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Chemicals and birth defects

(article, Culinate staff)

In his news roundup on Mother Jones, Tom Philpott recently pointed out two cases linking agricultural chemicals to birth defects: the possibility that Monsanto's heavily used Roundup herbicide causes birth defects, and more definitive evidence that the Syngenta herbicide atrazine does the same.

The Monsanto story, reported in the Huffington Post, came out of efforts to document health problems due to glyphosate, the main ingredient in Roundup:

bq. A comprehensive review of existing data released this month by Earth Open Source, an organization that uses open-source collaboration to advance sustainable food production, suggests that industry regulators in Europe have known for years that glyphosate, originally introduced by American agricultural biotechnology giant Monsanto in 1976, causes birth defects in the embryos of laboratory animals.

And the Syngenta story, reported by the Pesticide Action Network (PAN), builds on earlier reports of developmental disasters in human babies:

bq. Syngenta's atrazine is one of the most widely used herbicides in the U.S. today, applied mostly in corn fields. Back in 2009, researchers found that babies conceived during atrazine spray season are more likely to suffer a range of birth defects. Now researchers in Indiana are finding that a rare birth defect called "gastroschisis" shows up more often among babies conceived when atrazine levels are high.

Not pleased? Sign PAN's petition calling for a ban on atrazine.