I have always understood the value of organic food and how it was better for our health and the environment. It wasn’t until recently that I attended a seminar on the dangers of glyphosate and the effects that this commonly used herbicide is having on our health, not only frightened me but reinforced how it is essential that we strive to make our diet as organic as possible.
Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, is the worlds most used herbicide. Not only is it used in commercial farming, but the chances are your local park is being sprayed with it and you might even find a can of it in your garage. Whilst it’s manufacturer Monsanto (read evil agriculture company and the driver of GMO foods) claims it is safe to humans, we are now seeing concrete evidence that it is anything but safe. Yes, we won’t die an instant death like the weeds do, instead it is creating a cascade of metabolic changes and nutrient deficiencies in our bodies resulting in a growing list of health issues.
Introduced commercially by Monsanto in 1974, glyphosate kills weeds by blocking proteins essential to plant growth. It is now used in more than 160 countries, with more than 1.4 billion pounds applied per year. Not only is used to kill weeds, it is now sprayed on crops just before harvesting to help to dry them out. This means that the crops are drenched in Roundup just before they hit the factory, to be processed and packaged for the supermarket shelf, and for you and your family to eat.
Monsanto has always claimed that Roundup is harmless to animals and humans as we don’t have the metabolic pathway that it works on to kill weeds (called the shikimate pathway). However, the shikimate pathway IS present in the bacteria that is found in our gut, and this is the way it causes damage to our body. Remember that the bacteria in your body out numbers your cells by 10 to 1. 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. In addition to this glyphosate can enter our blood stream via the nasal passages and lungs if we breathe it in.
In a big win in the battle against glyphosate, The World Health Organisation has recently declared glyphosate a “probable human carcinogen”. Even though the link between cancer and glyphosate is vastly being debated, the more pressing concerns about glyphosate are its ability to create nutritional deficiencies and the toxic build up of long term exposure.
Just think, every time you are eating a non-organic grain, legume, potato, corn you are exposing yourself the glyphosate. For most people, this occurs pretty much at every meal, every day…
Glyphosate is not a chemical that is routinely tested by food authorities to see how much residue is left on foods. Recently soy was tested and 90% of all the tested soy had ‘very high’ levels of glyphosate.
Potential Health Conditions linked to glyphosate (and these are just a few)
Gluten Intolerance – the enzyme that we need to digest gluten is dependant on molybdenum, which is one of the minerals that is inhibited by glyphosate. This raises the question is it actually gluten causing all the problems that we hear about or is it the glyphosate coating the wheat that is the problem? The rise in gluten intolerance has risen steadily in accordance with glyphosate use in farming. Studies have also shown patients diagnosed with IBS report lower symptoms and inflammatory markers in their blood when eating an organic source of gluten compared to a non-organic source.
Celiac Disease – fish exposed to glyphosate have shown to develop the same imbalances in gut bacteria, intestinal damage and enzyme impairment as those seen in humans with celiac disease. Gluten is not a natural part of a fish’s diet, yet exposure to just this chemical alone can induce a similar disease.
Sulphate sensitivity – Glyphosate interferes with the metabolism of sulphites. Try organic wine next time if you are prone to getting a flushed face or splitting headache from your favourite red.
Depression – glyphosate disrupts tryptophan absorption. Tryptophan is an amino acid that is the precursor to our feel good neurotransmitter; serotonin. To make this worse, serotonin is produced in the gut and needs to be sulphated to be transported to the brain. With the inference in sulphate metabolism, this can greatly reduce available serotonin in the brain.
Autism – a strong feature of autism is a sulphate deficiency in the brain. Again, the interference of sulphate metabolism can have drastic consequences and may be contributing to the rise in the diagnosis of autism.
Anaemia – glyphosate interferes with iron absorption making us more prone to developing anaemia. This is especially relevant for vegetarians and vegans who eat a high grain and plant based diet. Unless they are eating an organic diet, vegetarians will have a high exposure to the glyphosate, making iron absorption even harder.
Liver Detoxification – glyphosate reduces the liver’s ability to properly detoxify. This will effect cholesterol levels, bile production, toxic build-up, plus pretty much every other body system as we are so dependant on our liver’s ability to perform its functions.
Alzheimer’s Disease – glyphosate encourages the build-up of aluminium in the brain. Aluminium build up in the brain has directly been linked with the development of Alzheimer’s Disease. In lab tests, glyphosate has shown to cause the same oxidative stress and neural cell death seen in Alzheimer’s patients.
Breast Cancer – glyphosate induces human breast cancer cell growth via oestrogen receptors.
Kidney Disease – Sri Lanka has banned the use of glyphosate due to the recent increase in kidney failure in farmers.
Infertility, birth defects, miscarriages – glyphosate is toxic to human placental cells. These fertility problems are commonly seen amongst agriculture workers.
Crops commonly sprayed with glyphosate
The crops that are commonly sprayed with glyphosate include – wheat, corn, soy, sugar, canola, cotton, oats, rye, barley, almonds, peaches, onions, cantaloupe, cherries, sweet corn, citrus, grapes, lentils, peanuts, sunflower, potato, chickpea. It’s important to understand that the glyphosate actually becomes systemic throughout the plant, so it cannot be washed off. It’s inside the plant. For this reason alone, I am even more convinced that eating an organic diet is one of the most important things that you can do for the long-term health of you and your family.
I understand that eating an organic diet is more expensive and that the choice of products can be limited, but we need to reassess what we are eating and how much we are eating. I will go into further detail on how to eat organic on a budget in a later post.
In case you are not freaked out already, Glyphosate was found in 75% of rain and air samples. It is also commonly found in rivers, lakes and waterways due to residual runoff. Chances are if we tested your blood it would be found there too.
Well done Monsanto, you have effectively managed to turn our food into poison.