November 07, 2017
- Researchers tested urine levels of glyphosate and its metabolite aminomethylphosphonic acid (AMPA) among 100 people living in Southern California over a period of 23 years — from 1993 to 2016
- At the start of the study, very few of the participants had detectable levels of glyphosate in their urine but, by 2016, 70 percent of them did
- The prevalence of human exposure to glyphosate increased by 500 percent during the study period while actual levels of the chemical, in ug/ml, increased by a shocking 1,208 percent
By Dr. Mercola
Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup, is the most heavily used agricultural chemical of all time. In the U.S., over 1.6 billion kilograms of the chemical have been applied since 1974, with researchers stating that, in 2014 alone, farmers sprayed enough glyphosate to apply 0.8 pound per acre on every 2.47 acres of U.S. cultivated cropland along with 0.47 pounds/acre on all cropland globally.1
It’s a mind-boggling amount of usage for one agricultural chemical, and it was only a matter of time before the wide-reaching environmental and public health implications became apparent.
Monsanto advertised Roundup as “biodegradable” and “environmentally friendly,” even going so far as to claim it “left the soil clean” — until they were found guilty of false advertising because the chemical is actually dangerous to the environment.2 It’s also increasingly showing up in people, at alarming levels, with unknown effects on human health.
Study Reveals 1,200 Percent Increase in Glyphosate Levels
Researchers from University of California San Diego (UCSD) School of Medicine tested urine levels of glyphosate and its metabolite aminomethylphosphonic acid (AMPA) among 100 people living in Southern California over a period of 23 years — from 1993 to 2016.3 The starting year is noteworthy, because in 1994 genetically engineered (GE) crops were introduced in the U.S.
Glyphosate is used in large quantities on GE glyphosate-tolerant crops (i.e., Roundup Ready varieties), and its use increased nearly fifteenfold since 1996.4 Glyphosate is also a popular tool for desiccating (or accelerating the drying out) of crops like wheat and oats, with the UCSD researchers noting in JAMA that Roundup is “applied as a desiccant to most small non-genetically modified grains.” So for both the GE crops and non-GE grains, glyphosate “is found in these crops at harvest.”
At the start of the study, Paul Mills, professor of family medicine and public health at the University of California San Diego, stated that very few of the participants had detectable levels of glyphosate in their urine, but by 2016, 70 percent of them did.5 Overall, the prevalence of human exposure to glyphosate increased by 500 percent during the study period while actual levels of the chemical, in ug/ml, increased by a shocking 1,208 percent.6
It’s unknown what this means for human health but, in 2017, separate research revealed that daily exposure to ultra-low levels of glyphosate for two years led to nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) in rats.7 Mills stated that the glyphosate levels revealed by their JAMA study were 100-fold greater than those detected in the rat study.
In response to the featured study, Monsanto was quick to say that the amounts reported “do not raise health concerns,” and that the fact that the chemical is detected in urine is just “one way our bodies get rid of nonessential substances.”8 Speaking to GM Watch, Michael Antoniou of King’s College London had another take on the matter:9
“This is the first study to longitudinally track urine levels of glyphosate over a period before and after the introduction of GM glyphosate-tolerant crops. It is yet another example illustrating that the vast majority of present-day Americans have readily detectable levels of glyphosate in their urine, ranging from 0.3 parts per billion, as in this study, to ten times higher – 3 or more parts per billion – detected by others.
These results are worrying because there is increasing evidence to show that exposure to glyphosate-based herbicides below regulatory safety limits can be harmful.”
While the JAMA study did not look into potential health ramifications of their findings, follow-up studies, including one tracking liver problems, are planned. Mills is even heading up UCSD’s Herbicide Awareness & Research Project, which is aiming to reveal the health-related effects of GE foods and the herbicides applied to them.10
EU Votes in Support of Banning Glyphosate
Concerns over glyphosate’s toxicity have been mounting since the International Agency for Research on Cancer’s (IARC) 2015 determination that glyphosate is a “probable carcinogen.” As of July 2017, California’s Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) also listed glyphosate as a chemical known to cause cancer under Proposition 65, which requires consumer products with potential cancer-causing ingredients to bear warning labels.
Meanwhile, in the EU, European Commission leaders met in March 2016 to vote on whether to renew a 15-year license for glyphosate, which was set to expire in June of that year. The decision was tabled amid mounting opposition, as more than 180,000 Europeans signed a petition calling for glyphosate to be banned outright. Ultimately, more than 2 million signatures were collected against relicensing the chemical.
In June 2016, however, the European Commission granted an 18-month extension to glyphosate while they continued the review. In October 2017, the European Parliament voted in favor of phasing out glyphosate over the next five years and immediately banning it for household use. As EcoWatch reported, Nathan Donley, a senior scientist with the Center for Biological Diversity noted:11
“This wasn’t just a vote against glyphosate. This was a vote supporting independent science and a vote against an industry that has manipulated, coerced and otherwise soiled independent decision-making in Europe and the rest of the world.”
Monsanto Manipulation Continues
The increasing concerns over glyphosate come as Monsanto’s reputation continues on a steady decline. For starters, in October 2017 members in the European Parliament (MEPs) announced that Monsanto officials would no longer be able to meet MEPs, attend committee meetings or even use “digital resources” in Brussels or Strasbourg parliament premises, essentially banning them from parliament.12
The blow came after the biotech giant refused to attend a hearing organized by environment and agriculture committees over allegations that Monsanto engaged in regulatory interference, by influencing studies into the safety of glyphosate. One study in question was conducted by Gilles-Eric Séralini. The lifetime feeding study, published in 2012, revealed numerous shocking problems in rats fed GMO corn, including massive tumors and early death. Rats given glyphosate in their drinking water also developed tumors.
The following year, the publisher retracted the study saying it “did not meet scientific standards,” even though a long and careful investigation found no errors or misrepresentation of data. Interestingly enough, in the time between the publication of the study and its retraction, the journal had created a new position — associate editor for biotechnology; a position that was filled by a former Monsanto employee. The editor of the journal that retracted the study was also reportedly paid by Monsanto.
As GM Watch reported, “Emails released show that Monsanto was active in the retraction process, though it tried to hide its involvement.”13 Séralini not only republished the study in another journal, he also took legal action, and at the end of 2015, he won two court cases against some of those who tried to destroy his career and reputation. It’s also become clear that the company may have worked with a U.S. EPA official to stop glyphosate investigations.
Email correspondence showed Jess Rowland, who at the time was the EPA’s deputy division director of the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention and chair of the Cancer Assessment Review Committee (CARC), helped stop a glyphosate investigation by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), which is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, on Monsanto’s behalf.
In an email, Monsanto regulatory affairs manager Dan Jenkins recounts a conversation he’d had with Rowland, in which Rowland said, “If I can kill this I should get a medal,”14 referring to the ATSDR investigation, which did not end up occurring.
Monsanto Fights to Put Even More Poison on Food
As if the environmental assault by glyphosate wasn’t enough, Monsanto has now released Roundup Ready Xtend for cotton and soybeans, which are GE plants designed to tolerate both glyphosate and another herbicide, dicamba. Dicamba has been used by farmers for decades, but the release of Roundup Ready Xtend crops prompted its use to become more widespread, as well as used in a different way, now sprayed over the top of the GE cotton and soy, where it can easily volatilize and drift onto nearby fields.15
Monsanto sold dicamba-tolerant cotton and soybean seeds to farmers before the herbicide designed to go with them (which is supposedly less prone to drifting) had gotten federal approval. In 2016, when farmers sprayed their new GE crops with older, illegal formulas of dicamba, and it drifted over onto their neighbors’ non-dicamba-resistant crops, devastating crop damage was reported in 10 states.16
Newer dicamba formulations are supposedly less prone to drifting, but this hasn’t stopped the onslaught of reports of dicamba damage, not only to cropland but also to trees. Glyphosate-resistant superweeds like pigweed are now driving farmers to seek out dicamba-resistant crops, but dicamba-resistant weeds have already sprouted in Kansas and Nebraska, raising serious doubts that piling more pesticides on crops will help farmers.
Monsanto, meanwhile, is already facing a slew of lawsuits over their dicamba-tolerant crops and resulting dicamba-damaged crops nearby, but is still set to enjoy the profits not only of farmers buying their GE seeds because they want to, but also those buying them out of fear of what will happen to their crops if they don’t.
Monsanto even held a “dicamba summit” in September 2017 near its headquarters in St. Louis, Missouri, hoping to gain approval from more scientists about its damaging weed killer, but of the approximately 60 people invited, only about half attended. University of Missouri plant sciences professor Kevin Bradley, who’s been tracking crop damage due to dicamba sprayings across the U.S., was among those who declined to attend, citing the company’s unwillingness to discuss volatilization.17
According to Bradley, a past president of the Weed Science Society of America, as of August 2017, an estimated 3.1 million acres across the eastern half of the United States had been damaged by dicamba drift,18 and after he spoke out about his findings, Monsanto executives started to call his supervisors. He told WNCW, “What the exact nature of all of those calls were, I’m not real sure, but I’m pretty sure that it has something to do with not being happy with what I was saying.”19
How Much Glyphosate Is in Your Body?
Laboratory testing commissioned by the organizations Moms Across America and Sustainable Pulse revealed that glyphosate is now showing up virtually everywhere. The analysis revealed glyphosate in levels of 76 μg/L to 166 μg/L in women’s breast milk. As reported by The Detox Project, this is 760 to 1,600 times higher than the EU-permitted level in drinking water (although it’s lower than the U.S. maximum contaminant level for glyphosate, which is 700 μg/L.).20
This dose of glyphosate in breastfed babies’ every meal is only the beginning. An in vitro study designed to simulate human exposures also found that glyphosate crosses the placental barrier. In the study, 15 percent of the administered glyphosate reached the fetal compartment.21 Glyphosate has also been detected in a number of popular foods, including oatmeal, coffee creamer, eggs and cereal, such as Cheerios.
If you’d like to know your personal glyphosate levels, you can now find out, while also participating in a worldwide study on environmental glyphosate exposures. The Health Research Institute (HRI) in Iowa developed the glyphosate urine test kit, which will allow you to determine your own exposure to this toxic herbicide.
Ordering this kit automatically allows you to participate in the study and help HRI better understand the extent of glyphosate exposure and contamination. In a few weeks, you will receive your results, along with information on how your results compare with others and what to do to help reduce your exposure. We are providing these kits to you at no profit in order for you to participate in this environmental study.
In the meantime, eating organic as much as possible and investing in a good water filtration system for your home are among the best ways to lower your exposure to glyphosate and other pesticides. In the case of glyphosate, it’s also wise to avoid desiccated crops like wheat and oats.
Biotech Companies Are Gaining Power by Taking Over the Government
There is no doubt in my mind that GMOs and the toxic chemicals used along with them pose a serious threat to the environment and our health, yet government agencies turn a blind eye and refuse to act — and the reason is very clear: They are furthering the interests of the biotech giants.
It is well known that there is a revolving door between government agencies and biotech companies such as Monsanto. Consider the hypocrisy of the FDA. On paper, the U.S. may have the strictest food safety laws in the world governing new food additives, but this agency has repeatedly allowed GMOs and their accompanying pesticides such as Roundup to evade these laws.
In fact, the only legal basis for allowing GE foods to be marketed in the U.S. is the FDA’s claim that these foods are inherently safe, a claim which is patently ridiculous. Documents released as a result of a lawsuit against the FDA reveal that the agency’s own scientists warned their superiors about the detrimental risks of GE foods. But their warnings fell on deaf ears.
The influence of the biotech giants is not limited to the U.S. In a June 2017 article, GMWatch revealed that 26 of the 34 members of the National Advisory Committee on Agricultural Biotechnology of Argentina (CONABIA) are either employed by chemical technology companies or have major conflicts of interest.
You may be aware that Argentina is one of the countries where single-crop fields of GE cotton, corn and soy dominate the countryside. Argentina is also a country facing severe environmental destruction. Argentinians are plagued with health issues, including degenerative diseases and physical deformities. It would appear that the rapid expansion of GE crops and the subsequent decline in national health indicators are intrinsically linked.
Don’t Be Duped by Industry Shills!
Biotech companies’ outrageous attempts to push for their corporate interests extend far beyond the halls of government. In a further effort to hoodwink the public, Monsanto and its cohorts are now zealously spoon-feeding scientists, academics and journalists with questionable studies that depict them in a positive light.
By hiring “third-party experts,” biotech companies are able to take information of dubious validity and present it as independent and authoritative. It’s a shameful practice that is far more common than anyone would like to think. One notorious example of this is Henry Miller, who was thoroughly outed as a Monsanto shill during the 2012 Proposition 37 GMO labeling campaign in California.
Miller, falsely posing as a Stanford professor, promoted GE foods during this campaign. In 2015, he published a paper in Forbes Magazine attacking the findings of the International Agency for Research on Cancer, a branch of the World Health Organization, after it classified glyphosate as a probable human carcinogen. After it was revealed that Miller’s work was in fact ghostwritten by Monsanto, Forbes not only fired him, but also removed all of his work from its site.
Industry front groups also abound. The Genetic Literacy Project and the American Council for Science and Health are both Monsanto-funded. Even WebMD, a website that is often presented as a trustworthy source of “independent and objective” health information, is acting as a lackey for Monsanto by using its influence to promote corporate-backed health strategies and products, displaying advertisements and advertorials on Biotech’s behalf, furthering the biotech industry’s agenda — all for the sake of profit.
Monsanto has adopted underhanded tactics to peddle its toxic products, but the company is unable to hide the truth: Genetic engineering will, in no way, shape or form, make the world a better place. It will not solve world hunger. It will not increase farmers’ livelihoods. And it will most certainly not do any good for your health — and may in fact prove to be detrimental.
There’s No Better Time to Act Than NOW — Here’s What You Can Do
So now the question is: Will you continue supporting the corrupt, toxic and unsustainable food system that Monsanto and its industry shills and profit-hungry lackeys have painstakingly crafted? It is largely up to all of us, as consumers, to loosen and break Monsanto’s tight hold on our food supply. The good news is that the tide has been turned.
As consumers worldwide become increasingly aware of the problems linked to GE crops and the toxic chemicals and pesticides used on them, more and more people are proactively refusing to eat these foods. There’s also strong growth in the global organic and grass fed sectors. This just proves one thing: We can make a difference if we steadily work toward the same goal.
One of the best things you can do is to buy your foods from a local farmer who runs a small business and uses diverse methods that promote regenerative agriculture. You can also join a community supported agriculture (CSA) program, where you can buy a “share” of the vegetables produced by the farm, so that you get a regular supply of fresh food. I believe that joining a CSA is a powerful investment not only in your own health, but in that of your local community and economy as well.
In addition, you should also adopt preventive strategies that can help reduce the toxic chemical pollution that assaults your body. I recommend visiting these trustworthy sites for non-GMO food resources in your country:
|Organic Food Directory (Australia)||Eat Wild (Canada)|
|Organic Explorer (New Zealand)||Eat Well Guide (United States and Canada)|
|Farm Match (United States)||Local Harvest (United States)|
|Weston A. Price Foundation (United States)|
Monsanto and its allies want you to think that they control everything, but they do not. It’s you, the masses, who hold the power in your hands. Let’s all work together to topple the biotech industry’s house of cards. Remember — it all starts with shopping smart and making the best food purchases for you and your family.