Glyphosate, the main ingredient in RoundUp was developed by a scientist at Monsanto in 1970. By 1974, Monsanto had started marketing RoundUp as a broad-spectrum herbicide. It was purchased not only commercially but also by individual consumers and has become Monsanto’s highest producing seller. Nothing works better to keep those pesky weeds out of the cracks of your driveway….one squirt and three hours and they were dead. Americans across our lawnscaped land use glyphosate to keep weeds out of their gardens, keep their lawns pristine, make sure gold courses are green and lush, and even to make sure their children’s play areas and sand pits are free of any prickly weeds. We use glyphosate at home, commercial buildings, parks, community gathering areas, golf courses, theme parks, highways and roadways, schools, churches, government buildings, and everywhere else there is greenery we want looking nice and weed free. We love killing weeds so much, that in 2014, Monsanto sold enough glyphosate to have applied nearly a half pound of the weed killer on to every acre of cropland worldwide (0.47 pounds/1 acre).
Glyphosate-based products are the best selling weed killer in the United States, let alone globally; glyphosate treated and/or resistant crops that are used to make foods such as processed bread, soups, cereals, cooking oils, beers, etc., are sold worldwide and make up almost 80% of agricultural crops in the US and Canada. So, is glyphosate really safe for human consumption? Fourteen industrialized nations are or have already banned it from use within their borders, why?
What Does Glyphosate Cause?
Glyphosate does not cause any harm to humans or animals according to Monsanto. Even the EPA states that glyphosate is safe when used carefully (although no exact definition of the word carefully is offered). Agent Orange was deemed safe to spray within certain parameters as well, and we all see how that has turned out.
Glyphosates have specific directions to follow when the average consumer uses them to kill common weeds in our average yards. To be deemed “safe” these directions are to be followed:
- Chose a day that is not rainy or windy;
- Wear long pants, long sleeved shirt, gloves, goggles, and a mask;
- Cover any other plants you want to keep safe
I don’t know about any of the rest of you, but I have never followed any of those directions. I make sure my pets stay away, but if I needed to spay a dandelion in my driveway, I grabbed the bottle, sprayed the weed, put the bottle back. There are warnings of course, keep pets and people away until completely dry, but it never exactly tells you why you should use these precautions.
Here is why: On August 11, 2018, Monsanto was ordered to pay a record $289 million to Mr. Dewayne Johnson, a groundskeeper, among 5000 other claimants, due to failing to warn consumers that glyphosate in its weedkilling products was a known carcinogenic. The jury found that Monsanto knew the chemical was dangerous and failed to warn consumers properly. Mr. Johnson was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Monsanto, recently purchased by Bayer AG, now faces increasing class action torts against its products due to exposures and subsequent illnesses.
In 2015, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (a division of the World Health Organization) concluded that glyphosate was “probably carcinogenic to humans.” A recent study published by Oxford University states that not only are there serious effects due to the use of glyphosate such as changes in the metabolism, cancer risk, and systemic inflammatory conditions, previous forms of evaluating the risks are also obsolete based on the different ways that glyphosate are utilized. In other words, creating genetically altered food with glyphosate leads us to measure the risks differently then the way it was measured when food were just sprayed with chemicals.
Now granted, Mr. Johnson sprayed glyphosate much more often than most average consumers and in amounts much greater than I would ever use on my measly 2/3 acre of yard. However, with chemicals, what affects one person one way, can affect another in a completely different way. We know this because not everyone who was exposed to Agent Orange got cancer and diabetes, but enough more did that it showed the link scientifically.
Glyphosate and Gluten Allergies/Celiac Disease
In 1990, approximately 27,000 people were known to have had a celiac incidence. The rate of use of glyphosate was less than 500 per 1000 lbs. of wheat treated. By 2009, the USDA and the CDC show that the rates of Celiac incidences increased to 77,000 compared to an increase of glyphosate to almost 16,000 x 1,000 lbs. per wheat.
A recent study by Samsel & Seneff, 2013, argued that glyphosate may be a key contributor to obesity as well as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, infertility, depression, and cancer. Their reasoning is that glyphosate suppresses specific amino acids and bacteria, up to 35% of those in a human’s system, and prevent them from managing the essential nutrients our bodies need to function properly, leading to an overgrowth of pathogens. What most people consider to be celiac disease or a gluten allergy are quite possibly the digestion of glyphosates and the negative effects the chemical is having on the body’s internal flora and fauna. The American Cancer Society has itself shown an 80% increase in non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma since the early 70s, when glyphosate was introduced to the market.
And even worse, the weeds that were being killed by the glyphosate are now becoming resistant.
What Does This Mean for You?
Hopefully, nothing. However, if you are suffering from cancers such as non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma; systemic inflammatory conditions such as sarcoidosis (which can lead to organ failure and the need for transplant), systemic lupus erythematosus, or scleroderma; Parkinson’s disease, celiac or gluten problems, or even metabolic issues that are otherwise unexplained; and you have been in contact with glyphosate, it may be worth checking to see if exposure may be a link to your conditions. Here is the important link: chronic inflammatory conditions can cause DNA damage, which can lead to cancers. For example, ulcerative colitis and Crohn disease have increased risks of colon cancer. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), some of the many (too many to list here) side effects of glyphosate found are:
Disruption of gut bacteria leads to:
- Kidney failure
- Autoimmune thyroid disease
Transition metal chelation leads to:
- Neurodegenerative disease
- Heart disease
- DNA damage/cancer
CYP enzyme inhibition leads to:
- Osteoporosis, cancer
- Gallbladder disease, pancreatitis
- Liver disease, macrocytic anemia, kidney failure
- Venous thrombosis
Tryptophan deficiency leads to:
- depression, nausea, diarrhea
How Roundup has Altered Our Agriculture
Monsanto has not just developed the herbicide for removing unwanted vegetation, it has used glyphosate to engineer crops that are resistant to herbicides, allowing farmers to spray fields with RoundUp and not kill the vegetation being grown for human consumption. RoundUp Ready© soybeans and canola were introduced in the 1990s, with crops of corn and sugarbeets following. Monsanto also has a program called “preharvesting,” where farmers are taught how and when to spray entire crops of consumable food in order to kill it while still in the ground, drying it out to cause haresting machines less damage and to yield the highest crops. This process basically kills the food on the stalk, in effect drying it out so that when it is harvested, there is less moisture allowing for less wear and tear on harvesting equipment. Preharvesting, per Monsanto’s guidebook, is used on wheat, barley, oats, canola, flax seed, peas, lentils, soybeans, and dry beans.
Monsanto continues to claim that over 800 scientific studies have shown that glyphosate is safe for humans, but we have to wonder, did those studies use tests that would accurately depict this chemical’s effects on humans or did they use outdated methods developed for past chemicals that are now dinosaurs in the new-world chemical game.