I have been no fan of GMO (Genetically Modified Organisms) products for quite a while. Basically, from when I first learned about the way they were made. You couldn’t make a worse set of choices if you set out to do it wrong, IMHO. That opinion was based on what I knew of genetics ( I started at University as a biosciences major and took classes up to upper division genetics before changing direction) and what I knew of farming and food production ( growing up in a farm town and working ‘in the industry’ for many years).
Now we’re starting to get a track record, and it isn’t particularly good.
First off, realize that Monsanto is THE big dog in the GMO pack. Monsanto has a very long record of making products that do harm, and then ignoring the damage. ( Things like PCBs and other toxic chemicals ). So many of the studies submitted to the FDA (and others) were directly produced by Monsanto and / or funded by them. Large doses of salt need to be applied to much of the “evidence” that claims to show they are substantially the same as natural plants.
I won’t go into the theoretical part much in this posting, but just mention a couple of ‘bullet items’.
GMO plants are “tagged” for easy identification in the field by inserting a gene that makes an easy to detect compound. That compound is an antibiotic. So put some GMO plant material on a petri dish with susceptible bacteria, and when the clear dead zone forms, you have your test result… Fine and all. Except. Do you REALLY want to be eating loads of antibiotics with every spoonful? (Personally, I think they ought to have tagged them with a puke orange gene so folks could spot it easily…)
Studies have already confirmed that glyphosate alters and destroys beneficial gut flora in animals, as evidenced by the increasing instances of lethal botulism in cattle.
I’ve written extensively about the importance of your gut flora on your health. You NEED beneficial bacteria in your gut, or health problems are virtually guaranteed. Optimizing your gut flora may be one of the single most important things you can do to maintain good physical and mental health, so the fact that GE foods may be adversely impacting your intestinal balance is of extreme importance and needs to be understood.
That article is very well written and covers several other points as well, so please give it a full read.
So Roundup (glyphosate) is being dumped by the millions of pounds all over the nation. It does NOT rapidly degrade, and is in fact soaked into the plants themselves. Some (much?) of it ends up in the ground water, so even avoiding the plants that were sprayed does not avoid all the exposure. ( A German test found 100% of people tested has levels in their urine that were surprisingly high).
Glyphosate is the main active substance used in most commercial herbicides. It poisons not only plants, but also animals and humans. When testing for glyphosate contamination in an urban population, a German university found significant contamination in all urine samples with levels 5 to 20 times above the legal limit for drinking water.
So you get a dose of antibiotics AND glyphosate with dinner. (If you have an Bt corn on the plate, you get a pesticide built in to every cell in every bite too…)
Is glyphosate benign to human cells? Well, it’s not just glyphosate that is sprayed, it is a mix of chemicals:
Roundup formulations are lethal cocktails
The four Roundup formulations are mixtures of glyphosate with various adjuvants. (An adjuvant is ‘helper’ substance added to aid the effect of the active ingredient.) The Roundup formulations are currently the top non-selective herbicides worldwide and increasing, as more than 75 percent of genetically modified (GM) crops are Roundup tolerant. Glyphosate and its major metabolite, aminomethylphosphonic acid (AMPA) are main contaminants in rivers. The adjuvants, not often measured in the environment, are usually considered ‘inert’ and protected as trade secret in manufacturing. Among them, the predominant one is polyethoxylated tallow amine (POEA) . POEA is used as a surfactant in Roundup formulations to improve solubility and penetration into plants.
Three human cell lines were tested: primary cell line HUVEC from umbilical cord vein epithelium, embryonic cell line 293 derived from kidney, and placenta cell line JEG3. All cells died within 24 hours of exposure to the Roundup formulations.
The Roundup formulations (Rs) contain different amounts of the active ingredient glyphosate: Roundup Express, 7.2 g/L (R7.2) ; Roundup Bioforce, 360 g/L (R360) ; Roundup Grand Travaux, 400 g/L (R400); and Roundup Grand Travaux Plus, 450 g/L (R450). They were compared with glyphosate (G), AMPA, and POEA . All Roundup formulations in the study, along with individual chemical ingredients, were tested at concentrations from10 ppm (parts per million) to 2 percent (the recommended agricultural usage level), which means that the Roundup formulations were diluted up to 100 000 times or more.
The researchers found that the presence of the other chemical ingredients in Roundup formulations, such as POEA, actually amplified glyphosate’s toxic effects. The toxicities of the Roundup formulations were not proportional to the amount of glyphosate they contained, and are most likely due to POEA and other as yet undisclosed ingredient(s) present in all the formulations. POEA by itself is much more toxic than the Roundup formulations, while AMPA is more toxic than glyphosate.
So what was the effect on cell lines? Cellular damage at levels as low as 1 ppm.
Multiple targets in toxicity
The researchers tested Rs, G, AMPA, and POEA for effects on three targets that could kill the cell: damage to the cell membrane, poisoning of the mitochrondria (site of energy metabolism), and programmed cell death that results in fragmentation of the DNA in the cell nucleus. They measured specific enzyme markers at different concentrations for each damage at 24 h of exposure, and also obtained images of the cell cultures under the microscope.
All Rs, as well as G, caused cells to die; the results are the same for all human cell types, but at different concentrations. Thus, R400, the most toxic formulation, killed all cells at 20 ppm, which is equivalent to 8ppm in G. However, 4-10 ppm G alone is non-toxic, its toxicity begins around 1 percent (10 000 ppm), and is not connected with the cell membrane. The R formulations damage the cell membrane, and also poison the mitochondria. In contrast, G poisons the mitochondria without damaging the cell membrane
Unexpectedly, R400 is more toxic than R450, the latter in turn more harmful than R360, R7.2 and G. However, the toxicities are not proportional to the concentration of G present. The cell killing power of R7.2 was almost the same as that of R360, and these results are consistent across all cell lines. This suggests other unknown substances are involved in the toxic effects.
Thus AMPA and POEA also kill cells by poisoning the mitochrondia and damaging the cell membrane. POEA is so potent that it begins to damage the cell membrane in HUVEC and poison the mitochondria in 2 93 and JEG3 at 1 ppm. Roundup formulations are more toxic than either G or AMPA. AMPA itself destroys the cell membrane, however, which G does not do, though it is 3-8 times more toxic for the mitochondria than AMPA. But as cell membrane damage is more serious for the cell, AMPA is more toxic than G, while POEA is the most toxic of all.
What happens when these ingredients are combined? The researchers found that for HUVEC and 293 cells, combinations of G and POEA, G and AMPA, AMPA and POEA were all more toxic than the same concentration of the single ingredients
For programmed cell death, the action is quicker. The marker enzymes are activated from 6 h of exposure, with a maximum at 12 h in all cases. HUVEC was 60-160 times more sensitive than the other cell lines; G and R360 were effective at exactly the same concentration, from 50 ppm. The adjuvants do not seem necessary. G alone is 30 percent more potent here than Rs; it acted rapidly at concentrations 500 –1 000 times lower than agricultural use
So, back to that German article:
Several disconcerting health related effects of glyphosate are well known to the plant protection agency in Germany (see: Anfrage der Grünen im Bundestag and the NABU-Study). However, little is known about the spread of glyphosate contamination through fodder and food and the subsequent health risks.
Detection of glyphosate is relatively difficult and can as of yet only be carried out in a few specialized laboratories. Glyphosate in soil is strongly absorbed and bound by soil particles. It inhibits useful bacteria and kills off algae, resulting in an increasing prevalence of phytopathogenic fungi. In addition, glyphosate can cause micronutrients, especially manganese, to become unavailable and thus lead to deficiency diseases. A similar process is suspected to take place in the digestive tract of humans and animals. In certain circumstances, glypohosate can affect the microflora of the gastrointestinal tract of humans and animals. The first studies dealing with this topic fear that the gradual negative impact on the intestinal microflora is most likely the cause of long-term health consequences. However, more research is needed to determine if and to what extent the inhibition of bacteria and reduction of micronutrients has an influence on human health .
Glyphosate is becoming increasingly implicated in infertility and embryonic development of humans and animals. Adverse affects on fertility in cattle has been observed. Moreover, glyphosate is suspected to enhance cancers of the lymphatic system and promote the development of skin tumors in humans. By entering the digestive tracts of humans and animals, glyphosate becomes a time bomb that can be ignited by stress or an unbalanced or bad diet.
In early 2009, Prof. Gilles Seralini and his team of the University of Caen were able to prove (see here), that even small amounts of Roundup lead to the death of human cell cultures. Seralini concluded that the typical glyphosate presence in desiccated crops, as found in animal and human foods, causes cell damage.
So, we have a micro-nutrient chelator that reduces nutritional value in the plants and then helps prevent absorption from the gut, that kills off some of the beneficial gut bacteria (that along can cause all sorts of illness, discomfort, and even affect mental status via toxic organism overgrowth) and may screw up your mitochondrial energy cells and / or kill of various cells directly. Anything else?
From that Sott.net article:
GE Foods Brings Brand New Threat
Earlier this year, Dr. Huber wrote a letter to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack, informing him of the issues discussed above, as well as another groundbreaking new finding that could spell absolute disaster for our entire food supply. It’s a brand new micro-fungal organism associated with something called Sudden Death Syndrome (SDS) in soy. It’s also found in a large variety of livestock given GE feed who experience both spontaneous abortions and infertility.
Dr. Huber urged the USDA to investigate the matter and suspend approval of GE alfalfa until proper studies have been completed. His warnings have so far been largely ignored, and GE alfalfa was deregulated earlier this year…
“When you look at the tremendous increase in human diseases that can have a potential tie directly back to either the chemical or the engineering process, it’s critical for that research to be done as quickly as possible. We need resources to do it. The private funds, again, aren’t going to do everything because there’s just too much to be done.”
The organism was initially identified by veterinarians around 1998 – about two years after the introduction of Roundup Ready soybeans, which is one of the staple feeds. The vets were puzzled by sudden high reproductive failure in animals. While sporadic at first, the phenomenon has continued to increase in severity.
“We [recently] received a call from a county extension educator, indicating that he has a dairy that has a 70 percent abortion rate. You put that on top of 10 to 15 percent of infertility to start with, and you’re not going to have a dairy very long. In fact, a lot of our veterinarians are now becoming very concerned about the prospects for being able to have replacement animals,” Dr. Huber says.
The cause-effect relationship between high reproductive failure and this new microbial entity has been established, but the research has not yet been published. The reason for the delay is because they really do not know what the organism is…
“It’s not a fungus. It’s not bacteria. It’s not a mycoplasma or a virus – it’s about the same size of a small virus; you have to magnify it from 38 to 40,000 times. They have pictures of it… You can see the interactions with it. They can now culture it. It’s self-replicating and cultured. It doesn’t grow very well by itself.
Like most of our very fastidious organisms, it tends to die out after three or four sub-culturing, but grows very well with other organisms. If you have yeast, bacteria, or a fungus in the culture, this entity grows very well.
We’re waiting on getting enough material, pure material, for DNA analysis, but also looking at some other possibilities… Until you can put a name on it, all it does is create a great deal of speculations.”
What is known is that it’s an entirely new entity, previously unknown to science, and it’s definitely found in genetically engineered corn and soybeans. It’s also been established that it causes infertility and miscarriage in cattle, horses, pigs, sheep, and poultry.
“We can anticipate with that broad spectrum of animal species, which is extremely unusual, that it will also be with humans,” Dr. Huber says. “We’ve seen an increasing frequency of miscarriage and a dramatic increase in infertility in human populations in just the last eight to 10 years.”
Realize that bacteria are particularly “untidy” about how they manage their genomes. If there is a chunk of DNA or RNA in the environment, they will ‘eat’ it and sometimes it just gets incorporated into their gene pool. This matters. A lot.
The GMO genes are sent into the GMO plant with a “Locked On” control sequence. What good is a gene for Roundup Ready if it doesn’t get turned on? But what happens when that gene gets implanted? It gets SMACKED! right into the middle of whatever chunk of DNA it randomly hits. That not only can break the preexisting genes ( perhaps producing God Only Knows what instead… what does 1/2 of an insulin gene make?) but can also “lock on” whatever it got imbedded into. Bacteria can them absorb some of those genes and go merrily on their way doing who knows what.
The Bt toxin (pesticide) gene was originally from a bacteria, so easily incorporated into other bacteria. Along with who knows what else. There was one article that claimed some folks gut bacteria continued making Bt toxin for years after they stopped eating GMO foods ( but since I didn’t find the source study, I’ve not put a link here).
Oh, and HOW does that gene get stuck into the DNA? A set of virus material is used to ensure it gets incorporated…. So it comes pre-packaged with the “move it around easily” strings of DNA…
Nice stew, eh what? Virus parts, toxin genes, Locked On control switches, random insertion, migration to gut bacteria (death of beneficial gut flora) and overgrowth of things that make you sick. Oh, and a nice drenching in herbicide that can kill your cells or damage your energy production machinery….
A glyphosate-based herbicide induces necrosis and apoptosis in mature rat testicular cells in vitro, and testosterone decrease at lower levels.
Clair E, Mesnage R, Travert C, Séralini GÉ.
Université de Caen Basse-Normandie, EA2608, Institute of Biology, Esplanade de la Paix, 14032 Caen Cedex, France.
The major herbicide used worldwide, Roundup, is a glyphosate-based pesticide with adjuvants. Glyphosate, its active ingredient in plants and its main metabolite (AMPA) are among the first contaminants of surface waters. Roundup is being used increasingly in particular on genetically modified plants grown for food and feed that contain its residues. Here we tested glyphosate and its formulation on mature rat fresh testicular cells from 1 to 10000ppm, thus from the range in some human urine and in environment to agricultural levels. We show that from 1 to 48h of Roundup exposure Leydig cells are damaged. Within 24-48h this formulation is also toxic on the other cells, mainly by necrosis, by contrast to glyphosate alone which is essentially toxic on Sertoli cells. Later, it also induces apoptosis at higher doses in germ cells and in Sertoli/germ cells co-cultures. At lower non toxic concentrations of Roundup and glyphosate (1ppm), the main endocrine disruption is a testosterone decrease by 35%. The pesticide has thus an endocrine impact at very low environmental doses, but only a high contamination appears to provoke an acute rat testicular toxicity. This does not anticipate the chronic toxicity which is insufficiently tested, and only with glyphosate in regulatory tests.
No wonder there are all those ads on TV for things to increase testosterone levels…
So it is also an endocrine disruptor to some extent. So lets see, IF I spray a quart of Roundup in the yard, how much is 1 ppm …
And remember that this stuff binds to things inside the plant. Some migrates into the soil. Some is floating in the air. Some goes into the ground water and surface waters. It can take a couple of years to fully degrade in nature, though this paper gives half-life times of 30 ish to 120 days depending on water vs soil , soil type, and anaerobic vs aerobic.
I won’t be going off the deep end on food paranoia, so I’ll still have a generic Fast Food stop when driving places. However, I am going to be buying more “Organic” foods. Especially grain products and beans. As Monsanto started with corn and soybeans and I didn’t eat much of them, I didn’t care too much. Now that they have moved into all sorts of added plants, I need to find ways to avoid their products.
As “Organic” does not allow the use of pesticides or herbicides, they ought to be non-GMO. (We are forbidden to label food as non-GMO due to a bought off regulatory apparatus, IMHO, so need to find other ways of sorting good from GMO.)
I’m not too worried about secondary contamination via animal products from animals being fed GMO feed; but will likely stick with the Whole Foods house brand for dairy goods anyway. Meat gets burned a while, so I doubt much comes through the process alive or unaltered chemically … (Wonder if there are any studies on glyphosate breakdown in cooking? ;-)
If feeling a bit low on energy, or having generic unexplained digestive issues; I’d certainly give it a try to “go organic” and then try a round of yogurt with full beneficial bacteria content. It might be needed to do a course of antibiotics to kill off the old bacteria if they have “picked up some genes” prior to installing the new ones; but usually a decent diet and large yogurt influx does a decent replacement. (After various other exposures, from antibiotics to too much drink, I’ve sporadically had the gut flora go “out of balance” and application of beneficials has helped greatly. In one case a couple of decades back, I had high sulfur gas production and strong headaches, so some yogurt was applied “to each end” with resolution in 1 day…)
So, in short, we’re now getting so much of our food supply drenched in glyphosate and with ‘mystery genes’ along for the ride and it is having effects on bacteria and larger animals, along with not being very nice to your cells. I’d rather not play guinea pig in that pen.
On mention of a side bar issue:
In Mexico, the GMO corn genes have hopped over into native varieties. They get inserted at random spots and often cause crazy results. Corn that makes roots from each node. Multiple ears of corn trying to grow from one leaf node. Distorted forms. It all depends on what gets “locked on” wherever the gene cluster jumps. Genes do not always stay nicely in one place. They jump around. There are several methods for this with fancy names, but the short form is that clusters of genes are always changing where they are in a plant or animal. Sometimes it is an advantage, sometimes the plant dies. It looks like the GMO genes cause that process to be even more rapid, chaotic, or produce more bizarre forms (at least in corn). We’ve also not got some dozens of varieties of “super weeds” that picked up the herbicide resistance genes. As “plants share”, it will become ever harder to use herbicides to effect.
The basic error in all of this is thinking that genes are static things, that the species barrier is anything more than a ‘strong suggestion’ and the hubris of thinking fooling around with it would be manageable..
I don’t have a link to the Mexican corn examples, but did see film of them on a TV show. Unfortunately, finding a link has run into too many OTHER topics about GMO corn in Mexico… I need to work on my ‘web-foo’ magic words a bit more ;-)
Update 5 July 2012
Found an interesting article on the development of Glyphosate resistant weeds. Looks like this problem is in the process of “self correcting” as at present rates, nature will make Roundup useless in a couple of more decades, max…
From a very pro-Glyphosate very photo heavy page here: