by Sayer Ji, The Sleuth Journal:
A highly concerning study published in the journal Biomedical Research International reveals that despite the still relatively benign reputation of agrochemicals such as Roundup herbicide, many chemical formulations upon which the modern agricultural system depend are far more toxic than present regulatory tests performed on them reveal. Roundup herbicide, for instance, was found to be 125 times more toxic than its active ingredient glyphosate studied in isolation.
Titled, “Major pesticides are more toxic to human cells than their declared active principles,” the study evaluated to what extent the active principle (AP) and the so-called ‘inert ingredients,’ i.e. adjuvants, in globally popular formulations account for the toxicity of 9 major pesticides: 3 herbicides, 3 insecticides, and 3 fungicides.
The Deceptive Semantics of Pesticide Formulations And Their Regulation
The paper describes how the agrochemical industry conceals the true toxicity of their chemical formulations by focusing on the health risks associated with only one so-called ‘active principle’ (AP) in their complex formulations, and sets the public up for mass poisoning through the determination of an ‘acceptable level of harm’ via the calculation of the so-called ‘acceptable daily intake (ADI)’ based on the toxicological risk profile of only a single ingredient:
“Pesticides are used throughout the world as mixtures called formulations. They contain adjuvants, which are often kept confidential and are called inerts by the manufacturing companies, plus a declared active principle (AP), which is the only one tested in the longest toxicological regulatory tests performed on mammals. This allows the calculation of the acceptable daily intake (ADI)—the level of exposure that is claimed to be safe for humans over the long term—and justifies the presence of residues of these pesticides at “admissible” levels in the environment and organisms. Only the AP and one metabolite are used as markers, but this does not exclude the presence of adjuvants, which are cell penetrants.”
The problem of underestimated toxicological risk is so severe that the researchers describe previous research which found unexpected toxicity in so-called ‘inert’ adjuvants that were up to 10,000 times more toxic than the so-called active principle glyphosate itself, revealing them to be a greater source for secondary side effects than the main ingredient itself. [i] They also note that this ‘synergistic toxicity’ may explain the results of previous long-term animal research where glyphosate-based formulations showed toxicity in the parts-per-trillion range (.1 part per billion) that could not be explained by glyphosate alone.[ii] [iii]
Dr. Kelly Brogan, MD, commented on this phenomena in connection with the study recently on her blog: “Similar to the non-placebo-controlled trials on vaccines, adjuvants and preservatives are considered innocent bystanders in the consideration of risk profile.” According to Dr. Brogan, an understanding of “Toxicant synergy has exploded the simplistic notion of “the dose makes the poison.””
The Test Method and Results
In order to ascertain the toxicity of various chemical formulations and their ingredients, the researchers used embryonic (HEK293), placental (JEG3), and hepatic (HepG2) human cell lines, “because they are well characterized and validated as useful models to test toxicities of pesticides, corresponding to what is observed on fresh tissue or primary cells.” They noted, “these cells lines are even in some instances less sensitive than primary cells, and therefore do not overestimate cellular toxicity.”
The researchers describe the their method of determining toxicity:
We assayed their mitochondrial succinate dehydrogenase (SD) activity (MTT assay) after 24h pesticide exposure, which is one of the most accurate cytotoxicity assays for measuring the toxicity of pesticide adjuvants such as surfactants . Cytotoxicity was confirmed by the measurement of apoptosis and necrosis, respectively, by caspases 3/7 activation  and adenylate kinase leakage after membrane alterations 
The results of the study were clear. Except for one pesticide (Matin), “All formulations were cytotoxic and far more toxic than their APs [active principles].”
Key findings included:
On human cells, among the tested products, fungicides were the most toxic (Figure 1), being cytotoxic from doses 300–600 times lower than agricultural dilutions, followed by herbicides (except Matin) and then insecticides.
In all cell types, fungicides were the most toxic (mean LC50 12ppm).
The herbicide Roundup (LC50 63ppm) was next in toxicity to fungicides, twice as toxic as Starane, and more than 10 times as toxic as the 3 insecticides, which represent the less toxic group (mean LC50 720ppm).
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