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Monsanto continues to insist that glyphosate, the active ingredient in their best-selling RoundUp pesticide, poses no risk to human health. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to believe their claims, however, and many experts believe it’s only a matter of time before glyphosate goes the way of Monsanto’s past creations (saccharine, PCBs, and Zyklon-B, just to name a few).

If you’ve been reading our articles for long, you’re probably no stranger to the case against glyphosate. This globally prevalent pesticide stands at the center of a sprawling and complex debate. The ethics of genetic modification, the disadvantages of monocrop agriculture, the politics of patenting and owning seeds (and the debt slavery that ensues for farmers in developing nations), the worldwide collapse of bee colonies, the precipitous rise in chronic and degenerative disease—all of these talking points lead inevitably back to Monsanto and their beloved glyphosate.

And yet even if we leave aside all of these hotly debated questions, there are two simple ones that still remain—questions that should be easy enough to answer. First question…

Does glyphosate pose risks to human health?

Unsurprisingly, Monsanto’s answer is no. Representatives from the company claim that the safety profile of glyphosate is assured by “decades of comprehensive safety reviews by the leading regulatory authorities around the world.”

This statement was issued, by the way, in response to the World Health Organization’s classification of glyphosate as a “probable human carcinogen.” Needless to say, when the WHO issues a proclamation about the toxicity of a substance, you can bet that it’s substantiated—and yet Monsanto has continued to fight, calling the classification a mere “allegation.”

Their case became even harder to trust in February of 2017, when a United States District Court judge ordered Monsanto to unseal a cache of incriminating documents. And incriminating is an understatement. Remember those “comprehensive safety reviews”? The unsealed documents revealed that Monsanto wrote its own research papers, then forged credentials to make it look like independent research. They also prevented a health review by the EPA, thanks to a mole within the agency, and even were tipped off about the WHO’s reclassification of glyphosate months before the official announcement (which gave them time to launch a smear campaign against the data).

You can read more about these unsealed documents here, but suffice it to say that Monsanto has nothing legitimate to offer that proves the safety of glyphosate.

Real research demonstrates worrying connections between glyphosate contamination and developmental disorders like autism[1] and ADHD, birth defects,[2] accelerated cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease,[3] celiac disease and other gastrointestinal issues,[4] chronic kidney disease, diabetes, depression, heart disease, liver disease, and cancer.

And the coup de grace: Monsanto’s own unsealed documents reveal evidence of acute toxicity. The company knew the risks that RoundUp poses, and therefore did whatever was necessary to bury the data and prevent further safety reviews.

A quick perusal of mainstream media will reveal that despite this mountain of data demonstrating the toxicity of glyphosate, the battle is far from over. Many sources simply deny that any research has ever linked glyphosate with disease etiology.

More commonly, pundits rely on the argument that glyphosate could be toxic, but we just don’t know. They claim that even the WHO’s classification means that the pesticide could cause cancer, but we just don’t know. Regardless, isn’t this a good enough reason to exercise more restraint? 1.6 billion kilograms of RoundUp pesticide have been applied since 1974 in the United States, and a staggering two thirds of this total have been applied in the last ten years alone.[5]

Advocates claim that no restraint is required, because glyphosate levels never exceed the point of toxicity in the human body. Which leads us to our second question…

Does glyphosate accumulate in the human body?

Once again, Monsanto and its supporters answer with a resounding no. They claim that glyphosate residues would never be able to build to toxic levels, because it’s designed to be biocompatible and biodegradable.

Yes, Monsanto actually says that their poison is biodegradable—in the glyphosate FAQ on their website, they claim that the pesticide “breaks down into naturally occurring compounds” as soon as it’s done killing weeds.[6]

Never mind the fact the environmental assays contradict this claim—let’s stay focused on human biology. Many studies over the years have conclusively demonstrated that glyphosate does bioaccumulate within the human body; it is not easily excreted or metabolized, and it most certainly does not break down into harmless compounds.

Researchers from the University of California San Diego recently released data from a long, comprehensive analysis of glyphosate levels in the human body. They collected urine samples from a large group of people between 1993 and 1996, and then again between 2014 and 2016.

What they found was rather shocking: glyphosate levels had increased an average of 500% over the twenty-year period, with some individuals exhibiting a 1,208% increase.[7] The glyphosate levels found during this study are 100 times higher than those linked with liver disease and other health problems.

So what’s your verdict?

Isn’t this data enough to give us pause? If you’re ready to act with caution when it comes to glyphosate, all you need to do is eat exclusively organic, get serious about detoxification practices, and join the movement to ban the use of glyphosate-containing pesticides.


References

[1] http://www.autismone.org/content/autism-explained-synergistic-poisoning-aluminum-and-glyphosate-stephanie-seneff

[2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1241196/

[3] http://www.sciencedirect.com.ezproxy.med.nyu.edu/science/article/pii/S0300483X14000493

[4] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3945755/

[5] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5044953/

[6] https://monsanto.com/company/media/statements/glyphosate-herbicide/

[7] https://health.ucsd.edu/news/releases/Pages/2017-10-24-exposure-to-glyphosate-chemical-found-in-weed-killer-increased-over-23-years.aspx

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Despite the prevalence of GMO foods, the FDA approval of GMO salmon (the first commercially available genetically engineered animal), and the pre-approval of Monsanto’s new generation of CRISPR-enabled GMOs, they remain as controversial as ever.

In the CRISPR article linked above, we covered some concerns that experts have about the basic safety of genetically modified foods. One study revealed that CRISPR-edited mice exhibited 1,500 “off-target” gene mutations. [1]

At the very least, this finding should remind us that there’s a great deal we don’t understand about gene modification—and that we should tread lightly. It’s also worrisome that this study was retracted a mere three days after Monsanto announced a massive investment in CRISPR-engineered foods.

Nevertheless, it’s difficult to demonstrate the inherent dangers of genetic engineering. Until “off-target gene mutations” can be conclusively linked with long-term human health issues, it seems that Monsanto’s massive budget will continue to hold more sway.

As a result, the GMO debate has centered primarily around glyphosate-containing pesticides, which is used almost exclusively on GMO crops (for the simple reason that GMO seeds have been modified to resist the devastating effect glyphosate has on vegetation and insects).

Is glyphosate contributing to chronic illness?

In theory, it’s easier to demonstrate the dangers of glyphosate (as opposed to genetic modification in general), given that it’s a specific chemical with acute biological effects. Even this more straightforward approach has been met with opposition and criticism, though.

Let’s take a look at what we do know.

Animal studies have decidedly shown that a diet of GMO foods can lead to detrimental health effects. One study reported that when GMO foods made up just 33% of animals’ diets, 50% of the males and 70% of the females died prematurely.[2]

Another long-term toxicology study found that pigs fed GMO corn and soy experienced multiple organ damage, gastrointestinal damage and dysfunction, tumors, and birth defects.[3]

Yet another preliminary study revealed that hamsters fed GM soy completely lost the ability to have babies after only two generations—the study was never officially published (in part because of vicious backlash from the pro-GMO community), but was covered by Huffington Post.[4]

And let’s not forget that the original research into the toxicity of glyphosate—which led to the approval of RoundUp pesticide for commercial use—was ghostwritten by Monsanto (and credentialed academics were then paid to sign off on the bogus research). In a past article, we covered how this information didn’t even come to light until a court ordered Monsanto to unseal its documents in February of 2017.

Perhaps the most significant and targeted studies on the subject have been published by Anthony Samsel and Stephanie Seneff. Their work seeks to posit a direct connection between glyphosate toxicity and the modern rise in chronic illness.

In a series of studies entitled “Glyphosate, pathways to modern diseases,” they focus on evidence tying glyphosate toxicity with gut microbiome dysbiosis, which leads directly to celiac disease and other gastrointestinal ailments, and indirectly to a variety of chronic illnesses via chronic inflammation.[5]

Unsurprisingly, their work has been met with much criticism. Some opponents point to logical flaws in their arguments, and it’s certainly true that further research into the exact mechanisms involved are necessary. Nevertheless, it’s important to remember what motivated the inquiries of these researchers in the first place: growing concern over the correlation between glyphosate toxicity and chronic illness.

As the studies cited above demonstrate, there is sound evidence demonstrating that we should be concerned about glyphosate toxicity—yet critics continue to insist that there isn’t enough data to implicate glyphosate as a causal factor in chronic illnesses—and advocates of GMO crops and glyphosate are quick to leverage this supposed “missing data” in support of their multi-billion-dollar industry.

Play it safe (your health is worth it)

Regardless of your view on the subject, it’s clear that gut dysbiosis is on the rise, and that it is linked with many of the chronic illnesses mentioned above.

Despite what anyone may say about the need for more data, what we do know is that organic, pesticide-free produce does not undermine the health of the microbiome. This fact alone should be reason enough to choose organic foods, especially if you suffer from gut issues, inflammatory conditions, or other chronic illnesses.

Based on the evidence presented above, it seems highly unlikely that GMO foods and glyphosate will be vindicated as safe in the long-term—so why take the risk? Stick with a diet rich in organic fruits and vegetables, whole grains and legumes, healthy fats, and clean protein sources.

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References

[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5796662/

[2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11890465

[3] https://www.organic-systems.org/journal/81/8106.pdf

[4] https://www.huffingtonpost.com/jeffrey-smith/genetically-modified-soy_b_544575.html

[5] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3945755/

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