by Stephen Frantz, Topanga Creek Watershed Committee
GLYPHOSATE…Misery in a Bottle! (Part 1)
(Note, for the original version, go to: https://www.laprogressive.com/glyphosate/ )
We must be aware of what pesticides are being used in our neighborhood, just as we must be aware of what is being used on our food. Glyphosate is a primary active ingredient in Roundup® herbicide, a Monsanto product that is used on food and non-food crops, as well as non-crop areas such as lawns, playgrounds, rights-of-way, etc. It kills nearly any plant life it contacts above ground and under water (Yes, there are aquatic versions!). Glyphosate is widely sold by garden shops, hardware stores, and agricultural suppliers. Unfortunately, glyphosate product residues are found everywhere: food, water, air, and in you, your children, pets, and other animals.
The long debate on the health relevance of glyphosate is over because a hoard of Monsanto’s own research data have recently been exposed. We now know, through this discovery and other independent peer-reviewed research, that we’ve been misled by industry, university, and government scientists and officials who told us that glyphosate did not present an unreasonable risk of adverse effects to humans, animals, or the environment.
In fact, glyphosate and its various formulations are responsible for a large variety of cancers and organ failures, morbidity and mortality in humans and other animals. Formulations vary widely and contain various additives that act synergistically to increase its toxic effects. It harms or kills honey bees[i][ii], monarch butterflies, amphibians[iii], fish[iv], mice, rats, rabbits, dogs, pigs[v], poultry and cattle[vi], various microorganisms[vii][viii], and other life by destroying the vegetation on which they depend for food and shelter[ix]. For example, the loss of common milkweed in U.S. agricultural areas due to glyphosate spraying is believed to be a major contributor to the decline in the monarch butterfly population (approximately 90% loss in last 20 years).
When fully comprehended, the magnitude of these toxic revelations will undoubtedly equal or exceed the decades-long “Big Tobacco” coverup. What is rapidly becoming of critical importance is, how state, national, and international regulatory agencies will utilize this new knowledge regarding a product that insidiously harms so much life.
HISTORY & MONEY
Monsanto first unleashed glyphosate in 1974, and it became the “first billion dollar product” of the pesticide industry. More than 280 million pounds[x] of it are used every year on more than a billion acres[xi] of U.S. crops. Does anyone find this just a bit alarming?
The estimated total global production of glyphosate in 2012 was 1.6 billion pounds; about 45% of that was for genetically modified (GM), glyphosate-tolerant crops (GMOs*). It is the most popular herbicide the world, and today has more than 91 producers in 20 countries[xii]. The global market is expected to reach $8.79 billion by 2019 so it’s understandable why agribusiness is opposed to having glyphosate products sensibly regulated which, at present, they are not.
* GMO = a genetically modified organism (or transgenic organism) is any organism whose genetic material has been altered using genetic engineering (aka “genetic tinkering”) techniques.
Both agricultural and non-agricultural applications of glyphosate significantly contribute to general pollution of the biosphere. Glyphosate and it’s breakdown products are found in: air, surface water, groundwater, rainfall[xiii], soil, dust, plants, animals, people, etc.12 People are most often exposed through contaminated food crops. Industrial farming operations feed cows, pigs, sheep, goats, chickens and even farm-raised fish a diet largely of GM materials laced with herbicide (glyphosate is the primary herbicide used). Therefore, animal products, including meats, eggs, butter, cheese and milk, are contaminated with glyphosate and other pesticide residues6.
Clearly, organic agricultural methods, with concomitant integrated pest management (IPM), offer the most viable alternative for low-toxic ecological sustainability and less pesticide contamination of the food chain. While generally impugned by agribusiness, organic methods of agriculture can feed the world without social, economic, or other disadvantages.
Studies have shown that glyphosate-exposed and GM crops are nutritionally inferior to conventional crops and even more so to organic crops[xiv]. GM crops also take up higher levels of glyphosate into their leaves; thus, yield higher glyphosate concentrations in derived foods compared to non-GMO foods6[xv].
Intense and continuous use of glyphosate has resulted in the emergence of glyphosate-resistant weeds that are now found on nearly 100 million acres in 36 states[xvi]. Farmers respond by applying additional, and/or more toxic, glyphosate and other herbicides[xvii]. This leads to even higher levels of glyphosate residue in foods and feeds15. And the number of resistant weed species keeps increasing, as do weed control costs.
You, your children, and pets can be exposed to glyphosate when touching plants that have wet or freshly dried spray. Residue can be ingested on/in food, in contaminated water, from contaminated hands or clothing, and via inhalation and dermal absorption. Pets are likely exposed to residues after lawn applications and can become a pathway for the transfer and translocation of residues inside the home where occupants are exposed.
The innumerable malign effects of glyphosate exposure on humans, animals, and the environment will be reviewed in Part 2.
[i] Balbuena, M.S, L.Tison, M.-L. Hahn, U. Greggers, R. Menzel, and W. M. Farina. 2015. Effects of sub-lethal doses of glyphosate on honeybee navigation. J Exper Biology: July 10, 2015.
[ii] Morandin, L.A. and M.L. Winston. 2005. Wild bee abundance and seed production in conventional, organic, and genetically modified canola. Ecological Applications (Impact Factor: 4.09) 06/2005; 15(3):871-881.
[iii] Quarles, W. 2015. Pesticides and amphibian decline. IPM Pract 29 (1-4): 3-13.
[iv] Annett, R., H. R. Habibi, and A. Hontela. 2014. Impact of glyphosate and glyphosate-based herbicides on the freshwater environment. J Appl Toxicol 34: 458–479.
[v] Carman, J.A., H.R. Vlieger, L.J. Ver Steeg, V.E. Sneller, G.W. Robinson, C.A. Clinch-Jones, J.I. Haynes, J.W. Edwards. 2013. A long-term toxicology study on pigs fed a combined genetically modified (GM) soy and GM maize diet. J Organic Systems 8 (1): 38-54.
[vi] Samsel, A. and S. Seneff. 2013. Glyphosate’s suppression of cytochrome P450 enzymes and amino acid biosynthesis by the gut microbiome: Pathways to modern diseases. Entropy 2013 (15): 1416-1463.
[vii] Abdel-Mallek, A.Y., M.I. Abdel-Kader, and A.M. Shonkeir. 1994. Effect of glyphosate on fungal population, respiration and the decay of some organic matters in Egyptian soil. Microbiol Res.,149(1): 69-73.
[viii] Tanney, J.B. and L.J. Hutchison. 2010. The effects of glyphosate on the in vitro linear growth of selected microfungi from a boreal forest soil. Can J Microbiol. 56(2):138-44.
[ix] Cox, C. 2000. Glyphosate factsheet: Part 2 of 2. J Pesticide Reform: 108 (3); Fall98 rev.Oct00
[x] Kustin, M.E. 2015. Glyphosate is spreading like a cancer across the U.S. EWG-AgMag: April 7, 2015.
[xi] Cherry B. 2010. GM crops increase herbicide use in the United States. Science in Society 45: 44-46.
[xii] IARC. 2015. Glyphosate. IARC Monographs—112: 92pp.
[xiii] Gillam, C. 2011. U.S. researchers find Roundup chemical in water, air. Reuters/Green Business; August 31, 2011
[xiv] Bøhn, T., M. Cuhra, T. Traavik, M. Sanden, J. Fagan, and R. Primicerio. 2013. Compositional differences in soybeans on the market: Glyphosate accumulates in Roundup Ready GM soybeans. Food Chemistry 153 (2014): 207–215.
[xv] Bøhn, T., and M. Cuhra. 2014. How “Extreme Levels” of Roundup in food became the industry norm. Independent Science News: March 24, 2014.
[xvi] Landrigan, P.J. and C. Benbrook. 2015. GMOs, herbicides, and public health. N Engl J Med 2015; 373:693-695.
[xvii] Quarles, W. 2012. Brave new world—Systemic pesticides and genetically engineered crops. IPM Pract 33(3/4): 1-9.
GLYPHOSATE…Misery in a Bottle! (Part 2)
(Note, for the original version, go to: https://www.laprogressive.com/glyphosate/ )
In the previous article, glyphosate basics were explained, including its global presence, and how we are exposed. It is clear that both agricultural and non-agricultural applications of glyphosate products significantly contribute to general pollution of the biosphere. Unfortunately, we are unwittingly exposed in a number of ways in everyday life because glyphosate and its breakdown products are found everywhere. And of particular importance, it is in the plants and animals that make up the bulk of our diet (excluding organic food and beverages).
SIDEBAR: A new study from Argentina has found the vast majority of cotton sterile gauze, swabs, balls, sanitary pads, tampons, etc. to be contaminated with glyphosate! Since most cotton there (and in the U.S.) is a GM/glyphosate-tolerant crop, this result might have been predicted, but who was looking. This finding is very significant when you consider that these products are used in treating wounds or for personal hygiene uses, and they are contaminated with a carcinogen. Incidentally, those contaminated tampons included U.S. brands. And what about cotton clothing for infants, or cotton clothing in general, bedsheets, etc. that we all utilize ? We may need to reconsider the significance of the various roues by which we are exposed to glyphosate products.
In humans, small amounts of glyphosate are metabolized and the rest enters the bloodstream to be excreted in the urine and feces; but it also bioaccumulates in lungs, lymph, blood, urine, bone and bone marrow, and breast milk. In mammals, glyphosate manifests slowly over time as inflammation damages cellular systems throughout the body.
Glyphosate may be the most important factor in the development of multiple chronic diseases and conditions prevalent in Westernized societies. These include: autism spectrum disorder (ASD); ADHD; gastrointestinal issues such as inflammatory bowel disease, chronic diarrhea, colitis and Crohn’s disease; obesity; cardiovascular disease; depression; sleep disorders; cancers, including non-Hodgkins lymphoma and breast; cachexia; Alzheimer’s disease; Parkinson’s disease; multiple sclerosis (MS); Lou Gehrig’s disease or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS); developmental malformations; infertility; antisocial & aggressive behaviors.
As incredible as this list appears, the pathological effects of glyphosate on biological/cellular processes can logically explain the features that are characteristic of the diseased states listed. Clearly, other environmental toxins, and genetics, also contribute to these diseases and conditions. However, glyphosate may be the most significant environmental toxin, mainly because it is used everywhere and is often handled carelessly due to its perceived, industry-propagandized “benign” chemistry.
In March 2015, experts from 11 countries met at the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer to assess the carcinogenicity of glyphosate; they classified it as “probably carcinogenic to humans”. Technically, that classification means it is cancer causing, along with its many other malign effects as described above.
Through deceit and institutionalized greed, scientific research data has been misrepresented, masked, or falsified to win regulatory and public approval, and all at a cost to human, animal, and environmental health. There is active collusion between the agribusiness and chemical industries, journal editorial boards, government agencies, numerous academics, PR companies, and universities for the purpose of promoting GM crops and associated pesticides.
Now, we must question the methodologies and motivations of our regulatory agencies (e.g., EPA, FDA, USDA) that allow sequestering of data that have implications for public and environmental health. The value and credibility of science is undermined without transparency regarding all raw data obtained by industry and accepted by regulatory agencies as proof of safety for products. The system is obviously broken. Thus, considering the extensive degree of deception and adverse health and environmental consequences, considerable litigation will be forthcoming concerning glyphosate.
The interconnected health- and environmental-related findings regarding glyphosate are causing governments and organizations around the world to limit or ban such products, including: Bermuda; Columbia; Costa Rica, El Salvador, England, France, Germany, Mexico, Netherlands, Russia, Sri Lanka, and Tasmania. The U.S. has yet to catch up.
In October, the California EPA mandated glyphosate products to be labeled “cancer causing”, and this may be the first state to do so. This is a promising beginning, but much more needs to be done to rid our diet and environment of such toxic products.
Requesting more organic food choices at your local markets and restaurants could provide some personal protection from glyphosate. Questioning hardware and garden stores on why known cancer causing products are being sold could eventually protect your greater neighborhood. Asking your local, state, and federal legislators to ban production and application of cancer causing pesticides will provide greater protection for all people, animals, and the environment.
SIDEBAR: With regard to GMOs and concomitant herbicides, it is worth noting that there are differences in the records of today’s front-running Democratic candidates for the U.S. Presidency. In 1993, Sen. Bernie Sanders proposed an amendment that would allow states to require labeling of foods and beverages containing GM ingredients. And Vermont is the only state that has passed GM labeling legislation (consumers have a right to know what they’re eating). On the other hand, Hillary Clinton has recently hired a former Monsanto lobbyist to head her campaign. From which of these candidates are we most likely to find logical guidance to limit or eliminate glyphosate products?
Meanwhile, is glyphosate used at your residence, in your neighborhood, schoolyard, golf course, or workplace? Is glyphosate in your food? How exposed are you, your family, and pets to glyphosate in your daily life?