We all eat. We all want as few toxins in our food as possible. We all hope there is enough healthy and delicious food to go around. Food is powerful. From the rise and fall of civilizations to establishing and defining cultures, food is more than just a basic need for human survival.
How we grow, process, and distribute food is immeasurably complex. We live in an amazing time. Any time of year in many places on earth we can enter a grocery store and purchase food that has arrived fresh and ready to use from every corner of the planet. When you think about it, it’s unbelievable.
An incomprehensible ballet of small, medium, and large farms, major agri-food corporations, food processors, government oversight, regulatory systems, and a myriad of distribution networks make our modern food system a reality. Over the past several generations, research, development, and technology have found useful tools to enable this massive modernization undertaking.
One of those tools is glyphosate.
Glyphosate is the active ingredient in the weed killer, Roundup®, a synthetic herbicide that was created by Monsanto. It entered the herbicide marketplace in 1974 and glyphosate use has been increasing substantially ever since. An effective broad-spectrum weed killer, Roundup® was an easy-to-use, cost-effective tool that simplified weed control for farmers, gardeners, and landscapers as well as for forest, park, and recreation areas. Monsanto held the patent until the year 2000 at which point glyphosate was available for use by other proprietors and purveyors of agricultural products with trade names including WeatherMax, UltraMAX, Buccaneer, Razor Pro, Rodeo, and AquaMaster®. By 2010, glyphosate was incorporated into over 750 agricultural products used worldwide. Over 40 years, from 1974 to 2014, 3 billion pounds of glyphosate have been used in the U.S. agriculture sector.
Concurrently, Monsanto was a leader in developing genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Many of these genetic modifications were to enable food crops to be resistant to and not die after herbicide applications. These are known by names like Roundup Ready® corn, soy, and cotton. Another genetic modification was glyphosate-ready sugar beets known as BE event H7-1, introduced in 2008. Their approval was heavily contested by food safety advocacy groups, farmers, as well as conservation groups. Due to the lobbying powerhouse of Monsanto, glyphosate-ready sugar beets were provided nonregulatory status in 2012 by the USDA. In 2014 in the United States, 1,136,300 acres were planted in sugar beets and 2,763,075 pounds of glyphosate were applied to these sugar beet crops. In the same year, 249,906,307 pounds of glyphosate were applied to other crops in the United States including soybeans, cotton, corn, wheat, and alfalfa.
Bayer, the German pharmaceutical company, with a net worth of $53.64 billion as of August 15, 2022, bought the 117-year-old Monsanto business, lock, stock, and barrel in 2018 for $63 billion. Bayer’s agriculture division, Crop Science, now owns all of Monsanto’s seeds, their patents, as well as all agricultural products, including glyphosate-containing products. By 2021, Bayer had set aside more than $16 billion to cover litigation liability associated with over 125,000 US lawsuits alleging Monsanto’s glyphosate-based herbicides cause non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Non-Hodgkin lymphoma is a cancer of the lymphatic system. Bayer lost the first three trials. In Bayer’s Five-Point Plan to Close Roundup™ Litigation, they state they have resolved 108,000 of the 141,000 current cases.
The EPA, WHO, and the Scientific Evidence
Under the mantra “we will feed the world,” GMOs and glyphosate-containing herbicides penetrated most aspects of the global food system. Feeding the world? Potentially. But safely? This is the debate that has been raging for decades.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) declares the safety of glyphosate at every turn. They state “No risks of concern to human health from current uses of glyphosate.” However, Monsanto studies shown in discovery during the many successful lawsuits against Bayer, the carcinogenic potential of glyphosate has been evident since 1981. For those concerned about the ongoing use of glyphosate, these facts are encouraging news. The use of glyphosate was declared probably carcinogenic to humans by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2015, undeniably encouraging. Glyphosate is undergoing further investigations as to its safety. Its banishment from use in gardens, parks, and recreation areas is ongoing throughout many jurisdictions. In fact, Bayer will be eliminating glyphosate from its lawn and garden products in the United States by 2023 although it will continue including glyphosate in its U.S. food agricultural products. Many U.S. cities, counties, and states have banned or restricted glyphosate use. Countries including Austria, Belgium, Bahrain, France, Italy, and Oman among many others are banning or are planning to ban glyphosate use. Even Bayer’s own home country of Germany has implemented glyphosate legislation for German farmers who will need to reduce glyphosate use and completely stop using glyphosate by 2024.
We Are Exposed
Glyphosate-containing herbicides are sprayed on genetically engineered glyphosate-resistant food crops such as corn, wheat, barley, and sugar beets to kill weeds throughout the growing season. Leading up to harvest, glyphosate-containing herbicides are applied to conventionally grown (non-GMO) crops, such as oats and sugarcane, to speed up drying times to facilitate an easier harvest. The residue of glyphosate accumulates in grains, leaves, and fruits. These residues cannot be removed by washing, nor do they break down with cooking. Glyphosate by itself may not produce short-term health concerns. However, when partnered with other herbicide ingredients, there are substantial detrimental health effects. In addition, as demonstrated by Dr. Stephanie Seneff in her presentation on YouTube, the long-term health effects of glyphosate are extensive.
Glyphosate is shown to reduce the nutrient value, trace mineral, folate, and vitamin content of food crops it is sprayed on. At the same time, an adverse effect of dietary exposure to glyphosate is its negative impact on the gut and the gut microbiome. Over time, digesting glyphosate-containing foods, even at incredibly low quantities, erodes the nutrient-absorbing ability of our digestive system. This creates a perfect storm of low-nutrient foods combined with a lowered ability to absorb nutrients. Dr. Seneff concludes that glyphosate causes gut dysbiosis which is increasingly recognized as a major driver behind multiple chronic diseases.
Therefore, not surprisingly, there is a mounting body of evidence showing that glyphosate has detrimental effects on the body. A study from 2014 showed that chronically ill humans had significantly higher glyphosate residues in their urine than in the urine of a healthy population of humans. There is an undeniable correlation between the rise of glyphosate use and the rise of neurologic disorders, diseases of the kidney and liver, and diseases of the digestive tract including celiac disease, as shown by the presentation by Dr. Stephanie Seneff PhD, author of “Toxic Legacy.”
For Food to Be Thy Medicine We Must Love (and Trust) Our Food
We can fight back. There may be traces of glyphosate in all sorts of foods we eat. Choose high-nutrient organic foods such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and legumes along with herbs and spices to help fight the effects of glyphosate. A lifestyle with special attention to digestive health along with optimized liver and kidney function will also help.
Sunlight exposure and eating more organically produced foods are protective against glyphosate exposure and damage.
Acetobacter are microbes found in apple cider vinegar, sauerkraut, kombucha, and kimchi. Some species of the class of microbes Acetobacter may metabolize glyphosate.
Extracts of plants including dandelion, barberry, and burdock have also been shown to be protective against glyphosate damage.
Supplementation with trace minerals, vitamin C, vitamin B12, and magnesium as well as taking Epsom salts baths help support the body during detoxification.
Our Dear Revered Farmers
Farming is an honorable yet challenging profession. There are no better stewards of the land. The life of the farmer that is directly affected by the health of the land, soil, and water that grows our food. Imagine paying out a year in advance for all your needs for a payday that comes just once or twice a year. This is what farmers do. They buy upfront all their farm inputs, seed, soil amendments, machinery, fuel, labor, weed control, and fertilizer months ahead of the future harvest. It is with absolute faith and hope that they will recoup their costs when bringing that harvest to market.
A promise to keep costs low with a guarantee of bountiful harvests is what anyone would wish for. This was the promise of GMOs and Roundup-Ready® crops. Finding new methods that support a healthy and thriving population and protect the environment while, most importantly, supporting farmers in their honorable endeavors is a win for everyone. Banning products may not be the most effective way to make this change. Farming methods that are affordable and produce valuable harvests will be the ones that win over farmers.
Developing and incentivizing farming methods such as regenerative farming that support a healthy soil microbiome and protect the environment while, importantly, being affordable and productive of valuable harvests might be a way out of our dependence on glyphosate. Amazing success stories can be found at Farmer’s Footprint.
Soil Microbiology and Our Microbiome
Healthy soil is teaming with life full of beneficial microbes. A healthy body has a well-balanced microbiome. Unfortunately, glyphosate has a measurably negative impact on good bacteria in both the soil and our gut. At the same time, bad bacteria seem to thrive in the presence of glyphosate in both the soil and the body.
A similar approach to fixing both problems could be explored. In soil microbiology, there are methods of soil regeneration from composting, worm casting, cover crops, crop rotation, green manures, etc. In the field, working with nature rather than against it will help to regenerate soil microbiology. Similarly, there are innumerable ways to feed the good bacteria in our bodies through a high-fiber diet full of pre and probiotics. Beneficial microbes in soil not only combat bad soil bacteria but also create healthier soils that are better at producing food with fewer inputs. At the same time, a healthy microbiome has long-lasting health effects, not the least of which is improved nutrient absorption.
Non-GMO, USDA Organic, Glyphosate Tested, and the Regenerative Farm
Admittedly, avoiding glyphosate is a challenge given our current food, water, and environment. While food labeling practices aren’t without some pitfalls, finding assurances from third-party certifications is helpful. The food testing and compliance features behind many of the food labels are often rigorous and unbiased. Food labels intend to provide consumers with more transparent choices. When trying to limit or avoid glyphosate, non-GMO labeling can be helpful.
For example, the bioengineered (BE) sugar beet, BE event H7-1, under the tradename Roundup Ready™ had an adoption rate of 90 percent by 2016. Approximately 55 percent to 60 percent of sugar in the United States comes from sugar beets. The remaining 40 percent to 45 percent comes from sugarcane. Non-GMO verification would signify that the sugar is derived from non-GMO sugar beets or sugarcane. Unfortunately, sugarcane dried with a treatment of glyphosate at harvest could potentially still be labeled non-GMO. On the other hand, USDA Organic labeling signals that ingredients are produced without synthetic herbicides and pesticides among other stringent compliance controls. This makes it and its next-level label, Regenerative Organic Certified™, valuable labels for finding glyphosate-free products. Other labels that provide glyphosate avoidance potential are glyphosate-free labeling and glyphosate-tested labels.
As new farming practices and new compliance labeling emerge, it always helps to do some research behind what the label is communicating. Trustworthy labeling may increase our ability to support businesses and farms that align with our values as well as enable us to avoid ingredients such as glyphosate.
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times. Epoch Health welcomes professional discussion and friendly debate. To submit an opinion piece, please follow these guidelines and submit through our form here.