tyle="font-family:Verdana,Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif">Glyphosate is an herbicide. It is applied to the leaves of plants to kill both broadleaf plants and grasses. The sodium salt form of glyphosate is used to regulate
plant growth and ripen fruit.
tyle="font-family:Verdana,Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif">Glyphosate was first registered for use in the U.S. in 1974. Glyphosate is one of the most widely used herbicides
in the United States. People apply it in agriculture and forestry, on lawns and gardens, and for weeds in industrial areas.
Glyphosate Implicated as Driver of Modern Diseases (Mercola.com)
A groundbreaking report, published last June in the journalEntropy9,
argues that glyphosate residues, found in most commonly consumed foods, “enhance the damaging effects of other food-borne chemical residues and toxins in the environment to disrupt normal body functions and induce disease.” As explained by the authors, Dr
Stepanie Seneff and Anthony Samsel:
“Glyphosate’s claimed mechanism of action in plants is the disruption of the shikimate pathway... The currently accepted
dogma is that glyphosate is not harmful to humans or to any mammals because the shikimate pathway is absent in all animals.
However, this pathway is present in gut bacteria, which play an important and heretofore largely overlooked role in
human physiology through an integrated biosemiotic relationship with the human host. In addition to aiding digestion, the gut microbiota synthesize vitamins, detoxify xenobiotics, and participitate in immune system homeostasis and gastrointestinal tract
As discussed in our previous newsletter on Genetically modified (GMO) foods, Glyphosate is the main ingredient in Round-up which
is a herbicide that is used extensively on GMO foods such as Canola, soybeans and corn which have been genetically modified to be resistant to Glyphosate.
For every cell in your body, you have 10 microbes of various kinds, and all of them have the shikimate pathway, so they will all respond
to the presence of glyphosate! It causes extreme disruption of the microbe’s function and lifecycle; worse yet, glyphosate preferentially affects beneficial bacteria, allowing pathogens to overgrow. At that point, your body also has
to contend with the toxins produced by the pathogens. Once the chronic inflammation sets in, you’re well on your way toward chronic and potentially debilitating disease. In a nutshell, Dr. Seneff has summarized the two key problems caused by glyphosate in
the diet as:
< Nutritional deficiencies
< Systemic toxicity
She believes glyphosate is
possibly the most important factor in the development of multiple chronic diseases and conditions
that have become prevalent in Westernized societies, including but not limited to: autism, gastrointestinal diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease and chronic diarrhea, obesity, allergies, cardiovascular disease, depression, cancer and infertility.
People Across Europe Test Positive for Glyphosate
A 2011 study detected glyphosate in 60-100 percent of all US air
and rain samples, and last year another study revealed widespread glyphosate contamination in groundwater. When
groundwater is used as a drinking water source, this contamination poses a risk to animals, plants and humans alike.
Now, the first-ever test for weed killer contamination in human bodies was commissioned by Friends of the Earth Europe5.
Volunteers from 18 different countries provided urine samples.
Of the 182 urine samples tested, an average of 44 percent was found to contain glyphosate, although the proportion of contamination
varied from country to country. All volunteers were city dwellers who had not handled or used glyphosate, and only one person per household was tested.
Seventy percent of volunteers in Germany, UK and Poland had the weed killer in their bodies.
Glyphosate is also widely used in Australian crops.
Western Australian Herbicide Resistance Initiative (WAHRI) Director and member of the National Glyphosate Sustainability Working group, Stephen Powles stated
that Australia has had the greatest problem with resistance until now and the overuse of this single weed management technology is jeopardizing this safe, highly effective, and economic herbicide. However, right now, for the great majority of Australian
cropping farms, glyphosate continues to provide excellent weed control.
The fact that close to half of all people are testing positive for glyphosate (including countries that don’t even use it) is
profoundly disturbing in light of the recent findings that this commonly used weed killer may be among the most important factors in the development of modern diseases, as the pathway by which glyphosate kills plants is the identical pathway found in animal
and human gut bacteria.
According to Friends of the Earth Europe’s spokesperson Adrian Bebb7:
“Most people will be worried to discover they may have weed killer in their bodies. We tested people living in cities in
18 countries and found traces in every country. These results suggest we are being exposed to glyphosate in our everyday lives, yet we don’t know where it is coming from, how widespread it is in the environment, or what it is doing to our health.
Our testing highlights a serious lack of action by public authorities across Europe and indicates that this weed killer
is being widely overused. Governments need to step-up their monitoring and bring in urgent measures to reduce its use. This includes rejecting any genetically modified crops that would increase the use of glyphosate.”
In South America, a public health crisis has emerged around the spraying of Roundup on GM soy, which is often
carried out from the air. The problem made headlines on the publication of a 2010 study by Argentine researchers showing that glyphosate and Roundup caused malformations (birth defects) in frog and chicken embryos at doses far lower than those used in agricultural
spraying. The malformations seen in the experimental embryos were similar to human birth defects reported in GM soy-growing areas of South America. (Earthopensource.org)
The researchers said the results were relevant to humans because humans have the same developmental mechanisms
as frogs and chickens. The study identified the pathway through which glyphosate and Roundup affect embryonic development, the retinoic acid signalling pathway.3
A report by physicians in Argentina based on clinical data reported the following health effects in people
exposed to spraying of agrochemicals (mostly glyphosate) on GM Roundup Ready soy: increased incidence of birth defects, miscarriages, infertility, cancers, DNA damage (which can lead to cancer and birth defects), neurological developmental problems in children,
kidney failure, respiratory problems, and allergies.4
A report commissioned by the provincial government of Chaco, Argentina, found that the rate of birth defects
increased fourfold and rates of childhood cancers tripled in only a decade in areas where rice and GM soy crops are heavily sprayed. The report noted that problems centred on “transgenic crops, which require aerial and ground spraying with agrochemicals”;
glyphosate was named as a chemical of concern.5
These issues are relevant not only to people living in regions where GM RR crops are grown, but for consumers
who eat products made from crops sprayed with glyphosate. GM RR crops do not break down glyphosate, but absorb it. Some is broken down (metabolised) into a substance called aminomethylphosphonic acid (AMPA).
Both glyphosate and AMPA remain in the plant and are eaten by people and animals. Both are toxic.
Scientific evidence suggests that Roundup and other commercial formulations are more toxic than glyphosate
alone – yet it was glyphosate alone that was tested by industry prior to market authorization and approved by regulators. The herbicide formulations as they are sold and used have not been properly tested and assessed for safety.
In a paper published in the European Journal of Agronomy in October 2009, Huber and co-author G.S. Johal, from Purdue’s
department of botany and plant pathology warned, “ignoring potential non-target detrimental side effects of any chemical, especially one used as heavily as glyphosate, may have dire consequences for agriculture …. might well compromise not only agricultural
sustainability, but also the health and well-being of animals and humans.” (Centre for research on Globalization)
According to Huber, there are more than 40 diseases reported with use of glyphosate, and that number keeps growing as
people recognize the association (between glyphosate and disease). There are also reports of allergic reactions, such as stomach lesions, produced by the Roundup Ready (genetically modified) gene. These reactions need to be studied; there needs to be a lot
more information that we don’t have. This type of research has been prevented by a lack of access to information.
Glyphosate impairs the cytochrome P450 (CYP) gene pathway, which creates enzymes that help to form and also break down molecules
in cells. There are myriad important CYP enzymes with functions such as converting androgen into estrogen, creating the stress hormone cortisol and regulating blood pressure. One function of these CYP enzymes is also to detoxify xenobiotics, which are foreign
chemicals like drugs, carcinogens or pesticides. Glyphosate inhibits these CYP enzymes, which has rippling effects throughout our body. (Food and Water Watch (USA))
Because the CYP pathway is essential for normal functioning of various systems in our bodies, any small change in its
expression can lead to disruptions. For example, humans exposed to glyphosate have decreased levels of the amino acid tryptophan, which is necessary for active signaling of the neurotransmitter serotonin. Suppressed serotonin levels have been associated with
weight gain, depression, and Alzheimer’s disease.
Japanese researchers analysing suicides have found that drinking ¾ of a cup (200 millilitres) of commercial glyphosate products
is fatal. (Ofa.org.au)
Survivors (those who consumed less than ¾ of a cup) suffered a range of severe health problems. These problems included
intestinal pain, vomiting, erosion of the gastrointestinal tract, excess fluid in the lungs, pneumonia, lung dysfunction, clouding of consciousness, destruction of red blood cells, abnormal electrocardiograms, low blood pressure, kidney damage and damage to
the larynx. It is important to note that damage to the kidneys and the lungs is usually permanent. These body tissues do not repair themselves, instead forming scar tissue that does not function to help filter toxins from the blood or breathe oxygen.
In California, where there is a mandatory system of reporting pesticide poisoning, Glyphosate is the third most common
cause of pesticide illness in farm workers. It is the most common form of reported pesticide poisoning in landscape gardeners.
Two separate studies in Sweden have linked exposure to Glyphosate to Hairy Cell Leukemia and non-Hodgkins lymphoma.
These types of cancers were extremely rare, however non-Hodgkins lymphoma is the most rapidly increasing cancer in the Western world. It has risen by 73% in the USA since 1973. Another study has found a higher incidence of Parkinson disease amongst farmers
who used herbicides, including Glyphosate.
Other studies show that Glyphosate: cause a range of cell mutations and damage to cell DNA which are regarded as precursors
to cancer and birth defects; is extremely toxic to the soil life dramatically reducing the number of beneficial soil microorganisms as well as the activity of nitrogen-fixing bacteria which transform soil nitrogen into forms that plants can use.
Other studies show that Glyphosate herbicides increase the susceptibility of plants to diseases. This is partly because
it reduces the growth of mycorrhizal fungi and other beneficial fungi that help plants absorb nutrients and help fight disease. However, plants suffer more disease, as there is an increase in the soil pathogens and a decrease beneficial species that control
diseases after an application Glyphosate.
Glyphosate exposure damages or reduces the populations of earthworms. A New Zealand study showed that 5% of the usual
application rate caused delayed development and increased death in earthworms.
Glyphosate reduces populations of small mammals and birds by damaging the vegetation that provides food and shelter
for these animals.
The populations of all of these living organisms can take years to recover due to Glyphosate’s persistence in the soil.
The persistent nature of these residues in genetically engineered food crops such as Soybeans, Corn and Canola is another
reason why we need mandatory labeling of all GMOs. We need to have the freedom of choice to avoid foods that we believe will contain residues of toxic chemicals.
This is a very good reason for eating organic foods.