Roundup herbicide’s health risks recognized by Danish scientists
Tuesday, April 22, 2014 by: L.J. Devon, Staff Writer
(NaturalNews) Monsanto’s Roundup is coming under fire in Denmark as scientists awake to its effect on enzymes activities and the gastrointestinal health of mammals. Danish scientists are calling out for further investigation of the weed killer and other glyphosate-containing pesticides. Citing glyphosate’s potential for abuse on the health of livestock, the scientists report that the chemical is most dangerous during a mammal’s sensitive life stages.
Likewise, the weed killer has been proven to inhibit specific enzyme pathways in the guts of mammals — enzymes that play an important role in allowing the body to detoxify naturally.
Danish scientists recognize that glyphosate affects livestock at sensitive life stages
Current health assessments of livestock in Denmark show that genetically modified soy feed, which is doused with glyphosate, has negative effects on mammalian health. Scientists from Denmark’s Aarhus University investigated various farmer reports at the request of the Danish farm minister.
One of the scientists, Martin Tang Sorensen, hit the ground running, reviewing study after study identifying the risks that glyphosate poses to livestock health. Evidence pointed out that glyphosate impacts livestock the most during sensitive phases of the animal’s life.
Two hypotheses were studied and were of great concern to the researchers. The first investigated glyphosate’s damaging effect on the microorganisms in an animal’s gastrointestinal system. The second studied an animal’s mineral status as a secondary effect of glyphosate exposure.
Glyphosate disrupts good bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract, leaving livestock more prone to infections
For cattle and poultry, glyphosate disrupts the natural “good” bacteria balance in the gut. This is evidenced by the recent uptick of Clostridium botulinum infections in cattle. In the past ten years in Germany, botulism infections have increased dramatically, showing how a diminished gastrointestinal tract favors the growth of infectious disease. For example, salmonella and clostridium were found to be highly resistant to glyphosate. At the same time, beneficial bacteria such as Enterococcus, Bacillus and Lactobacillus were found to be most susceptible, destroyed in the presence of glyphosate. Without enough good bacteria, the gut of the livestock becomes a nest for disease to replicate.
Danish Farmer Reverses Illnesses in pigs by reverting to a GM-free diet for his animals, which is yet further evidence for the toxicity of glyphosate tolerant GM crops Dr Eva Sirinathsinghji
A Danish farmer has gained huge public recognition for publishing his simple method for ridding his pigs of illness- removing genetically modified (GM) ingredients from their diet.
Published in the farming magazine Effektivt Landbrug on 13 April 2012 , the farmer Ib Borup Perderson describes how his pigs suffered from symptoms including chronic diarrhoea, birth defects, reproductive problems, reduced appetite, bloating, stomach ulcers, weaker and smaller piglets, and reduced litter sizes. This was not just a problem for the animals themselves but also the profitability of the farm, with fewer healthy animals, mounting costs of medicines and added labour costs.
After researching the health hazards of GM foods and associated herbicides, Pederson decided to stop feeding his 450 sows with GM soybean, replacing them with fishmeal and non-GM soybean instead. He began to notice health benefits after two days of a GM-free diet. The farmer’s account has since been published in an English dossier compiled by scientist Brian John of GM-free Cymru (Wales), with collaboration from Pederson, published online by GM Watch .
This finding adds to the continual flow of new evidence appearing in peer-reviewed scientific studies, farmers’ reports and witness accounts of the devastating health impacts of glyphosate-based herbicides and the associated GM crops modified to tolerate it. Birth defects from glyphosate exposure were detected in the 1980s in lab animals performed by Monsanto (see  EU Regulators and Monsanto Exposed for Hiding Glyphosate Toxicity, SiS 51,  Lab Study Establishes Glyphosate Link to Birth Defects, SiS 48, 5 Glyphosate Kills Rat Testes Cells, SiS 54). Residents of heavy agrochemical-use zones in Argentina have seen startling increases in birth defects, adult and human cancer rates as well as other illnesses (see  Argentina’s Roundup Human Tragedy, SiS 48,  Pesticide Illnesses and GM Soybeans, SiS 53). Argentinian tobacco farmers have recently filed a lawsuit against Monsanto for birth defects suffered by their children following claims by the corporation that the chemical was safe to use . Animal feeding studies have shown GM soya feed to cause sterility, stunting and death in rats (see  GM Soya Fed Rats: Stunted, Dead, or Sterile, SiS 33). This is also not the first time that livestock illness including reproductive problems has been linked to glyphosate-tolerant crop derived feed. Professor Emeritus Don Huber of Perdue University, a senior scientist of USDA (US Department of Agriculture) has been studying crop health for over 20 years, and warned how reduced mineral content of glyphosate-tolerant crops lead to nutritional deficiencies in livestock that in turn cause reproductive problems (see  USDA Scientist Reveals All, SiS 53). Reduced mineral content in crops results from glyphosate’s metal chelating properties, rendering essential minerals unavailable. Nutrient deficiency effects are independent of direct glyphosate toxicity that causes endocrine disruption, birth defects and cancers among other illnesses. The identification of a novel pathogen in glyphosate-treated crops, reproductive organs of livestock as well as aborted foetal tissue may also be a contributing factor (see Emergency! Pathogen New to Science Found in Roundup Ready GM Crops?,SiS50).
Improvements in health with GMO-free diet
The dossier  presents following effects since removing GM produce from the pigs’ diets, as described by Pederson:
1. Within 2 days, diarrhoea virtually disappeared in the farrowing house, whereas before, 50-100 ml Borgal / day [an antibacterial drug] had to be used.
2. Since switching, there had been no death from bloat in sows or death by ulcers, as opposed to minimum 1 per month previously (36 sows died due to stomach related sickness over the last two years before switching).
3. No sows have died through loss of appetite, whereas 2 sows died from this cause last year.
4. Even without washing between farrowings, diarrhoea does not reappear; previously failing to wash between sows would result in more diarrhoea.
5. Previously the farmer had struggled with diarrhoea in first layer sows, no more problems there.
6. Two years ago when the diarrhoea was as its worst, there were months with nearly 30% dead in the farrowing house. At that time it was impossible to find sows that could nurse piglets.
7. Before it was unusual to have a sow with 13 piglets weaned. The average was about 10.5 per sow plus spare mothers. Now the farmer is getting over 12 piglets on average weaned and 14 piglets weaned per sow is common. There are fewer nursing sows, simply because the sows are milking better and eating more.
The Real Cost of GM Animal Feed?
At first glance the frozen bundles could be mistaken for conventional joints of meat. But as Ib Pedersen, a Danish pig farmer, lifts them carefully out of the freezer it becomes apparent they are in fact whole piglets – some horribly deformed, with growths or other abnormalities, others stunted.
This is the result, Pedersen claims, of feeding the animals a diet containing genetically modified (GM) ingredients. Or more specifically, he believes, feed made from GM soya and sprayed with the controversial herbicide glyphosate.
Pedersen, who produces 13,000 pigs a year and supplies Europe’s largest pork company Danish Crown, says he became so alarmed at the apparent levels of deformity, sickness, deaths, and poor productivity he was witnessing in his animals that he decided to experiment by changing their diet from GM to non-GM feed.
Danish pig farmer Ib Pedersen is convinced that GM animal feed, and the glyphosate herbicide in particular, is responsible for deformities and other defects in pigs
The results, he says, were remarkable: ”When using GM feed I saw symptoms of bloat, stomach ulcers, high rates of diarrhoea, pigs born with the deformities … but when I switched [to non GM feed] these problems went away, some within a matter of days.”
The farmer says that not only has the switch in diet improved the visible health of the pigs, it has made the farm more profitable, with less medicine use and higher productivity. “Less abortions, more piglets born in each litter, and breeding animals living longer.” He also maintains that man hours have been reduced, with less cleaning needed and fewer complications with the animals.
Inside the farmhouse, piles of paperwork are laid out across a vast table; print outs, reports, statistics, scientific research, correspondence. Pedersen shows me photos he says are of animals adversely affected by the GM feed – there’s more piglets with spinal deformities, their back legs dragging on the ground; others have visible problems with their faces, limbs or tails. There’s even a siamese twin – two animals joined at the head.
Pedersen believes these abnormalities, and the other problems, were caused – at least in part – by the presence of the herbicide glyphosate in his GM pig feed. Glyphosate is routinely sprayed on many soya and cereal crops to kill weeds and maximise yields.
Although it is used on conventional crops, its usage on GM soya and maize is particularly prevalent as the crops are engineered to be resistant to the chemical, killing the weeds but leaving the crop plants unaffected.
The introduction of GM crops resistant to glyphosate allowed crops to be sprayed with the herbicide to control weeds – often many times over a growing season – without killing the crop. But this also led to much higher levels of glyphosate in the plants and seeds.
After glyphosate-resistant strains of soy were introduced in 1996, EU regulators raised the allowed maximum residue limit (MRL) for glyphosate in imported soy 200-fold, from 0.1 mg/kg to 20 mg/kg.
Glyphosate use has become increasingly controversial in recent years, with a growing body of research, say campaigners, suggesting that exposure, even at low levels, can be harmful to animals and humans.
Studies have also suggested, claim critics, that the herbicide may disrupt the human endocrine system, which regulates the body’s biological processes, meaning that any level of exposure could pose a significant risk to health.
Such claims are vigorously refuted by the agro-chemical industry, who state the herbicide is safe and who accuse campaigners of touting flawed research, or manipulating the findings to suit their own agenda.
Pedersen claims that independent testing revealed all of his deformed pigs had glyphosate in their organs. He shows me a chart he suggests shows a clear correlation between the volume of glyphosate found in pig feed and higher numbers of cranial and spinal deformities. “The more glyphosate, the more deformities,” he says, bluntly.
Outside, along a muddy track through a number of arable fields – in addition to pigs, Pedersen produces strawberries, peas and potatoes – we come to the main pig house. It’s vast and crowded, efficient and noisy, with the unmistakable stink of pig waste. A factory farm.
Pedersen shows me the farrowing crates, the large bodies of the nursing sows squeezed under metal bars, surrounded by up to a dozen weaning piglets. He points out his best animals – the most productive, the veterans – and stops to check on those he has concerns about, examining a swollen joint here or an inflamed nipple there. Antibiotics are administered to one.
In the main hall the pigs move more freely, as they do in a series of smaller rooms where younger animals are kept as they grow. The farmer manually throws down handfuls of sandy-looking feed to supplement that available in the conical feed troughs. The feed mix, he explains, contains soya, fishmeal and other ingredients – but nothing of GM origin.
Pederson admits his work isn’t scientific but says the results should alarm people. He’s worried that many farmers have no idea of the potential impact of GM feed, and that the same is true for consumers: when using GM feed, he says, “Everything was down in the quagmire … We had eleven pigs die in one day.”
Deformities and deaths “the new normal”
The farmer’s research, and outspoken stance, provoked a storm of controversy in Danish agricultural circles after the respected farming publication Effektivt Landbrug featured the story, interviewing Pedersen in detail and referring to the pig farmers’ suggestion that DDT and thalidomide – linked to deformities in up to 10,000 babies – could be regarded as trivial compared to the potential risks from GM and glyphosate.
Critics accused him of scaremongering and slammed the findings as unscientific and “without merit” – pointing out that if the claims were true, thousands of other farmers using GM feed would be recording similar problems.
Despite this, Pedersen’s work has prompted the Danish Pig Research Centre (VSP) to announce an in-depth study to test the effects of GM and non-GM soya on animal health. The findings of the research have yet to be published.
And Pedersen’s findings are beginning to spread well beyond Denmark; earlier this month the German television channel ARD broadcast a documentary featuring the farmer’s claims, and Pedersen himself recently travelled to the UK to address a packed symposium at the House of Commons, organised by the All-Party Parliamentary Group On Agroecology.
Anti-GM campaigners say the findings are particularly compelling as the observations were made in a real farm setting, not a laboratory. Claire Robinson of GM Watch told The Ecologist.