A team of senior
plant and animal scientists have recently brought to
my attention the discovery of an electron microscopic
pathogen that appears to significantly impact the
health of plants, animals, and probably human beings.
Based on a review of the data, it is widespread, very
serious, and is in much higher concentrations in
Roundup Ready (RR) soybeans and corn-suggesting a link
with the RR gene or more likely the presence of
Roundup. This organism appears NEW to science!
This is highly
sensitive information that could result in a collapse
of US soy and corn export markets and significant
disruption of domestic food and feed supplies. On the
other hand, this new organism may already be
responsible for significant harm (see below). My
colleagues and I are therefore moving our
investigation forward with speed and discretion, and
seek assistance from the USDA and other entities to
identify the pathogen's source, prevalence,
implications, and remedies.
We are informing
the USDA of our findings at this early stage,
specifically due to your pending decision regarding
approval of RR alfalfa. Naturally, if either the RR
gene or Roundup itself is a promoter or co-factor of
this pathogen, then such approval could be a calamity.
Based on the current evidence, the only reasonable
action at this time would be to delay deregulation at
least until sufficient data has exonerated the RR
system, if it does.
For the past 40
years, I have been a scientist in the professional and
military agencies that evaluate and prepare for
natural and manmade biological threats, including germ
warfare and disease outbreaks. Based on this
experience, I believe the threat we are facing from
this pathogen is unique and of a high risk status. In
layman's terms, it should be treated as an emergency.
A diverse set of
researchers working on this problem have contributed
various pieces of the puzzle, which together presents
the following disturbing scenario:
This previously unknown organism is only visible under
an electron microscope (36,000X), with an approximate
size range equal to a medium size virus. It is able to
reproduce and appears to be a micro-fungal-like
organism. If so, it would be the first such
micro-fungus ever identified. There is strong evidence
that this infectious agent promotes diseases of both
plants and mammals, which is very rare.
Location and Concentration
It is found in high concentrations in Roundup
Ready soybean meal and corn, distillers meal,
fermentation feed products, pig stomach contents, and
pig and cattle placentas.
with Outbreaks of Plant Disease
The organism is prolific in plants infected with
two pervasive diseases that are driving down yields
and farmer income-sudden death syndrome (SDS) in soy,
and Goss' wilt in corn. The pathogen is also found in
the fungal causative agent of SDS (Fusarium solani fsp
in Animal Reproductive Failure
Laboratory tests have confirmed the presence of this
organism in a wide variety of livestock that have
experienced spontaneous abortions and infertility.
Preliminary results from ongoing research have also
been able to reproduce abortions in a clinical
The pathogen may
explain the escalating frequency of infertility and
spontaneous abortions over the past few years in US
cattle, dairy, swine, and horse operations. These
include recent reports of infertility rates in dairy
heifers of over 20%, and spontaneous abortions in
cattle as high as 45%.
For example, 450
of 1,000 pregnant heifers fed wheatlege experienced
spontaneous abortions. Over the same period, another
1,000 heifers from the same herd that were raised on
hay had no abortions. High concentrations of the
pathogen were confirmed on the wheatlege, which likely
had been under weed management using glyphosate.
In summary, because of the high titer of this new
animal pathogen in Roundup Ready crops, and its
association with plant and animal diseases that are
reaching epidemic proportions, we request USDA's
participation in a multi-agency investigation, and an
immediate moratorium on the deregulation of RR crops
until the causal/predisposing relationship with
glyphosate and/or RR plants can be ruled out as a
threat to crop and animal production and human health.
It is urgent to
examine whether the side-effects of glyphosate use may
have facilitated the growth of this pathogen, or
allowed it to cause greater harm to weakened plant and
animal hosts. It is well-documented that glyphosate
promotes soil pathogens and is already implicated with
the increase of more than 40 plant diseases; it
dismantles plant defenses by chelating vital
nutrients; and it reduces the bioavailability of
nutrients in feed, which in turn can cause animal
disorders. To properly evaluate these factors, we
request access to the relevant USDA data.
I have studied
plant pathogens for more than 50 years. We are now
seeing an unprecedented trend of increasing plant and
animal diseases and disorders. This pathogen may be
instrumental to understanding and solving this
problem. It deserves immediate attention with
significant resources to avoid a general collapse of
our critical agricultural infrastructure.
COL (Ret.) Don M. Huber
Emeritus Professor, Purdue University
APS Coordinator, USDA National Plant Disease Recovery