High glyphosate levels are turning up everywhere:
In our blood
In water supplies
In breast milk
“Glyphosate levels have been found to be significantly higher in the urine of humans who ate non-organic food, compared with those who ate mostly organic food. Chronically ill people showed significantly higher glyphosate residues in their urine than healthy people.” (Robinson, Antoniou & Fagan, 2015)
This post may bring at least part of the discussion of GMO foods from the general to the personal – the effects of glyphosate on your own health.
WHAT IS GLYPHOSATE
Glyphosate is the key chemical ingredient in Monsanto’s RoundUp weedkiller, which the genetically modified seeds produced by Monsanto – called “RoundUp Ready” – are engineered to withstand. These “RoundUp Ready” seeds can be doused with glyphosate and survive while the other non-GMO plants around them are killed. (GMO Awareness, 2011)
Glyphosate is the most widely used herbicide in the world.
“Since 1974 in the U.S., over 1.6 billion kilograms of glyphosate active ingredient have been applied, or 19 % of estimated global use of glyphosate (8.6 billion kilograms). Globally, glyphosate use has risen almost 15-fold since so-called “Roundup Ready,” genetically engineered glyphosate-tolerant crops were introduced in 1996. Two-thirds of the total volume of glyphosate applied in the U.S. from 1974 to 2014 has been sprayed in just the last 10 years. The corresponding share globally is 72 %. In 2014, farmers sprayed enough glyphosate to apply ~1.0 kg/ha (0.8 pound/acre) on every hectare of U.S.-cultivated cropland and nearly 0.53 kg/ha (0.47 pounds/acre) on all cropland worldwide.” (Benbrook, 2016)
That’s a huge amount of poison being sprayed on the fruits and vegetables we eat and in the feed of most of the animal products we consume.
“Worldwide, 8 GMO crops have been approved for commercial production; soy, cotton, corn, canola, sugarbeet, papaya, squash or yellow zucchini, and alfalfa, and the biotech industry is in the process of pushing forward additionally modified foods such as rice, apples, and salmon. The four major crops that account for virtually all of the biotech output are soy, cotton, corn, and canola. The remaining GMO crops are exclusively grown in the United States with the exception being papaya which is grown in China in addition to US cultivation.”
In the US, nearly 300 million pounds of glyphosate were used on crops in 2013. (US Department of the Interior, 2016)
Glyphosate Use in US by Year and Crop, 1992-2013
The following information is from the National Pesticide Information Center (NPIC, 2015):
Glyphosate is an herbicide applied to the leaves of plants to kill both broad leaf plants and grasses.
Glyphosate has been one of the most widely used herbicides in the United States since 1974. It is used in agriculture and forestry, on lawns and gardens, and for weed control in industrial areas. Some products containing glyphosate are used to control aquatic plants.
As of 2015, there were over 750 products containing glyphosate for sale in the US.
Glyphosate is a non-selective herbicide – it will kill most plants by interfering with plants’ ability to synthesize aromatic amino acids. This pathway is necessary for plants and some microorganisms’ survival.
Glyphosate exposure can take place via the skin, eyes, nose, and ingestion.
HEALTH CONSEQUENCES OF GLYPHOSATE
This list was published by GMO-Awareness.com in 2011. See More About Glyphosate (RoundUp) for more information on glyphosate and links to numerous studies on its health consequences:
Glyphosate causes disease and biological / physiological disorders in crops
Glyphosate is no longer effective at killing weeds
Glyphosate use is increasing steadily
Glyphosate is not breaking down as promised by Monsanto
Glyphosate causes birth defects, tumors, and reproductive disorders in animals, as well as sharp declines in beneficial insects
Glyphosate is a genotoxic endocrine disruptor to human cells and gut bacteria
Glyphosate is linked to cancer and deadly kidney disease in humans
Glyphosate causes DNA damage
In spite of considerable evidence, t he EPA is still deciding whether glyphosate presents any health risks to humans
Glyphosate resistance is the primary purpose of genetic crop engineering
For additional information, including references to articles published after 2011, also see GMO Myths and Truths: A Citizen’s Guide to the Evidence on the Safety and Efficacy of Genetically Modified Crops and Foods, 3rd Edition. (Robinson, Antoniou, & Fagan, 2015)
MY GLYPHOSATE TESTING RESULTS
Here’s where it gets personal.
In 2015, I sent urine and tap water samples to The Detox Project for glyphosate residue testing. Their testing uses a scientifically validated LC/MS/MS method – a powerful and highly sensitive procedure for detecting and measuring chemicals in liquid samples. (Wikipedia, 5/20/2016)
To my surprise, the sample of water from my kitchen sink contained an insignificant amount of glyphosate residue but my urine sample was a different story: 3.5ppb (parts per billion) (ng/mL) – higher than the 2.8ppb (ng/mL) average for my area of the country, the Northeast.
My urine glyphosate finding is disturbing. 3.5 ppb possibly increases my risk for a number of serious health consequences down the road. The relatively high number possibly also explains, along with repeated doses of antibiotics, how my colon came to be overrun with a Clostridium difficile infection in 2010. If my gut microbiome had been diverse and strong, my gut wouldn’t have become overrun with C. diff bacteria.
There’s also the fact that I grew up and lived a large part of my life in the Midwest. If you look at the map and chart above, you’ll see that this area has been doused with a high concentration of glyphosate.
Also, it has been only since I recovered from that C. diff infection that I started to read up on GMO vs organic and began to eat more organic foods. Yet, my life is fairly complicated with many moving parts and most of my work is conducted at my home. I’m able to get to the Union Square Greenmarket only one afternoon a week to shop for organic fruits, veggies, cheeses, and meat. The grocery stores that are convenient to my home carry a limited variety of wild caught fish and organic meats. My social life generally involves meeting friends for meals a few days a week and I take myself out to eat maybe one additional day to avoid cabin fever. I have a gluten allergy and sensitivities to several other common ingredients so am somewhat limited in dishes I can safely eat. And the kicker is that, even in New York City, the majority of well priced, interesting restaurants serve GMO food, much of it very tasty and locally produced) – meaning I’m still getting an ongoing dose of glyphosate in my salads, sushi, and chicken tikka masala.
My glyphosate score doesn’t mean I’m doomed to get any serious health conditions. It has, however, made me realize that I have to work even harder to keep my gut immunity strong.
THE DETOX PROJECT’S FINDINGS
The Detox Project issued a press release on 25 May 2016 entitled UCSF Presentation Reveals Glyphosate Contamination in People across America summarizing the project’s glyphosate testing results so far from their study launched in 2015. These findings are alarming!
Glyphosate, the most frequently used herbicide in the world, was found in the urine of 93% of people across American during this unique project.
Even worse, the highest levels of glyphosate were found in children!
Additionally, as The Detox Project points out, people who had themselves tested were likely already knowledgeable about the dangers of GMO foods so were inclined to avoid them – and, even so, glyphosate was found in the urine and breast milk samples from 93% of us.
Urine samples were tested by a laboratory at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) during this first ever comprehensive and validated LC/MS/MS testing project to be carried out across America.
Glyphosate was determined to be A PROBABLE HUMAN CARCINOGEN by the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer in 2015 (IARC, 2015) – and now this toxic product has been shown to exist in the bodies of over 90% of the US population.
Information from The Detox Project’s press release (Detox Project 2015-2016):
Urine and Water Testing Results
“93% of the urine tested by the University of California San Francisco lab tested positive for glyphosate residues. No glyphosate was found in the tap water samples. These results are only from a small percentage of the total samples collected. More data will be released later in 2016 that shows a very similar percentage contamination rate in a much larger number of people, according to the UCSF laboratory.
“The results of this bio-survey come from the first in-lab validated LC/MS/MS testing method used for glyphosate testing of the general public in America.”
Is Glyphosate Safe at Real-Life Exposure Levels?
“Glyphosate has never been studied by regulators or the chemical industry at levels that the human population in the U.S. is being exposed to (under 3 mg/kg body weight/day). This is a huge hole in the global risk assessment of glyphosate, as there is evidence suggesting that low levels of the chemical may hack hormones even more than at mid and high levels, according to independent science – a higher dose does not necessarily make a more toxic, hormone disruptive effect.”
“Industry funded science from the dark ages suggested that the higher the dose of a chemical the more dangerous it was. However, modern independent science has discovered that many toxic chemicals have as much or even more of an influence on our health at low doses– these chemicals are known as hormone hackers (endocrine disruptors).
“A study from March 2015 stated that the health costs to the European Union of just some hormone hacking chemicals, in connection with a subset of illnesses known to be linked to hormone interference, is over EUR 150 Billion per year! The study stated that lower IQ, adult obesity and 5% or more of autism cases are all linked to exposure to endocrine disruptors.
Unique Testing Project
“The Detox Project is a unique platform for the testing of toxic chemicals in our bodies and in our food. The aim of the project is to cut out all conflicts of interest in chemical bio-surveys by allowing the public to pay directly for chemical testing that they are interested in.”
“The regions with the highest levels were the West and the Midwest with an average of 3.053 PPB and 3.050 PPB respectively.
“Glyphosate residues were not observed in any tap water samples during the early phase of the project, most likely due to phosphorus removal during water treatment.
“The results from the UCSF urine testing in America showed a much higher frequency and average glyphosate level than those observed in urine samples in the European Union in 2013. The average level in Europe was around 1 PPB with a frequency of detection of 43.9%.”
“Glyphosate is likely to be one of these hormone hacking chemicals at real-life exposure levels down to 0.1 ppb or below, according to independent science. Regulators and the chemical industry have simply not studied the toxic effects of glyphosate at real-life exposure levels. Find more information on this here.”
YOU CAN’T WASH GLYPHOSATE OFF YOUR FOOD
Glyphosate incorporates into each cell of a plant so WASHING PRODUCE DOES NOT REMOVE IT. And it accumulates in animal tissues so you get a dose of glyphosate whenever you eat meat and dairy products from animals fed GMO grain feeds. (Carnahan, 2015)
Glyphosate damages the gut microbiome and we know that a dysbiotic gut microbiome can lead to a long list of health problems. See Moms to EPA: Recall Monsanto’s Roundup (Hardin, 2014).
Also see Functional Medicine doc, Jill Carnahan’s, well researched and written article Glyphosate Toxicity: What You Don’t Know Might Kill You!! for information on glyphosate’s link to:
Inflammatory bowel diseases (Crohn’s and Ulcerative Colitis)
Carnahan also includes her own Detox Project’s Glyphosate Analysis Report in her article along with an explanation of why she thinks the glyphosate residue level in her urine is so high. (Carnahan, 2016)
If you’re interested in learning more about GMOs and glyphosate, I highly recommend GMO Myths and Truths: A Citizen’s Guide to the Evidence on the Safety and Efficacy of Genetically Modified Crops and Foods, 3rd Edition.
See also my post The Cost of Not Eating Organic. (Hardin, 2016).
TO GET YOUR OWN GLYPHOSATE LEVELS TESTED
“The Detox Project provides glyphosate level testing for urine and water. This testing will provide you with an accurate report on the levels of glyphosate and 150+ man-made chemicals in your urine and water in parts per billion (ppb) and also gives you information about the results of independent peer-reviewed lab studies on rats and other animals that have been completed on glyphosate and glyphosate-based herbicides.
“If you want to be tested, go to http://detoxproject.org/glyphosate-testing-test-yourself/ and give them your email address and they will contact you when the project starts up again in Summer 2016″ (The Detox Project, 2015-2016)
The site also provides other useful information, including telling you how to go about detoxing your body of glyphosate.
Benbrook, C.M. (2016). Trends in glyphosate herbicide use in the United States and globally. Environmental Sciences Europe, 28:3. See: http://enveurope.springeropen.com/articles/10.1186/s12302-016-0070-0
The Detox Project. (2016). Glyphosate Testing: Test Yourself. See: http://detoxproject.org/glyphosate-testing-test-yourself/
Detox Project. (5/25/2016). UCSF Presentation Reveals Glyphosate Contamination in People across America. See: http://detoxproject.org/1321-2/
Detox Project. (2015-2016). Glyphosate Testing: Test Yourself. See: http://detoxproject.org/glyphosate-testing-test-yourself/
Frompovich, C. (2015). What’s Your “Daily Value” Of Glyphosate? See: http://www.activistpost.com/2015/03/whats-your-daily-value-of-glyphosate.html
GMO Awareness. (2011). More About Glyphosate (RoundUp). See: https://gmo-awareness.com/resources/glyphosate/
Hardin, J.R. (2016). The Cost of Not Eating Organic. See: http://allergiesandyourgut.com/2016/05/13/cost-not-eating-organic/
Hardin, J.R. (2014). Moms to EPA: Recall Monsanto’s Roundup. See: http://allergiesandyourgut.com/2014/05/30/moms-epa-recall-monsantos-roundup/
International Agency for Research on Cancer, World Health Organization. (2015). IARC Monographs Volume 112: evaluation of five organophosphate insecticides and herbicides. See: http://www.iarc.fr/en/media-centre/iarcnews/pdf/MonographVolume112.pdf
Moyoway.com. (2016). What Is Food Poisoning Today? See: http://www.moyoway.com/food-poisoning.html
National Pesticide Information Center. (2015). Glyphosate General Fact Sheet. See: http://npic.orst.edu/factsheets/glyphogen.html
Robinson, C., Antoniou, M, & Fagan, J. (2015). GMO Myths and Truths: A Citizen’s Guide to the Evidence on the Safety and Efficacy of Genetically Modified Crops and Foods, 3rd Edition. See: http://www.amazon.com/GMO-Myths-Truths-Citizens-Genetically/dp/0993436706
Us Department of the Interior. (2016). Pesticide National Synthesis Project. See: https://water.usgs.gov/nawqa/pnsp/usage/maps/show_map.php?year=2012&map=GLYPHOSATE&hilo=L
Wikipedia. (5/20/2016). Liquid chromatography–mass spectrometry. See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liquid_chromatography%E2%80%93mass_spectrometry
© Copyright 2016. Joan Rothchild Hardin. All Rights Reserved.
DISCLAIMER: Nothing on this site or blog is intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.