The effects of glyphosate (Roundup®) on soils, crops and consumers

The effects of glyphosate (Roundup®) on soils, crops and consumers

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By Dr. Eva Sirinathsinghji

Glyphosate immobilizes the nutrients necessary to maintain plant health and resistance to disease. The herbicide is also very abundant in crops that suffer from diseases such as Goss wilt and sudden death syndrome.

USDA scientist Don Huber painted a bleak picture of GMO glyphosate crops in the UK Parliament. In less than an hour the professor emeritus of Purdue University and senior scientist of the USDA (Secretary of Agriculture of the USA) delivered to the Houses of Parliament of the United Kingdom a harsh criticism of agriculture with glyphosate, which he characterized as a very serious threat to the environment, livestock and human health (1). Since his letter to US Secretary of State for Agriculture Tom Vilsak, became public in February 2011 ( is translated at the end of this note ), a great deal of controversy was generated over what Huber described as the appearance of a new pathogen unknown to science, existing in tolerant GM crops Roundup (2). As he concludes in the letter: “We are now seeing an unprecedented trend of increase of diseases and disorders in plants and animals. He states that glyphosate generates a lower availability of nutrients in plants, increases plant diseases, promotes the appearance of the new pathogen, diseases in animals and possible effects on human health (3,4).

A new pathogen for science

The conversion of US agriculture to practice with monochemical herbicides has resulted in the extensive use of the herbicide glyphosate. Coincidentally, farmers have witnessed deterioration in the health of corn, soybeans, wheat, and other crops, and disease epidemics in small-grain crops. All are associated with the widespread use of glyphosate, which has increased further since the introduction of glyphosate-tolerant crops, Roundup Ready (RR).

Glyphosate immobilizes the nutrients necessary to maintain plant health and resistance to disease. The herbicide is also very abundant in crops that suffer from diseases such as Goss wilt and sudden death syndrome.

The pathogen can be cultured in the laboratory, and has been isolated from fetal cattle tissue, reproduced in the laboratory, and reintroduced into animals. It appears to be very common and may well be interacting with the effects of glyphosate on plants and animals, exacerbating the disease and causing reproductive failure in livestock (see below). Although great expectations have been generated when Huber published his conclusions, he insists that resources are needed to be able to characterize the "entity" and determine the species type of the new pathogen, including the sequencing of its genome. This is a slow process and once completed, it is your intention to publish the work in a peer-reviewed journal.

Understand the mode of action of glyphosate

Recognizing the mechanism of action of glyphosate is the key to understanding how it can exert harmful effects on the health of crops, animals and the environment alike. Glyphosate is a broad spectrum herbicide that interacts with a variety of physiological processes in the plant and its environment. Although it is more commonly recognized for its inhibition of the plant enzyme 5-enolpyruvilshikimate-3-phosphate synthetase (EPSPS) that participates in the production of aromatic amino acids in the shikimate pathway; it was actually first patented as a powerful strong metal chelator, binding and immobilizing metals such as manganese, magnesium, iron, nickel, zinc, and calcium, many of which are important micronutrients that act as cofactors for enzymes in plants in different physiological processes, including the defense system of plants. In fact, it is actually through chelation of manganese that the EPSPS enzyme is inhibited.

Making plants more susceptible to disease through glyphosate's pathogenic activity is actually how it exerts its herbicidal activity. This is achieved not only through the immobilization of nutrients in the plant; and it also impacts the agricultural system as a whole. Consistently, if glyphosate does not reach the root of a plant or the plant is growing in sterile soil, the plant will not die.

Once in the soil, glyphosate is belatedly immobilized through cation chelation, and is therefore very stable and does not degrade easily. However, phosphorus (like phosphorous fertilizers) can release the herbicide, causing it to become activated once more in the soil.

Glyphosate negatively interferes with many components of agriculture

Huber highlighted that agriculture is an integrated system of many interacting components, which together determine the health of crops and therefore yield. This concept is undervalued, and the sooner it is recognized, the sooner the full genetic potential of crops will be able to be harnessed.

The three main components of an agricultural system are: 1) the biotic environment including beneficial organisms, for example nitrogen fixation, microbes and mineralizers, 2) the abiotic environment, such as nutrients, moisture, pH, and 3) defense against pathogens that damage crops. The genetic potential of a plant can be achieved by minimizing the stress placed on these components through the improvement of plant nutrition and physiology and the prevention of diseases and pests.

We have been told repeatedly that to meet the needs of global food production we must turn to GMOs and chemical agriculture. However, glyphosate interacts damaging all agricultural components, so much so that it is estimated that 50 percent of crop yields are being lost (see Figure 1).

As shown in Figure 1, glyphosate interacts with a wide range of health determinants, intensifying stress and reducing crop yields. Not only does it accumulate in plant tissues (stem and root tips, reproductive structures and legume nodules), it accumulates in the roots from where it then seeps into the soil and damages beneficial soil microorganisms including those that act as biological control of pathogens The obvious consequence is the increased virulence of soil pathogens that lead to disease.

Glyphosate immobilizes essential nutrients for the plant's defense system and other functions

One of Huber's important discoveries was to recognize the close correlation of all known conditions that affect generalized disease (disease 'take-all') with the availability of manganese in the plant and its physiological effect on the resistance to this new germ. pathogen.

Micro-nutrients are activators or inhibitors of many critical physiological functions. Therefore, a deficiency or a change in the availability of these regulatory elements can significantly affect plant growth and resistance to diseases and pests. Those metabolic pathways produce secondarily antimicrobial compounds, such as peptides and amino acids; hormones involved in healing (which isolate pathogens), calluses, and all mechanisms to escape disease can be compromised by glyphosate.

Micronutrients are also necessary for other processes in a plant. Manganese, for example, is not only involved in the co-activation of the EPSPS enzyme, there are 25 other enzymes that are known to be affected by manganese chelation. These enzymes are necessary for photosynthesis, the assimilation of carbon dioxide into the electron transport chain, along with zinc. It also helps in the synthesis of chlorophyll and in the assimilation of nitrate. Numerous enzymes that require other mineral co-factors are also affected, among them the enzymes of the shikimate pathway, to which EPSPS belongs, are responsible for the response of plants to stress and the synthesis of defense molecules against pathogens. such as amino acids, lignins, hormones, phytoalexins, flavonoids, and phenols.

In accordance with what is known about the role of micronutrients and glyphosate, the levels of key minerals have been measured in transgenic RR soy plants and were found to be lower than those of isogenic non-transgenic varieties. Manganese was reduced by 45%, while iron was reduced by 49% [5]. Similar deficiencies in mineral content have been found in non-transgenic varieties, suggesting that glyphosate, and not the RR transgene, is responsible for the reduction in mineral availability [6]. Glyphosate reduces photosynthesis, water absorption, amino acid production, as well as lignin, a molecule that confers mechanical strength on the plant and is crucial for conducting water through plant stems [7, 8].

As Huber said, the consequences of these nutritional deficiencies is that “the crops don't look as good, they aren't as productive or rigorous, and they are slower growing” (see Figure 2). He notes a 26% yield drop for RR soybeans. Furthermore, with current global warming concerns, plants that are up to 50% less efficient in water use, such as RR crops, are counterproductive and can only exacerbate problems.

Huber noted that there is nothing in RR crops that operates on the glyphosate applied to them. Consequently, although they have sufficient resistance to avoid dying (conferred by the EPSPS transgene), their physiological function is generally affected by glyphosate. Therefore, it affects GMOs as well as non-GMO crops through residual levels of glyphosate in the soil.

In addition to chelating plant nutrients, glyphosate can decrease mineral content by damaging beneficial organisms, including indole-acetic producing microbes (an auxin that promote growth), earthworms, mycorrhizal associations, the absorption of phosphorus and zinc, microbes such as Pseudomonas, a bacillus that convert insoluble soil oxides to bioavailable forms of iron and manganese, nitrogen-fixing bacteria such as Bradyrhizobium, Rhizobium, and organisms involved in the biological control of soil diseases that reduce absorption by the roots of the nutrients.

Figure 2, long-term damage of glyphosate on crop health

Glyphosate increases the incidence and virulence of soil pathogens

Thirty-four diseases have been reported in the scientific literature for increasing their incidence as a consequence of weed eradication programs with glyphosate. They affect a wide range of cereal crops such as: bananas, tomatoes, soybeans, cotton, canola, melon and grapes [9]. Some of these diseases are considered "emerging" or "re-emerging", since they had not caused serious economic losses in the past.

This has worrying implications for the U.S. agricultural sector, now in the fourth year of the epidemic of Goss wilt syndrome and sudden death syndrome, and eighteen years of the resulting Fusarium fungal colonization epidemic. in root rot and Fusarium wilt.

Not only does glyphosate affect disease susceptibility, there is also evidence of increased severity of these diseases. Some examples of these diseases are generalized disease ('take all' disease), Corynespora root rot in soybeans, fusarium spp diseases, including those caused by Fusarium species that are not normally pathogenic. Head-scab caused by Fusarium spp of cereals increases after glyphosate application, and is also now common in colder climates, when previously it was limited to warmer climates.

Food and Meal Safety Concerns

Nutrient deficient, diseased transgenic plants also contain herbicide residues that pose a number of potential safety hazards in animals and humans. Possible harms, according to Huber, include the direct toxicity of glyphosate itself, which has been shown to cause endocrine disruption, DNA damage, reproductive and developmental toxicity, neurotoxicity, cancer, and birth defects (10, 11, 12, 13)

Also, allergies are increasing; the animals are showing allergic responses, including irritated and inflamed stomachs (Figure 3), discoloration of the gastric mucosa and intestinal perforations; which result in behavioral symptoms of irritability and anti-social behavior in cows (abnormal in herd animals). Inflammatory bowel disease in humans has increased 40 percent since 1992, which may be related to the consumption of GM foods, although this has yet to be proven.

Figure 3, GM grain-fed pork stomach with allergic and inflammatory reaction, compared to healthy control on the right

Increased infestation of crops with toxin-producing pathogenic fungi is an added concern. Mycotoxins, including fusarium toxins, as well as aflatoxins released by Aspergillus fungi are carcinogenic and have forced the importation of wheat into the US due to dangerous levels of toxins in domestic crops.

Triple Combination of Reproductive Toxicity Caused by Glyphosate

In 2002, the American Ranchers Association made a serious Exposure to the US Congress for the increase in serious and puzzling reproductive problems. He said: “A lot of fetuses are aborted for no apparent reason. Other farmers multiply their cattle with apparent success, but when what appeared to be normal young bovines are slaughtered, they present their hides and meat as old and, therefore, of less value ... The problem of spontaneous abortions is so serious, both in the States United as abroad that in some herds around 40 to 50% of pregnancies are lost .. [and] the viability of this important industry is threatened. "

Glyphosate appears to be capable of inducing reproductive failure through three different mechanisms. The first, mentioned above is endocrine dysfunction caused by direct glyphosate toxicity.

The second It is the reduction of the nutrient content with the consequent effects on the nutritional status of the animals. Manganese in animals, as in plants, is an essential nutrient, and deficiencies have been associated with a variety of diseases, as well as reproductive failure, which are increasingly common in livestock. A study in Australia, after two seasons with high levels of fetal deaths in cattle, found that all the dead calves were deficient in manganese [14]. In addition, 63 percent of the calves with birth defects also had this deficiency. Manganese is known to be important for the mobilization of calcium in bones, which is correlated with abnormal bone formation in these calves.

Third, the unknown pathogen may be associated with the induction of pseudo-pregnancies. As early as 1998, a suspected agent was found in the reproductive tissues of cattle. It has now been isolated in high concentrations from semen, amniotic fluid, and placental tissue. It has also been found in aborted fetal tissue. Some farms are reporting 50 percent fewer conceptions (decreased pregnancies) in animals due to miscarriages and pseudo pregnancies. Although the evidence for the widespread presence of this new pathogen is clear, Don Huber suggests the need for further research to understand, not only what type of pathogen is this, but more importantly, the effects it is having on plant health And animals.


More than 100 peer-reviewed articles have been published by Huber and other scientists on the harmful effects of glyphosate. Glyphosate increases diseases in plants and animals, (prompting Professor Huber to write a Letter to the Secretary of Agriculture). Glyphosate toxicity can be linked to many health problems in animals and humans, which are a cost that adds to all the broken promises of a new agricultural technology to feed the world. As Huber concludes his Letter: "the public's trust has been betrayed."

Dr. Eva Sirinathsinghji , of ISIS - ISIS Report 01/09/12 - (translated by REDUCED ) –Http: //

Don huber, a professor emeritus at Purdue University and a senior scientist in the USDA's National Plant Disease Recovery System, has been a plant physiologist and pathologist for more than 40 years. His academic career began as a cereal pathologist at the University of Idaho, where he spent 8 years, the next 35 years he was at Purdue University, where he specialized in control of soil-borne diseases, physiology of plant diseases, and microbial ecology. Over the past 20 years, he has conducted extensive research on the effects of glyphosate on crops, concerned about increasing diseases of crops that have glyphosate applications.

To access the original article in English click here: Glyphosate Damage by USDA scientist (53)

To access Don Huber's Letter in Spanish read it below the References or click here: Letter to the Secretary of Agriculture USA from Don Huber, in Spanish (40)

To see this note in pdf, to print: Daño del Glyphosate, by Don Huber, full note (38). References
1. All? Party Parliamentary Group on Agroecology Meeting, Huber DM “The effects of
glyphosate (Roundup®) on soils, crops and consumers: new diseases in GM corn and
I am and animals fed with it ”, 20 November 2011, Houses of Parliament, UK2. Ho MW. Emergency! Pathogen new to science found in Roundup Ready GM crops?
Science and Society 50, 10-11, 2011.
3. Glyphosate Tolerant Crops Bring Death and Disease. Science in Society 47,
2010, 12?15
4. Scientists Reveal Glyphosate Poisons Crops and Soil. Science in Society 47,
2010, 12?15
5. Zobiole LHS, Oliveira RS Jr, Huber DM, Constantina J, Castro C, Oliveira FA, Oliveira A.
Jr. Glyphosate reduces shoot concentrations of mineral nutrients in glyphosateresistant
soybeans. Plant Soil 2010, 328: 57? 69
6. Cakmak, I, Yazici, A, Tutus, Y, and Ozturk L. Glyphosate reduced seed and leaf
concentrations of calcium, magnesium, manganese, and iron in non? glyphosate
resistant soybean. European Journal of Agronomy 2009, 31, 114-119.
7. Zobiole LHS, Silvério de Oliveira RS Jr, Kremerb RB, Constantina J, Bonatoc CM,
Muniz AS. Water use efficiency and photosynthesis of glyphosate? Resistant soybean
as affected by glyphosate. Pesticide Biochemistry and Physiology 2010, 97, 182? 193
8. Zobiole LHS, Bonini EA, Oliveira RS Jr, Kremer RJ, and Ferrarese? Filho O. Glyphosate
affects lignin content and amino acid production in glyphosate? resistant soybean.
Acta Physiologiae Plantarium 2010, 32, 831? 837
9. Johal GS & Huber DM. Glyphosate Effects on Disease and Plants. European Journal of
Agronomy 2009, 31, 144? 152
10. Ho MW and Cummins J. Glyphosate toxic and Roundup worse Science in Society 26
2005, 12.
11. Ho MW and Cherry B. Death by multiple poisoning, glyphosate and Roundup. Science
in Society 42 2009, 14
12. Ban glyphosate herbicides now. Science in Society 43 2009, 34? 35
13. Lab study establishes glyphosate link to birth defects. Science in Society 48
2010, 32?33
14. McLaren PJ, Cave JG, Parker EM, Slocombe RF. Chondrodysplastic calves in Northeast
Victory. Veterinary Pathology 2007, 44, 342? 54

Letter from Don Huber to the US Secretary of Agriculture (February 2011)

Dear Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack:

A team of senior plant and animal researchers and scientists have recently brought to my attention the discovery of an electron microscopy pathogen that appears to have a significant impact on the health of plants, animals, and probably humans. Based on a review of the data, this germ is widespread, very serious, and found in much higher concentrations in Roundup Ready soybeans and corn, suggesting a link to the RR gene, or more likely the presence of Roundup. This organism seems new to science.

This is highly sensitive information that could result in a collapse of North American soybeans and corn in export markets, a significant disruption of domestic diets and food supplies. On the other hand, this new organism may already be responsible for significant damage (see below). My colleagues and I, we are redirecting our investigations forward with speed and discretion, and we need the help of the USDA and other entities to identify the origin of the pathogen, the prevalence, consequences and solutions.

We are informing the USDA of our results in this first stage, specifically due to its pending decision regarding the approval of RR alfalfa. Naturally, if the RR gene, or the Roundup itself, is a promoter or co-factor of this pathogen, then that approval can be a calamity. Based on current evidence, the only reasonable action at this time would be to delay approval, at least until the data is sufficient to exonerate the RR system, if at all.

For the past 40 years, I have been a scientist for professional and military agencies evaluating and preparing against natural and man-made biological threats; including bacteriological warfare and disease outbreaks. Based on this experience, I believe that the threat we are facing with this pathogen is unique and of a high risk status. In simple terms, it should be treated as an emergency. A diverse set of researchers working on this problem have contributed various pieces of the puzzle, which together present the following troubling situation:

Unique physical properties

This previously unknown organism is only visible under an electron microscope (36,000 X), with a size range roughly equal to a medium-sized virus. It is capable of reproducing and appears to be similar to a micro fungal organism. If so, it would be the first of these micro-fungi to be identified. There is strong evidence that this infectious agent promotes diseases in plants and mammals, which are very rare.

Location and Concentration of the Pathogen

It is found in high concentrations in soybean and RR corn flours, flours from distillers, food fermentation products, pig stomach contents, and sow and cow placentas.

Links to disease outbreaks in plants

The organism is prolific in plants infected with sudden death syndrome (SDS) in soybeans, and Goss wilt in corn; both diseases are widespread and reduce farmers' yields and income. The pathogen is also found in the causative agent of fungal SDS (Fusarium solani fsp glycines).

Involved in animal reproductive failure

Laboratory tests have confirmed the presence of this organism in a wide variety of animals that have suffered spontaneous abortions and infertility. Preliminary results of ongoing research have been able to reproduce abortions in a clinical setting.

The pathogen may explain the increasing frequency of infertility and miscarriages in recent years in US cattle, dairy cows, pigs, and horses. These are the latest reports of infertility rates: in dairy cows over 20%, and miscarriages in cattle exceed 45%.

For example, 450 out of 1,000 grain-fed pregnant heifers experienced spontaneous abortions. During the same period, another 1,000 heifers from the same herd that were fed hay did not miscarry. High concentrations of the pathogen were confirmed in grain-based feed, which had likely been under weed control with glyphosate.


In summary, due to the high titer of this new animal pathogen in Roundup Ready crops, and its association with plant and animal diseases that are reaching epidemic proportions, USDA participation in a multi-agency investigation, and a moratorium is requested. immediate on the deregulation of RR crops until the causal / predisposing relationship with glyphosate and / or RR plants can be ruled out as a threat to crop production and animal and human health.

It is urgent to examine whether the side effects of glyphosate use may have facilitated the growth of this pathogen, or allowed it to cause further damage to weakened plants and animals. It is well documented that glyphosate promotes soil pathogens and is already implicated in the increase of more than 40 plant diseases; it also dismantles their defenses by chelation of vital nutrients, and reduces the bioavailability of nutrients in the diet, which in turn can cause disorders in animals. To properly assess these factors, access to the relevant USDA data is requested.

I have studied plant pathogens for over 50 years. We are now seeing an unprecedented trend of increased disease in plants and animals. This pathogen can be helpful in understanding and solving this problem. The situation deserves immediate attention with significant resources to prevent a general collapse of our critical agricultural infrastructure.


COL (Ret.) Don M. Huber
Emeritus Professor, Purdue University
APS Coordinator, USDA National Plant Disease Recovery System (NPDRS)

Video: Is Glyphosate Safe? (May 2022).