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The Unlisted Ingredients In Roundup May Be Even More Toxic Than Glyphosate

By Gregory A. Cade

Posted on November 03rd, 2018

The inert ingredients in Roundup are even more toxic than glyphosate. The toxic cocktail can severely impact someone's health and it massively increases the risk of cancer.

Glyphosate, the major ingredient in Roundup, was found to interfere with amino acid production that is important for plant life only. This explanation was provided to the EPA to gain approval for glyphosate to be sold in the U.S. However, the results of tests presented to the EPA were pertaining to glyphosate alone. When Monsanto manufactured it for the first time in the 1970's, it was launched in various formulations, Roundup being the most popular. Roundup contained glyphosate in combination with chemicals such as surfactants and adjuvants that help glyphosate get into cells of plants. The information regarding the additional ingredients of Roundup was not known to the customers then and continues to be so, even to this day.

Though manufacturers of herbicides do not always disclose all the "other ingredients" on their labels, they will need to disclose these ingredients to the EPA. Until the year 2000, Roundup formulation included a tallow amine as a surfactant but later on, in most formulations, the surfactant properties, as well as the ratio of surfactant to the active ingredient, got changed.

The internal agency documents that were released in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit do indicate that until last year, the agency had flaws in its data files regarding the actual formulations of Roundup that is used by consumers. However, the formulation is being used in the agricultural fields all around the world. This kind of lack of transparency on the part of Monsanto has led to a lot of confusions. In a few circumstances, it is not clear whether the research was undertaken using glyphosate alone or Roundup formulation, however, most information regarding the effects of the herbicide is based on studies conducted using the Roundup formulation.

Understanding the Ingredient List of Herbicides

Generally, the ingredient list in any herbicide will be divided into active ingredients and inert ingredients. The active ingredients are the chemicals that are going to cause harm to the target and these are listed along with its percentage in the total volume. Anything other than the active plant-killing ingredients is called the inert ingredient and can be carriers, solvents, preservatives, and adjuvants that are added to enhance the effects of active ingredients. Although inert ingredients account for 99.9% of the volume of the product, generally, the names will not be listed over the label. As the name suggests, inert ingredients are often thought to be "inactive" and assumed to cause no harm to our health and environment, but this is far from true. The chemicals added as inert ingredients are oftentimes more toxic than the active ingredients.

The United States Department of Agriculture, in their herbicide information profile have noted the contents of Roundup make up glyphosate (41%), related organic acids of glyphosate (1.5%), isopropylamine (0.5%), polyethoxylated tallow amine surfactant (15.4%), and water (41.6%), and the other variant Roundup Pro contains phosphate ester neutralized ethoxylated tallow amine surfactant (14.5%) and water (44.5%) in addition to glyphosate (41%).

What Do Years of Research Say about Roundup's Ingredients?

A majority of studies testing the toxicity of glyphosate have taken into account glyphosate and its toxic breakdown product, aminomethylphosphonic acid (AMPA) only, though the inert ingredients are likely to blow up the toxic effects of glyphosate. In fact, glyphosate is not the only toxic ingredient, the inert ingredients present in the Roundup formulation have previously escaped from scrutiny as these were hidden as "trade secrets".

Research has revealed that one of the inert ingredients in Roundup, polyoxyethylene alkylamine (POEA), a surfactant was harmful to the living cells and about 2,000 times more toxic than lower doses of glyphosate only. However, several regulatory bodies consider POEA as inactive and thus requires no risk assessment even though research suggests otherwise. A study conducted in 2012 concluded that inert ingredients often contribute to the toxicity of a product in a synergistic way. The adjuvants present in glyphosate-based weed killers were declared to be "active principles of human cell toxicity" thus adding to the hazard of glyphosate alone.

For the first time, the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health reported that the endocrine disruption was demonstrated due to the co-formulants or inert/confidential compounds also. The Institute of Science in Society (ISIS), in 2014 published that the POEA added in Roundup weed killer is most toxic to human cells and also increases the glyphosate toxic effects. Multiple studies have presented that Roundup formulation is far more dangerous than glyphosate alone making it clear that inert ingredients in this herbicide are not as inert as they are called!

Health Risks from Roundup Exposure

Recent research by the World Health Organization (WHO) established that Roundup poses significant health risks to humans. According to a study, glyphosate, active ingredient in Roundup leads to cancer, but Roundup is a mixture of various chemicals and there is supporting evidence that this cocktail could be even more dangerous. Multiple studies have established that Roundup is more likely to cell-cycle dysregulation than glyphosate. A study performed in 2009 revealed that Roundup was more toxic to human embryonic, placental, and umbilical cells. Further, research has shown that Roundup formulations endocrine disruptors, which mean these have the ability to trigger cancer, reproductive, and developmental defects.

Filing a Roundup Lawsuit

Monsanto is currently facing numerous lawsuits filed by people who have developed non-Hodgkin's lymphoma as a result of Roundup exposure. In fact, the agribusiness company has admitted that they lack extensive safety tests on their formulated products. If you have been diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma after being exposed to Roundup either at the workplace or at home, you can file a lawsuit within one to three years after your diagnosis and seek compensation to cover your medical expenses. The family members of victims also can file a wrongful death lawsuit if they have lost their loved ones to Roundup related cancer.