Glyphosate (Round Up herbicide) in your Cheerios

Maybe you have used Round Up on your lawn, as it is a very common herbicide sold at Home Depot and other stores for home use. I imagine it is very effective.

Round-Up, otherwise known as glyphosate, is the most common herbicide used in North America, invented by and put onto the market by Monsanto. What they did is a truly brilliant for their bottom line.

Why, you ask? Monsanto is famous (or infamous depending on your point of view) for marketing genetically modified seed, particularly GMO Round-Up Ready canola, soy and corn. How they modified the seed was to make it resistant to their brand of herbicide, Round-Up or glyphosate.

So, they market their GMO seed, and also sell Round Up Ready herbicide, which kills everything but the plants that contain the modified genes.

Monsanto makes money on their GMO seed, and they make money on their herbicide. A perfect marriage. Personally, I don’t have a problem with businesses making money on their inventions – I admire innovation and find it amazing how much our world has changed even in the last 10 years.

But here is the thing. Glyphosate has been recently classified as a probable carcinogen by the World Health Organization’s cancer branch, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC).

It is being sprayed on corn, canola, soy, cotton, sugar beet and alfalfa GM crops in greater and greater quantities, because as the years go by, the weeds that it is supposed to kill are becoming more and more resistant to the herbicide, and it takes more and more Round Up to do the job.

Round Up is also regularly sprayed on other crops such as wheat and oats just before harvest, a process called desiccation. By killing the crop first it allows the grains to dry down faster after harvest.

Consequently, glyphosate residue is everywhere in the food supply, as most of us eat wheat, soy, oats and canola every day in processed foods, such as breakfast cereals, cookies, cookies, and products containing canola or soybean oil. It is also found in animals that have been fed GM Round-Up ready grains.

Unintended consequences of spraying Round-Up Ready herbicide, include wind carrying the spray to other crops, run-off into water-ways harming stream life and birds, and although glyphosate is not really a pesticide, it does seem to impact the spatial-tracking ability of bees, making it harder for them to find their way back to their hives. Our bees are struggling enough without this added problem!

It is said that the poison is in the dosage, and the amounts of glyphosate in the foods is small. But we now know that often lower doses of a toxin disrupt endocrine function more than higher doses.

According to the University of California San Francisco, 93% of the population has glyphosate in their urine, and children have larger amounts than adults. With a steady daily drip of glyphosate entering our systems, it can’t be surprising that it may play a role in throwing off our hormones.

I have only scratched the surface of the issues around glyphosate and Round-Up herbicide. Research is pointing to the inert ingredients in the herbicide causing human cell death, and glyphosate may be implicated in the much larger rates of gluten and other food allergy in children, to highlight a couple of others that you may wish to research.

So, what can we do? Although probably almost impossible to eliminate glyphosate exposure altogether, there is a lot we can do to dramatically decrease the amounts we are exposed to. Choosing organic would make the biggest difference, as by definition organic crops are not sprayed with toxic herbicides like Round Up.

Read packaging labels carefully, and avoid conventional foods that contain canola, soy, corn, wheat and oats. And obviously, don’t spray the stuff in your own yard!

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Balbuena MS Effects of sublethal doses of glyphosate on honeybee navigation. J Exp Biol. 2015 Sep;218(Pt 17):2799-805. doi: 10.1242/jeb.117291.

Benbrook CM Trends in glyphosate herbicide use in the United States and globally. Environ Sci Eur. 2016;28(1):3.

Chou C. Quaker Oats on list of tainted oatmeals in FDA inspection The China Post May 27, 2016.

Alarming Levels of Glyphosate Contamination Found in Popular American Foods Nov. 2016.

Ecowatch Glyphosate Found in Urine of 93 Percent of Americans Tested May 29, 2016.

Gammon, Crystal Weed-Whacking Herbicide Proves Deadly to Human Cells Scientific American Online June 23, 2009.

International Agency for Research on CancerIARC Monographs Volume 112: evaluation of five organophosphate insecticides and herbicides World Health Organization, March 20, 2015

Alarming Levels of Glyphosate Contamination Found in Popular American Foods Nov. 2016.

Ecowatch Glyphosate Found in Urine of 93 Percent of Americans Tested May 29, 2016.

Gammon, Crystal Weed-Whacking Herbicide Proves Deadly to Human Cells Scientific American Online June 23, 2009.

Samsel A, Seneff S Glyphosate, pathways to modern diseases III: Manganese, neurological diseases, and associated pathologies Surg Neurol Int. 2015; 6: 45.

Copyright Vreni Gurd 2017


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