By Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi
As anyone who cares about their health probably knows, food that contains GMO (genetically modified organisms) should be avoided at all costs, not only because no independent long term studies on human health have proven it to be safe, but also because such food is ‘Roundup ® ready’, as the engineers who created it once bragged.
What this term means is that glyphosate (the main chemical in Roundup) is actually an integral part of the GMO food itself–it is a pesticide that cannot be washed off, because it is in the plant’s cellular structure.
But their creator’s bravado has been cut short by recent studies that show Roundup has been linked to myriad diseases, ranging from Alzheimer’s and autism to cancer and celiac disease. In short, food containing or sprayed with glyphosate is seriously harmful to human health, but few know about the dangers of glyphosate, or which foods contain it.
A Brief History
In the 1970s, glyphosate was found to be a potent herbicide, which was subsequently patented under the trade name Roundup ® by Monsanto. This was first commercialised in Malaysia for rubber and in the United Kingdom for wheat in 1974, with the US following closely after. Today, glyphosate has become one of the most widely used herbicides around the globe with a significant impact on worldwide crop production.
Recently, however, the World Health Organization’s cancer agency, the IARC, published a full report denouncing the world’s most used herbicide as a “probable human carcinogen”. After the IARC report was released, many countries have been considering possible reductions of glyphosate-based herbicides. But some wiser nations, including Hungary, Bermuda, Russia and China, never trusted the science behind GMOs and glyphosate in the first place, and called for a complete ban or 10 year moratorium on it.
These countries certainly had the right idea: the cancinogenic potential of glyphosate was already known by Monsanto and governments as far back as the 1980s. An excellent review on glyphosate toxicity written by Caroline Cox of Northwest Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides published in 1995, showed that most – if not all – toxic effects of glyphosate had already been demonstrated in laboratory studies. Feeding glyphosate to animals for three months caused “reduced weight gain, diarrhoea, and salivary gland lesions.” Lifetime feeding caused “excess growth and death of liver cells, cataracts and lens degeneration, and increase in the frequency of thyroid, pancreas and liver tumours.”
And the reports just kept coming. A June 2011 study done by an international team of scientists revealed that studies done as early as the 1980s by biotech and ag-industry corporations (including Monsanto) all showed that Roundup’s active ingredient glyphosate causes birth defects in laboratory animals, even at very low exposures.
One of the most famous studies done was in September 2012, when Professor Gilles-Eric Seralini and his research team at France’s Caen University published a peer-reviewed, two-year study in the Journal of Food and Chemical Toxicology (FCT) on the effects of feeding rats not only GMO Monsanto NK603 Roundup-tolerant maize, but also of Monsanto’s herbicide Roundup. The results were so alarming that the corrupt EU Commission and the even-more corrupt scientists of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) scrambled to come up with a way to discredit that study.
Just a few weeks after the publication of Seralini’s study, the EFSA made this statement:
“EFSA’s analysis has shown that deficiencies in the Seralini et al. paper mean it is of insufficient scientific quality for risk assessment. We believe the completion of this evaluation process has brought clarity to the issue…Serious defects in the design and methodology of a paper by Seralini et al mean it does not meet acceptable scientific standards and there is no need to re-examine previous safety evaluations of genetically modified maize NK603.”
However, there was no mention whatsoever of exactly what these so called “serious defects” were, did the report explain why independent scientific groups shouldn’t try to replicate the study to determine whether or not Seralini’s results were accurate. The mainstream media in Germany and across the EU dutifully repeated this nonsense as the end of the discussion, and Monsanto even managed to get one of its own people into the editorial board of the Journal of Food and Chemical Toxicology which printed the initial Seralini study.
According to RT, the Food and Chemical Toxicology journal was reprimanded for publishing the Seralini study, and Richard E. Goodman, a former Monsanto employee who was later with the Monsanto-backed pro-GMO lobby organization, International Life Sciences Institute (ILSI), was named to an entirely new post at the magazine six months after the Seralini study’s release.
He was given the title “Associate Editor for Biotechnology,” and one of Goodman’s first acts was to make the Seralini article disappear from the record. He did so in blatant violation of the guidelines for retractions in scientific publishing set out by the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE). For any peer-reviewed scientific article to be withdrawn there must be clear evidence that the findings are unreliable due to misconduct (e.g. data fabrication) or honest error; plagiarism or redundant publication; or unethical research. None of those were proven in the Seralini case.
Since then, Professor Seralini has become more adamantly anti-GMO and glyphosate than ever, and took matters into his own hands by publishing his work on his own website, which you can see here.
Other Roundup studies show high toxicity
Since the first Seralini study, other researchers have proven the toxicity of glyphosate. For example, Anthony Samsel and Stephanie Seneff wrote in their 2013 study that:
“Residues (of glyphosate-w.e.) are found in the main foods of the Western diet, comprised primarily of sugar, corn, soy and wheat. Glyphosate’s inhibition of cytochrome P450 (CYP) enzymes is an overlooked component of its toxicity to mammals. CYP enzymes play crucial roles in biology, one of which is to detoxify xenobiotics. Thus, glyphosate enhances the damaging effects of other food borne chemical residues and environmental toxins. Negative impact on the body is insidious and manifests slowly over time as inflammation damages cellular systems throughout the body.”
In a nutshell, they learned that glyphosate inhibits the enzymes in our bodies that play an important role in ridding our bodies of toxins, thereby making worse any toxic effects of other chemical residues in our food and environment. These effects accumulate slowly: we won’t realise our health is damaged until it’s too late.
Not Only Cancer
But cancer is not the only disease associated with glyphosate – it has been connected with everything from Alzheimers to autism.
As another research team, Samsel and Seneff reported: “[M]any of the health problems that appear to be associated with a Western diet could be explained by biological disruptions that have already been attributed to glyphosate. These include digestive issues, obesity, autism, Alzheimer’s disease, depression, Parkinson’s disease, liver diseases and cancer, among others. While many other environmental toxins obviously also contribute to these diseases and conditions, we believe that glyphosate may be the most significant environmental toxin, mainly because it is pervasive and it is often handled carelessly due to its perceived nontoxicity.”
And glyphosate’s toxic effects hurt more than human beings, too. According to a new study conducted by German and Argentinian researchers, the decline of the honey bees could well be linked to this chemical. Bees exposed to low levels of the pesticide have a hard time returning home, because glyphosate harms bees’ spatial learning. In New York, an environmental group is suing the Environmental Protection Agency for ignoring the dangers of glyphosate which, it claims, has resulted in the demise of the monarch butterfly population. Also documented are effects on human fertility: reduced sperm counts in males and lengthening of the estrus cycle in females.
The Rise of Gluten Intolerance
It’s remarkable how the rise of celiac disease has coincided with the spread of glyphosate. Several studies point out how the chemical is designed to destroy the shikimate pathways in plants and bacteria to ensure no weeds or pests will crop up to interfere with the growth of crops infused with the herbicide. However, our own guts also contain shikimate pathways, meaning when we eat plants infused with glyphosate (remember, it can’t be washed away), we are ingesting ‘food’ that actually kills our gut bacteria, making us more vulnerable not only to digestive disorders, but many, many other diseases, since much of our overall health relies heavily on a healthy gut microbiome.
A Huge Cover-up
So the question is: why was the public kept in the dark on the dangers of glyphosate? According to the US Environment Protection Agency (EPA) “All of these increases in tumour incidence are not considered compound-related.” Therefore EPA concluded that glyphosate should be classified as Group E, which means there is evidence of non-carcinogenicity for humans. They added that this classification was “based on the available evidence at the time of evaluation and should not be interpreted as a definitive conclusion that the agent will not be a carcinogen under any circumstances.” (italics mine). In other words, they were basically admitting that glyphosate could be a carcinogen.
Monsanto is one of the largest, wealthiest corporations in the world, and has been lobbying governments internationally to allow it to sell its products on a massive scale, despite the now obvious dangers to human health and the natural world around us. They’ve also funded powerful politicians, most notably Hillary Clinton, who writer Mike Adams says hired a former Monsanto lobbyist to run her campaign and who used to have Monsanto as a client when she was a lawyer. She rather predictably argues there should be no ban on the sickening chemical because, according to her, “(t)here is a big gap between what the facts are, and what the perceptions are (around glyphosate)”.
Despite Clinton seemingly believing GMOs and glyphosate are getting a bad rap, according to journalist Stephen Lendman: “The Clinton and Bush II families ate organic foods…nearly all foods used were gotten from local growers and suppliers. A small White House roof garden was used for produce grown without pesticides and fertilizers. Organic foods were prioritized. First families continue getting wholesome pesticide/GMO-free foods while promoting frankenfoods hazardous to human health for Monsanto and other biotech giants.”
How To Save Your Own Health
Clearly, we cannot rely on governments to protect our health anymore; they are too entrenched with corporate lobbies to be trusted. The best ways to reduce reduce your family’s exposure to glyphosate is to take direct action of your own and completely avoid non-organic forms of certain foods. The crops with the highest allowance for glyphosate include: peppermint, most cereals, soy, lentils, beetroot, sugar, corn, peas, oats, rapeseed, tea and beans.
In short, according to anhinternational.org, the foods in which the most glyphosate residue is permitted include:
- GMO crops
- All animal based foods (and therefore all meat and fowl)
- Cereal grains, including bread, porridge, and cereal
- Oil seeds such as rapeseed, sunflower and safflower
- Dried pulses, including lentils, soya and peas
Roundup Ready GMO crops that contain glyphosate that’s right in the plant currently include:
And wheat is ‘under development’.
The main reason that even non GMO grains, seeds and pulses are at the top of the list is because these are the types of crops that receive a dose of glyphosate immediately prior to harvest — a process known as desiccation. The justification for this is that the destruction of the plant around the seeds makes harvesting the crop easier for farmers, and water loss enables farmers to gain a better price for the crop.
Sure, organic food may be more expensive, but think about it: how much food do you actually buy and waste? Shop smarter, plan meals more carefully, and if possible, grow your own food, and remember: our health is priceless.
Main image: gmoseralini.org