© Jared Rodriguez / Truthout
A brilliant and celebrated inventor, John Franz
, gave us an herbicide, Roundup, which has changed
the face of agriculture. This herbicide has become the foundation for an entirely novel approach to farming - biotech agriculture - that has expanded rapidly throughout the globe.
Monsanto makes seeds for soy, corn, canola, cotton, alfalfa and sugar beets that are genetically engineered to be tolerant to Roundup
. The seeds are marketed in 120 countries. Throughout the world, Roundup is sprayed heavily as a weed killer without fear of damaging the cash crops, which have been engineered to survive the herbicide's effects.
Roundup seemed, at first, to be the perfect herbicide. It blocks the ESPS synthase
enzyme, which prevents the synthesis of amino acids that plants need for growth. Since animals don't have this enzyme, it was initially hypothesized that they would be safe from Roundup's effects.
Unfortunately, Roundup has now been shown to affect much more than the EPSP synthase enzyme. The herbicide has been proven to cause birth defects
in vertebrates, including in humans, and it may also be the cause of a fatal kidney disease epidemic.
An increasing number of studies are now linking the herbicide to cancer.