feeding studies were analyzed in the early 1980s. The first study
(1979-1981) found an increase in testicular interstitial tumors in male rats at
the highest dose tested (30 mg/kg of body weight per day) , as well as an
increase in the frequency of a thyroid cancer in females . The second study
(completed in 1983) found dose-related increases in the frequency of a rare
kidney tumor in male mice . The most recent study (1988-1990) found an
increase in the number of pancreas and liver tumors in male rats together with
an increase of the same thyroid cancer found in the 1983 study in females .”
But the US
Environment Protection Agency (EPA) explained all that away. Cox continued :
“All of these increases in tumor incidence are “not considered
compound-related”  according to EPA. In each case, different reasons are
given for this conclusion. For the testicular tumors, EPA accepted the
interpretation of an industry pathologist who said that the incidence in
treated groups (12 percent) was similar to those observed in other control (not
glyphosate-fed) rat feeding studies (4.5 percent) . [This is a blatant,
illicit use of controls.] For the thyroid cancer, EPA stated that it was not
possible to consistently distinguish between cancers and tumors of this type,
so that the incidences of the two should be considered together [a
questionable manipulation of data]. The combined data are not statistically
significant . For the kidney tumors, the registrants reexamined slides of
kidney tissue, finding an additional tumor in untreated mice so that
statistical significance was lost. This was despite a memo from EPA’s
pathologist stating that the lesion in question was not really a tumor  [and
hence amounts to a falsification of data]. For the pancreatic tumors, EPA
stated that there was no dose-related trend and no progression to malignancy [this
is frequently the case in endocrine disrupting chemicals]. For the liver
tumors and the thyroid tumors, EPA stated that pairwise comparisons between
treated and untreated animals were not statistically significant and there was
no progression to malignancy .” (Comments between square brackets added).
EPA concluded that
glyphosate should be classified as Group E , “evidence of
non-carcinogenicity for humans.” They added that this classification “is based
on the available evidence at the time of evaluation and should not be
interpreted as a definitive conclusion that the agent will not be a carcinogen
under any circumstances.”
The EPA authorities went against the
advice of their own scientists, as Cox revealed . An EPA statistician wrote
in a memo concerning one of the carcinogenicity studies , “Viewpoint is a
key issue. Our viewpoint is one of protecting the public health when we see
suspicious data.” Unfortunately, EPA has not taken that viewpoint in its
assessment of glyphosate's cancer-causing potential.
evidence that pesticides are associated with cancer risks
Studies dating back to the 1980s
have indicated that despite the low overall mortality rate from heart disease,
cancers of the lung, oesophagus, bladder and colon, farmers in many countries
appear to have higher rates for Hodgkin’s disease, leukaemia, multiple myeloma,
non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and cancers of the lip, stomach, prostate, skin, brain,
and connectives tissue compared with the general population. The strongest
links of cancers in agricultural workers are to herbicides . In 1993, the
National Cancer Institute Bethesda Maryland in the US launched a large
prospective cohort study in North Carolina and Iowa on people most likely to be
exposed to pesticides - farmers and pesticide applicators – identified when
they applied for a pesticide applicator license and undergo training and testing
Agricultural Health Study (1993-2003) was recently summarized to the press as
the EPA proposes new safety rules for farm pesticide use : “Current medical
research suggests that while farmers are generally healthier than the general
U.S. population, they may have higher rates of some cancers, including
leukemia, myeloma, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and cancers of the lip, stomach, skin,
brain, and prostate.” This finding is no different from when the Study began.
irony is that the EPA has set new standards that drastically increase the
amounts of glyphosate allowed : in oilseed crops such as flax, soybeans and
canola, it is doubled from 20 ppm to 40 ppm, while in food crops, it is multiplied
30-fold, from 200 ppm to 6 000 ppm. So although pesticides as a group is
acknowledged to be carcinogenic, glyphosate is still considered a
non-carcinogen by the EPA, the same as in 1985 . But since 1994, the first
year that GM crops were commercially grown, the use of glyphosate herbicides has
gone up enormously, with regulatory authorities putting up the allowable levels
to track the upward trajectory .
glyphosate is the most commonly used pesticide in the agricultural sector, and
second most commonly used in homes and garden as well as industry/commercial/
government sectors . In other words, its use has become pervasive; and
everyone in whatever sector will be exposed to it, through air, water and food
as recent measurements in Europe confirms (see above). Not surprisingly, it has
proven difficult to link individual pesticides with specific cancers in the Agricultural
Health Study, least of all to glyphosate, given that dozens of pesticides are
typically used, and the general population probably as much exposed to glyphosate-herbicides
and herbicide residues as farmers and agricultural workers.
A review published in 2012 (ahead of EPA’s
decision to increase allowable glyphosate levels)  “found no consistent
pattern of positive associations indicating a causal relationship between total
cancer (in adults or children) or any site-specific cancer and exposure to
glyphosate.” The lead author of the review has served as a paid consultant to
Monsanto Company, and the research was supported by the Monsanto Company. Actually,
there have been studies aimed at glyphosate in particular that found increased
risks to specific cancers, which were explained away in the review.
A Swedish study of 910 cancer cases and 1016 controls found
a significant excess of non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) associated with the phenoxy
herbicide 2-methyl-4-chlorphenoxyactice acid (MCPA) OR (odds ratio) 2.1, and
with glyphosate OR 2.02 . This confirmed the team’s earlier pooled analysis
of two case control studies - one on NHL and another on hairy cell leukemia, a
rare subtype of NHL- consisting of 515 cases and 1141 controls . Increased
risks were found for subjects exposed to herbicides OR 1.75, insecticides OR1.43,
fungicides OR 3.11, impregnating agents OR 1.48. Among herbicides, significant
associations were found for glyphosate OR 3.04, and 4-chloro-2-methyl
phenoxyacetic acid (MCPA) OR 2.62.
In another study, associations between glyphosate exposure
and cancer incidence was examined in a prospective cohort of 57 311 licensed
pesticide applicators (mostly male middle-aged) in Iowa and North Carolina
(part of the Agricultural Health Study). There was no association with all
cancers, but there was increased risk for melanoma (OR 1.8) adjusted for age, which
decreased to OR 1.6 adjusted for age, demographic and lifestyle factors, and
other pesticides. Adjusted risk estimates for colon, rectum kidney and bladder
cancers were elevated by 30 to 60 % but not statistically significant. However,
there was more than 2-fold risk of multiple myeloma (OR 2.1) associated with
ever-use of glyphosate .
The situation is best summed up in a 2013 review with lead
author Michael Alavanja who also led the Agricultural Health Study : “A
growing number of well-designed epidemiological and molecular studies provide
substantial evidence that the pesticides used in agricultural, commercial, and
home and garden applications are associated with excess cancer risk….The
literature does strongly suggest that the public health problem is real.” They
strongly recommend reducing the use of pesticides as the best measure to
counteract the problem, a recommendation that some countries in Europe such as
Sweden and Denmark have already adopted since the late 1990s. Instead of reducing
pesticide use, the US EPA has increased allowable glyphosate limits yet again,
and by 30-fold .
glyphosate should be banned
carcinogenicity of glyphosate is among the latest avalanche of damning evidence
that makes a ban on glyphosate all the more compelling. Sri Lanka is the second
country in the world to ban glyphosate after El Salvador. Having rejected GMOs
back in 2003, it has now banned glyphosate  on the strength of a study by Sri
Lanka’s own scientists  implicating glyphosate in an epidemic of deadly
chronic kidney disease that has struck Sri Lanka and other poor farming
countries  (see  Sri Lanka Bans
Glyphosate for Deadly Kidney Disease Epidemic,
SiS 62). Glyphosate is already implicated in the marked deterioration of
the health status of the US population . The
incidence of diseases and adverse conditions that have gone up in parallel with
the increase in GM crops and the use of glyphosate herbicide since 1994 (first
year of commercialization of GM crops) include thyroid cancer, liver and bile
duct cancer, obesity, high blood pressure, hospitalizations for acute kidney
injury, diabetes, and end stage renal disease. It is also a prime
suspect in the rise of human male infertility worldwide  (Glyphosate/Roundup and Human Male
62), and implicated in coeliac sprue, an
autoimmune gluten intolerance bowel disease . A recent test on 31 samples
of GM glyphosate-tolerant soybean found average glyphosate level of 3.26mg/kg
and average AMPA level of 5.74mg/kg , at the high end of oestrogenic
concentrations reported here, which could easily account for the levels present
in human urine [5-7]. Glyphosate is well-known for its toxicities to cells and
animals including livestock, crops and soil, and lethality to amphibians; it is
also harmful to other wildlife  (Ban GMOs Now, ISIS special
The full extent of glyphosate’s eco-toxicity has emerged in
new experiments. At concentrations of several parts per million, Roundup is
lethal to the neotropical fish Piaractus mesopotamicus, a native to
Brazil and Paraguay of considerable ecological and commercial value . Exposure of the freshwater fish Channa
punctatus t0 similar concentrations of Roundup caused oxidative stress,
lipid peroxidation and DNA damage in blood and gill
the retracted Séralini study  and other research cited here make clear, the
toxicities of glyphosate/Roundup are independent of and in addition to the
toxicities of the GMOs, which is why a ban on both GMOs and glyphosate is in
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James Cooley Comment left 26th March 2014 17:05:43 All you have is mounting evidence that glyphosate and GMO' are toxic. What Monsanto has in mountains of money to counter your evidence.
Comment left 27th March 2014 06:06:00 What Toxanto and other biowennies have beside money-is the US state deptment.Petro dollar refloat via patented seed is the game.Sir Lanka is reported too have banned roundup this month.Due too Kideney failure alone.You may recall 3-6 months ago a push too have the Sir Lankian Goverment charged with war crimes on behalf of the Tamils.By the war crimes volks court in the hauge-No mention of a certian nuke armed facist state profiting 10$B/year training and arming Both sides for years-See: "By Way of Deception" -V.Ostronsky for details.Yet as they examine a clear health threat for all inhabitaints-R2P begins too rear its PR head.The same is being planned around the Black sea-by the same string pullers.
Douglas Hinds Comment left 27th March 2014 06:06:27 Monsanto is dead in the water and the evidence will continue to accumulate. Better for Monsanto to their hold on the World's Conventional Farmers than for the World's Consumers to loose their hold on life.
One dead contaminator means more living people.
Good work, Mae Wan Ho! Hang in there - the world needs you (but not Monsanto).
Rory Short Comment left 27th March 2014 17:05:31 Monsanto's promotion of Round-up Ready and GMO's is for the sole purpose of making money. Science, it seems, is only relevant to the company in as much as it effects their money making. If research results are likely to impede their money making then they will use their money to try to squash or rubbish the results and/or the researchers involved.
As I see it the above behaviour by Monsanto is but a symptom of a deeper systemic malaise in Western culture. The malaise is the unthinking acceptance of the notion that the importance rankings of money, i.e. economics, human community and environment, i.e. nature, is in that order whereas the immutable reality is that the rankings are actually in the reverse order and that is true for everybody including the Monsantos of this world.
Douglas Hinds Comment left 28th March 2014 06:06:54 If I was able to edit the comment I made above it would read:
Monsanto is dead in the water and conclusive evidence will continue to accumulate. Better for Monsanto to lose their hold on the World's Conventional Farmers than for the World's Consumers to lose their hold on life, itself. One defunct Corporate Contaminator means more living people and a far healthier environment. Good work, Mae Wan Ho! Hang in there - the world needs you far more it does Monsanto, et al.
Cailyn Harley Comment left 26th June 2014 06:06:27 Interesting. Thank you for sharing! Thyroid Cancer is a scary thing, I read from a blog on Alternative Cancer Treatment, that 1 in 20 thyroid lumps is a Cancer. The number may seem low, but no one should risk it.