Amphibians Are Not Ready for Roundup®

Chapter
Part of the Emerging Topics in Ecotoxicology book series (ETEP, volume 3)

Abstract

The herbicide glyphosate, sold under a variety of commercial names including Roundup® and Vision®, has long been viewed as an environmentally friendly herbicide. In the 1990s, however, after nearly 20 years of use, the first tests were conducted on the herbicide’s effects on amphibians in Australia. The researchers found that the herbicide was moderately toxic to Australian amphibians. The leading manufacturer of glyphosate-based herbicides, Monsanto, declared that the researchers were wrong. Nearly 10 years later, my research group began examining the effects of the herbicides on North American amphibians. Based on an extensive series of experiments, we demonstrated that glyphosate-based herbicides can be highly toxic to larval amphibians. Monsanto declared that we were also wrong. These experiments have formed the basis of a spirited debate between independent, academic researchers, and scientists that either work as consultants for Monsanto or have a vested interest in promoting the application of the herbicide to control undesirable plants in forests and agriculture. The debate also moved into unexpected arenas, including the use of glyphosate-based herbicides in the Colombian drug war in South America where a version of Roundup is being used to kill illegal coca plantations. In 2008, the US EPA completed a risk assessment for the effects of glyphosate-based herbicides on the endangered California red-legged frog (Rana aurora draytonii) and concluded that it could adversely affect the long-term persistence of the species. More recent data from Colombia have confirmed that the herbicides not only pose a risk to tadpoles in shallow wetlands, but that typical applications rates also can kill up to 30% of adult frogs. As one reflects over the past decade, it becomes clear that our understanding of the possible effects of glyphosate-based herbicides on amphibians has moved from a position of knowing very little and assuming no harm to a position of more precise understanding of which concentrations and conditions pose a serious risk.

References

  1. Battaglin WA, Rice KC, Focazio MJ, Salmons S, Barry RX (2009) The occurrence of glyphosate, atrazine, and other pesticides in vernal pools and adjacent streams in Washington, DC, Maryland, Iowa, and Wyoming, 2005–2006Google Scholar
  2. Baylis AD (2000) Why glyphosate is a global herbicide: strengths, weaknesses and prospects. Pest Manag Sci 56:299–308CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bernal MH, Solomon KR, Carrasquilla G (2009a) Toxicity of formulated glyphosate (glyphos) and cosmo-flux to larval colombian frogs 1. Laboratory acute toxicity. J Toxicol Environ Health A 72:961–965CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bernal MH, Solomon KR, Carrasquilla G (2009b) Toxicity of formulated glyphosate (glyphos) and cosmo-flux to larval and juvenile colombian frogs 2. Field and laboratory microcosm acute toxicity. J Toxicol Environ Health A 72:966–973CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Berrill M, Bertram S, Pauli B (1997) Effects of pesticides on amphibian embryos and larvae. In: Green D (ed) Amphibians in decline: Canadian studies of a global problem. Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles, St. Louis, MO, pp 233–245Google Scholar
  6. Bidwell JR, Gorrie JR (1995) Acute toxicity of a herbicide to selected frog species. Department of Environmental Protection. Technical Series 79, PerthGoogle Scholar
  7. Brain RA, Solomon KR (2009) Comparisons of the hazards posed to amphibians by the glyphosate spray control program versus the chemical and physical activities of coca production in Colombia. J Toxicol Environ Health A 72:937–948CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Carey S, Crk T, Flaherty C, Hurley P, Hetrick J, Moore K, Termes SC (2008) Risks of glyphosate use to federally threatened California red-legged frog (Rana aurora draytonii). US EPA, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  9. Chen CY, Hathaway KM, Folt CL (2004) Multiple stress effects of Vision® herbicide, pH, and food on zooplankton and larval amphibian species from forest wetlands. Environ Toxicol Chem 23:823–831CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Dayton L (1995) Our frogs: are they heading for the last round-up? Sydney Morning Herald, 13 SeptemberGoogle Scholar
  11. Edginton AN, Sheridan PM, Stephenson GR, Thompson DG, Boermans HJ (2004) Comparative effects of pH and Vision® herbicide on two life stages of four anuran amphibian species. Environ Toxicol Chem 23:815–822CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Edwards WM, Triplett GB Jr, Kramer RM (1980) A watershed study of glyphosate transport in runoff. J Environ Qual 9:661–665CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Folmar LC, Sanders HO, Julin AM (1979) Toxicity of the herbicide glyphosate and several of its formulations to fish and aquatic invertebrates. Arch Environ Contam Toxicol 8:269–278CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Giesy JP, Dobson S, Solomon KR (2000) Ecotoxicological risk assessment for Roundup® herbicide. Rev Environ Contam Toxicol 167:35–120CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Gosner KL (1960) A simplified table for staging anuran embryos and larvae with notes on identification. Herpetologica 16:183–190Google Scholar
  16. Grube A, Donaldson D, Kiely T, Wu L (2011) Pesticide industry sales and usage: 2006 and 2007 market estimates. US EPA, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  17. Hand E (2005) Study finds herbicide is deadly for amphibians. St. Louis Dispatch. August 10Google Scholar
  18. Hayes TB (2004) There is no denying this: defusing the confusion about atrazine. Bioscience 54:1138–1149CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Howe CM, Berrill M, Pauli BD, Helbring CC, Werry K, Veldhoen N (2004) Toxicity of glyphosate-cased pesticides to four North American frog species. Environ Toxicol Chem 23:1928–1938CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Jones R, Leahy J, Mahoney M, Murray L, Odenkirchen E, Petrie R, Stangel C, Sunzenauer I, Vaituzis Z, Williams AJ (2004) Overview of the ecological risk assessment process in the Office of Pesticide Programs, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. US EPA, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  21. Jones DK, Hammond JR, Relyea RA (2009) Highly lethal effects of endosulfan across nine species of tadpoles: lag effects and family-level sensitivity. Environ Toxicol Chem 28:1939–1945CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Jones DK, Hammond JR, Relyea RA (2010) Roundup® and amphibians: the importance of concentration, application time, and stratification. Environ Toxicol Chem 29:2016–2025Google Scholar
  23. Jones DK, Hammond JR, Relyea RA (2011) Competitive stress can make the herbicide Roundup® more deadly to larval amphibians. Environ Toxicol Chem 30:446–454CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Kiely T, Donaldson D, Grube A (2004) Pesticides industry sales and usage: 2000 and 2001 market estimates. US EPA, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  25. Lajmanovich RC, Sandoval MT, Peltzer PM (2003) Induction of mortality and malformation in Scinax nasicus tadpoles exposed to glyphosate formulations. Bull Environ Contam Toxicol 70:612–618CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Leonard C (2010) Monsanto 3Q net income sags on weak Roundup sales. Associated Press. June 30, 2010Google Scholar
  27. Lubick N (2007) Drugs, pesticides, and politics – a potent mix in Colombia. Environ Sci Technol 41:3403–3406CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Lubick N (2009) Environmental impact of cocaine strategy assessed. Nature News. November 12Google Scholar
  29. Lynch JD, Arroyo SB (2009) Risks to Colombian amphibian fauna from cultivation of coca (Erythroxylum coca): a geographical analysis. J Toxicol Environ Health A 72:974–985CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Mann RM, Bidwell JR (1999) The toxicity of glyphosate and several glyphosate formulations to four species of southwestern Australian frogs. Arch Environ Contam Toxicol 36:193–199CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Mann RM, Bidwell JR (2000) Application of the FETAX protocol to assess the developmental toxicity of nonylphenol ethoxylate to Xenopus laevis and two Australian frogs. Aquat Toxicol 51:19–29CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Mann RM, Bidwell JR (2001) The acute toxicity of agricultural surfactants to the tadpoles of four Australian and two exotic frogs. Environ Poll 114:195–205CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Mann RM, Bidwell JR, Tyler MJ (2003) Toxicity of herbicide formulations to frogs and the implications for product registration: a case study from Western Australia. Appl Herpetol 1:13–22CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Marshall EJP, Solomon KR, Carrasquilla G (2009) Coca (Erythroxylum coca) control is affected by glyphosate formulations and adjuvants. J Toxicol Environ Health A 72:930–936CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Michaels D (2008) Doubt is their product. Oxford University Press, New York, NYGoogle Scholar
  36. Monsanto (2009) Annual Report to ShareholdersGoogle Scholar
  37. Polis GA, Strong DR (1996) Food web complexity and community dynamics. Am Nat 147:813–846CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Relyea RA (2003) Predator cues and pesticides: a double dose of danger for amphibians. Ecol Appl 13:1515–1521CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Relyea RA (2004a) Synergistic impacts of malathion and predatory stress on six species of North American tadpoles. Environ Toxicol Chem 23:1080–1084CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Relyea RA (2004b) The growth and survival of five amphibian species exposed to combinations of pesticides. Environ Toxicol Chem 23:1737–1742CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Relyea RA (2005a) The impact of insecticides and herbicides on the biodiversity and productivity of aquatic communities. Ecol Appl 15:618–627CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Relyea RA (2005b) The lethal impact of Roundup® on aquatic and terrestrial amphibians. Ecol Appl 15:1118–1124CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Relyea RA (2005c) The lethal impacts of Roundup and predatory stress on six species of North American tadpoles. Arch Environ Contam Toxicol 48:351–357CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Relyea RA (2006) Response to Thompson et al. Letter to the editor, “The impact of insecticides and herbicides on the biodiversity and productivity of aquatic communities”. Ecol Appl 16:2027–2034CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Relyea RA, Jones DK (2009) The toxicity of Roundup Original MAX® to 13 species of larval amphibians. Environ Toxicol Chem 28:2004–2008CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Relyea RA, Mills N (2001) Predator-induced stress makes the pesticide carbaryl more deadly to grey treefrog tadpoles (Hyla versicolor). Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 98:2491–2496CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Relyea RA, Schoeppner NM, Hoverman JT (2005) Pesticides and amphibians: the importance of community context. Ecol Appl 15:1125–1134CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Smith GR (2001) Effects of acute exposure to a commercial formulation of glyphosate on the tadpoles of two species of anurans. Bull Environ Contam Toxicol 67:483–488CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Solomon KR, Thompson DG (2003) Ecological risk assessment for aquatic organisms from over-water uses of glyphosate. J Toxicol Environ Health B Crit Rev 6:289–324CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Solomon KR, Anadón A, Carrasquilla G, Cerdeira AL, Marshall J, Sanin L-H (2007) Coca and poppy eradication in Colombia: environmental and human health assessment of aerially applied glyphosate. Rev Environ Contam Toxicol 190:43–125CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Struger J, Thompson D, Staznik B, Martin P, McDaniel T, Marvin C (2008) Occurrence of glyphosate in surface waters of southern Ontario. Bull Environ Contam Toxicol 80:378–384CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Stuart SN, Chanson JS, Cox NA, Young BE, Rodrigues ASL, Fischman DL, Waller RW (2004) Status and trends of amphibian declines and extinctions worldwide. Science 306:1783–1786CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Taylor BE, Scott DE, Gibbons JW (2006) Catastrophic reproductive failure, terrestrial survival, and persistence of the marbled salamander. Conserv Biol 20:792–801CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Thompson DG, Wojtaszek BF, Staznik B, Chartrand DT, Stephenson GR (2004) Chemical and biomonitoring to assess potential acute effects of Vision® herbicide on native amphibian larvae in forest wetlands. Environ Toxicol Chem 23:843–849CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Thompson DG, Solomon KR, Wojtaszek BF, Edginton AN, Stephenson GR (2006) Letter to the editor, “The impact of insecticides and herbicides on the biodiversity and productivity of aquatic communities”. Ecol Appl 16:2022–2027CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. US EPA (1993) R.E.D. Facts – Glyphosate. United States Environmental Protection Agency. EPA-739-F-93-011Google Scholar
  57. US CIA (2000) Plan Colombia’s potential impact on the Andean cocaine trade: an examination of two scenarios. Intelligence Report 19 September 2000. DCI Crime and Narcotics CenterGoogle Scholar
  58. US GAO (2008) Plan Colombia: drug reduction goals were not fully met, but security has improved; U.S. agencies need more detailed plans for reducing assistance. Report 09–71Google Scholar
  59. US Senate (2005) Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Bill, 2006. Report 109–96Google Scholar
  60. WHO (1994) International programme on chemical safety. Environmental Health Criteria 159 – Glyphosate. World Health Organization, Geneva, SwitzerlandGoogle Scholar
  61. Williams BK, Semlitsch RD (2009) Larval responses of three Midwestern anurans to chronic, low-dose exposures of four herbicides. Archiv Environ Contam Toxicol 58:819–827CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Wojtaszek BF, Staznik B, Chartrand DT, Stephenson GR, Thompson DG (2004) Effects of Vision® herbicide on mortality, avoidance response, and growth of amphibian larvae in two forest wetlands. Environ Toxicol Chem 23:832–842CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Biological SciencesUniversity of PittsburghPittsburghUSA

Personalised recommendations