New Research Fuels Roundup Weedkiller Toxicity Concerns
Last year, groundbreaking research was published suggesting that glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto's broad-spectrum herbicide Roundup, might be "a crucially important factor in the development of multiple chronic diseases and conditions."
If you missed it, please take the time to listen to Jeff Smith's interview with one of the authors of that research, Dr. Stephanie Seneff, reposted above. The lead author and researcher on this groundbreaking study was Anthony Samsel.
They spray nearly one BILLION pounds of Roundup every year for conventional crop production, but genetically engineered (GE) crops see some of the heaviest use, as so-called Roundup Ready crops are designed to withstand otherwise lethal doses of this chemical.
Tests published last year also showed that people in 18 countries across Europe have glyphosate in their bodies,1 while yet a third study revealed the chemical has estrogenic properties and drive breast cancer proliferation in the parts-per-trillion range.2
Now, research published in the International Journal of Toxicology3 in January adds even more fuel to the fire, as it reveals that glyphosate-based formulations like Roundup pose a threat to human health through cytotoxicity and oxidative effects. Such formulations were also found to be lethal to human liver cells.
You may think you are safe if you only eat organic produce but nothing could be further from the truth as most of the glyphosate contaminated crops are fed to animals. This means you also need to get organic meat and eggs. Also, beware you CANNOT wash glyphosate off your produce as it is actively integrated into every cell in the plant and impossible to wash off.
Commercial Formulations of Glyphosate Threaten Human Health
The researchers found that while glyphosate and its amino acid metabolite, aminomethylphosphonic acid (AMPA) in isolation appears to be non-toxic to human cells, toxicity does become a concern when glyphosate is added to other ingredients found in commercial formulations.
It's also well worth noting that the featured study assessed the effects of glyphosate-based formulations on human cells at dilutions that are far below normal agricultural applications. As reported by the featured article by GreenMedInfo.com:4
"The researchers discovered that while glyphosate and its amino acid metabolite, aminomethylphosphonic acid (AMPA), showed little to no observable toxic effects in isolation, a glyphosate-based formulation containing adjuvants produced a variety of adverse effects on cellular oxidative balance, including the following signs of oxidative stress:
- Increases in reactive oxygen species
- Increases in nitrotyrosine formation
- Increases in superoxide dismutase activity
- Increases in glutathione levels
The glyphosate formulation studied also triggered two 'death proteins' in human cells known as caspase 3/7, inducing pathways that activate programmed cell death (apoptosis), a clear sign of significant toxicity."
According to the authors:
"These results confirm that G [glyphosate] formulations have adjuvants working together with the active ingredient and causing toxic effects that are not seen with acid glyphosate...
Altogether, these results challenge the establishment of guidance values such as the acceptable daily intake of glyphosate, when these are mostly based on a long term in vivo test of glyphosate alone.
Since pesticides are always used with adjuvants that could change their toxicity, the necessity to assess their whole formulations as mixtures becomes obvious. This challenges the concept of active principle of pesticides for non-target species."
Glyphosate in Isolation Preferentially Targets Beneficial Bacteria
Please note that in my earlier interviews with Dr. Don Huber, who is one of the most prominent scientific experts in plant toxicology, he firmly believe glyphosate is FAR more toxic and dangerous than DDT.
Previous research also shows that glyphosate alone wreaks havoc on soil and gut bacteria, so while glyphosate in isolation may not be able to kill your liver cells, it has been shown to wreak havoc on the beneficial bacteria that are absolutely critical to your overall health. Your gut bacteria (opposed to other human cells) are a key component of glyphosate's primary mechanism of harm, as microbes have the same pathway used by glyphosate to kill weeds.
The issue of glyphosate toxicity—whether in isolation or in formulation—implicates genetically engineered foods as being potentially far more hazardous to your health than less contaminated crops, and is indeed a significant reason for opting for organically-grown foods.
Labeling GMOs could help you select products that are less likely to have heavy contamination, although you'd also avoid many other hazardous chemicals used in conventional farming by opting for products labeled 100% organic.
There's also the environmental angle, as glyphosate also effectively kills beneficial soil microbes and damages the fertility of the soil. Glyphosate is in fact patented as an antibiotic, and killing bacteria is the main function of such drugs. It's also a potent chelator, which prevents valuable minerals like iron, calcium, manganese, and zinc from being utilized by the plant.
As previously explained by plant pathologist Dr. Don Huber, genetically engineered (GE) foods, as well as conventional crops that are heavily sprayed with glyphosate, have lower nutrient density than organic foods for this very reason. GE crops also contain high amounts of pesticides with documented harmful health effects, along with novel, highly allergenic, proteins.
Glyphosate's chelating and antibacterial activities also promote soil and plant disease, including but not limited to fungal root disease, highlighted by USDA scientist Robert Kremer in a previous Mother Jones article.5 The chemical's damaging effect on soil has a detrimental effect on yields too, of course, which appears to be part of the explanation for why the chemical technology industry's promises of improving yields have largely fallen flat. The only "yield" that's really gone up is that of glyphosate-resistant superweeds which, as of 2012, affected nearly half (49 percent) of American farmers!6 That was up from a reported 34 percent of farmers in 2011, so clearly, the spread of resistance is swift, and the entire agricultural system is at stake.
Global Land Crisis and the Threat of Worldwide Famine
In related news,7 a recently published paper in the journal Science8 by a Colorado research team found that modern chemical-based agriculture has "drastically altered" the biology of American farmland across the prairies, concluding that: "The soils currently found throughout the region bear little resemblance to their pre-agricultural state."
The paper calls for dramatic and swift changes to our agricultural system, stating that it's the "only viable route to feeding the world and keeping it habitable." A key factor causing the rapid degradation of soil, topsoil erosion, and declining soil fertility, is the adverse effect that agricultural chemicals have on the soil.
Academic analysts from South Africa's Witwatersrand University also weighed in on the issue, warning that unless we change course in how food is grown, we will repeat the same mistakes committed by civilizations in the past, where overexploitation of the land resulted in a vicious circle of famine and social disintegration... To learn more, you can review the PDF booklet, Food Plague Primer: Glyphosate and Genetically Engineered Crops,9 which is a free preview to the book: Food Plague: Could our daily bread be our most deadly exposure,10 written by Arden Andersen PhD, DO, who is both a medical doctor and horticulturist.
Food Industry Pulls Out All the Stops to Prevent GMO Labeling
There's also important news from the GMO labeling front. I recently told you about the Grocery Manufacturers Association of America's (GMA) multi-pronged game plan for preventing US states from implementing any kind of GMO labeling. A major part of the GMA's plan is to prevent states from creating their own labeling laws by pushing for an industry-friendly, voluntary labeling law at the federal level. But that's not all.
A GMA document11 created for use by industry lobbyists also lays out a clear-cut strategy for addressing any state that successfully implements a GMO labeling law, stating that, "The first state to implement a GMO labeling law will be sued on the constitutional grounds seen in IDFA v. Amestoy."Costly litigation is clearly part of the GMA's master plan to protect industry profits in the face of growing consumer awareness about the many problems inherent with potentially toxic, genetically engineered, and grossly adulterated, processed foods.
Maine and Connecticut both passed GMO labeling laws last year, but they contain "trigger" clauses that prevent them from taking effect until or unless at least four neighboring states, with a combined population of at least 20 million inhabitants, pass similar bills.
Vermont also produced a GMO labeling bill in 2012, which was quickly put on ice when Monsanto threatened to sue the state. Still, Vermonters pushed through and, last year, the Vermont House of Representatives passed H.112, which would require GE foods to be labeled as such, and would prohibit GE foods from being labeled "natural." While the bill didn't make it into the Senate before the end of the legislative session in 2013, now that the state legislature has reconvened, the bill has been taken up by the Senate's Agriculture Committee.
The problem Vermont now faces for the second time is the threat of being sued by the industry. The GMA document referred to above falsely insinuates that GMO labeling is in violation of the First Amendment, which protects commercial speech, and therefore unconstitutional.
Breaking News: Highest Rated Law Firm Confirms GMO Labeling IS Constitutional
Alas, one of the highest rated law firms in the US, Emord & Associates, has analyzed the Vermont Genetically Engineered Labeling Bill, H.112, concluding that the bill is, in fact, constitutional.12, 13 Emord & Associates is an AV-rated constitutional and administrative law firm located in Washington, D.C., Clifton, Virginia, and Chandler, Arizona.
An AV rating is the highest rating a law firm can achieve, based on legal ability and ethics, from the Martindale-Hubbell organization. Since 1999, the firm has successfully represented clients in eight First Amendment challenges against the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The Vermont Law School's Environmental and Natural Resources Law Clinic has also concluded that Vermont's GMO labeling bill would withstand a legal challenge from industry, stating that:14
"We have researched and analyzed challenges that may be made in opposition to such legislation and have concluded that Vermont can pass GE labeling legislation that will meet all constitutional requirements."
That said, the threat of costly legal battles may still have a cooling effect on legislators that would otherwise support GMO labeling, which is surely the GMA's intent. As reported by the Organic Consumers Association:15
"...GMO labeling activists are also concerned that some lawmakers will use the GMA's threats as a convenient excuse to reject the majority opinion of their voters, in favor of siding with industry instead. Or as a means to convince their colleagues to add trigger clauses, similar to those in the Maine and Connecticut bills, in an attempt to stall or permanently sabotage GMO laws.
Food manufacturers insist that GMO ingredients are perfectly safe. Still, they've spent more than $70 million--some of it illegally laundered—to defeat GMO labeling initiatives in California and Washington State. And the GMA, representing more than 300 food makers and trade associations, has drafted a bill (which so far has no sponsors) that would preempt state mandatory GMO labeling laws and allow the use of the word 'natural' on GMO-contaminated products.
...What's next? Vermont lawmakers could pass a clean bill. Or, they could pass a meaningless bill with a trigger clause. Or, they could cave into industry's threats entirely, and vote against the 90 percent of Vermonters who support H.112—knowing that the bill is bullet-proof, and their failure to pass it a failure of courage."
Take a Stand Against Industry Bullying
Vermont isn't the only state having to muster up a backbone to face a potential legal challenge by the GMA. Rhode Island and Florida have also introduced GMO labeling laws this year. Massachusetts and New York are expected to follow suit. But no matter where GMO labeling laws are considered, you can be sure GMA lobbyists will be present, spewing falsehoods and intimidating lawmakers. The Organic Consumers Association has created an Action Page where you can voice your opinions with the lawmakers in your state. Please tell them to stand firm; ignore the threats from the food industry, and do what's right for the people they were elected to represent.
Vote with Your Pocketbook, Every Day
Remember, the food companies on the left of this graphic spent tens of millions of dollars in the last two labeling campaigns—in California and Washington State—to prevent you from knowing what's in your food. You can even the score by switching to the brands on the right; all of whom stood behind the I-522 Right to Know campaign. Voting with your pocketbook, at every meal, matters. It makes a huge difference.
As always, I encourage you to continue educating yourself about genetically engineered foods, and to share what you've learned with family and friends. Remember, unless a food is certified organic, you can assume it contains GMO ingredients if it contains sugar from sugar beet, soy, or corn, or any of their derivatives.
If you buy processed food, opt for products bearing the USDA 100% Organic label, as organics do not permit GMOs. You can also print out and use the Non-GMO Shopping Guide, created by the Institute for Responsible Technology. Share it with your friends and family, and post it to your social networks. Alternatively, download their free iPhone application, available in the iTunes store. You can find it by searching for ShopNoGMO in the applications.
For more in-depth information, I highly recommend reading the following two books, authored by Jeffrey Smith, the executive director of the Institute for Responsible Technology:
- Seeds of Deception: Exposing Industry and Government Lies about the Safety of the Genetically Engineered Foods You're Eating
- Genetic Roulette: The Documented Health Risks of Genetically Engineered Foods.
Please, do your homework. Together, we have the power to stop the chemical technology industry from destroying our food supply, the future of our children, and the earth as a whole. All we need is about five percent of American shoppers to simply stop buying genetically engineered foods, and the food industry would have to reconsider their source of ingredients—regardless of whether the products bear an actual GMO label or not.