The Growing Weight of Glyphosate Toxicity
Weeds are tough; they grow everywhere, competing for water and nutrients with crops. If left alone, they proliferate and take over. Anyone who tries to keep a neat, green lawn can tell you that weeds are a threat to that endeavor. Any farmer will tell you that weeds present a challenge to producing the food we eat. The solution to that challenge, both for the lawns and flower beds of our communities, and for the vast food-growing fields, has increasingly been the use of herbicides. The most common herbicidal ingredient, well-known for its use in Monsanto’s RoundUp(R) is glyphosate.
According to Wikipedia, glyphosate “is a broad-spectrum systemic herbicide and an organophosphorus compound, specifically a phosphonate.” John E. Franz, a Monsanto chemist, discovered its herbicidal properties in 1970 and Monsanto held a patent on it until it expired in 2000. RoundUp® is the most commonly used herbicide in the world: the entire world is being sprayed with millions of tons of glyphosate annually.
Glyphosate kills by inhibiting a plant’s production of a growth enzyme, called EPSP, so the plant is unable to produce essential proteins needed for growth. As a consequence, it withers and dies. When glyphosate was initially discovered and approved for use by the FDA and other agencies, it was reported to be safer than other herbicides. That safety profile, we now know, , glyphosate proved to be highly effective and was considered to be safer than other herbicides. It’s use has been widely adopted around the world for home weed control, in agriculture, and even in wild lands to control invasive species.
Monsanto’s website states about the safety of glyphosate:
“Glyphosate inhibits an enzyme that is essential to plant growth; this enzyme is not found in humans or other animals, contributing to the low risk to human health. Comprehensive toxicological studies in animals have demonstrated that glyphosate does not cause cancer, birth defects, DNA damage, nervous system effects, immune system effects, endocrine disruption or reproductive problems. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) classified the carcinogenicity potential of glyphosate as Category E: “evidence of non-carcinogenicity for humans.”
It goes on to state that both governmental agencies and third party experts, after reviewing hundreds of studies, support the conclusion that glyphosate is safe, posing very low threat of toxicity to humans but leaves out the fact that the World Health Organization has classified it as a possible carcinogen, that Sri Lanka and Guatemala have banned it because of the epidemic of deaths from kidney failure in male agricultural workers, that it has been definitively linked to birth defects, cancer, infertility and more.
They leave out the fact that hundreds of studies have shown its toxic profile for humans, animals, the environment and the the development of super weeds.
They also do not mention that in their original application for approval in the US, they actively suppressed the data showing the damage and dangers of the product and asked the US agencies reviewing their application to make the science behind its claims a “trade secret” so that no one could review it and determine whether it is a safe agent or not.
Now that those documents are available, it is clear that the suppression was highly damaging to consumers and environments all over the world.
But, if you don’t already feel some concern about studies funded and supported by the company that markets the product being tested, than consider the situation with Merck’s mumps vaccine (included in the highly suspect MMR: vaccine effectiveness is determined not on disease protection or prevention, but on whether the vaccine evokes antibodies. Since the mumps vaccine was doing so poorly at provoking antibodies, Merck directed its scientists to fraudulently report high antibody levels after “doping” the beakers with dog antibodies, figuring that the regulators would not be able to tell a dog antibody from a human one.
Monsanto has a well-established history of similar deceit and lies about all of its products and their alleged safety. GMO crops, for example, are the subject of such lies and deceptions as the Seralini Study makes abundantly clear: long term studies of rats eating Glyphosate and GMO foods showed that their cancer rates were astonishingly high although Monsanto’s studies did not show the same result. Why? Because Monsanto consistently ended the studies before the animals began to develop cancer (which takes a few months in a rat).
As a result of the declarations of the safety of glyphosate, and its purported effectiveness, the development of “roundup-ready” GMO crops designed to withstand consistent and substantial dousing with the poison was not far behind. Creating a genetically engineered plant that is resistant to glyphosate allows farmers to spray the herbicide on the fields during cultivation of their crops. These plants were touted to decrease the use of herbicides but the result has been very different.
“Monsanto’s Roundup Ready system, which involves applying glyphosate (Roundup) herbicide to crops genetically engineered to tolerate it, was supposed to decrease overall herbicide use-and for a while, it did just that. However, this has changed drastically in recent years.” In fact, the use of glyphosate has increased 100 fold since the late 1970’s, with an annual use as of 2014 of approximately 240 million pounds.
This huge increase is due primarily to super weeds resistant to glyphosate and to pre-harvest spraying creating a cycle of more herbicide resulting in more resistant weeds, then more herbicide, and on and on in an escalating spiral.
This pattern is reminiscent of the dangerous over-use of antibiotics which has resulted in bacteria which resist all antibiotics.
Speaking of antibiotic resistance, glyphosate is also an antibiotic and leads to the development not only of super weeds, but of antibiotic resistant bacteria as well.
How to avoid glyphosate in the modern world? Grow you own food (difficult for most people) or spend the extra money and buy organic. There really are no other alternatives, but why would you knowingly put a carcinogen or worse in your body and that of your kids?
Remember, if it doesn’t say “Organic” it isn’t. And it if says, “Natural” it doesn’t mean anything at all, at least not in the US.