By Dr. Mercola
Did you know that the 2017 spending bill1,2,3 includes a rider allocating $3 million for consumer education and outreach by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to "promote understanding and acceptance of" biotechnology?
The deal was recently passed by the Senate, 79 to 18, "under a bipartisan agreement to keep the government funded through the end of September," The Washington Post reports.4 In other words, if you are American, you are paying for Monsanto to spread their pernicious propaganda. The fact that they can get away with this and slip it in to avoid government shutdown is dystopian, to say the least.
Not only have the government and the food and chemical technology industries fought to prevent the labeling of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), your tax dollars are now to be spent on efforts to "assure" you that genetically engineered (GE) foods are of no concern.
FDA and USDA to Promote Biotech and Chemical Technologies
To quote The Washington Post, "The money is to be used to tout 'the environmental, nutritional, food safety, economic and humanitarian impacts' of biotech crops and their derivative food products." This joint effort by the FDA and USDA is an outrage. As noted by Rep. Nita M. Lowey, D-N.Y., who unsuccessfully fought to get the rider struck from the bill:5
"It is not the responsibility of the FDA to mount a government-controlled propaganda campaign to convince the American public that genetically modified foods are safe. The FDA has to regulate the safety of our food supply and medical devices. They are not, nor should they be, in the pro-industry advertising business."
A Pew Research Center study6 published last year found 39 percent of Americans believe GMO foods are worse for health than conventionally-grown foods; 55 percent believe organics are healthier than conventional; and 40 percent report eating mostly or some organic foods.
Still, nearly half of all Americans (48 percent) believe GMOs are no different from non-GMO foods and 10 percent believe GMOs are actually better for health than non-GMOs. Clearly, the chemical technology industry wants to prevent growth of anti-GMO sentiment, but using tax dollars for indoctrination purposes simply should not be permitted.
Army of Shills Steer Online Discussions
In related news, plaintiffs in a lawsuit against Monsanto say the company hired an army of shills via third parties to steer online conversations about Roundup — the chemical most commonly used on GE crops — to counter any and all negative comments with corporate propaganda, thereby manipulating and stifling public knowledge about its dangers.7 As reported by Reuters:8
"The plaintiffs alleged that Monsanto targeted all online materials and even social media comments that indicate potential dangers of its products … 'Monsanto even started the aptly-named 'Let Nothing Go' program to leave nothing, not even Facebook comments, unanswered …
[T]hrough a series of third parties, it employs individuals who appear to have no connection to the industry, who in turn post positive comments on news articles and Facebook posts, defending Monsanto, its chemicals and GMOs,' the document reads.
On a larger scale, Monsanto allegedly 'quietly funnels money to 'think tanks' such as the 'Genetic Literacy Project' and the 'American Council on Science and Health' — organizations intended to shame scientists and highlight information helpful to Monsanto and other chemical producers,' according to the plaintiffs.
The accusations are backed by a batch of emails, used in court as evidence … [Ph.D] William Moar … reportedly said at a conference in January 2015 that the company had 'an entire department,' dedicated to 'debunking' science which disagreed with the agrochemical giant's own research."
EPA Official Colluded With Chemical Giant on Public's Dime
Documents entered into evidence in the lawsuits against Monsanto also strongly suggest at least one Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) official has been working on Monsanto's behalf — another breach of public trust and misuse of public funds. After the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) declared glyphosate a probable human carcinogen9,10 in 2015, Monsanto has relied on the EPA's 2016 determination that glyphosate is "not likely to be carcinogenic" to humans.11
Based on the IARC's determination, the California agency of environmental hazards declared glyphosate a carcinogen under Proposition 65, and will require all glyphosate-containing products to carry a cancer warning.
However, evidence suggests Jess Rowland, former associate director of the EPA's Office of Pesticide Programs (OPP), conspired with Monsanto to protect the company's interests by manipulating and preventing toxicological investigations. Rowland was a key author of the EPA's controversial glyphosate report, and correspondence between EPA toxicologist Marion Copley and Rowland suggests Rowland colluded with Monsanto to find glyphosate non-carcinogenic.12,13
Documents also reveal Rowland warned Monsanto of the IARC's determination months before it was made public,14 giving the company time to plan its defense, which included a vicious, coordinated attack on the IARC,15 going so far as to calling on the U.S. government to defund the organization, despite its reputation for being the global gold-standard for carcinogenicity studies.16
In January 2017, the American Chemistry Council formed a front group called Campaign for Accuracy in Public Health Research17 (CAPHR), the express purpose of which is to discredit the IARC18 and seek to reform the IARC Monographs Program, which evaluates and determines the carcinogenicity of chemicals.
The day CAPHR launched, the organization took to Twitter with a #glyphosateisvital campaign, proclaiming the weed killer is essential to "maintain the production of safe, affordable food." All of this goes to show you simply cannot trust the information you get from social media. Many industry defenders are nothing more than sock puppets paid to spread corporate propaganda while posing as independent experts and/or well-informed regular Joes.
Corporate Ghostwriters May Have Influenced US and European Regulators
Court documents also suggest Monsanto employees ghostwrote parts of two scientific reports — one in 2000 and another in 2013 — which the EPA then relied on to conclude glyphosate is non-carcinogenic.19
This, we are expected to believe, is better science than that of the IARC — a world-renowned, global, independent research organization. These ghostwritten reports may also have influenced the European Union's (EU) decision that Roundup was safe. According to Euro Observer:20
"A Monsanto employee admits in one of the emails that the company wrote a study on glyphosate and later attributed the work to academics. Another study on glyphosate was 'redesigned' with help of company scientists in order to create a more [favorable] outcome, the internal emails suggest.
EUobserver and OneWorld have discovered that both of the studies were relied on by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) when it evaluated the safety of glyphosate in 2015 as part of the EU [license] renewal process."
Correspondence also shows Rowland helped stop an investigation into glyphosate by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry on Monsanto's behalf. According to the email, Rowland said he should "deserve a medal," were he to pull it off.21,22,23 As it turns out, the review was in fact canceled, suggesting Rowland's value to the company.
Indeed, emails suggest Monsanto was planning to lean on Rowland's significant influence for their glyphosate defense after his retirement from the EPA,24 and Rowland's post-EPA work indeed includes consulting for three chemical companies that are close associates of Monsanto.25,26
Dow Chemical Pulls Strings to Void Government Pesticide Findings
Monsanto clearly isn't the only multinational company pulling strings within the U.S. government. During the Obama administration, the EPA concluded chlorpyrifos, a nerve gas-cum-pesticide made by Dow Chemical, which is widely used on citrus, apples, cherries and other crops, could pose health risks to consumers.
Even tiny doses were found to impact brain development in infants. A ban of the chemical's use on food had been proposed, but the Trump-installed EPA chief, Scott Pruitt,27 recently denied the petition.28,29
Earth Justice called the decision "unconscionable," vowing to fight the decision in court. A major problem with this chemical is that it's become a common water contaminant, and the EPA's own evaluation found it poses serious risks to 1,778 of the 1,835 endangered plants and animals assessed.
Despite this damning evidence, a legal team representing Dow Chemical and two other organophosphate manufacturers sent letters30 to the agencies responsible for joint enforcement of the Endangered Species Act,31,32,33 asking them to ignore the EPAs findings, saying the agency's scientific basis was unreliable.
It's interesting how on the one hand, Monsanto claims the EPA is the best judge of toxic chemicals when it suits them, while other industry giants accuse EPA scientists of not knowing what they're doing when the evidence impacts their bottom line.
Bloomberg recently reported Dow Chemical's first-quarter lobbying expenditures for 2017 are nearly eight times greater than its 2008 expenditures,34 and financial filings reveal the company hired a lobbying firm to meet with Congressmen in the weeks before the USDA's and EPA's deadline to take action on chlorpyrifos.
Trump also appointed Dow CEO Andrew Liveris to head a White House manufacturing council. All of that considered, is it any surprise that chlorpyrifos gets a free pass? With conflicts of interest such as these running the show, the health of Americans is in serious jeopardy. You simply cannot depend on government agencies to protect your best interests anymore.
International Reports Call for Global Phase Out of Pesticides
When you consider the volume of evidence against pesticides, it's easy to understand why the chemical technology industry is so keen on having government promote their propaganda. They are losing the information war, so they're upping the ante. Several heavy-hitting, international reports have surfaced in recent years, highlighting the serious impact agricultural chemicals are having on human health, including but not limited to the following:
• According to a recent United Nations (UN) report,35 pesticides are responsible for 200,000 acute poisoning deaths each year, and chronic exposure has been linked to cancer, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's disease, hormone disruption, developmental disorders and sterility.36
The latest USDA report on pesticide residues in food reveals only 15 percent of all the food samples tested in 2015 were free from pesticide residues, compared to 41 percent the previous year.37 This goes to show just how quickly our food is being poisoned, and how significant a source food is when it comes to chemical exposures.
According to Dr. Joseph E. Pizzorno,38 founding president of the internationally recognized Bastyr University, toxins in the modern food supply are "a major contributor to, and in some cases the cause of, virtually all chronic diseases."
The answer, the UN report says, is reducing or eliminating pesticides around the world. It proposes a global treaty to phase out toxic pesticides and transition to a more sustainable agricultural system. Contrary to industry PR, many studies have confirmed pesticide use can be significantly reduced without impacting production:39
• A World Health Organization (WHO) report warns environmental pollution — which includes but is not limited to pesticides — kills 1.7 million children annually. To address this problem, the authors recommend reducing or phasing out agricultural chemicals
• A report by the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics40 warns that chemical exposures, which includes pesticides, now represent a major threat to human health and reproduction41,42
• An Endocrine Society task force has also issued a scientific statement43,44 on endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs, i.e., chemicals that alter the normal function of your hormones), noting that the health effects are such that everyone needs to take proactive steps to avoid them.
On the list of known EDCs are organophosphate pesticides and DDE, a breakdown product of DDT. Since it lingers in the environment, exposure still occurs via food even though DDT is no longer in use.
Exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals costs the European Union (EU) €157 billion ($172 billion) annually in women's health care costs, infertility and male reproductive dysfunctions, birth defects, obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and neurobehavioral disorders45,46,47
• One in 5 cancers are thought to be due to environmental chemicals and, according to recent studies, not only can miniscule amounts of chemicals amplify each other's adverse effects when combined,48 this even applies to chemicals deemed "safe" on their own.
Basically, the analysis49 found that the cumulative effects of non-carcinogenic chemicals can act in concert to synergistically produce carcinogenic activity — a finding that overturns and more or less nullifies conventional testing for carcinogens
Could Your Health Be at Risk From Glyphosate-Contaminated Food?
Glyphosate-contaminated food may pose serious health risks, and this is perhaps one of the greatest selling points of organic foods. Tests by the Organic Consumers Association (OCA) show 93 percent of Americans have glyphosate in their urine,50 and food is the biggest source unless you live in an agricultural area or dispense glyphosate-based chemicals at work or at home.
Contaminated drinking water is another. Disturbingly, a recent animal study51 found Roundup causes fatty liver disease at 0.1 parts per billion (ppb) in drinking water, which is 14,000 times lower than the concentration permitted in U.S. drinking water (700 ppb). According to Health Research Institute Laboratories, the average level of glyphosate in the U.S. population is 3.3 ppb52 — 33 times higher than the level at which rats developed fatty liver.
The OCA's urine testing also suggests Americans have a daily intake of glyphosate that is about 1,000-fold higher than the level found to cause fatty liver disease in animals. Another recent study found Roundup adversely affects the development of female rats' uteruses, increasing the risk for both infertility and uterine cancer.53 So why is no action taken to protect human health?
It really boils down to the fact that without glyphosate-based herbicides the GE seed business would collapse, and chemical technology companies, with their vast resources and revolving doors into government regulatory agencies, have managed to deceive people into thinking there's no problem.
How to Get Tested for Glyphosate
The USDA promised to begin testing food for residues of glyphosate as of April 1, but then canceled the plan,54 further delaying the truth about glyphosate contamination55 from emerging.
According to Health Research Institute Laboratories, desiccated crops such as non-GMO oats, wheat, garbanzo beans and lentils can contain glyphosate levels exceeding 1,000 ppb. I recently used this test for glyphosate and had no detectable levels — likely because I eat organic foods and rarely eat at restaurants.
The Health Research Institute has developed a glyphosate test kit for public use. I've recently gained access to a limited number of these kits, and no profit is made on their sale. I provide both a glyphosate water test kit and an environmental exposure test kit in my online store for those who want to assess their exposure.