“On May 3, 2023 the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food approved changes to Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) regulatory guidance that, along with similar changes permitted by the Minister of Health in May of 2022, allow product developers to assess the safety of their own genetically modified (GM or genetically engineered) seeds and foods without government oversight.”
By Megan Silcott
In “Hidden Glyphosate in Your Food: Part One - How to Determine What's Safe For Consumption,” history, labeling, and uses took center stage. In part two of this series, learn about human health impacts—a host of cancers, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism, and disruption to the gut.
In various circles, as soon as you mention glyphosate being linked to health issues, you might be called a conspiracy theorist. “Correlation is not causation,” may quickly enter the conversation. It wouldn’t be uncommon to hear people say that allocating glyphosate exposure to human ailments is a hasty generalization based on insufficient evidence. Thankfully, medical professionals, prominent researchers, and farmers, are raising their voices, concerns, and requests for further study.
Visibility: Enter Dewayne Johnson, awarded two hundred and eighty-nine million dollars in 2018. Dewayne worked as a groundskeeper who used Roundup®, which you may recall, hosts glyphosate as its main ingredient. Dewayne took Monsanto, (who developed the product and introduced it to consumers in 1974) to court and the jury concluded, “Roundup® weedkiller caused his cancer,” and that the corporation failed to warn him of the health hazards from exposure. The jury further found that Monsanto “acted with malice or oppression.”
The tides are turning on the glyphosate discussion, and efforts to suppress information from past studies are not standing the test of time. Jonathan Lundgren, Ph.D., of the Ecdysis Foundation and Blue Dasher Farm, noted the change in how glyphosate is approached today.
“First, glyphosate’s safety for human health was touted widely. Glyphosate is now recognized as a carcinogen and antimicrobial, and may affect human physiology in adverse ways. Remarkably, it was reported in the scientific literature and the popular press that glyphosate’s molecular basis was so unique that weeds would never evolve resistance to it. This confounds most of what we understand about biology, and it should surprise no one that dozens of weed species are resistant to glyphosate throughout most of the country.”
Glyphosate Related to Declining Health
Meet Stephanie Seneff, Ph.D., a senior researcher at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Nearly ten years ago, Dr. Seneff co-authored a National Institute of Health (NIH) study titled “Glyphosate, pathways to modern diseases III: Manganese, neurological diseases, and associated pathologies.”
The abstract points to the importance of manganese deficiency as a key player in human birth development, fertility challenges, Parkinson’s disease, gut health, and the list goes on.
It turns out, glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup®, has been shown to severely deplete manganese levels in plants. Her work continues to be questioned as she pushes forward. Her studies and expertise in data analysis point toward the need for deeper research surrounding environmental and human health impacts from glyphosate.
You can learn more from Dr. Seneff’s book, titled "Toxic Legacy: How the Weedkiller Glyphosate Is Destroying Our Health and the Environment," released by Chelsea Green publishers. This book was selected by Kirkus Reviews as one of the best non-fiction books of 2021.
As reviewed by David Perlmutter, MD, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Grain Brain and Brain Wash:
“Toxic Legacy is a bold and heroic work that reveals how today’s most well-respected science confirms the existential threat posed by the herbicide glyphosate. Dr. Seneff courageously defends her position in the face of seemingly insurmountable opposition from industry at every turn. And for this we owe her incalculable gratitude.
Toxic Legacy will stand shoulder to shoulder with Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, not just defining the pervasive threat to us and future generations, but more importantly, articulating what we can do right now to change our destiny. Unquestionably, one of the most important books of our time.”
One of Dr. Seneff’s correlations involve the increase of autism rates. Some argue our healthcare and education professionals are more aware, and therefore able to diagnose both ADHD and autism spectrums more rapidly. But what about accumulated environmental and food toxicity factors coinciding with these increased rates? Brenda Baletti, Ph.D., is a reporter for The Defender. From her article, “1 in 36 Kids Have Autism, CDC Says”:
“Two high-quality, multi-million dollar studies in California (Byrd et al., 2002; Hertz-Picciotto and Delwiche, 2009) both concluded that better awareness, changes in diagnostic criteria, and earlier age of diagnosis only explain a small fraction of the rise in autism. The authors of these studies urged public health officials to place greater emphasis on researching the toxicants that might be driving the increase in autism prevalence. [For a longer discussion of these studies please see Rogers, 2019.] The fact that the CDC is still refusing to properly investigate autism causation is outrageous.”
You may be familiar with the work of Jeffrey Smith, M.D. from his presentation at the 2018 LiveAware Expo, “How to Heal from the Serious Effects of GMOs and Roundup.” As the Executive Director of the Institute for Responsible Technology, Smith helps explain science and data in real terms for everyday consumers. He studies how human health issues follow the trendline and uptick of glyphosate use, and the percent of GMO crops planted.
Smith cited correlations on slide after slide, making the connections to inflammatory digestive diseases, thyroid cancer, bile duct and liver cancer, kidney and pelvic cancer, urinary and bladder cancer, leukemia, renal failure, hepatitis, autism, diabetes, and the list goes on. He showed the increases in disease are in part due to your body not being able to fend off attacks, which creates a ripe environment for inflammation and co-occurring diseases that further complicate your health.
From a transcript interview in 2019, Dr. Jeffrey Smith had this to say about GMOs and chronic illness:
“And I wanna add that it's familiar to our listeners because all of that is related to Roundup and GMOs, particularly the research on Roundup. We know that even with GMOs fed to animals, they get chronic inflammation. We've seen the slides of that. Um, we know that Roundup is linked to cancer. It's a class two carcinogen. People who get rid of the Roundup and GMOs and their diet also get better from cardiovascular diseases.
The inflammation is also exacerbated by the leaky gut, which is also a generated through glyphosate's contact with the walls of the gut. So that can create the, the break of the tight junctions. And finally you mentioned oxidated stress. And I was following the three trials where Monsanto lost, where their Roundup was responsible according to the jury for the plaintiff's cancers. And there was plenty of evidence that it created oxidative stress and geno-toxicity, which leads to cancer.”
Dr. Smith began his exploration by talking with experts, from small animal veterinarians, to scientists and farmers, to learn about glyphosate impacts, and he hasn’t stopped since publishing his first book in 2005, “Hidden Dangers in Kids’ Meals: Genetically Engineered Foods.” He went on to publish “Seeds of Deception: Exposing Industry and Government Lies About the Safety of the Genetically Engineered Foods You’re Eating,” and “Genetic Roulette: The Documented Health Risks of Genetically Engineered Foods.”
Glyphosate has been detected in the urine of thousands of individuals over time. In Environmental Health, “The evidence of human exposure to glyphosate: a review, the authors of this 2019 study concluded:
“It is challenging to fully understand the extent of exposure overall and in vulnerable populations such as children. We recommend further work to evaluate exposure across populations and geographic regions, apportion the exposure sources (e.g., occupational, household use, food residues), and understand temporal trends.”
Autism and ADHD: Since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) started collecting autism occurrences in children, prevalence estimates have skyrocketed from 1 in 150 in 2000, to today’s estimate of 1 in 36 children.
The 2016 National Survey of Children’s Health (NSCH) interviewed parents, and reported the following ADHD prevalence data among children ages 2–17 (Danielson et al. 2018):
- 6.1 million children (9.4 percent) have ever been diagnosed with ADHD. This includes:
- About 388,000 young children ages 2–5 (or 2.4 percent in this age group)
- 2.4 million school-age children ages 6–11 (or 9.6 percent in this age group)
- 3.3 million adolescents ages 12–17 (or 13.6 percent in this age group)
Something to pay attention to with ADHD and autism cases on the rise, are the co-occuring conditions that accompany many patients. As Dr. Seneff stated on the AgEmerge Podcast episode 080, glyphosate toxicity accumulates in tissues over time, despite some leaching through urine. She said short term studies don’t show a strong correlation to disease and it takes a long time for the harm to be seen. What kind of harm are we talking about?
Co-occuring conditions (children ages 2–17):
- Two out of three children (63.8 percent) had at least one co-occurring condition.
- Half of all children (51.5 percent) had behavioral or conduct problems.
- One out of three children (32.7 percent) had anxiety problems.
- One out of six children (16.8 percent) had depression.
- About one out of seven children (13.7 percent) had autism spectrum disorder.
- About one out of eighty children (1.2 percent) had Tourette Syndrome (TS).
- One in a hundred adolescents (1 percent) had a substance abuse disorder.
Correlation or causation?
If you go down a rabbit hole into the social media of pediatricians, dieticians, and nutritionists who are aware of glyphosate injury, you’ll quickly see the push back from mainstream media, as well as questions and comments from concerned parents. From organic to GMO, and every label in between, people’s opinions on glyphosate are distinct—they’re for it or against it.
How do you differentiate the noise from that of smart, useful insights? You find truth-telling researchers and teachers, willing to question the “benign” glyphosate-as-environmentally-friendly-and-toxin-free harmless narrative. And search for a functional medicine doctor or holistic practitioner willing to dig up the root cause to help you and your family navigate health decisions.
An example of such a practitioner is pediatrician and soil health expert, Michelle Perro, M.D. Her efforts with GMOScience and Regenerate International connect the dots from pediatric care to long-term health. From Rodale Institute, “Childhood Leukemia, The Microbiome, And Glyphosate: A Doctor’s Perspective”:
“While acknowledging the dearth of research and a need for more qualified studies, Perro writes that “there is clear cut evidence linking pesticide exposure to childhood leukemia… In addition, there is evidence that exposure to pesticides can adversely affect people’s gut microbiome, [the community of friendly and not-so-friendly bacteria that live in our digestive tract].” Perro goes on to draw possible connections between exposure to pesticides through food, effects on the microbiome, and instances of childhood cancer.”
And from the original article in GMOScience, Dr. Perro said, “Gut bacteria play a role in whether our children will develop leukemia – and there may be a link with glyphosate and GM crops.”
If that’s not enough to inspire you to rethink your food choices, and make a beeline to your local farmer for the “clean stuff,” what do you think could persuade you? Do you fear moving out of your comfort zone?
Change the Food System
Circle back to Dr. Jonathan Lundgren who has plenty of ideas for transformation. He acknowledges how much needs to change, from consumers to farming systems. It’s not an overnight solution, and educating each other seems to be the best way to share how environmental impacts are making their way into your foods. From Dicamba and Bees:
“Farmers need to learn from the past. Over-reliance on genetically modified crops and individual herbicides worked for a while, but mother nature ended up overcoming this strategy, to many people’s detriment. Weeds are going to become resistant to dicamba; some already are. Farmers need to understand that herbicides aren’t their only options.
Cover crops, grazing animals, crop rotation, and no-till systems all can help to reduce reliance on herbicides. There are farmers that are already reducing or eliminating their herbicides; these farmers should be made into the heroes that they are. Beekeepers need to find these farmers and help make them the most successful farmers in their communities.
What can you do to minimize glyphosate exposure? However confusing, continue to look at your food labels. USDA organic certified foods may have used organic additives such as organic-approved herbicides and fertilizer, but not glyphosate. And non-GMO labeled foods may not have had any GMO ingredients to begin with. As such, the labels signal that Roundup® Ready products were not used in the main ingredients.
But wait! How can your non-GMO foods still have glyphosate in them? Take a look at oats and wheat for example. While neither crop is GMO, these two grains are main ingredients in hundreds of thousands of consumer food products, from oat milk to protein bars, and a variety of breads. The issue is that glyphosate is commonly used as a desiccant (drying agent) right before wheat and oat harvest.
This means a pre-harvest crop is sprayed on wheat for example. From “The Facts About Glyphosate, Part 1: How Do Wheat Growers Use Glyphosate?”
“... when the moisture of the wheat is 30 percent or less and must be at least 7 days prior to harvest. This requirement ensures the wheat in the field is already dead and the herbicide is killing the weeds in the field. This application allows for the weeds to be killed which then allows the wheat to continue to dry to a moisture level at which it can be harvested and stored. It also allows the combine to move through the field to harvest the crop without also harvesting the weeds.”
And while effective for the purpose of harvest, you are ingesting a non-GMO food source covered in glyphosate, as discussed by Dr. Mark Hyman and Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. By the way, do you know someone diagnosed with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity? Using glyphosate as a desiccant from 2006 forward, showed drastic increases in problematic gut health, and every bodily function deriving from the gut microbiome.
From cancers to ADHD, brain, gut, and cardiovascular health, glyphosate raises concerns about health all the way from the soil to the mouths of humans. If you’re curious about how to test for glyphosate, you have options. You can order glyphosate test kits for hair, urine, food, water, soil, and more from the Health Research Institute.
In addition, the Darling Center, run by Tracy Darling, M.D., operating out of Laguna Beach, California offers toxicity testing and detoxification from glyphosate and other toxins. While AVFCA has no affiliation or prior experience with Dr. Darling or her clinic, we offer this resource for educational purposes. From their website:
“We offer many types of toxicity testing from laboratories specializing in these types of tests like Great Plains Laboratory and Dr’s Data. They offer heavy metal testing, testing for pesticides, mold, glyphosate and other environmental toxins which is usually done via saliva, urine or stool testing. These panels, while usually not covered by insurance, help to diagnose what toxins are causing your health problems ultimately allowing us to determine the best treatment plan for you.”
As we become increasingly more aware of hidden chemicals in foods and our food systems, and share what we discover, collectively we grow as a society well-informed. We can set new directions by working together to restore soil, and demand that dangerous, man-made chemicals be kept out of our food supply.
Published on June 01, 2023
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