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Warning: Glyphosate is Toxic and Everywhere

Pesticides_(2)By Deirdre Imus, 2/7/2017
When it comes to our children’s health, it seems there is a new boogey monster every week. Whether mercury, bisphenol-A, phthalates, or something else, there is no shortage of carcinogens permeating our environment, posing a threat to all people, big and small.

One of the most significant in this string of scary substances is glyphosate. An herbicide first registered for use in 1974, glyphosate is now one of the most widely used products of its kind in the Unites States, according to the National Pesticide Information Center at Oregon State University (NPIC).  Commercially, it is used by corporations that own farms and other agricultural businesses to grow massive amounts of corn, soy, cotton, and other products. Casually, it is probably used by many of your unknowing neighbors who simply want their lawn and garden to look nice.

One of the major reasons glyphosate has exploded since its inception more than 40 years ago is because genetically modified crops are engineered specifically to resist it. In other words, the crops will not be killed by the chemical, but the weeds will.  Farmers can spray as much glyphosate, typically in the form of Roundup, on a field of plants as they want without worrying that the crops will die too.

This is worrisome for a number of reasons. First, as Monsanto proudly boasts on its website, glyphosate is one of the most widely used herbicides in the world, and has been adopted in more than 160 countries. It is, quite literally, everywhere. Second, when glyphosate is sprayed, it does not fall on the weeds alone. It lands on crops, soil, water, and obviously permeates the air.  A 2014 study by the U.S. Geological Survey found glyphosate in the majority of waterways in 38 states, and also in more than 75 percent of air and rainfall samples tested in Mississippi in 2007.

Third, those genetically modified crops on which glyphosate is sprayed get turned into the food and other products that lines our supermarket shelves. According to the Center for Food Safety, it has been estimated that as much as 75 percent of processed foods – crackers, condiments, cereals – contain genetically engineered ingredients. They contain ingredients that have been sprayed with chemicals. There’s no two ways about it.

Fourth, and perhaps not surprisingly: In March of 2015, scientists at the UN’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) declared glyphosate a probable human carcinogen. The IARC report linked glyphosate to non-Hodgkin lymphoma in humans and to cancer in laboratory animals, and indicated it can cause “DNA and chromosomal damage in human cells.” According to the NPIC, glyphosate exposure has also been linked to developmental and reproductive effects when administered to pregnant rats in high doses.

More recently, the nonprofit Moms Across America (MAAM), which aims to create healthy communities by raising awareness about GMOs and related pesticides in our food, announced that research it had commissioned found trace amounts of glyphosate in vaccines. The study, which has not yet been peer-reviewed or published in any scientific journal,specifically looked at the influenza, MMR, pneumococcal, Hepatitis B, and T Dap vaccines. Of particular interest is that the MMR shot appeared to contain levels of glyphosate 25 times the others. Stay tuned as this area of research, and its potential implications, evolve.
 

As glyphosate continues its steady march across humanity, the least – or the most – we can do is try to avoid exposure to this ubiquitous chemical. Avoid eating foods or using personal care products made with genetically modified ingredients. These are the plants that have most likely – if not definitely – been sprayed with glyphosate.  Beyond that, genetically modified foods have been linked to allergies, antibiotic resistance, cancer, and reduced immune function.

Look for foods labeled with the “Non-GMO Project” seal: it’s one of the fastest growing labels in the retail sector, and offers North America’s most trusted third-party verification for non-GMO food and products, according to the Non-GMO Project website. Also, check out the book “Altered Genes, Twisted Truth,” by Steven M. Druker, a public interest attorney who initiated a lawsuit that forced the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to divulge its files on genetically engineered food. Turns out the agency had covered up warnings from its own scientists on the risks of these foods, and rushed them to market before testing for long-term safety.

What we know about glyphosate is likely minimal compared to what we don’t know, and that is probably not an accident. Any substance as widely used as glyphosate is deserving of closer scrutiny, because avoiding it is nearly impossible. Pesticides are used to protect crops from potentially destructive infestations. It would be great if there were something equally as powerful to protect humans from the potentially destructive effects of pesticides.

 

This article is an excerpt of an article that first appeared in Autism File magazine

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