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The Dangers Of Glyphosate: From Herbicides To Foods
According to many online postings, there are numerous stories making their rounds on the internet stating Roundup Pro and Ranger Pro – both glyphosate-based weed-killers – are causing cancer. Reuters reports that manufacturer Monsanto has been ordered to pay $289 million in world's first Roundup cancer trial.
There has been much controversy for years regarding glyphosate dangers and whether or not it causes, or is associated with, cancer. The latest findings are an extreme cause for concern because millions of people each year in the United States (US) come into contact with the products mentioned above.
Still yet, not everyone works in gardens or landscaping and not everyone takes care of their own yard work, meaning there are millions who don't come directly into contact with weed killers containing glyphosate. This doesn't mean, however, that these people are in the clear of developing glyphosate cancer.
Many people are unaware that cereal - among many other popular and common foods - contains glyphosate, and with the average American consuming roughly 10 pounds of cereal each year, this means there's a good chance you yourself have come into contact with glyphosate.
According to Popular Science, an informative online news site, a report was recently published outlining "an environmental advocacy group found traces of controversial herbicides [glyphosate] on popular breakfast cereals like Cheerios, Lucky Charms, and Quaker Oats."
Glyphosate makes its way into our cereals and foods through a process called desiccating. Farmers apply the herbicide to a variety of crops, generally right before harvest time, to maximize harvesting efficiency. It also allows them to harvest at a lower cost.
Spraying glyphosate on the crops at this time is extremely detrimental to the absorption process. Instead of being able to wash it off at a later time, some of it absorbs directly into the crop and becomes a part of the food. When the crops are ingested as a whole food or as part of processed foods, like Cheerios and other cereals that are made of processed whole grains, this toxin makes its way into the body.
The list of crops that are commonly desiccated is surprisingly long. According to The Cornucopia Institute, "glyphosate is used not just with row crops like corn, soybeans and wheat but also a range of fruits, nuts and veggies. Even spinach growers use glyphosate." Glyphosate in Cheerios and other cereals is a serious cause for concern, but this concern doesn’t end at the breakfast table. There is a long list of foods that contain glyphosate, including:
- Dried peas
- Soy products
- Vegetable oil
- Sweet potatoes
The concerning question we are now faced with is does glyphosate have a negative impact on the gut? The answer is yes.
This commonly used herbicide has a potency of 10 times more than gluten, and it has the ability to significantly degrade the gut membrane wall. More specifically, it degrades tight junctions in this wall.
Tight junctions, which are commonly referred to as firewalls in the gut, serve the purpose of regulating how much water and micronutrients are absorbed into the body. By regulating water and micronutrients, the tight junctions play a vital role in the body's immune system by reducing exposure to toxins found in the gut.
Scientists from across the globe are actively conducting studies and experiments to determine the connection between tight junctions and various inflammatory diseases. Here's an outline of the basic argument that is used to reveal how glyphosate negatively impacts the gut:
- The ways in which the gut microbiome impacts a person's health is just now starting to be understood.
- The shikimic acid pathway is found in bacteria and it can be used to synthesize aromatic amino acids.
- Glyphosate, however, possesses an inhibitor that reduces the effectiveness of a key enzyme that is used in this pathway.
- Therefore, it is believed glyphosate is negatively impacting a person's gut health.
The Truth Behind Glyphosate
Here's what we know to be true about glyphosate.
The Monsanto lawsuit involves a former groundskeeper, Dewayne Johnson, who worked at a local school. He alleges products manufactured and distributed by the company caused his cancer, and that the company was aware of the glyphosate's danger regarding its carcinogenic effects for years, yet chose to cover up such knowledge.
Johnson gave an emotional statement regarding the verdict of the lawsuit. He says, "The verdict really meant to me – that this thing was not done in vain. I remember standing there saying to myself, if I lose this case, this company is gonna get away and… they'll be able to say, 'See? Told you our stuff didn't do that.'"
On the other side of the fence is the executive vice president of Monsanto, Scott Partridge, who has something entirely different to say about glyphosate cancer -- "We all have tremendous sympathy for Mr. Johnson and his family. What they've gone through with this disease is terrible. [Regarding the verdict, however,] it doesn't change the overwhelming scientific evidence and the 40 years of safe use of around the world."
Although Johnson has been awarded $289 million, doctors predict he won't be around to spend any of the money. They say he has only a few months to live, and during this time, he will continue to undergo treatment specifically designed to treat Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma, which, they say, is a result of glyphosate cancer. Johnson says he hopes his case has the potential to be of help to others who are in similar situations. And by other similar situations, he's speaking of the 8,000+ cases that are similar to his.
Even though there are 40+ years of evidence backing up the safety of glyphosate, this evidence is being heavily scrutinized. During the trial, it was discovered email records shine a light on the fact that Monsanto ghostwrote studies, leading to much misrepresentation regarding glyphosate cancer. More so, there is evidence outlining how the company worked with EPA officials to go outside of the lines when it came to staying in compliance with regulations.
Glyphosate was introduced in 1974 by Monsanto as an herbicide. Since then, it has become one of the most commonly used herbicides in the US. For those who have used chemical mixtures containing glyphosate for the purpose of killing weeds or for gardening, the efficacy of glyphosate is easy to understand. Over the past 20 years, the average amount of glyphosate found in a human being has increased by 1000 percent; this increase is contributed to environmental exposure as well as through dietary intake.
There have been numerous studies performed to determine the safety of glyphosate. The results vary greatly from one study to the next. Inanimal studies, the chemical has been shown to act as a toxin, counteracting the beneficial effects of some forms of gut bacteria. Other studies, however, suggest there is no harm whatsoever.
Monsanto only owned the patent to glyphosate until the year 2000; this is when multiple companies selling weed-killing products started using the chemical in their existing and new products. However, still to this day, Monsanto holds a patent on various glyphosate formulas.
A statement published in the US National Library of Medicine provides a thorough and extensive understanding of glyphosate and its increased usage throughout the years:
“Since 1974 in the US, over 1.6 billion kilograms of the glyphosate active ingredient have been applied, or 19 percent of the estimated global use of glyphosate (8.6 billion kilograms). Globally, glyphosate use has risen almost 15-fold since so-called “Roundup Ready,” genetically engineered glyphosate-tolerant crops were introduced in 1996. Two-thirds of the total volume of glyphosate applied in the U.S. from 1974 to 2014 has been sprayed in just the last 10 years. The corresponding share globally is 72 %. In 2014, farmers sprayed enough glyphosate to apply ~1.0 kg/ha (0.8 pound/acre) on every hectare of U.S.-cultivated cropland and nearly 0.53 kg/ha (0.47 pounds/acre) on all cropland worldwide.
Genetically engineered herbicide-tolerant crops now account for about 56% of global glyphosate use. In the U.S., no pesticide has come remotely close to such intensive and widespread use. This is likely the case globally, but published global pesticide use data are sparse. Glyphosate will likely remain the most widely applied pesticide worldwide for years to come, and interest will grow in quantifying ecological and human health impacts. Accurate, accessible time-series data on glyphosate use will accelerate research progress.”
The U.S. National Library also goes on to point out that issues with glyphosate have been around for more than two decades:
“In 1996, so-called “Roundup Ready” (RR), genetically engineered (GE) herbicide-tolerant (HT) soybean, maize, and cotton varieties were approved for planting in the U.S. This technological breakthrough made it possible to utilize glyphosate as a broadcast, post-emergence herbicide, thereby dramatically extending the time period during which glyphosate-based herbicides could be applied. Alfalfa and sugar beets engineered to tolerate glyphosate were first approved and commercially marketed in 2005 and 2008, respectively, but federal lawsuits citing procedural violations of the National Environmental Policy Act delayed full commercial sales until 2011 for RR alfalfa and 2012 for RR sugar beets [3, 4].”
Research on the harmful effects of glyphosate will turn up numerous results. On one side of the fence, you have the EPA stating it doesn't recognize the chemical as being carcinogenic nor having any other harmful effects. They state there is no such thing as glyphosate cancer. Then, on the other side of the fence, you have The World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer stating in deep contrast that it is recognized as a "probable human carcinogen." On the World Health Organization's side stands the State of California, which also deems glyphosate as being cancer-causing. In July of 2017, the state issued a policy that mandates all products containing the glyphosate ingredient to be labeled with a warning message.
How Does Gut Impact Our Health?
Bacteria is often associated with being negative to your health. Numerous commercials on TV reveal ways to reduce your contact with bacteria by using disinfectant wipes and hand sanitizers. What many people fail to realize is that the human body is filled with trillions of bacteria, many of which play an essential role in our overall health.
Some bacteria have a direct impact on how we digest food, making them of extreme importance to your gut health. Knowing how to improve gut health is essential to understanding how some forms of bacteria positively impact our health.
Gut bacteria is tied to a variety of health conditions, like depression, diabetes, colon cancer, and many more. Without proper levels of gut bacteria, your chances of developing one or more of these diseases are greatly increased. There are approximately 300 to 500 different forms of bacteria inside the gut. These bacteria contain close to a mind-boggling two million genes. When the bacteria are paired with various tiny organisms, like fungi, they are then referred to as microbiomes or microbiota. And just like the human fingerprint, each person has unique microbiota. This means the mixture of bacteria inside your gut is different from everyone else's. Your mother's microbiota plays a superior role in your mixture. In addition, your individual diet and lifestyle impact your microbiome.
There are bacteria in almost all parts of the body, however, the mixture you have in your gut tends to have the largest impact on your well-being. These bacteria line your digestive system, with the majority of them being in the colon and intestines. Your mixture of bacteria affects your mood, your immune system's ability to ward off illness, and even your metabolism. When you know how to improve gut health, you can consequently improve your mood, metabolism, and overall health.
How To Improve Gut Health
Many stores across the nation have aisle after aisle lined with remedies meant to improve gut health, like probiotics. Some online companies focus solely on selling probiotic products. Just Thrive recently released the world's "first 100% spore-forming probiotic and antioxidant supplement that arrives 100% alive to your intestines that's available in the retail market."
Instead of using the traditional approach of reseeding the gut, this product takes an innovative and integrative approach to reconditioning this part of the body; this enhances the removal of pathogens and bad bacteria. And ultimately, it promotes the growth of good bacteria, which results in improved immune health, better digestive health, greater mental clarity, and more.
Because each person's gut is unique, it can sometimes be difficult pin-pointing which bacteria are bad and which are good. The uniqueness also leads to another challenge -- just because certain probiotics work well for one person doesn't necessarily mean they will work well for the next person.
But from an overall perspective, research does confirm probiotics restore gut health. According to the US National Library of Medicine, "Recent discoveries in the structure and function of the microbiome suggested that diet may have a direct impact on the intestinal microbiota and human or animal health status, and disruptions of microbe–man relationships may result in different disease states, including chronic inflammation, autoimmunity, and neurological disorders."
There's so much more than glyphosate that can negatively impact your gut health. Everything from a diet that’s too high in sugar to a lack of sleep and even exposure to certain antibiotics and medications can lead to troublesome gut issues.
Some of the most common symptoms of poor gut health include:
- Irritable Bowels
- Weight Gain
Probiotics aim to replenish the body's good bacteria, meaning they have the ability to restore gut health. They often contain antioxidants that can protect the body from its daily exposure to harmful chemicals.
Research shows having a high level of antioxidants in the body is linked to lower incidences of diabetes and cancer. Other research shows that oxidative stress is a primary contributor to leaky gut. However, probiotics containing antioxidants derived from the bacillus indicus strain (HU36) are well-known for counteracting leaky gut, and they effectively augment strong intestinal lining. They also have the ability to stay active among the harsh conditions of the gut. And once inside the gut, they identify pathogenic organisms and produce natural antibiotics to eliminate bad bacteria. More so, they produce compounds along with nutrients that act as food for the good bacteria, helping it to grow and further restore gut health.
What Are We Left With?
Glyphosate, according to the latest research, is known to cause gut problems and be cancer-causing. Avoiding contact with glyphosate is particularly difficult since such a large number of Americans come into contact with it when using weed killers or eating cereal. And while much further research is needed to pinpoint the exact link between glyphosate, gut health, and cancer, there are certain steps a person can take to improve gut health, like taking probiotic supplements.
Probiotics are essential to gut health. In a world full of cereal and weed killers that put us into the direct fire line of glyphosate, it's more important than ever to be protecting your gut. We are learning more and more about glyphosate and its impact on our health, and unfortunately, we are seeing no remorse from some companies. The head of Bayer's Crop Science division, Liam Condon, says, "Nothing whatsoever has changed in the regulatory status of the product. There is simply very high demand and has been for many decades for glyphosate. It is an invaluable tool for growers."
Glyphosate may help kill weeds, but it's also killing people. What are you doing to protect your gut health?