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Don Huber, emeritus professor of plant pathologiy at Purdue University, gave a two-and-a-half hour indictment of glyphosate herbicide and genetically modified crops at the Acres USA conference in December.

Dr. Huber detailed the negative impacts of glyphosate and GM crops on plants, soils, and the environment and animal and human health. He called glyphosate the "most abused chemical in the history of agriculture" and described GM crops as a "failed system."

Glyphosate's negative impacts on plants

Huber first detailed the negative impacts of glyphosate on crops, soils, and the environment based on papers that he and other scientists, such as Robert Kremer, a microbiologist with the USDA's Agricultural Research Service, have published.

Huber said glyphosate makes plants more susceptible to diseases, increases the virulence of soil-borne disease organisms, and immobilizes plant nutrients such as manganese. It is also toxic to beneficial soil organisms and accumulates in the soil.

There are more than 40 plant diseases reported with use of glyphosate, including many fungal diseases such as fusarium.

"There has been a 500% increase in fusarium and huge increases in sudden death syndrome (SDS) in soybeans," Huber said.

He showed slides of Roundup Ready GM soybean fields in Iowa and Illinois affected by SDS. The plants were brown while adjacent fields of non-GMO soybean plants not treated with glyphosate were healthy and green.

Huber referred to a published paper showing significant reductions of minerals in RR soybeans treated with glyphosate: 26% less calcium, 13% less magnesium, 49% less iron, and 45% less manganese.

Another slide demonstrated how, contrary to claims, glyphosate doesn't degrade in the soil: plants growing in a field that had been treated with glyphosate for 10 years were stunted and yellow while plants growing in a field treated with glyphosate for a year were taller and green.

Other problems Huber highlighted included "bubble" kernels on corn cobs that received a late application of glyphosate, damage to winter wheat from residual glyphosate in the soil, poorer growth of russet potatoes resulting from soils treated with glyphosate, and reduced yields in Roundup Ready corn.

Negative impacts on animals

Huber then detailed a litany of feed and food concerns about the effects of glyphosate on animals and human health.

He referred to a 2002 statement from the US Cattlemen's Association to the US Congress describing "devastating problems with pregnant cows and calves" and that "high numbers of fetuses are aborting for no apparent reason."

Huber links the problems to feed from GM corn and soybeans. He showed a slide of inflamed stomachs of pigs fed GM feed compared to normal colored stomachs of pigs fed non-GMO feed.

Another slide showed cattle stomachs suffering from chronic botulism. "Glyphosate in animal feed can cause a microbial imbalance and chronic botulism," Huber said.

New pathogen causing abortions in pigs and cows?

Last year, Huber caused a stir when he wrote a letter to US Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack warning him about a "pathogen new to science" that has been linked to glyphosate and Roundup Ready crops. Huber said the pathogen, which he describes as a microfungus, is linked to illness and reproductive problems in animals and poses threats to human health.

Since writing the letter, Huber has received many letters and emails from veterinarians reporting problems with animals fed GM feed. A veterinarian in Michigan wrote him about a sow (hog) herd that has had an increasing number of deaths and reproductive problems. The cause is unknown, and the vet wonders if it is the pathogen Huber identified. Similar reproductive problems have been reported in cows. Last November Hoard's Dairyman reported that cows are losing up to 20% of pregnancies.

"We shouldn't expose the entire agricultural infrastructure to a massive experiment," Huber said.

"Willing to sacrifice our children"

The introduction of GM crops, Huber said, was a "betrayal of the public trust by a failure to address potential risks. The irresponsible and premature widespread use is based on flawed and unsound scientific assumptions."

Huber said glyphosate and GM crops are likely harming human health. He cited significant increases in inflammatory bowel syndrome, Crohn's disease, and certain types of cancers. Other diseases such as food allergies, autism, endometriosis, Alzheimer's, and Parkinson's may also be linked to glyphosate and GM crops, he said.

"Glyphosate has totally changed the environment; it has impacted humans, vegetables, grains, fruits, plants, feeds, and animals," Huber said.

In conclusion Huber said that our basic responsibility in agriculture is providing safe and nutritious food. Instead, with current GMO-based agricultural practices,
"we are willing to sacrifice our children and jeopardize future generations based on failed promises and flawed science just to benefit the 'bottom line' of a commercial enterprise."