Weekly air particle and rain samples were collected during two growing seasons in agricultural areas in Mississippi and Iowa. Rain was also collected in Indiana. The frequency of glyphosate detection ranged from 60 to 100 percent in both air and rain.
According to the report, as linked on the website Green Med Info:
“The frequency of detection and median and maximum concentrations of glyphosate in air were similar or greater to those of the other high-use herbicides observed in the Mississippi River basin, whereas its concentration in rain was greater than the other herbicides.”
I've often said that chemical exposure in our environment is a pervasive threat, and the report of the herbicide glyphosate being detected in 60 to100 percent of air and rain samples is a perfect illustration of this sad truth.
Evidence now clearly shows that glyphosate is devastating crops, animal and human health around the world, even when the exposure is restricted to residues leftover in the soil. Clearly, its presence in air and rain water can only add to its destructive force.
Glyphosate—The World's Most Popular Herbicide…
Genetically engineered crops have vastly increased the use of glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto's nonselective broad-spectrum herbicide Roundup, and this product alone is now wreaking unimaginable havoc in our environment. According to Jeffrey Smith with the Institute for Responsible Technology, by 2004 farmers used an estimated 86 percent more herbicides on GM soy fields compared to non-GM fields.
So-called "Roundup Ready" soybean, cotton and corn crops became exceedingly popular because it allows farmers to spray Monsanto's Roundup herbicide directly onto their fields without harming the crops. Ordinarily, if you were to spray Roundup, or any other glyphosate-based herbicide, onto a plant, it would rapidly die.
Since the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) stopped updating its pesticide use database in 2008, it's becoming increasingly difficult to estimate how much glyphosate is actually used in the US, but the following 2006-2007 market usage estimates were reported by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) earlier this year:
- Agricultural market used 180 to 185 million pounds of glyphosate
- Home and garden market: 5 to 8 million pounds
- Industry, commerce and government: 13 to 15 million pounds
Ambient Levels of Glyphosate in Air and Rain
The results of the first report on the ambient levels of glyphosate and AMPA in air and rain water were published in the journal Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry in March. The samples were collected during two growing seasons in Mississippi and Iowa. Glyphosate was detected in 60 to 100 percent of all air and rain samples. The following concentration ranges of glyphosate were found:
- Air: 0.01 to 9.1 ng/m
- Rain: 0.1 to 2.5 µg/L
According to the authors:
"It is not known what percentage of the applied glyphosate is introduced into the air, but it was estimated that up to 0.7 percent of application is removed from the air in rainfall. Glyphosate is efficiently removed from the air; it is estimated that an average of 97 percent of the glyphosate in the air is removed by a weekly rainfall ≥ 30 mm."
The Environmental Dangers of Glyphosate
A couple of years ago, a French court found Monsanto guilty of falsely advertising its herbicide as "biodegradable," "environmentally friendly" and claiming it "left the soil clean." The truth is that Roundup is anything BUT environmentally friendly. Monsanto's own tests showed that only two percent of the herbicide broke down after 28 days, which means it readily persists in the environment!
Glyphosate is the most commonly reported cause of pesticide illness among landscape maintenance workers in California, and researchers have now linked it to Sudden Death Syndrome (SDS), a serious plant disease, in many fields around the world. Numerous studies have also shown that glyphosate is contributing not only to the huge increase in SDS, but also to the outbreak of some 40 different plant and crop diseases! It weakens plants and promotes disease in a number of ways, including:
- Acting as a chelator of vital nutrients, depriving plants of the nutrients necessary for healthy plant function
- Destroying beneficial soil organisms that suppress disease-causing organisms and help plants absorb nutrients
- Interfering with photosynthesis, reducing water use efficiency, shortening root systems and causing plants to release sugars, which changes soil pH
- Stunting and weakening plant growth
The herbicide doesn't destroy plants directly; instead, it creates a unique "perfect storm" of conditions that activates disease-causing organisms in the soil, while at the same time wiping out plant defenses against those diseases. So the glyphosate not only weakens plants, it actually changes the makeup of the soil and boosts the number of disease-causing organisms, which is becoming a deadly recipe for crops around the globe... A report from 1998 by the Environmental Monitoring & Pest Management Department of Pesticide Regulation on the environmental fate of glyphosate states that:
"Aerial drift of the herbicide will cause injury to nontarget plants… Minute quantities of mist, drip, drift or splash of glyphosate onto nontarget vegetation can cause severe damage or destruction to the plants or other areas on which treatment was not intended."
So, what exactly is being done to vegetation everywhere, now that both air and rain is clearly contaminated with glyphosate?
Potential Health Hazards of Glyphosate
Usually, whatever toxins lurk in the environment has a tendency to find its way into animals' bellies and onto your dinner plate, and this holds true for glyphosate as well. Some of the fungi promoted by glyphosate produce dangerous toxins that can end up in the food supply. Some of these have been linked to human toxicosis in Eastern Europe, esophageal cancer in southern Africa and parts of China, joint diseases in Asia and southern Africa, and a blood disorder in Russia.
- Glyphosate is suspected of causing genetic damage, infertility and cancer.
- It is also acutely toxic to fish and birds and can kill beneficial insects and soil organisms that maintain ecological balance.
- Laboratory studies have identified adverse effects of glyphosate-containing products in all standard categories of toxicological testing. In one animal study, rats given 1,000 mg/kg of glyphosate resulted in a 50 percent mortality rate, and skeletal alterations were observed in over 57 percent of fetuses!
- The surfactant ingredient in Roundup is more acutely toxic than glyphosate itself, and the combination of the two is even more toxic.
A recent report from Earth Open Source has also revealed that Roundup herbicide not only causes birth defects, but that industry regulators have known this for years and did nothing about it. After reviewing industry studies and regulatory documents used to approve Roundup, they noted:
- Industry (including Monsanto) has known since the 1980s that glyphosate causes malformations in experimental animals at high doses
- Industry has known since 1993 that these effects could also occur at lower and mid doses
- The German government has known since at least 1998 that glyphosate causes malformations
- The EU Commission's expert scientific review panel knew in 1999 -- and the EU Commission has known since 2002 – that glyphosate causes malformations
What Do We Know about AMPA?
Aminomethylphosphonic acid (AMPA) is a byproduct of the degradation of glyphosate, and no one seems to know what the full environmental- and health impacts might be from this synthetic metabolite. However, according to a 2008 study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, AMPA is phytotoxic to plant species, although it's less active than glyphosate. And the British Pesticide Properties DataBase (PPDB) lists it as being moderately toxic to fish, aquatic invertebrates and algae, and cites "probable liver and kidney toxicant" as a known human health issue.
Aside from those few nuggets, toxicology and safety data is glaringly absent.
This could spell trouble, depending on what the truth is about the health impact of this metabolite, as a previous report by the US Geological Survey, issued in 2007, found that AMPA was detected more frequently than glyphosate, and occurred at similar or higher concentrations than the parent compound.
Genetically Modified Crops May Contain Toxic Roundup Residues
It's widely known that genetically modified (GM) Roundup Ready crops contain Roundup residues, and a 2009 study demonstrated just how toxic these residues may be to your health... Even when researchers tested formulations of Roundup that were highly diluted (up to 100,000 times or more) on human cells, the cells died within 24 hours!
They also found damage to cell membranes and DNA, along with an inhibition of cell respiration. Further, the researchers discovered that the mixture of components used as Roundup adjuvants actually amplified the action of the glyphosate. The researchers wrote:
"This work clearly confirms that the adjuvants in Roundup formulations are not inert. Moreover, the proprietary mixtures available on the market could cause cell damage and even death around residual levels to be expected, especially in food and feed derived from Roundup formulation-treated crops."
Although Roundup isn't used exclusively on genetically modified (GM) crops, these crops are some of the most prevalent in the US diet. So to drastically reduce your exposure, avoiding GM foods would be an obvious starting point.
How Do You Know if You're Eating GM Foods?
According to the latest US Department of Agriculture (USDA) statistics, about 88 percent of all corn, 90 percent of all canola, and 94 percent all soy grown in the United States is genetically modified in one way or another (not all are the Roundup Ready variety), which means that virtually every processed food you encounter at your local supermarket that does not bear the "USDA Organic" label will contain one or more GM components.
Therefore, if you want to avoid GM foods (which have a variety of inherent health dangers over and above the hazards of Roundup residues), you'll want to, first and foremost, avoid most processed foods, unless it's labeled USDA 100% Organic. You can also avoid GM foods that are not found in processed foods, if you know what to look for. There are currently eight genetically modified food crops on the market:
Soy Sugar from sugar beets Corn Hawaiian papaya Cottonseed (used in vegetable cooking oils) Some varieties of zucchini Canola (canola oil) Crookneck squash
More Tips on How to Decrease Your Exposure to Glyphosate
The potential health ramifications of these world-wide experiments with our food supply, using genetic engineering and vast amounts of toxic chemicals, are frightening to say the least. If you care about the health and future of your family, I strongly urge you to refuse to participate in this destructive trend.
In your own home, you can:
- Avoid using glyphosate-containing weed killers on your lawn and garden, and
- Buy organic foods to avoid both genetically modified crops and agricultural chemicals like glyphosate
The True Food Shopping Guide is a great tool for helping you determine which food brands and products contain GM ingredients. It lists 20 different food categories that include everything from baby food to chocolate.
The simplest way to avoid GM foods however, is to buy whole, certified organic foods. By definition, foods that are certified organic must be free from all GM organisms, produced without artificial pesticides and fertilizers and from an animal reared without the routine use of antibiotics, growth promoters or other drugs. Additionally, grass-fed beef will not have been fed GM corn feed.