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Letter to Ventura County supervisor Steve Bennett on the dangers of glyphosate

ISIS Letter 06/09/11


Supervisor Steve Bennett, L-1900
800 S. Victoria Ave
Venura, CA 93009


Dr. Mae-Wan Ho
Institute of Science in Society
29 Tytherton Road
London N19 4PZ

5 September 2011

Dear Ventura Supervisor Steve Bennett,

I write in support of a worldwide ban on glyphosate and glyphosate-based herbicides on behalf of the Institute of Science in Society (ISIS), a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to reclaiming science for the public good.

As part of the work of ISIS, and also as a member on the roster of scientific experts of the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, I and my colleagues have been monitoring and reviewing extensive scientific literature and empirical evidence on the use of genetically modified (GM) crops and livestock since 1994, and making the information available to policy-makers and the public worldwide via our website:, which is archived by the British Library as part of the UK’s national documentary heritage, as well as our quarterly publication provided free to key policy-makers, Science in Society (SiS), which is also publicly distributed in the UK, US and Canada, and open to subscription both online and in paper copies.

I highlight the health and environmental hazards of glyphosate, the world’s top-selling herbicide, largely because it is used with glyphosate tolerant GM crops now planted on 85 percent of the 148 million hectares given over to GM crops globally.  These hazards have been discovered and described in hundreds of research papers published by scientists independent of the industry in the US and in Europe.

Feeding trials have resulted in liver and kidney toxicities (including studies submitted by biotech companies for market approval, when the raw data were re-analysed by independent scientists) (see GM Feed Toxic, New Meta-Analysis Confirms, SiS 52), still births, stunting, infertility (GM Soya Fed Rats: Stunted, Dead, or Sterile, SiS 33) and birth defects ( Argentina's Roundup Human Tragedy, SiS 48), recently confirmed in a thorough laboratory study (Lab Study Establishes Glyphosate Link to Birth Defects, SiS 48), and corroborated by observation of highly toxic effects on placental and embryonic cells (Death by Multiple Poisoning, Glyphosate and Roundup, SiS 42).

It transpired that glyphosate was already found to cause birth defects in the biotech industry’s studies carried out in the 1990s, which were submitted to the EU for market approval (EU Regulators and Monsanto Exposed for Hiding Glyphosate Toxicity, SiS 51).

In the field, extensive studies by US scientists have confirmed that glyphosate and glyphosate-tolerant crops poisons and soil (Scientists Reveal Glyphosate Poisons Crops and Soil, and Glyphosate Tolerant Crops Bring Diseases and Death, SiS 47).  More than 40 crop diseases are now linked to glyphosate use, including Fusarium head blight, root rot, and sudden death syndrome. Glyphosate is a strong, general chelator that immobilizes nutrients in the plant and in the soil, rendering them unavailable. Moreover, glyphosate stimulates the growth of pathological fungi and enhances the virulence of pathogens such as Fusarium while killing beneficial micro-oganisms such as nitrogen fixing bacteria and Pseudomonas, an important multifunctional bacterium in the rhizophere producing numerous secondary metabolites that suppress harmful pathogens. The glyphosate tolerant GM crops actually take up and concentrate the herbicide, and secrete it through the roots, thereby poisoning the next crop to be planted in the soil. This research has been documented in more than a hundred research papers published in peer-reviewed scientific journals. That’s not all.

Earlier this year, USDA senior scientist Don Huber sent an “emergency” warning to US Secretary of Agriculture warming of a new plant pathogen in Roundup Ready GM soybean and corn that may be responsible for high rates of infertility and spontaneous abortions in livestock reported by farmers (Emergency! Pathogen New to Science Found in Roundup Ready GM Crops? SiS 50). He wrote: “I have studied plant pathogens for more than 50 years. We are now seeing an unprecedented trend of increasing plant and animal diseases and disorders. This pathogen may be instrumental to understanding and solving this problem. It deserves immediate attention with significant resources to avoid a general collapse of our critical agricultural infrastructure.”

The overwhelming evidence on the health and environmental hazards of glyphosate demands an immediate ban on glyphosate herbicides and glyphosate tolerant crops. I sincerely hope that you can take the lead by banning glyphosate herbicides in your county.

Neither GM crops nor herbicides are necessary for productive agriculture. On the contrary, a growing scientific consensus now see the need to replace industrial, fossil-fuel intensive agriculture with organic, agro-ecological farming in order to save the climate and feed the world, based on abundant evidence that the latter is much more productive as well as resistant and resilient to the vagaries of climate change.

Yours sincerely,

Dr. Mae-Wan Ho
For Institute of Science in Society

There are 6 comments on this article so far. Add your comment
David Llewellyn Foster Comment left 6th September 2011 21:09:40
Bravo Dr Ho!
Dr. Gary Erkfritz Comment left 8th September 2011 07:07:10
Thank you, Dr. Ho, for writing this letter. I live and practice in Ventura County, and I appreciate your effort. We'll see if reason or greed hold sway as a result of your letter. Dr. Gary
nhlonipho gatyeni Comment left 8th September 2011 20:08:44
impressive research,please keep them coming
David King Comment left 8th September 2011 20:08:23
Thank you for this information. However Roundup is at present used everywhere in NZ, claimed to be "Clean & Green". I have made many attempts to cause my local body to place restrictions on it's widespread use. Somehow everyone is convinced that Roundup is totally harmless and it is sold in every agricultural supply store and seed merchant's etc. Can you perhaps get Green politicians or Greenpeace to act on your researches?
susan rigali Comment left 9th September 2011 17:05:27
Thank you for your efforts to affect change in our communities. We are also working in our democracy for 10 years to get labeling on GE agriculture. Quite possible that Steve Bennett could be representing his constituents?
Dr. I.S. Perlingieri Comment left 18th September 2011 19:07:25
18 September 2011 Dear Dr. Ho: Many thanks for sending this letter. Most Americans do not know how dangerous GMO's are. There is little (such as accurate scientific studies) reported in any mainstream corporate-controlled news; and there is absolutely no labeling of any "franken-food" or any GM-products on US shelves. The chemicals companies) and their revolving-door policies) have done a heavy-handed job with legislators, so no one is held accountable for these poisons which are now ubiquitous. The Precautionary Principle is not being used, because greed and the corporate bottom line (profits) are all that matter in a society gone amok. I believe there are millions of us throughout North America who applaud your continued efforts and sound scientific research to inform us. Sincerely, Dr. I.S. Perlingieri

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