By Dr. Mercola
Have you ever used Roundup to kill weeds in your lawn or garden?
As the most widely used herbicide in the United States, there's a good chance you have.
In fact, millions of pounds are used every year on U.S. gardens, lawns and, extensively on farms growing genetically modified (GM) "Roundup Ready" crops.
You may forget about the herbicide soon after you spray it -- and may never give it a second thought when consuming corn chips or countless processed foods that contain GM Roundup Ready corn and soy -- but it doesn't just magically disappear.
Instead, new research is showing that glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto's Roundup herbicide, is contaminating everything from food and air to groundwater and even human beings.
Glyphosate Now Detected in Human Urine
Research in the German journal Ithaca revealed significant concentrations of glyphosate in the urine samples of city dwellers.
The chemical is used not only for food production, but also is often sprayed onto railway lines, urban pavements and roadsides.
The article revealed that study participants had concentrations of glyphosate that were 5 to 20 times the limit for drinking water!
This is an alarming finding because glyphosate is easily one of the world's most overlooked poisons. Research published in 2010 showed that the chemical, which works by inhibiting an enzyme called EPSP synthase that is necessary for plants to grow, causes birth defects in frogs and chicken embryos at far lower levels than used in agricultural and garden applications.i
The malformations primarily affected the:
- Midline and developing brain
- Spinal cord
Quite shockingly, the amount of glyphosate residue you can be exposed to through food is remarkably high, in terms of being close to the maximum residue limit (MRL) allowed. According to a report in the journal Chemical Research in Toxicology, the highest MRL for glyphosate in food and feed products in the EU is 20 mg/kg. GM soybeans have been found to contain residue levels as high as 17 mg/kg, and malformations in frog and chicken embryos occurred at 2.03 mg/kg!ii
That's 10 times lower than the MRL.
Other independent scientific research has also found that glyphosate has the potential to cause grave health damage, including a 2009 study that tested formulations of Roundup that were highly diluted (up to 100,000 times or more) on human cells, and even then the cells died within 24 hours!iii
The researchers hailed a warning cry that still has not been heard by regulators around the world, who continue to allow massive amounts of Roundup to be sprayed into the environment:
" … 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."
Not to mention, when applied to crops glyphosate becomes systemic throughout the plant, so it cannot be washed off. And once you eat this crop, the glyphosate ends up in your gut where it can decimate your beneficial bacteria. This can wreak havoc with your health as 80 percent of your immune system resides in your gut (GALT – Gut Associated Lymph Tissue) and is dependent on a healthy ratio of good and bad bacteria! Separate research has also uncovered the following effects from glyphosate:
What Happened to Monsanto's Claims That Roundup is "Biodegradable" and "Environmentally Friendly"?
It is apparent the chemical is not only persisting in the environment, it's persisting at alarmingly high levels, despite Monsanto's claims to the contrary. (In 2009, a French court upheld two earlier convictions against Monsanto for false advertising.)
The overall quantity of glyphosate in the environment has been difficult to analyze due to its physicochemical properties, such as its relatively low molecular weight and low organic solvent solubility. Furthermore, 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) in 2011:iv
- 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
It's safe to say that usage has increased steadily since these estimates were made, rising right along with the acreage of GM crops. And now the environment and our bodies are paying the price.
One recent study used a magnetic particle immunoassay to test for the presence of glyphosate in roughly 140 samples of groundwater from Catalonia, Spain. The analysis found that glyphosate was present above the limit of quantification in 41 percent of the samples.v Of course, because groundwater is used as a drinking water source, this contamination poses a risk to animals, plants and humans alike.
The chemical was also detected in 60 to 100 percent of all air and rain samples tested during two growing seasons in Mississippi and Iowa,vi which lends further credence to the fact that Roundup does not readily break down in the environment, but rather is lingering all around us. Along with the potential implications for human and animal health, the chemical is also linked to a number of devastating environmental consequences, including Sudden Death Syndrome (SDS), a serious plant disease, and the creation of superweeds.
Today there are more than 750 products in the United States that contain glyphosate, and the problems to human health and the environment are only slated to get worse if drastic changes are not made in the massive use of Roundup herbicide across the United States.
Keep Fighting for Labeling of Genetically Engineered Foods
While California Prop. 37 failed to pass last November, by a very narrow margin, the fight for GMO labeling is far from over. The field-of-play has now moved to the state of Washington, where the people's initiative 522, "The People's Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act," will require food sold in retail outlets to be labeled if it contains genetically engineered ingredients. As stated on LabelitWA.org:
"Calorie and nutritional information were not always required on food labels. But since 1990 it has been required and most consumers use this information every day. Country-of-origin labeling wasn't required until 2002. The trans fat content of foods didn't have to be labeled until 2006. Now, all of these labeling requirements are accepted as important for consumers. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also says we must know with labeling if our orange juice is from fresh oranges or frozen concentrate.
Doesn't it make sense that genetically engineered foods containing experimental viral, bacterial, insect, plant or animal genes should be labeled, too? Genetically engineered foods do not have to be tested for safety before entering the market. No long-term human feeding studies have been done. The research we have is raising serious questions about the impact to human health and the environment.
I-522 provides the transparency people deserve. I-522 will not raise costs to consumers or food producers. It simply would add more information to food labels, which manufacturers change routinely anyway, all the time. I-522 does not impose any significant cost on our state. It does not require the state to conduct label surveillance, or to initiate or pursue enforcement. The state may choose to do so, as a policy choice, but I-522 was written to avoid raising costs to the state or consumers."
Remember, as with CA Prop. 37, they need support of people like YOU to succeed. Prop. 37 failed with a very narrow margin simply because we didn't have the funds to counter the massive ad campaigns created by the No on 37 camp, led by Monsanto and other major food companies. Let's not allow Monsanto and its allies to confuse and mislead the people of Washington and Vermont as they did in California. So please, I urge you to get involved and help in any way you can, regardless of what state you live in.
- No matter where you live in the United States, please donate money to these labeling efforts through the Organic Consumers Fund.
- If you live in Washington State, please sign the I-522 petition. You can also volunteer to help gather signatures across the state.
- For timely updates on issues relating to these and other labeling initiatives, please join the Organic Consumers Association on Facebook, or follow them on Twitter.
- Talk to organic producers and stores and ask them to actively support the Washington initiative.