This is an interesting article on Glyphosate AKA RoundUp and the other chemicals in the mix. I’be bolded a few particular bits.
Chem Res Toxicol. 2009 Jan;22(1):97-105. doi: 10.1021/tx800218n.
Glyphosate formulations induce apoptosis and necrosis in human umbilical, embryonic, and placental cells.
Benachour N1, Séralini GE.
We have evaluated the toxicity of four glyphosate (G)-based herbicides in Roundup formulations, from 10(5) times dilutions, on three different human cell types. This dilution level is far below agricultural recommendations and corresponds to low levels of residues in food or feed. The formulations have been compared to G alone and with its main metabolite AMPA or with one known adjuvant of R formulations, POEA. HUVEC primary neonate umbilical cord vein cells have been tested with 293 embryonic kidney and JEG3 placental cell lines. All R formulations cause total cell death within 24 h, through an inhibition of the mitochondrial succinate dehydrogenase activity, and necrosis, by release of cytosolic adenylate kinase measuring membrane damage. They also induce apoptosis via activation of enzymatic caspases 3/7 activity. This is confirmed by characteristic DNA fragmentation, nuclear shrinkage (pyknosis), and nuclear fragmentation (karyorrhexis), which is demonstrated by DAPI in apoptotic round cells. G provokes only apoptosis, and HUVEC are 100 times more sensitive overall at this level. The deleterious effects are not proportional to G concentrations but rather depend on the nature of the adjuvants. AMPA and POEA separately and synergistically damage cell membranes like R but at different concentrations. Their mixtures are generally even more harmful with G. In conclusion, the R adjuvants like POEA change human cell permeability and amplify toxicity induced already by G, through apoptosis and necrosis. The real threshold of G toxicity must take into account the presence of adjuvants but also G metabolism and time-amplified effects or bioaccumulation. This should be discussed when analyzing the in vivo toxic actions of R. This work clearly confirms that the adjuvants in Roundup formulations are not inert. Moreover, 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 R formulation-treated crops.
Kinda makes a guy want to swap over to Organic foods…
As “Roundup Ready” GMO plants are rapidly taking over many bulk feed sources, and as this is specifically testing at “residual levels to be expected, especially in food and feed”, that makes this a bit of a problem. The general result of such GMO operations is that Roundup is sprayed heavily and often over the entire crop during the grow season. Lots of it accumulate in the soil. How much ends up in things like Canola Oil (one of the big R.R. crops) or corn products (among the widest used feeds in America) is a good question, but I’d expect it to be about the “expected” levels…
There is a more readable story in Scientific American (yes, that pop science rag that used to be a Science Magazine…)
One specific inert ingredient, polyethoxylated tallowamine, or POEA, was more deadly to human embryonic, placental and umbilical cord cells than the herbicide itself – a finding the researchers call “astonishing.”
“This clearly confirms that the [inert ingredients] in Roundup formulations are not inert,” wrote the study authors from France’s University of Caen. “Moreover, the proprietary mixtures available on the market could cause cell damage and even death [at the] residual levels” found on Roundup-treated crops, such as soybeans, alfalfa and corn, or lawns and gardens.
Yeah, “inert” doesn’t mean inert anymore…
So when Monsanto tests Glyphosate, do they test it with the “inert” ingredients too?
The term “inert ingredient” is often misleading, according to Caroline Cox, research director of the Center for Environmental Health, an Oakland-based environmental organization. Federal law classifies all pesticide ingredients that don’t harm pests as “inert,” she said. Inert compounds, therefore, aren’t necessarily biologically or toxicologically harmless – they simply don’t kill insects or weeds.
Well, that’s nice to know. Doesn’t kill insects, but people? Who knows…
But this is all just lab stuff with cell lines. It isn’t, you know, like, actual people. Surely this stuff isn’t getting into real people…
Toxic Herbicides Now Common in Pregnant Women’s Breast Milk, Placentas, and Umbilical Cords
A recent study showed the toxic herbicide glyphosate (Roundup) in the breast milk of a significant percentage of American women, even those actively trying to avoid chemical contaminants
Glyphosate was also found in urine and drinking water samples at levels 10 times higher than those in the EU when tested in 2013
A Canadian study found Bt toxin in the umbilical cords and circulating blood of 93 percent of pregnant women tested
In the first ever testing for glyphosate in the breast milk of American women, Moms Across America and Sustainable Pulse found high levels in 30 percent of the samples tested.1, 2 This strongly suggests that glyphosate levels build up in your body over time, despite claims to the contrary.
Breast milk levels were found to be 76 to 166 ug/l, which is 760 to 1,600 times higher than the European Drinking Water Directive allows for individual pesticides.
Those levels are, however, lower than the 700 ug/l maximum contaminant level (MCL) for glyphosate in the US, set by the EPA based on the now-ridiculous premise that glyphosate does not bioaccumulate. There are currently no regulatory limits for glyphosate in breast milk.
Glyphosate has also been found in Americans’ urine and drinking water. In those samples, levels were found to be more than 10 times higher than those tested in the EU in 2013. This is presumably due to the fact that the EU is now backing away from glyphosate usage and GE crops, whereas the US ignorantly races full speed ahead.
When seeking to understand this study, it is very important to note that many of the participants in this study were familiar with GMOs and had been actively trying to avoid them for several months to two years—which makes the findings even more disheartening. However, it is encouraging that expectant moms who were actively eating only organic, non-GE foods had lower levels of glyphosate in their breast milk.
In 2011, 250 million pounds of glyphosate were used in the US, and 1.3 billion pounds doused on fields worldwide. The EPA recently doubled the amount of glyphosate allowed in your food. Soybean oil is now allowed to contain a whopping 400 times the limit at which it can impact your health. Monsanto’s sales of Roundup jumped 73 percent to $371 million in 2013 because of its increasing use on GE crops.
That article is mostly a Ra-Ra story for the organic is good crowd, but does have an interesting bit further down. I’d not heard of this one, but have seen ever more problems with gluten as the use of GMOs has increased, so there is a correlation.
You May Want to Send Monsanto a Thank-You-Note for Your Gluten Allergy
As Drs. Seneff and Samsel reveal in a recent study at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, glyphosate is probably the most harmful toxin we’ve ever encountered, both in our environment and on our dinner plates. Their findings show that two of the key problems caused by glyphosate in your body are nutritional deficiencies and systemic toxicity. The researchers propose that glyphosate is the most significant causal factor in today’s epidemic of gluten intolerance, including full-blown celiac disease. Celiac disease and, more generally, gluten intolerance, is a growing problem worldwide, but especially in North America and Europe where an estimated five percent of the population now suffers from it. Drs. Seneff and Samsel mention the following as evidence of the connection between glyphosate and gluten allergies/intolerance:
Fish exposed to glyphosate develop digestive problems reminiscent of celiac disease; celiac is associated with imbalances in gut bacteria that can be fully explained by the known effects of glyphosate on these bacteria
Characteristics of celiac disease point to impairment of the enzymes necessary for detoxifying environmental toxins and other biological processes, and glyphosate is known to inhibit these enzymes
Nutritional deficiencies seen in celiac disease (minerals such as iron, cobalt, and copper, and amino acids such as tryptophan, tyrosine, and methionine) can be attributed to glyphosate’s strong tendencies to chelate minerals and deplete amino acids
Both celiac disease and glyphosate exposure have been associated with an increased risk of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
Reproductive issues associated with celiac disease, such as infertility, miscarriages, and birth defects, can also be explained by glyphosate exposure
No, I’m not going to be avoiding all food at all restaurants and only eating those foods I’ve made myself from known origin organic sources. (Though a couple of friends do, after they developed health problems fixed by doing just that…). OTOH, I already tend to ‘eat clean’ with a fairly simple diet, and have a tendency to mostly eat things that don’t depend on weed killers. BUT, as GMOs and their excessive levels of glyphosate use become more pervasive in all types of foods, that will be a less effective strategy for avoidance.
Why my “awareness” of such (potential?) food issues? Pretty simple, really. Out of a sample size of 11 in my extended family group (including a couple of friends) we have one Celiac Disease, one Wheat Allergy, One (no soy of any kind and avoids several other foods), one Corn Allergy, one “acne with peanuts or peanut oil”, and 5 migraines (two of which resolved on Organic Vegan diets, two reduced with other food avoidances, and one controlled with meds and smaller food avoidances). Oh, and there are at least 3 of us that are reacting to cows milk (though goat milk is fine, but they eat non-GMO grass instead of corn) and there’s one scallops allergy that is likely unrelated.
Now, IMHO, that’s a pretty high count. All the Celiac, allergies, soy, corn reactions had onset after GMO production (by a few years). The migraines may be hereditary, but that they are controlled with avoidance of those same high GMO high Roundup foods is, er, interesting… Yes, it confounds familial incidence with environmental. Yes it is not statistically significant. Still, it can “focus the mind”.
What to do?
Well, for me, it is pretty simple.
Grow more of my own in the garden.
Actually start seeking out “organic” on the label.
Avoid dining out (though it is already a more rare thing as prices have become extraordinary and what is on the plate more of a dice roll. At Bahama Breeze we were about to raise fork to mouth on a nice Lobster Sauce shrimp dish when out of “near paranoia” I asked “Are you sure there are no scallops in the Lobster sauce?”… after a check with the kitchen we were informed that the Lobster Sauce was, in fact, made with scallops. An ingredient NOT listed on the menu… So as dining out has become more of an exercise in “What is hidden on the plate”, we’ve cut back anyway.
Shop more at Whole Foods, despite the higher prices, and less at Discount Mystery Ingredient R-Us.
What prompted this search? I was looking at an old posting and one of the comments mentioned The Gates Foundation and things being done to help limit population. One of the claims seemed a bit absurd, so I started doing searches on things that cause reduced fertility and were being pushed on the 3rd World, and that included GMO claims. That lead to this. Sometimes starting with “edgy” searches leads to interesting facts and papers… So basically, I didn’t start out to find this, it was a stumble-upon.
In any case, that I already avoid all corn and most soy gets the bulk of it “off my plate”. That I grow some (soon to be more…) of my own vegetables in a “no chemical” way also helps. That I avoid beef (due to it being an arthritis trigger / allergen) and cows milk also helps. Really, my main exposure paths are likely to be commercial bread (that I’m sort of avoiding due to tri-glycerides / di-glycerides / interesterified issues) but it makes better toast ;-) and secondary via corn feed pork and chicken. I use a very little canola oil (preferring safflower when I can find it, or Palm Oil for baking / frying) with butter and olive oil as my major fats in cooking, and I use no corn or soy oils, so that path is out. Over time, this will get harder as Monsanto is busy pushing GMO everything that is “roundup ready”. So potatoes and rice have been “clean”, but who knows now. Maybe it is time to do a “dig” on percent of R.R. crops in each food type…
Expect naysayers to attack the referenced article. Expect some attempts at replication, and some deliberately broken attempts by those funded by the pesticide companies. It will take time to sort this out. Until then, I think I need to start being more selective about what has been done to the food I choose to eat…