Watch out for the toxic mix!

By Christoph Then


Munich/Berlin 29.4.2011. Testbiotech is warning that toxic compounds found in genetically engineered plants are increasingly burdening the food chain. Particular reasons for concern are raised about residues from herbicides and insecticides. Though it is known that the amount of residues in the plants is increasing, there are hardly any controls and risk assessment is insufficient. The report was commissioned by Ulrike Hoefken, a Green Member of the German Parliament.

The cultivation and processing of genetically engineered plants are exposing the environment to certain herbicides and insecticides as never before. These compounds, their metabolites, their additives and the resulting mixtures become a permanent part of the food chain. Negligence or failures in risk analysis can be hugely damaging to human health and the environment,” warns Christoph Then at Testbiotech.

In the case of herbicides like Roundup that contain glyphosate as the main active compound and are applied on genetically engineered plants, the German authorities have taken action to prevent risks to human health. Very often these herbicides are mixed with so called POEA, polyoxyethylene alkylamine, to make the herbicide glyphosate more efficient. Meanwhile POEA are now known to be more highly toxic than glyphosate. According to the German Federal Office for Consumer Protection and Food Safety (BVL), POEA may be transferred to consumers from feed and animal-derived products. Therefore, German farmers have been advised not to use these herbicide sprays in the cultivation of plants used in feed production. However, there were no intensified controls or measures taken in regard to feed imports such as genetically engineered soy.

Ulrike Hoefken adds, “Previously unknown hazards to human health, animal welfare and the environment are lurking in the feed troughs of our farmers. The new report shows massive negative consequences resulting from genetically modified plants, and specifically from imported genetically engineered soybeans. As long as these risks are not eliminated, a ban on imported these soybeans should be considered.

In the next few months, decisions are due to be made on several applications for market authorization. Amongst these is a genetically engineered maize capable of expressing six different insecticidal toxins, jointly produced by the US companies Monsanto and Dow AgroSciences. Additionally, there is an expectation that the authorities will prolong market authorization for genetically engineered Roundup ready soybeans (Monsanto). These plants are resistant to herbicides and regularly contain residues from spraying. Just recently, the EU Council of Ministers failed to reach a decision on the import of genetically engineered maize expressing three insecticides and having a tolerance to herbicides such as Roundup. It is expected that the EU Commission now will endorse the market authorization of this maize for use in food and feed.

Barb’s note: POEA is not something that is added to Roundup (glyphosate) after sale. It is an “inert ingredient” added to Roundup before sale:

“According to the US Environmental Protection Agency in a letter dated April 30, 1999, in response to a Freedom of Information Request, the following inert ingredients are in RoundUp Super Concentrate Weed & Grass Killer:

  • Polyoxyethylene alkylamine (CAS #61791-2)
  • Water (CAS #7732-18-5)
  • FD&C Blue No. 1 (CAS #3844-45-9)

David H. Monroe, an Industrial and Environmental Toxicologist, stated in an October 16, 1989 letter to the National Campaign Against the Misuse of Pesticides (NCAMP) that most polyalkoxylated surfactants such as the polyoxyethylene alkylamine in RoundUp are contaminated with 1,4-dioxane.

A study done by Monroe on Vision, a glyphosate product by Monsanto, revealed that it contained 1,4-dioxane at a level of 350 ppm.

(Monroe D, 1989. Letter to NCAMP.)

1,4-dioxane is carcinogenic, and is known to damage the liver, kidney, brain and lungs.”

“The current Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) permissible exposure limit (PEL) for dioxane is 100 ppm.”

Barbara H. Peterson

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11 Responses to ““Inert” Ingredients in Roundup Pesticide Contain Dioxane!”

  1. Sunshine Baker says:

    I live in N California and last year at this exact month lost a horse to unknown lung problems we took him to UC Davis. Now the same month as last year i have a pony at US Davis both with lung problems with no known reasons. All that we know is Alecto 41S a cheaper form of Round Up is continually sprayed this time of year at the property where we board our (now one) horse and we found out that a previous borders horse was diagnosed with a lung disease.We removed our third horse from this property and are going to test her but the tests are in-cunclusive as to trace it to Round ups ingredients. This stuff kills and we have to prove it!!!!

  2. Jon Porter says:

    I think we can begin to take more responsibility for our own food. Not everyone can grow their own food and not all local food is healthy. But we can all learn to avoid most of the unhealthy gmo, irradiated, and otherwise unhealthy food. The more of us that stop buying gmo products (including beef and chicken raised at least partially on gmo corn or gmo soy feeds), the less demand there is for the gmo crops. When the consumer turns against the gmo farmers, the farmers will have to change to non-gmo seeds. I am now raising my chickens for meat and eggs. I sprout wheat, oats, barley and lentils for their feed. The chickens get to forage for a portion of their feed. It is an effort but we do get healthy meat and eggs – non gmo. It is a start.

  3. In my opinion, the only way to get pesticides and GMOs out of our food supply is by localization. Grow as much as we can on our own, and buy from suppliers that we trust. This is something we can do – vote with our purse strings.

  4. e davis says:

    I must say sadly that I have become increasingly despondent concerning Monsanto’s continued rule over our food supply. The problem is that most of the people I try to inform about it do not want to hear about it. Our country will ultimately be destroyed from within by apathy – how sad is this? The people who do try to talk about it are looked upon as a bit extreme so what are we to do? The government will choose companies like Monsanto over the general population anytime because we don’t have that much money to give them. This is the way it is and the talking and talking does not seem to be getting anything done but more talking. i would love to hear some concrete ideas about how we could stop all the chemicals being poured into our food. Thank you.

  5. Linda Kerth says:

    A question for Tom Mohr: You seem very knowledgeable about this … I live in a retirement community which was sprayed in late February with a ‘broad-spectrum, broad-leaf’ defoliant which was later identified as a mixture of Strike 3 (mostly 2,4 D but also containing mecoprop and dicamba) and also Pendulum (pentimethalin, or something like that) which states it is extremely toxic to all aquatic life forms. I’ve done some research on line about these two substances, but the jury seems out (if you believe the EPA … which I don’t). What can you tell me about this, and do you have any suggestions about what we can do to protect ourselves here? There are people here, including me, with breathing difficulties of various sorts, and some are on supplemental oxygen. What can we do? Linda

  6. aubreyfarmer says:

    Choose your poison. Either the Zionists and neo-cons will use “soft kill” means to reduce the population or go to the more extreme of starting World War III. One way or the other the eugenicist filth plans on killing off much of the population. I for one would rather be dead than live in the fascist police state planned for humanity.

  7. David says:

    So lets get this right. In this upside down world, the inert ingredient of a weedkiller (AKA defoliant) is agent orange.
    No wonder why it kills everything it touches and poisons homeowners and landscapers who use it.

  8. Annie Linux says:

    These mad-house organizations like monsanto will eventually spoil the Earth if they are allowed to go on unchecked. It seems almost every politician is for monsanto and gmo’s and they have done a pretty good job at indoctrinating the greedy farmers rich and poor but it will and in some cases is already coming back to bite them on their arses (the farmers). Only the massive majority – most of the governed people on the Earth – have said no to gmo and monsanto and their filthy ilk but our lying politicians ignore our wishes. It seems to me they are asking for trouble.

  9. Tom Mohr says:

    Doc – it’s not dioxin (2,3,7,8-TCDD), it’s 1,4-dioxane – a cyclic ether compound whose main use was as an additive to the chlorinated solvent 1,1,1-TCA by DOW.

    The topic of 1,4-dioxane as a contaminant of herbicides is covered in my book on 1,4-dioxane, published in 2010 and available through your local library on inter-library loan from one of the 50+ USA universities that have added it to their stacks. To the best of my knowledge, Barb has got this story right.

  10. Kirk says:

    Not to be an apologist for the chemical industry, but realize.

    #1 Dioxane is not to be confused with Dioxin. Dioxane is an industrial solvent. Dioxin is a horrible carcinogen, of much greater toxicity. I don’t believe there is a PEL for dioxin – that’s how bad it is.

    #2 It would be nearly impossible to achieve 100ppm in air if the powder had only 350ppm. You’d have to put your head in a bag full of the stuff and inhale a quart of it. You’d die from asphyxiation first before you got cancer from the dioxane.

    Roundup is bad stuff, otherwise it wouldn’t kill a broad spectrum of plants. That should be enough to make anybody realize that it is probably not safe.

  11. Doc says:

    dioxin…agent orange —ring any bells? Ask any veteran of Vietnam. Vietnam is still in recovery forty years after the spraying.