A recent study by eminent oncologists Dr. Lennart Hardell and Dr. Mikael
Eriksson of Sweden , has revealed clear links between one of the
world’s biggest selling herbicide, glyphosate, to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a form
of cancer .
In the study published in the 15 March 1999 Journal of American Cancer
Society, the researchers also maintain that exposure to glyphosate
‘yielded increased risks for NHL.’ They stress that with the rapidly increasing use
of glyphosate since the time the study was carried out, ‘glyphosate
deserves further epidemiologic studies.’
Glyphosate, commonly known as Roundup, is the world’s most widely used
herbicide. It is estimated that for 1998, over a 112,000 tonnes of
glyphosate was used world-wide. It indiscriminately kills off a wide
variety of weeds after application and is primarily used to control annual
and perennial plants.
71% of genetically engineered crops planted in 1998 are designed to be
resistant to herbicides such as glyphosate, marketed by Monsanto as
Roundup. Companies developing herbicide resistant crops are also
increasing their production capacity for the herbicides such as glyphosate, and also
requesting permits for higher residues of these chemicals in genetically
engineered food. For example, Monsanto have already received permits for a
threefold increase in herbicide residues on genetically engineered
soybeans in Europe and the U.S., up from 6 parts per million (PPM) to 20 PPM.
According to Sadhbh O’ Neill of Genetic Concern, ‘this study reinforces
concerns by environmentalists and health professionals that far from
reducing herbicide use, glyphosate resistant crops may result in increased
residues to which we as consumers will be exposed in our food.’
‘Increased residues of glyphosate and its metabolites are already on sale
via genetically engineered soya, common in processed foods. However no
studies of the effects of GE soya sprayed with Roundup on health have been
carried out either on animals or humans to date,’ she continued.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) statistics from 1997
show that expanded plantings of Roundup Ready soybeans (i.e. soybeans
genetically engineered to be tolerant to the herbicide) resulted in a 72%
increase in the use of glyphosate. According to the Pesticides Action
Network, scientists estimate that plants genetically engineered to be
herbicide resistant will actually triple the amount of herbicides used.
Farmers, knowing that their crop can tolerate or resist being killed off
by the herbicides, will tend to use them more liberally.
O’ Neill concluded: ‘The EPA when authorising Monsanto’s field trials for
Roundup-ready sugar beet did not consider the issue of glyphosate. They
considered this to be the remit of the Pesticides Control Service of the
Department of Agriculture. Thus nobody has included the effects of
increasing the use of glyphosate in the risk/benefit analysis carried out.
It is yet another example of how regulatory authorities supposedly
protecting public health have failed to implement the ‘precautionary
principle’ with respect to GMOs.’
Further information: Sadhbh O’ Neill at 01-4760360 or 087-2258599 or
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
 Lennart Hardell, M.D., PhD. Department of Oncology, Orebro Medical
Centre, Orebro, Sweden and Miikael Eriksson, M.D., PhD, Department of
Oncology, University Hospital, Lund, Sweden, ‘A Case-Control Study of
Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma and Exposure to Pesticides’, Cancer, March 15, 1999/
Volume 85/ Number 6.
The findings are based on a population-based case-control study conducted
in Sweden between 1987 – 1990. The necessary data was ascertained by a
series of comprehensive questionnaires and follow-up telephone interviews.
Dr. Hardell and Dr. Eriksson found that ‘exposure to herbicides and
fungicides resulted in significantly increased risks for NHL’.
 Lymphoma is a form of cancer that afflicts the lymphatic system. It
can occur at virtually any part of the body but the initial symptoms are
usually seen as swellings around the lymph nodes at the base of the neck.
There are basically two main kinds of lymphoma, i.e. Hodgkin’s disease and
The incidence of NHL has increased rapidly in most Western countries over
the last few decades. According to the American Cancer Society, there has
been an alarming 80% increase in incidences of NHL since the early 1970’s.
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