Glyphosate: A Trajectory of Human Misery

Glyphosate has likely caused more damage to human health than any other chemical ever produced. Indeed, it is probably a cause of the explosion in chronic diseases. Surely civilization cannot be maintained when the average person is irrevocably ill. This trajectory of human misery must come to an end.

Glyphosate, 'Monsanto' Logo, Cracked Earth

by Heidi Stevenson

This is Part 3 of a three-part series:

Part 1, Glyphosate: Chronic Disease Degeneration
Part 2, Glyphosate: Disease Creator
Part 3, Glyphosate: A Trajectory of Human Misery

Ubiquity of Glyphosate

Glyphosate was first introduced in 1974 and has become the world's most dominant herbicide. It's now generic, so there are many brands and formulations. As a result, it's virtually ubiquitous, found nearly everywhere on earth. Further driving its use are genetically modified (GM) crops, which were first developed for the purpose of creating glyphosate-tolerant plants, usually known as Roundup Ready. These have resulted in ever-more blatant and free use, especially in the wake of glyphosate-resistant superweeds. Estimates put glyphosate-tolerant GM crops at 90% of all transgene crops.

In the United States alone, the amount and increase in glyphosate's use is stunning. The following table gives estimated figures in millions of pounds of glyphosate for one year:

Year

2001

2003

2005

2007

Range

85-90

128-133

155-160

180-185

Notice that the amount of use has doubled in just six years.

Exposure to Glyphosate

Samsel & Seneff state:

The Western diet is a delivery system for toxic chemicals used in industrial agriculture. It consists primarily of processed foods based on corn, wheat, soy and sugar, and they're consumed in high quantities. Chemical residues of insecticides, fungicides and herbicides like glyphosate contaminate the entire diet.

Roundup Ready GM crops have become the mainstay of Agribusiness. These include soy, beet sugar, and corn—which supply the bulk of the processed food industry. High fructose corn syrup, implicated in the diabetes epidemic, is produced mostly with GM corn. Cotton is genetically engineered and its oil has entered the food supply.

Glyphosate is systemic in plants, so it cannot be washed off. If it's used on a crop, it will be in the food produced from it. All the soy, sugar, cotton, and corn that ends up in packaged foods is carrying glyphosate into our bodies.

Food and dairy animals are raised in concentrated animal feed operations (CAFOs). The bulk of their diets consists of GM grain crops. Grain and sugar crops take up higher levels of glyphosate than other crops. Therefore, the flesh, eggs, and milk of CAFO-raised animals are contaminated with glyphosate, which enters the food pipeline.

Glyphosate is used not only on Roundup Ready crops, but also on glyphosate-sensitive sugar cane and wheat shortly before harvest, when it acts as a dessicant. It's also used as a dessicant on Roundup Ready sugar beets, canola, and cottonseed for oils, among others.

The perception that glyphosate is not toxic in humans results in difficulty obtaining figures on how much glyphosate ends up in the food supply. The United States Department of Agriculture's (USDA's) Pesticide Data Program is voluntary. Searching for information on residues for the year 2010, the most recent year for which data is provided, shows residue levels for all pesticides except glyphosate and another organophosphate, glufosinate. The USDA has simply not monitored residue levels for either of these herbicides, though they will this year (2013), but only for a small sampling of glyphosate residues in soy.

Increasing Limits on Glyphosate Use

Governments have failed to control use of glyphosate. The precautionary principle has not been in evidence anywhere. The drive to use it has increased as the use of glyphosate on Roundup Ready crops, which has driven development of noxious superweeds. Therefore, Agribusiness in the forms of chemical and biotech industries have demanded increased limits on glyphosate residue.

In 1999, the EU and UK, where no GM crops are currently grown for human consumption, increased the limit for soy from 0.1 parts per million to 20 ppm—a 200-fold increase! The US limit for soy is currently the same.

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