February 27, 2011

New pathogen connected to Glyphosate: "an emergency"


Questions about the safety of a popular herbicide made by Monsanto Co have resurfaced in a warning from a U.S. scientist that claims top-selling Roundup may contribute to plant disease and health problems for farm animals.

Plant pathologist and retired Purdue University professor Don Huber has written a letter to U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack warning that a newly discovered and widespread "electron microscopic pathogen appears to significantly impact the health of plants, animals, and probably human beings." He said the pathogen appears to be connected to use of glyphosate, the key ingredient in Roundup.

Huber coordinates a committee of the American Phytopathological Society as part of the USDA National Plant Disease Recovery System. He is a long-standing critic of biotech crops, such as Monsanto's "Roundup Ready" soybean and corn, which have been genetically altered to withstand treatments of Roundup herbicide.

In his letter to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Huber said the organism has been found in high concentrations of Roundup Ready soybean meal and corn, which are used in livestock feed. He said laboratory tests have confirmed the presence of the organism in pigs, cattle and other livestock that have experienced spontaneous abortions and infertility.

The organism is also prolific in corn and soybean crops stricken by disease, according to Huber.

"I believe the threat we are facing from this pathogen is unique and of a high risk status," Huber wrote. "In layman's terms, it should be treated as an emergency."

Read the whole Reuter's story

The extensive use of glyphosate, and the rapid adoption of genetically modified glyphosate-tolerant crops such as soybean, corn, cotton, canola, sugar beets, and alfalfa; with their greatly increased application of glyphosate for simplified weed control, have intensified deficiencies of numerous essential micronutrients and some macronutrients......Lost yield, reduced quality, and increased disease are the unfortunate consequences of untreated micronutrient deficiency.

Plant pathogens stimulated by glyphosate:

Botryospheara dothidea Gaeumannomyces graminis
Corynespora cassicola Magnaporthe grisea
Fusarium species Marasmius spp.
F. avenaceum Monosporascus cannonbalus
F. graminearum Myrothecium verucaria
F. oxysporum f.sp. cubense Phaeomoniella chlamydospora
F. oxysporum f.sp. (canola) Phytophthora spp.
F. oxysporum f.sp. glycines Pythium spp.
F. oxysporum f.sp. vasinfectum Rhizoctonia solani
F. solani f.sp. glycines Septoria nodorum
F. solani f.sp. phaseoli Thielaviopsis bassicola
F. solani f.sp. pisi Xylella fastidiosa

Don M. Huber, Emeritus Professor, Purdue University

Dr. Huber's letter

Dear Secretary Vilsack:

A team of senior plant and animal scientists have recently brought to my attention the discovery of an electron microscopic pathogen that appears to significantly impact the health of plants, animals, and probably human beings. Based on a review of the data, it is widespread, very serious, and is in much higher concentrations in Roundup Ready (RR) soybeans and corn—suggesting a link with the RR gene or more likely the presence of Roundup. This organism appears NEW to science!

This is highly sensitive information that could result in a collapse of US soy and corn export markets and significant disruption of domestic food and feed supplies. On the other hand, this new organism may already be responsible for significant harm (see below). My colleagues and I are therefore moving our investigation forward with speed and discretion, and seek assistance from the USDA and other entities to identify the pathogen’s source, prevalence, implications, and remedies.

We are informing the USDA of our findings at this early stage, specifically due to your pending decision regarding approval of RR alfalfa. Naturally, if either the RR gene or Roundup itself is a promoter or co-factor of this pathogen, then such approval could be a calamity. Based on the current evidence, the only reasonable action at this time would be to delay deregulation at least until sufficient data has exonerated the RR system, if it does.

For the past 40 years, I have been a scientist in the professional and military agencies that evaluate and prepare for natural and manmade biological threats, including germ warfare and disease outbreaks. Based on this experience, I believe the threat we are facing from this pathogen is unique and of a high risk status. In layman’s terms, it should be treated as an emergency.



COL (Ret.) Don M. Huber
Emeritus Professor, Purdue University

Monsanto's press release, Statement About Alleged Plant Pathogen Potentially Associated with Roundup Ready Crops asserts:

"Monsanto is not aware of any reliable studies that demonstrate Roundup Ready® crops are more susceptible to certain diseases or that the application of glyphosate to Roundup Ready crops increases a plant’s susceptibility to diseases".

Yet this statement can be shown as evidently false by following the research listed here:
Glyphosate effects on diseases of plants (G.S. Johal, D.M. Huber)