A new U.S. Geological Survey has concluded that pesticides can be found in, well, just about anything.
Roundup herbicide, Monsanto’s flagship weed killer, was present in 75 percent of air and rainfall test samples, according to the study, which focused on Mississippi’s highly fertile Delta agricultural region.
GreenMedInfo reports new research, soon to be published by Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry journal, discovered the traces over a 12-year span from 1995-2007.
The researchers discovered the following:
- Thirty-seven compounds were detected in the air or rain samples in 2007; 20 of these were present in both air and rain.
- Glyphosate was the predominant new herbicide detected in both air (86%) and rain (77%) in 2007, but were not measured in 1995.
- Decreased overall pesticide use in 2007 relative to 1995 generally resulted in decreased detection frequencies in air and rain, but observed concentration ranges were similar between years even though the 1995 sampling site was 500 m from active fields while the 2007 sampling site was within 3 m of a field.
- Mean concentration of detections were sometimes greater in 2007 than in 1995 but the median values were often lower.
- Seven compounds in 1995 and five in 2007 were detected in ≥50% of both air and rain samples. Atrazine, metolachlor, and propanil were detected in ≥50% of the air and rain samples in both years.
- Total herbicide flux in 2007 was slightly greater than in 1995, and was dominated by glyphosate.
According to the report, 2 million kilograms of glyphosate were applied statewide in 2007, or 55% of the total herbicide flux for that year (~129 μg/m2), leading them to state the high prevalence of glyphosate in air and water “was not surprising.” Even though glyphosate was only tested in 2007, based on the 1995 figures on glyphosate use (147,000 kg state-wide) the researchers estimated that glyphosate added 3% of the total herbicide flux for 1995, or approximately 7 micrograms per centimeter (~7 μg/m2) per sample. This estimate, if correct, reveals that there has been an ~ 18 fold increase in glyphosate concentrations in air and water samples in only 12 years (1995-2007).
The researchers pointed out that, “the 2007 weekly air concentration pattern for glyphosate was similar to those of other commonly detected herbicides in both 1995 and 2007 in that the highest concentrations occurred in April and May. However, there were detectable concentrations of glyphosate over the entire growing season, which is consistent with how glyphosate is used on GM crops, including for post-emergent weed control throughout the growing season.” The longer period of exposure adds to growing concern that this ubiquitous toxicant represents an unavoidable body burden and that even small daily environmental exposures may be causing significant harm through their cumulative and synergistic effects with other toxicants.
So, what is the toxicological significance of the discovery of glyphosate in most air samples tested? In the month of August, 2007, if you were breathing in the sampled air you would be inhaling approximately 2.5 nanograms of glyphosate per cubic meter of air. It has been estimated the average adult inhales approximately 388 cubic feet or 11 cubic meters of air per day, which would equal to 27.5 nanograms (billionths of a gram) of glyphosate a day. Of course, when one considers the presence of dozons of other agrichemicals found alongside glyphosate in these samples, the interactions between them are incalculably complex and produce far more harm together than glyphosate alone (i.e. synergistic toxicity). Also, now that recent cell research has shown that glyphosate may act as an endocrine disrupter exhibiting estrogenic-like carcinogenicity within the part-per-trillion range, there is all the more reason to raise the red flag of the precautionary principle — especially since inhaled toxicants evade the elaborate detoxification mechanisms of ingested toxicants which must pass through the microbiome, intestinal lining and liver before entering the blood and only a long time later the lung far downstream.
This study brings to the surface the extent to which GM farming has altered our daily exposure to chemicals, such that even the rain and air we now breath contains physiologically relevant levels of glyphosate ‘fall out’ from the war against any plant not part of the monocultured, genetically engineered system of production.