The Huber Letter is a letter written by Don Huber to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack about troubling emerging research on genetically engineered crops and the herbicide glyphosate. In the letter, he warns that preliminary research has discovered an organism that is linked to miscarriages in livestock. Given the impending deregulation of GE alfalfa (which Vilsack deregulated shortly after Huber sent him the letter), Huber said:
- "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."
Huber followed this with a second letter, which he sent to governments outside the U.S., explaining why he wrote Vilsack and including more data.
Media Attention and Scientific Response
Huber's initial letter was leaked and posted on several websites in mid-February 2011. By February 26, the media reported a group of Purdue scientists, Jim J. Camberato, Shaun N. Casteel, Peter B. Goldsbrough, Bill G. Johnson, Kiersten Alane Wise, and Charles P. Woloshuk, wrote an article opposing the conclusions Huber made in his letter.
Resources and articles
Related Sourcewatch articles
- Researcher: Roundup or Roundup-Ready Crops May Be Causing Animal Miscarriages and Infertility, Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance, Accessed April 6, 2011.
- Jill Richardson, Another Huber Letter Leaked, Warns of Harm from Roundup and GMOs, La Vida Locavore, April 6, 2011, Accessed April 6, 2011.
- Mary Rothschild, Purdue Scientists Dispute Anti-GMO Claims, Food Safety News, February 26, 2011, Accessed April 6, 2011.
References Cited by Huber
- AgroNews. 2011. India: Signs of food toxicity in GE eggplant. Scoop.co.nz 2011-1-18. http://news.agropages.com/News/NewsDetail---3369.htm Nib, 24 Jnuary 111.
- Bellaloui, N., reddy, K.N., Zablotowicz, R.M., Abbas, H.K., and Abel, C.A. 2009. Effects of glyphosate application on seed iron and root ferric (III) reductase in soybean cultivars. J. Agric. Food Chem. 57:9569-9574.
- Bott, S., Tesfamariam, T., Kania, A., Eman, B., Aslan, N., Roemheld, V., and Neumann, G. 2011, Phytotoxicity of glyphosate soil residues re-mobilised by phosphate fertilization. Plant Soil 315:2-11. DOI 10, 1007/s11104-010-06989-3.
- Cakmak, I., Yazici, A., Tutus, Y., Ozturk, L. 2009. Glyphosate reduced seed and leaf concentrations of calcium, magnesium, manganese, and iron in non-glyphosate resistant soybean. European J. Agron. 31:114-119.
- Datnoff, L.E., elmer, W.H., and Huber, D.M. 2007. Mineral Nutrition and Plant Disease. APS Press, St. Paul, Mn. 278. 278 pages.
- Eker, S., Ozturk, L., Yazici, A., Erenoglu, B., Roemheld, V., and Cakmak, I. 2006. Foliar-applied glyphosate substantially reduced uptake and transport of iron and manganese in sunflower (Helianthus annuus L.) plants. J. Agric. Food Chem. 54:100019-10025.
- Fernandez, M.R., Zentner, R.P., Basnyat, P., Gehl, D., Selles, F., and Huber, D.M. 2009. Glyphosate associations with cereal diseases caused by Fusarium spp. in the Canadian Prairies. European J. Agon. 31:133-143.
- Johal, G.R. and Rahe, J.E. 1984. Effect of soilborne plant-pathogenic fungi on the herbicidal action of glyphosate on bean seedlings. Phytopathology 74:950-955.
- Johal, G.R. and Rahe, J.E. 1990. Role of phytoalexins in the suppression of resistance of Phaseolus vulgaris to Colletotrichum lindemuthianum by glyphosate. Canad. J. Plant Pathol. 12:225-235.
- Johal, G.R. and Huber, D.M. 2009. Glyphosate effects on diseases of plants. European J. Agron. 31:144-152.
- Kremer, R.J. and Means, N.E. 2009. Glyphosate and glyphosate-resistant crop interactions with rhizosphere microorganisms. European J. Agron. 31:153-161.
- Larsen, R.L., Hill, A.L., Fenwick, A., Kniss, A.R., Hanson, L.E., and Miller, S.D. 2006. Influence of glyphosate on Rhizoctonia and Fusarium root rot in sugar beet. Pest Manag. Sci. 62:1182-1192.
- Ozturk, L., Yazici, A., Eker, S., gokmen, O., roemheld, V., and Cakmak, I. 2008. Glyphosate inhibition of ferric reductase activity in iron deficient sunflower roots. New Phytol. 177:899-906.
- Schafer, J.R., Westhoven, A.M., Kruger, G.R., Davis, V.M., Hallett, S.G., and Johnson, W.G. 2009. Effect of growth media on common lambsquarter and giant ragweed biotypes response to glyphosate. Proc. Northcentral Weed Sci. Soc. 64:102.
- Schafer, J.R., Hallett, S.G., and Johnson, W.G. 2010. Role of soil-borne fungi in the response of giant ragweed (Ambrosia trifida) biotypes to glyphosate. Proc. Northcentral Weed Sci. Soc. 65:.
- Seralini, G-E., Mesnage, R., Clair, E., Gress, S., de Vendomois, J.S., Cellier, D. 2011. Genetically modified crops safety assessments: present limits and possible improvements. Environ. Sci. Europe 23:10-20.
- Tesfamariam, T., Bott, S., Cakmak, I., Roemheld, V., and Neumann, G. 2009.Glyphosate in the rhizosphere – role of waiting times and different glyphosate binding forms in soils for phytoxicity to non-target plants. European J. Agron. 31:126-132.
- Yamada, T., Kremer, R.J., Camargo e Castro, P.R., and Wood, B.W. 2009. Glyphosate interactions with physiology, nutrition, and diseases of plants: Threat to agricultural sustainability? European J. Agron. 31:111-113.
- Zobiole, L.H.S., Oliveira, R.S.Jr., Huber, D.M., Constantin, J., Castro, C., Oliveira, F.A., Oliveira, A. Jr. 2010. Glyphosate reduces shoot concentrations of mineral nutrients in glyphosate-resistant soybeans. Plant Soil 328:57-69.
- Zobiole, L.H.S., Oliveira, R.S. Jr., Kremer, R.J., Constantin, J., Yamada, T., Castro, C., Oliveiro, F.A., and Oliveira, A. Jr. 2010. Effect of glyposate on symbiotic N2 fixation and nickel concentration in glyphosate-resistant soybeans. Applied Soil Ecol. 44:176-180.
- Alice Elliott Brown, Scientist Claims Link Between GMO Crops and Livestock Infertility, Technorati, April 2, 2011.
- P.J. Huffstetter, Plant disease raises questions on modified crops, LA Times, April 2, 2011.
- Michael J. Crumb, Biotech letter gets notice online, but is it true?, Business Week, April 1, 2011.
- Michael J. Crumb, Scientists question claims in biotech letter, Associated Press, April 1, 2011.