John Speaks on GMOs & Glyphosates

“What is wrong with glyphosates and can you explain the relationship to GMOs?” 

J. Bagnulo 12/07/14

Genetically Modified Plants, Bacteria, and Associated Glyphosates: An Assessment of Influence on Human Health

The vast majority of herbicides used globally contain the active substance glyphosate. The most common and widely used glyphosate-based herbicide is distributed as Roundup® (Monsanto). As the patents on glyphosate have expired, several other agrochemical companies such as Syngenta, Bayer, Nufarm and DowAgro Science have produced glyphosate-based herbicides. As of 2014, more than half of the 800 000 tons of glyphosate produced annually are produced in China.

Glyphosate was invented in 1951 and was first produced by Monsanto in 1970. The herbicide demonstrated both raid and radical effects on the protein metabolism of plants. Inhibiting the formation of essential amino acids and thereby starving plants of the essential nutrients required for growth. Glyphosate is a systemically-based, broadband type of herbicide that kills almost all green plants unless the plants have had specifically designed Glyphosate-resistant gene spliced into its genetic material. After treatment, non-GM plants die within a few days.

Monsanto, Bayer and other companies genetically engineer several crops that are resistant to glyphosate. Thus, plantations with genetically modified corn, soybeans, canola, or alfalfa can be sprayed with glyphosate to exterminate weeds between the crop plants. This method, however, results in a glyphosate residue on the crop, which then enters the food chain of animals and humans.

Herein lies the greatest risk to human and ecosystem health, globally. Genetically modified crops are the primary reason for the manufacture and use of glyphosates. Without GM crops, agriculture would not use this herbicide, food and animal feed would be free of glyphosates, and the surrounding ecosystems (waterways, water supplies, and soils) would have less than 5% of what it is currently contaminated with.

The confusion or debate over the safety of GM foods is due to the manner in which these foods are examined in research. First, as stated earlier, the glyphosates are undoubtedly the greatest component to the biological risk associated with GM foods. As researchers examine GM foods on animal models, they routinely look at GM seeds or foods that are free of glyphosates. Unfortunately, this never happens in the ongoing, “real world” feeding trials that are underway in most households across the US and in many other areas globally. All glyphosate-resistant crops grown commercially contain glyphosate residues, and based upon Canadian and German research (1, 2), most consumers have significant levels of this chemical in their blood and other tissues. Levels increase substantially with the increased use of glyphosates in the browning or premature ripening of crops which is an ever-increasing technique used to accelerate harvest (2).

Second, the downstream impact on human nutrition is completely absent from peer-reviewed science. Yet, plant pathologists and animal researchers have indicated, from repeated trials, that there exists an enormous divide between the health and reproductive rates of GM-fed and non-GM-fed animals, with GM-fed livestock suffering comparatively. Plant and soil analyses indicate that glyphosates eliminate essential families of soil-based organisms that are critical for the absorption or uptake of trace minerals such as manganese. Thereby, GM and associated glyphosate crops contain significantly less in specific trace mineral content ultimately compromising the nutritional status of those animals that feed on these crops.

Third, much like the manner in which glyphosates reduce the diversity of microbes in the soil they also appear to have a detrimental effect on the microbes in the human GI.

Gut bacteria and the associated micro biome are responsible for more areas of human health than any other of physiology. With reduced diversity there are generally more food intolerances, food allergies, more inflammatory-based conditions, and more disease. The association between the national incidence of celiac disease and the consumption of GM crops is significant (3). Additionally, GM plants contain added genetic material (genes) that are more easily passed on to other cells. One preliminary investigation suggests that human gut bacteria can contain genetic material transferred from the consumption of GM foods (4). The long term influence of this on the micro biome are poorly understood and under-appreciated.

In summary, GM foods represent an enormous component of the US and global food supply. While there is clear evidence that the chemical glyphosate is present in many or most of us eating grain, cereals, legumes, and products made with these (corn and soy derivatives, canola oil), as well as animal products where animals were fed these foods, this is not the area of GM consumption that has been investigated. Animal studies clearly show deleterious effects on reproductive health, cancer rates, and endocrine function. Below is a small selection of these studies. For a wider selection please visit here.

Based on similarities in mammalian systems, it is highly advisable to avoid the consumption of all GM and glyphosate-containing foods for both human and ecological health.

1. Reproductive Toxicology. 2011 May;31(4):528-33. doi: 10.1016/j.reprotox.2011.02.004. Epub 2011 Feb 18.

Maternal and fetal exposure to pesticides associated to genetically modified foods in Eastern Townships of Quebec, Canada. Aris A1, Leblanc S.

Author information

“Pesticides associated to genetically modified foods (PAGMF), are engineered to tolerate herbicides such as glyphosate (GLYP) and gluphosinate (GLUF) or insecticides such as the bacterial toxin bacillus thuringiensis (Bt). This is the first study to reveal the presence of circulating PAGMF in women with and without pregnancy, paving the way for a new field in reproductive toxicology including nutrition and utero-placental toxicities.”

2. Ithakajournal: viticulture ecology climate-farming Brändli D, Reinacher S

Herbicides found in Human Urine

Ithaka Journal 1/2012: 270–272 (2012)

Editor: Delinat-Institute for Ecology and Climate- farming, CH-1974 Arbaz, ISSN 1663-0521

Herbicides found in Human Urine

by Dirk Brändli and Sandra Reinacher

“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.”

3. Anthony Samsel and Stephanie Seneff published as study titled: Glyphosate, pathways to modern diseases II: Celiac sprue and gluten intolerance in Interdiscip Toxicol. 2013; Vol. 6 (4): 159–184. Their research shows the striking correlation between glyphosate use on wheat and Celiac disease.

Image courtesy  Stephen Melkisethian



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