Monthly Archives: April 2015

Measuring Gut Microbial Diversity – Justin & Erica Sonnenburg


Here’s something really interesting that will greatly help us improve our gut health and overall health – hopefully in the near future:
Dr Justin Sonnenburg, a microbiologist and immunologist in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at the Stanford University School of Medicine, is looking into the interactions between the intestinal microbiota and its host.


Justin Sonnenburg, PhD
Justin Sonnenburg, PhD


His Sonnenburg Lab has recently recruited a graduate student to focus on inventing a device that will allow us to check on the health of our gut micro-organisms. The idea for the device is something that can be suspended into a solution of fecal sample we collect at home, with a meter that can be plugged into an iPhone to see an analysis of which critters are living in our guts at that moment and how they’re doing.
As Sonnenburg says, “Wouldn’t it be wonderful, every time you go to the bathroom in the morning, to know if what you’ve done in the past week has had an impact on your microbiota?”
Dr Sonnenburg was a 2009 recipient of an NIH Director’s New Innovator Award. In 2011 he received the Burroughs Wellcome Fund Investigators in Pathogenesis of Infectious Disease Award.



(Source: New York Magazine)
(The Sonnenburg family at the table. Source: New York Magazine)


See this article in New York Magazine, Cute Family. And You Should See Their Bacteria: The scientific clan bringing microbe diversity to the dinner table, to read more about Justin Sonnenburg, his wife Erica Sonnenburg (a senior Research Scientist at the Sonnenburg Lab), their family’s eating habits and their work.
Justin and Erica Sonnenburg’s jointly authored new book is called The Good Gut: Taking Control of Your Weight, Your Mood, and Your Long-term Health



From Amazon’s description of the book:

Stanford University’s Justin and Erica Sonnenburg are pioneers in the most exciting and potentially transformative field in the entire realm of human health and wellness, the study of the relationship between our bodies and the trillions of organisms representing thousands of species to which our bodies play host, the microbes that we collectively call the microbiota.  The microbiota interacts with our bodies in a number of powerful ways; the Sonnenburgs argue that it determines in no small part whether we’re sick or healthy, fit or obese, sunny or moody.  The microbiota has always been with us, and in fact has coevolved with humans, entwining its functions with ours so deeply, the Sonnenburgs show us, humans are really composite organisms having both microbial and human parts.  But now, they argue, because of changes to diet, antibiotic over-use, and over-sterilization, our gut microbiota is facing a “mass extinction event,” which is causing our bodies to go haywire, and may be behind the mysterious spike in some of our most troubling modern afflictions, from food allergies to autism, cancer to depression.  It doesn’t have to be this way.

The Good Gut
offers a new plan for health that focuses on how to nourish your microbiota, including recipes and a menu plan. In this groundbreaking work, the Sonnenburgs show how we can keep our microbiota off the endangered species list and how we can strengthen the community that inhabits our gut and thereby improve our own health. The answer is unique for each of us, and it changes as you age.

In this important and timely investigation, the Sonnenburgs look at safe alternatives to antibiotics; dietary and lifestyle choices to encourage microbial health; the management of the aging microbiota; and the nourishment of your own individual microbiome.

Caring for our gut microbes may be the most important health choice we can make.


Justin & Erica Sonnenburg
Justin & Erica Sonnenburg, PhDs





Sonnenburg, J. & Sonnenburg, E. (2015). The Good Gut: Taking Control of Your Weight, Your Mood, and Your Long-term Health. See:

Swansburg, J. (2015). Cute Family. And You Should See Their Bacteria: The scientific clan bringing microbe diversity to the dinner table. New York Magazine, 4/20-5/3/2015, 58-64. See:


© Copyright 2015 Joan Rothchild Hardin. All Rights Reserved.


DISCLAIMER:  Nothing on this site or blog is intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Why Louis CK Doesn’t Want to Get Cell Phones for His Kids





This is important. In case you missed it, Louis CK talking with Conan O’Brien about how smart phones are bad for kids – and the rest of us too. It’s short, funny and true:




Thanks to Richard Boenigk for pointing me to this video.




Louis CK on Conan O’Brien. (2013). See:



© Copyright 2015 Joan Rothchild Hardin. All Rights Reserved.


DISCLAIMER:  Nothing on this site or blog is intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.



The Human Microbiome – Two Short Videos



In the developed world, we have become brainwashed into regarding ALL bacteria and microbes as DANGEROUS to our health.  We use antibacterial soaps and ointments on our skins, mouthwashes that promise to kill 99% of the germs in our mouths, disinfectant and antiseptic sprays and wipes in our homes. We’ve become like real life players of a version of Rampage: Total Destruction – on a mission to destroy all the bacteria on, in, and around us.
In Rampage: Total Destruction, players destroy the environment to earn points. In our fear of all microbes, we too are working to destroy our internal and external environments by targeting the bacteria that keep us healthy (called PROBIOTICS) along with ones that make us sick (called PATHOGENS).
PROBIOTICS are live bacteria, yeasts, and other microscopic life forms that SUPPORT GOOD HEALTH in our our digestive systems – and throughout the body. If they’re not in good balance, we become sick in a whole variety of ways – from digestive problems to skin rashes, allergies, asthma, heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.




This NPR animated video called The Invisible Universe Of The Human Microbiome may help you understand why you need to nurture these good guys, your probiotics, in and on your body.
NPR’s description of the video:

The next time you look in a mirror, think about this: In many ways you’re more microbe than human. There are 10 times more cells from microorganisms like bacteria and fungi in and on our bodies than there are human cells. But these tiny compatriots are invisible to the naked eye. So we asked artist Ben Arthur to give us a guided tour of the rich universe of the human microbiome.



I also recommend another interesting video by NPS MedicineWise, called The human microbiome and what we do to it.
Dr David A. Relman, who’s the main speaker in the film, is the Thomas C. and Joan M. Merigan Professor in Medicine, and Microbiology & Immunology at Stanford University. He’s also Chief of Infectious Diseases at the Veterans Affairs Palo Alto (CA) Health Care System. Dr Relman’s research focuses on the indigenous human microbiota and the identification of previously-unrecognized microbial agents of disease. He has advised the US Government on emerging infectious diseases, human-microbe interactions, and future biological threats. He is Chair of the Forum on Microbial Threats at the Institute of Medicine (National Academies of Science) and Past President of the Infectious Diseases Society of America. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology and a Member of the Institute of Medicine.
In other words, he knows what he’s talking about.


NPS MedicineWise’s description of the video:

Did you know that you and I are only 1% human — we’ve 90 trillion cells which don’t belong to us. Yes we are more bacteria than human.
Have you ever wondered what it means to be human? It turns out that only a tiny percentage of what you and I are made of is actually human — and we need our non-human bits to survive. This part of us now has a name — it’s called our microbiome. But we’re doing dreadful things to this hidden majority and it’s damaging our health as a result. From the Tonic series produced with the assistance of NPS.













NPR. (2013). The Invisible Universe Of The Human Microbiome. (Video).  See:

NPS MedicineWise. (2012). The human microbiome and what we do to it. (Video). See:



© Copyright 2015 Joan Rothchild Hardin. All Rights Reserved.


DISCLAIMER:  Nothing on this site or blog is intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Factory Farming Produces Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria





Information from the International Master on Sustainable Development (Behrend, 2013):
  • 80% of all antibiotics used in the US are administered to farmed animals to promote growth and prevent disease. That amounts to about 29 million pounds of antibiotics per year.
  • These antibiotics produce drug-resistant “superbugs” in farm animals and humans, causing widespread disease, deficiency, and death.
  • According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are 76 million cases of food borne illnesses a year and 5,000 deaths a year from viral and bacterial pathogens related to the animal farming industry.
  • The treatment of these illnesses costs $26 billion in healthcare costs annually.


In the US and around the world, antibiotics from every major class used for humans are also used in agriculture. Antibiotic-resistant  bacteria spread from farm animals to humans via food, animal-to-human transfer on farms and in rural areas, and through contaminated waste entering the environment. (Food & Water Watch, 2015)
Antibiotics resistance is now a very serious global problem.


Antibiotic resistance occurs when bacteria change in some way that reduces or eliminates the effectiveness of drugs, chemicals, or other agents designed to cure or prevent infections. The bacteria survive and continue to multiply causing more harm. Bacteria can do this through several mechanisms.





In September 2012,  more than 150 well-respected scientists and 50 farmers sent a letter  to the US Federal Drug Administration and the US Congress, presenting overwhelming evidence that the use of antibiotics in livestock production poses a serious risk to human health. The letter pointed out that:

Hundreds of scientific research studies and analyses by international scientific bodies support the conclusion that the overuse of critical human drugs in food animal production is linked to human diseases increasingly impervious to antibiotic treatment, putting human lives at unnecessary risk.


Also in September 2012, Food and Water Watch, a nonprofit organization advocating for safe food and water, issued a report called Antibiotics Resistance 101 describing the reality of antibiotics use in factory farming and its seriously negative impacts on the environment, the economy, and the health of all living things – including humans, animals and plants.



The FDA issued ineffective VOLUNTARY guidelines.





This graphic shows how  the antibiotic resistance cycle operates:










Examples of superbugs that have developed from the overuse of antibiotics, particularly from factory farmed animals:









See Food and Water Watch’s site for more information on factory farming, antibiotic resistance, and the many other issues they’re involved in – including labeling of GMO foods, fracking, and water privatization.

Food & Water Watch champions healthy food and clean water for all. We stand up to corporations that put profits before people, and advocate for a democracy that improves people’s lives and protects our environment.





Behrend, K.E. (2013). Rural Development: Antibiotics in Factory Farming. International Master on Sustainable Development EOI. See:

Food & Water Watch. (2015). Antibiotic Resistance 101: How Antibiotic Misuse on Factory Farms Can Make You Sick. See:



© Copyright 2015 Joan Rothchild Hardin. All Rights Reserved.


DISCLAIMER:  Nothing on this site or blog is intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.


Short, Easy Read about Your Gut Microbiome






If you want to get a good basic understanding of what’s going on in your gut and how the several pounds of micro-organisms in there affect your health, mood, sleep patterns, eating preferences and more, I highly recommend taking a look at this recently published little book by Rob Knight. It’s short, amusing, informative – and even has lots of charming drawings.




The small text to the left on the cover says:
“Microbes are integrated into almost all aspects of our lives, redefining what it means to be human.”




Rob Knight was just named a 2015 Vilcek Prize winner for Creative Promise in Biomedical Science for his groundbreaking research on microbial communities and the development of computational tools that honed the analysis of microbial data. He’s Professor of Pediatrics, Computer Science, and Engineering at the University of California, San Diego. He’s also Director of the Microbiome Initiative at UCSD and co-founder of both the American Gut Project and the Earth Microbiome Project.


One of award-winning science journalist Brendan Buhler’s drawings from the book:



The book’s back cover:



It’s a fascinating read. Enjoy!




Knight, R. with Buhler, B. (2015). Follow Your Gut: The Enormous Impact of Tiny Microbes. A TED Original Book. See:



© Copyright 2015 Joan Rothchild Hardin. All Rights Reserved.


DISCLAIMER:  Nothing on this site or blog is intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.


How the Gut Microbiome Influences the Brain – and Vice Versa





Maybe you’re used to thinking of the brain in your head as your only brain – but your body actually has TWO BRAINS: In fact, the ‘brain’ in your gut does a lot more than digest your food. While this brain doesn’t produce thoughts, it contains its own independent nervous system along with more neurotransmitters and serotonin than the brain in your head.
Sheaths of neurons are embedded in the walls of the entire alimentary canal. Technically known as the enteric nervous system, this gut brain measures about 9 meters (29.5 feet) from esophagus to anus and contains about 100 million neurons, more neurons than exist in either the spinal cord or the entire peripheral nervous system. Equipped with its own reflexes and senses, this second brain can control gut behavior independently of the brain. Here’s a single example to  give you an idea of the importance of the gut brain for the entire body:  About 90% of the fibers in the vagus nerve, the largest of the visceral nerves, carry information FROM the gut TO the brain – but not the other way around. (Hadhazy, 2010)
Living inside the intestines of the gut brain is a huge population of microbes – our gut microbiome, which contains 10’s of trillions of microorganisms and weighs up to 5 pounds. The gut microbiome  consists of at least 1,000 different species of known bacteria and other microscopic life forms comprised of more than 3 million genes.  To put it another way: The number of NON-human genes living in your gut is vastly greater than the genes in your human genome.




One third of the micro-organisms living in your particular gut microbiome is also found in most other people’s gut microbiomes – but two thirds of the micro-organisms in your gut are specific just to you. In other words, the microbiome in your intestines is like an individual identity card.







With that gut microbiome information under your belt, I hope you’re ready to watch a delightful TEDMED talk given by the illustrious John Cryan.


John F. Cryan is Professor and Chair of the Department of Anatomy and Neuroscience at University College Cork (Ireland) and a Principal Investigator at the Alimentary Pharmabiotic Centre there. His research focuses on the neurobiological basis of stress-related neuro-psychiatric disorders – including depression, anxiety and drug dependence. His group is also looking into the interaction between the brain and gut microbiome as it affects stress and immune-related disorders, including irritable bowel syndrome, obesity, and neuro-developmental disorders such as autism.


Professor Cryan, on right, receiving a Researcher of the Year award
Professor Cryan, on right, receiving a Researcher of the Year award


Cryan’s research has far-reaching public health implications: How we view C sections versus vaginal births, how the gut microbiome influences brain development, the impact of probiotics on mood, how to prevent and repair IBS, and much more.
It also suggests that the term gut feeling makes neuro-biological sense.
In this 2014 TEDMED talk, Dr Cryan shares some intriguing facts and insights on how our thoughts and emotions are connected to our guts.


TEDMED Video – Food for thought: How gut microbes change your mind




If you want to read, watch or listen to more fascinating information on the topic of the gut microbiome’s two-way relationship with the brain, here are some other resources. I’m particularly fond of Cryan’s Radiolab interview:

More than a gut feeling
Q&A with John Cryan on the TEDMED blog

Gut Feelings
Radiolab, Robert Krulwich, WNYC, Season 10, Episode 7.

Can the bacteria in your gut send message to your brain?
Science Friday, Ira Flatow, WNYC, Aug. 27, 2014.

Probiotic Material Chill Out Anxious Mice
Science Friday, Ira Flatow, WNYC, Sept. 02, 2011.

Cesarean birth alters immune system, social behavior in mice
Hughes, V. Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative. Nov 18 2014.

Mental Health May Depend on Creatures in the Gut
Schmidt, C. Scientific American. February 2015.

When Yogurt Affects the Brain
Khazan, O. The Atlantic. Sept 23 2014.

Our Microbiome May Be Looking Out For Itself
Zimmer, C. New York Times. Aug 14 2014.

Understanding psychobiotics
Lawson, C. WIRED Health. Mar. 9 2015.

Body bacteria: Can your gut bugs make you smarter?
Swain, F. BBC. Feb. 21, 2014.

Mental Health: Thinking from the gut
Schmidt, C. Nature. Feb. 26, 2015.

Gut-brain link grabs neuroscientists
Reardon, S. Nature. Nov. 12, 2014.

Friends with social benefits: host-microbe interactions as a driver of brain evolution and development?
Stilling, R, SR Bordenstein, et al. Front Cell Infect Microbiol. Oct 2014.

Mind-altering microorganisms: the impact of the gut microbiota on brain and behavior
Cryan JF, TG Dinan. Nat Rev Neurosci. Oct 2012. 13, 701–12.







Study of the gut microbiome and its influence on the body is in its infancy now and John Cryan is one of its pioneers. Stay tuned … we’re going to find that probiotics and prebiotics (nutrients necessary for probiotics) become central to the practice of psychiatry, gastroenterology, obstetrics, gynecology, neonatology and pediatrics, allergy and immunology, cardiology, dermatology, endocrinology, infectious disease, neurology, pulmonology, urology, surgery and likely across all medical fields.
And then there are the the body’s OTHER microbiomes, which I didn’t even talk about in this piece!


My thanks to Matt Keschner, DC, for bringing this video to my attention.




Cryan, J.F. (2014). TEDMED Video – Food for thought: How gut microbes change your mind. See:

Hadhazy, A. (2010). Think Twice: How the Gut’s “Second Brain” Influences Mood and Well-Being: The emerging and surprising view of how the enteric nervous system in our bellies goes far beyond just processing the food we eat. Scientific American. See:



© Copyright 2015 Joan Rothchild Hardin. All Rights Reserved.


DISCLAIMER:  Nothing on this site or blog is intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

More on the Revolving Door Between Monsanto and the Government





This is a follow up to my last post, Monsanto’s RoundUp “Safe to Drink” – Laugh Out Loud Video (April 2, 2015). If you haven’t been following Monsanto and its role in genetically engineering our food, you may not be aware of the lengths the company has gone to insure it gets its way in genetically engineering our food while doing untold harm to human and animal health along with the health of the soil, water, and air.
This post is a story in images about the ongoing revolving door in place between Monsanto and the US government: including the FDA, USDA & EPA (all agencies that are supposedly looking out for the country’s health and the environment), Congress, the Supreme Court, and even the White House.
Monsanto has essentially bought our government. This mutually beneficial relationship explains why efforts to regulate Monsanto or even enacting mandatory GMO labeling continually get shot down – no matter how many petitions we sign.
Perhaps this sounds like I’m a conspiracy theorist. Check it out before you decide.






“Due to the vested interest that Monsanto has in controlling regulation that affects its business, it has both donated to politicians and promoted the appointment of people who work for them to positions within the American government. As of yet, Monsanto has been successful in keeping its regulatory burdens low and getting its representatives into positions within the US government. The infiltration of regulatory agencies by corporate actors that is referred to here is called the “regulatory revolving door”. Individuals who work for industry go to work for the government, make public regulations, and then return to the private sector after leaving the public service.”
Monsanto Controls both the White House and the US Congress (Sager, 2013)
In 2010 Obama appointed Michael Taylor, the previous VP for Public Policy at Monsanto and a current Monsanto lobbyist, to a high level advisory role at the Food and Drug Administration.









In 2009, as Solicitor General, Elena Kagan defended Monsanto’s right to contaminate the environment with its GM alfalfa.
In 2013, as a Supreme Court Justice, Elena Kagan announced the Court’s unanimous opinion supporting Monsanto’s patent rights on its herbicide resistant genetically altered Roundup Ready seed …










In 2008 Obama appointed Tim Vilsack, former Iowa governor and shill for agribusiness biotech giants like Monsanto, to be the  United States Secretary of Agriculture. In early 2009, the US Senate confirmed the nomination by unanimous consent.




In 2010 Obama appointed Islam Siddiqui, lobbyist and then VP of Science and Regulatory Affairs at CropLife America – a lobbying organization for the pesticide and biotech industries – as Chief Agricultural Negotiator in the Office of the US Trade Representative. His government job is to promote the export of American crops. His former jobs were to promote the sale of Monsanto and other pesticides and biotech crops. His government job is to promote the export of American crops, allowing Siddiqui to represent Monsanto’s interests as if they are identical to the interests of the US.






Dr Robert Beachy, an expert in plant virology and biotechnology of plants, carried out  research in collaboration with Monsanto Company that led to the development of the world’s first genetically modified food crop. In 2009 Obama appointed him as first director of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), whose mission is advance knowledge for agriculture, the environment, human health and well-being.











































In 2014 Putin Tells Obama: “Stop Monsanto, Or We Will” ….






For good reason, many refer to Monsanto – which began as a toxic chemical company in 1901 and then, a century later, rebranded itself as a “sustainable agriculture” company interested in helping feed the world – as “The World’s Most Evil Corporation”. To read more about Monsanto’s machinations during its devious history of profiting from the manufacture of devastatingly harmful products, see  The Complete History of Monsanto, “The World’s Most Evil Corporation”. (Hanzai, 2014)











Hanzai, E. (2014). The Complete History of Monsanto, “The World’s Most Evil Corporation”. See:

Hardin, J.R. (2015). Monsanto’s RoundUp “Safe to Drink” – Laugh Out Loud Video. See:

Sager, J. (2013). Monsanto Controls both the White House and the US Congress. See:



© Copyright 2015 Joan Rothchild Hardin. All Rights Reserved.


DISCLAIMER:  Nothing on this site or blog is intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.




Monsanto’s RoundUp “Safe to Drink” – Laugh Out Loud Video





A few weeks ago the World Health Organization (WHO) warned that glyphosate, the main chemical in Monsanto’s bestselling weed killer Roundup, is linked to cancer in humans. This conclusion was reached by a panel of scientific experts from 11 countries after they had made “a comprehensive review of the latest available scientific evidence”.(International Agency for Research on Cancer – World Health Organization, 2015)
Glyphosate is now used in over 750 different week killers. According to the WHO report, the chemical is also routinely detected in the air, water, the foods we eat and feed to animals.
The prestigious journal Lancet Oncology, reported that glyphosate is linked to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and lung cancer in humans and there is “convincing evidence” that it can cause cancer in lab animals. (Guyton, 2015)



Yet Monsanto continues to declare Roundup and glyphosate perfectly safe and our government refuses to allow GMO labeling – let alone banning it as many other countries have done.
Monsanto’s “Roundup Ready” seeds have been genetically modified to be resistant to their best selling herbicide. Farmers who plant these seeds must then spray their crops with increasing amounts of Roundup to keep other weeds and plants from growing in their fields.


A GMO (genetically modified organism) is the result of a laboratory process where genes from the DNA of one species are extracted and artificially forced into the genes of an unrelated plant or animal. The foreign genes may come from bacteria, viruses, insects, animals or even humans. Because this involves the transfer of genes, GMOs are also known as “transgenic” organisms.Institute for Responsible Technology





Sign "Round up ready soyabeans" in field of genetically engineered soyabeans.


The first Roundup Ready genetically modified crops were soybean seeds introduced by Monsanto in 1996. Current Roundup Ready crops include soy, corn, canola, alfalfa, cotton, sorghum, and wheat.
Since Roundup Ready crop seeds are sterile, they have notoriously been referred to as “terminator seeds”.  Farmers are unable to reuse the best seed from their current crops as they’ve done for centuries and instead must buy the most recent strain of seed from Monsanto each year. (Delano, 2009)




The prevalence of GMO crops in the US increases yearly. The US Department of Agriculture reports that herbicide tolerant (HT) soybean crops rose from 17% of US soybean acreage in 1997 to 68% in 2001 and 94% in 2014. Plantings of HT cotton increased from 10% in 1997 to 56% in 2001 and 91% in 2014. The adoption of HT corn, which had been slower in previous years, has accelerated, reaching 89% of US corn acreage in 2014. (USDA, 2014)




If you’re eating anything that isn’t organically grown or consuming  processed foods, you’re inadvertently consuming a big dose of glyphosate. In 2005, the Grocery Manufacturers of America estimated that 75% of all processed foods in the US contain at least one genetically modified ingredient.
Ten years later, an estimated 80% of GMO crops worldwide are genetically engineered to survive being sprayed with massive levels of Roundup or other glyphosate-containing herbicides. As a result, 75% of the processed food available in the US likely are poisoned with glyphosate. (Food Democracy Now, 2015)






Glyphosate contamination in plants is systemic: Unlike many other agricultural chemical that are sprayed on crops, glyphosate is found in every cell of the plant.
You can’t wash it off no matter what cleaning method you use – and processed food and animal feed manufacturers who use GMO crops also can’t remove it.  The glyphosate is INSIDE the plant, not a topical residue ON it.
To make the situation even more dangerous, farmers need to keep increasing the amount of glyphosate they spray on their crops because  Roundup-resistant weeds are proliferating. And, in a double whammy, the US Environmental Protection Agency has significantly raised the  levels of glyphosate it allows in food. (Mercola, 2014)







Here’s the promised video!
Since it’s April 1st, this video clip of former Greenpeace member turned GMO lobbyist, Dr Patrick Moore, now one of Monsanto’s fools, is apt. Here he is in a recent interview with French TV station Canal + declaring that drinking glyphosate is so safe that, “you can drink a whole quart of it and it won’t hurt you”. Watch what happens when he’s offered a glass of it.










The Monsanto Chemical Works was founded in 1901 by John Francis Queeny, a former employee of a large wholesale pharmaceutical company. In 1902 the fledgling company sold its first product, an artificial sweetener it called Saccharin, to the Coca Cola Company. Even then, the government knew saccharin was toxic and sued to stop its manufacture – but lost in court. In 1905, Monsanto began to make a profit by selling vanillin and caffeine. In 1906, the US government started regulating and inspecting some food products but Monsanto made itself exempt from regulation by donating to politicians, research facilities, schools, and even the US Dairy Association – a practice it engages in to this day.
Monsanto is now a multi-billion dollar company with branches in 100 countries. It is the main producer of genetically modified crops and seeds in the world.
Many refer to Monsanto as “The World’s Most Evil Corporation”. If you’re interested in reading more about Monsanto’s devious history of profits from the manufacture of devastatingly harmful products, I recommend The Complete History of Monsanto, “The World’s Most Evil Corporation”.
A sampling from this history to pique your interest:

Monsanto and their partners in crime Archer Daniels Midland, Sodexo and Tyson Foods write and sponsor The Food Safety Modernization Act of 2009: HR 875. This criminal “act” gives the corporate factory farms a virtual monopoly to police and control all foods grown anywhere, including one’s own backyard, and provides harsh penalties and jail sentences for those who do not use chemicals and fertilizers. President Obama decided this sounded reasonable and gave his approval.


In recent decades, Monsanto has led an intense campaign of deception to get us to believe that Roundup and glyphosate are perfectly safe. So far, Monsanto has prevailed in the US.
In 2009, a French court ruled that Monsanto was guilty of falsely advertising Roundup as “biodegradable” and “environmentally friendly” and claiming it “left the soil clean”.
All these Monsanto claims are false.
Recent research has shown that glyphosate residues “enhance the damaging effects of other food-borne chemical residues and toxins in the environment to disrupt normal body functions and induce disease”.
In Argentina, fertility problems, birth defects, miscarriages,and cancer rates have soared in farming communities where Roundup Ready corn and soybeans are grown. In the Argentine province of Chaco, birth defects quadrupled in the 10 years since GE crops were introduced. And a recent Norwegian study published in Food Technology demonstrated that GMO soy bean plants contain a poor nutritional profile AND high levels of glyphosate, leading the researchers to question both their safety and quality. (Mercola, 2014)
Tell Congress and the EPA to follow the lead of other countries by banning Roundup and getting glyphosate off our plates:







This artificial sweetener provides sweetness without calories. Found widely in drinks, candies, cookies, medicines, gum, fruit spreads, toothpaste and more. Studies have shown that consuming artificially sweetened drinks and foods drive us to eat more. This may be because artificial sweeteners don’t make the body feel full or because the sweetness promotes the desire to keep eating.





Aspartame is another artificial sweetener Monsanto has produced since 1985.  Numerous studies have demonstrated its health hazards and it has been banned twice by the FDA – yet it is still legally and widely used in 6,000 products worldwide, including diet sodas, sodas, yogurts, gum, sauces, drink powders, cereals and much more.

Aspartame has been found to greatly increase the risk of fast-paced kidney decline. It has also been linked to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, leukemia, brain damage (by leaving traces of methanol in the blood), an imbalance in the antioxidant/pro-oxidant status in the brain, brain tumors, and heart-related disease.






Polychlorinated biphenyls are in a family of man-made organic chemicals known as chlorinated hydrocarbons. They were first manufactured in 1929 for use in plastics, cable insulation, caulking, adhesives and oil-based paints until they were banned in 1979 for being carcinogenic and contributing to a number of adverse effects on the human immune, reproductive, nervous, and endocrine systems. Although no longer manufactured, they continue to do damage. A 2011 study reported they are still being found in the blood of pregnant women.






Monsanto began manufacturing the synthetic polymer polystyrene in 1941. It is still in production and is widely used in food packaging (styrofoam). Polystyrene is non-biodegradable and comprises the majority of hazardous waste accumulating on our planet. Chronic exposure to it is tied to headache, depression, fatigue, and weakness.





DDT (dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane) was a commonly used pesticide designed to combat malaria-transmitting mosquitoes. DDT has been linked to liver damage, infertility, and nervous system damage. It was banned in 1972 but can take many years to break down and is still being found in soils and waterways. Human exposure to DDT comes through eating contaminated fish and crops or through atmospheric deposition.




Dioxins are a group of chemically-related compounds that are among the most toxic chemicals known to science. Monsanto began promoting the use of chemical pesticides, including dioxins, in agriculture in 1945. The EPA has confirmed dioxins as a cancer hazard. They accumulate in the food chain and are primarily found now in meat and dairy products.





Agent Orange

Agent Orange is an herbicide/ defoliant primarily known for its use by the US as a form of chemical warfare during the Vietnam War.  Agent Orange caused over 400,000 deaths and 500,000 birth defects in Vietnam. It has caused health problems of some kind in over a million people. Agent Orange was contaminated with dioxin – something that Monsanto apparently knew about when it sold the compound to the US Government for use in that war.

Since a formal clean-up effort didn’t begin until 2012, damages from Agent Orange are still being felt.  Some chemicals found in Agent Orange are also found in certain herbicides in use today.





Petroleum-based fertilizers

Monsanto purchased a major oil refinery in 1955 and began producing  petroleum-based fertilizers to apply to soils and plant tissues. Petroleum-based fertilizers destroy beneficial soil micro-organisms, eventually rendering the soil sterile and therefore fully dependent on external stimulants to produce crops. These fertilizers are used on farms around the world.





Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH)

Monsanto developed the genetically modified hormone rBGH to inject into dairy cows to produce more milk. While artificially increasing cows’ milk production, rBGH also raises the animals’ levels of pus, antibiotic residues, and a cancer-accelerating hormone called IGF-1. When consumed by humans, rBGH acts as a cancer accelerator and has been linked to breast, colon and prostate cancer.






Monsanto was a pioneer in genetically modifying organisms and continues to be a major player in the field. The company began its initiatives in the early 1990’s with the claim that GMO’s help “feed the world”.

Genetically modifying organisms is dangerous is so many ways. If you want to read more, here are some articles on the topic recommended by Collective Evolution:

  1. 5 Myths That GMO Companies Want You To Believe
  2. 10 Scientific Studies Proving GMOs Can Be Harmful To Human Health
  3. New Study Links GMOs To Cancer, Liver/Kidney Damage & Severe Hormonal Disruption

GMOs are prevalent in many crops – most notably corn,  sugar beets, potatoes, soybeans, tomatoes, squash, golden rice, salmon and animal feeds.

The US Government has so far resisted all efforts to require the labeling of GMO crops and Monsanto, along with many other large corporations, has successfully poured funds into state efforts to require mandatory GMO labeling.

And it’s not even true that GMO crops are better at “feeding the world”. For example:






Roundup, also known as Glyphosate, is the most widely used herbicide around the world.  Monsanto founded its agricultural chemicals division in 1970, with Roundup being its star product.

Glyphosate is an endocrine disruptor and has been demonstrated to be carcinogenic. Endocrine disruptors can cause development disorders, birth defects, and cancerous tumors.

Although banned in many countries outside the US, Roundup is approved and still widely used today to destroy and control weeds. It is now found in our groundwater, soil, streams, tissues, and the air.




Nuclear Weapons

Monsanto was even involved in the development of the first nuclear weapons. After acquiring Thomas & Hochwalt Laboratories, Monsanto established a department that played a key role in the Manhattan Project from 1943 to 1945: researching methods for enriching uranium. The Manhattan Project was responsible for producing the atomic bombs the US dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki during the last days of WWII.





 And there’s more:













Delano, M. (2009). Roundup Ready Crops: Cash crop or third world savior? See:

DeNicola, M. (2014). Monsanto’s Dirty Dozen: The 12 Most Awful Products Made By Monsanto. Collective Evolution. See:

Food Democracy Now. (4/1/2015). Email entitled “Monsanto’s Fool”.

Guyton, K.Z. et al. (2015). Carcinogenicity of tetrachlorvinphos, parathion, malathion, diazinon, and glyphosate. The Lancet Oncology. See:

Hanzai, E. (2014). The Complete History of Monsanto, “The World’s Most Evil Corporation”. See:

International Agency for Research on Cancer World Health Organization. (3/20/ 2015). Evaluation of Five Organophosphate Insecticides and Herbicides. IARC Monographs, Volume 112. World Health Organization. See:

Mercola, R. (5/20/2014). “Extreme” Levels of Roundup Detected in Food—Are You Eating This Toxic Contaminant? See:

US Department of Agriculture: Economic Research Service. (7/14/2014). Adoption of Genetically Engineered Crops in the U.S. See:

YouTube. (3/27/2015). Lobbyist claims Monsanto Roundup ingredient Glyphosate safe to drink, then refuses to drink it. See:


© Copyright 2015 Joan Rothchild Hardin. All Rights Reserved.


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