The herbicide glyphosate (active ingredient in Roundup) was introduced in 1974 and its use is accelerating with the advent of herbicide-tolerant, genetically modified (GM) crops. Evidence is mounting that glyphosate interferes with many metabolic processes in plants and animals and glyphosate residues have been detected in both. Glyphosate disrupts the endocrine system, the balance of gut bacteria, it damages DNA and is a driver of mutations that lead to cancer. A huge increase in the incidence and prevalence of chronic diseases has been reported in the United States (US) over the last twenty years. Similar increases have been seen globally.
Seventeen reasons why glyphosate should be banned:
1. Within the last 20 years there has been an exponential increase in the adoption of GM crops along with associated applications of glyphosate to those crops (Benbrook, 2012).
2. Glyphosate and its degradation product, aminomethylphosphonic acid (AMPA) have been detected in air (Majewski et al., 2014, Chang et al., 2011), rain (Scribner et al., 2007; Majewski, 2014), groundwater (Scribner, 2007), surface water (Chang, 2011; Scribner, 2007; Coupe et al., 2012), soil (Scribner, 2007) and sea water (Mercurio et al.,2014). These studies show that glyphosate and AMPA persist in the soil and water and the amounts detected are increasing over time with increasing agricultural use.
3. Glyphosate residues are high in our food. For example, glyphosate & AMPA residues are as high as 15 parts per million in GM soybeans with no residues detected in organic or conventionally grown soy. In addition, “Organic soybeans showed the healthiest nutritional profile with more sugars, such as glucose, fructose, sucrose and maltose, significantly more total protein, zinc and less fibre than both conventional and GM-soy” (Bohn et al., 2014).
4. Glyphosate bioaccumulates in organs and muscle tissue (Kruger et al, 2014).
5. During this same time period, there has been an alarming increase in serious illnesses in the US, along with a marked decrease in life expectancy relative to that of other countries (Bezruchka, 2012).
6. The onset of serious illness is appearing in increasingly younger populations: neurological disease (Pritchard et al., 2013); obesity, asthma, behavior & learning problems and chronic disease in children and young adults (Van Cleave et al., 2010); type II diabetes in youth (Rosenbloom et al., 1999).
7. Not only has the rate of chronic disease in the entire US population been dramatically increasing, but an estimated 25% of the population now suffers from multiple chronic diseases (Autoimmunity Research Foundation, 2012).
8. The connection between glyphosate and chronic disease has been outlined in a recent review paper by Samsel & Seneff (2013a).
9. Time trends of the rise in chronic diseases along with the rise of glyphosate use, and the adoption of GM crops show very high correlations with very strong statistical significance (Swanson, 2013).
10. Glyphosate has been shown to be toxic to the liver and kidneys (Cattani et al., 2014; Jayasumana et al., 2014; Lushchak et al., 2009; El-Shenawy, 2009; de Liz Oliveira Cavalli et al., 2013; Séralini et al., 2011).
11. Glyphosate is a patented chelating agent (U.S. patent number 3160632 A) causing mineral deficiencies.
12. Glyphosate is a patented anti-microbial & biocide (U.S. patent number 20040077608 A1 & U.S. patent number 7771736 B2). It preferentially kills beneficial bacteria in our intestines leading to nutrient deficiency, chronic intestinal diseases, inflammation, and autoimmune diseases (Samsel & Seneff, 2013b; Kruger, 2013; Shehata et al., 2012; Carman et al., 2013).
13. Glyphosate leads to teratogenicity (birth defects) and reproductive toxicity (infertility) in vertebrates (Antoniou et al., 2012).
16. Imbalances and malfunctions of the endocrine system can lead to diabetes, hypertension, obesity, kidney disease, cancers of the breast, prostate, liver, brain, thyroid, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (Marc et al., 2004; Thongprakaisang et al., 2013), osteoporosis, Cushing's syndrome, hypo- and hyperthyroidism, infertility, birth defects, erectile dysfunction, (Soto & Sonnenschein, 2010), sexual development problems and neurological disorders such as: learning disabilities, attention deficit disorder (de Cock et al., 2012), autism (Schulkin, 2007), dementia (Ghosh, 2010), Alzheimer's (Merlo et al., 2010), Parkinson's and schizophrenia (MacSweeney et al., 1978).
17. Endocrine disruptors are especially damaging to organisms undergoing hormonal changes: fetuses, babies, children, adolescents and the elderly (Bergman et al., 2013).
The problem with glyphosate is only the tip of the iceberg. The EPA “has screened dietary assessments for 296 pesticides or pesticide groupings with tolerance decisions made between August 1996 and the end of Fiscal Year 2010. The Agency has determined that 286 continue to meet the FQPA [Food Quality Protection Act] safety standard...” Two hundred and eighty six poisons can be found in our food but the EPA is “reasonably certain” that the individual tolerance levels are safe. There are approximately 120 exemptions for substances not requiring a tolerance (or maximum residue level) and the GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe) list contains 498 substances, including genetically modified crops. The GRAS list also contains chemicals commonly added as preservatives, colorings, or flavor enhancers.
And this is only for food. No one is keeping track of the total amount of chemicals in the food and how they might interact with each other. There are hundreds more chemicals in your cosmetics, personal care and cleaning products. The EPA and the FDA are controlled by congress, and congress is now controlled by industry through legalized bribery (also known as campaign contributions). According to Vallianatos & Jenkins (authors of Poison Spring: The Secret History of Pollution and the EPA), the scientific credibility of the EPA has been damaged due to the history of fraud in the testing of these toxic chemicals that has been going on for decades. And we have, literally, put our life in their hands.
Our farmers have become addicted to chemicals. When the soil becomes depleted, they add chemical fertilizers. The chemical fertilizers have been contaminated with industrial waste. This was recommended by the the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act of 1976. In a series of investigative articles in 1997, the Seattle Times documented the nationwide use of cadmium, lead, arsenic, dioxins, radionuclides and other hazardous waste in fertilizer. Tests by the State of Washington found that some fertilizers contained very high levels of dioxin; 100 times higher than the level allowed for treated Superfund sites in the state.
Our bodies are suffering from toxic overload. When we become ill, the proffered solution is more chemicals in the form of drugs. When the drugs induce side effects, more drugs are offered to counter the side effects. Elderly people often take handfuls of pills morning, noon and night.
How did this madness become commonplace? Slowly. Over a long period of time (starting in the early 20th century). A little here and a little there. Chemicals that kill the bugs and the weeds that threaten the crops seemed like a good idea. Chemicals that alleviate physical symptoms seemed like a good idea. But we have taken it way too far and we are now headed off the cliff. What we, and all other beings who share this planet, desperately need now is unadulterated food grown in healthy soil. Real food. Clean air and water. Good luck with that.
6/18/2014: Dr. Seralini has published many papers. The paper cited here is not the paper that was unfairly retracted.
6/14/2014: This article has been translated into
6/16/2014: This article has been translated into