Glyphosate News and Facts

Glyphosate News and Facts PMIntroduction

Glyphosate [N-(phosphonomethyl)glycine] is a broad-spectrum systemic herbicide and crop desiccant. It is an organophosphorus compound, specifically a phosphonate, which acts by inhibiting the plant enzyme 5-enolpyruvylshikimate-3-phosphate synthase. It is used to kill weeds, especially annual broadleaf weeds and grasses that compete with crops.

Monsanto brought it to market for agricultural use in 1974 under the trade name Roundup, but its last commercially relevant United States patent expired in 2000.

Farmers quickly adopted glyphosate for agricultural weed control, especially after Monsanto introduced glyphosate-resistant Roundup Ready crops, enabling farmers to kill weeds without killing their crops. In 2007, glyphosate was the most used herbicide in the United States’ agricultural sector and the second-most used (after 2,4-D) in home and garden, government and industry, and commercial applications. From the late 1970s to 2016, there was a 100-fold increase in the frequency and volume of application of glyphosate-based herbicides (GBHs) worldwide, with further increases expected in the future, partly in response to the global emergence and spread of glyphosate-resistant weeds requiring greater application to maintain effectiveness. The development of glyphosate resistance in weed species is emerging as a costly problem.

Glyphosate is absorbed through foliage, and minimally through roots, and transported to growing points. It inhibits a plant enzyme involved in the synthesis of three aromatic amino acids: tyrosine, tryptophan, and phenylalanine. It is therefore effective only on actively growing plants and is not effective as a pre-emergence herbicide. An increasing number of crops have been genetically engineered to be tolerant of glyphosate (e.g. Roundup Ready soybean, the first Roundup Ready crop, also created by Monsanto), which allows farmers to use glyphosate as a post-emergence herbicide against weeds.

While glyphosate and formulations such as Roundup have been approved by regulatory bodies worldwide, concerns about their effects on humans and the environment persist, and have grown as the global usage of glyphosate increases.

With that expanded usage, of course, go expanded sales. Glyphosate has become a billion dollar product for Monsanto and the decision of a single health agency as to its safety can mean the gain or loss of $100 million in annual sales in a single country.

In March 2015, for example, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic in humans” (category 2A) based on epidemiological studies, animal studies, and in vitro studies. In contrast, the European Food Safety Authority concluded in November 2015 that “the substance is unlikely to be genotoxic (i.e. damaging to DNA) or to pose a carcinogenic threat to humans”, later clarifying that while carcinogenic glyphosate-containing formulations may exist, studies “that look solely at the active substance glyphosate do not show this effect.”

How can such differences exist in hard scientific opinion? It turns out that the European Agency based its findings on data a German institution put together which was drawn from a report created by the Glyphosate Task Force, a consortium of chemical companies, including Monsanto, with the stated goal of winning renewal of glyphosate’s registration in Europe. Greenpeace called the EFSA’s report a “whitewash” that relied heavily on unpublished studies commissioned by glyphosate producers while dismissing published peer-reviewed evidence that glyphosate causes cancer. This sort of active effort by Monsanto and the chemical industry to contest criticism of their products is rampant in regulatory decision-making.

Discovery

Glyphosate was first synthesized in 1950 by Swiss chemist Henry Martin, who worked for the Swiss company Cilag. The work was never published. Stauffer Chemical patented the agent as a chemical chelator in 1964 as it binds and removes minerals such as calcium, magnesium, manganese, copper, and zinc.

Somewhat later, glyphosate was independently discovered in the United States at Monsanto in 1970. Monsanto chemists had synthesized about 100 derivatives of aminomethylphosphonic acid as potential water-softening agents. Two were found to have weak herbicidal activity, and John E. Franz, a chemist at Monsanto, was asked to try to make analogs with stronger herbicidal activity. Glyphosate was the third analog he made. Franz received the National Medal of Technology of the United States in 1987 and the Perkin Medal for Applied Chemistry in 1990 for his discoveries.

Monsanto developed and patented the use of glyphosate to kill weeds in the early 1970s and first brought it to market in 1974, under the Roundup brand name. While its initial patent expired in 1991, Monsanto retained exclusive rights in the United States until its patent on the isopropylamine salt expired in September 2000.

Mode of action

Glyphosate is such a valuable product largely because of its widespread effectiveness. In 2008, United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientist Stephen O. Duke and Stephen B. Powles—an Australian weed expert—described glyphosate as a “virtually ideal” herbicide.

Glyphosate interferes with the shikimate pathway, which produces the aromatic amino acids phenylalanine, tyrossine, and tryptophan in plants and microorganisms – but does not exist in the genome of mammals, including humans. It blocks this pathway by inhibiting an enzyme which catalyzes this reaction.

Glyphosate is absorbed through foliage and minimally through roots, meaning that it is only effective on actively growing plants and cannot prevent seeds from germinating. After application, glyphosate is readily transported around the plant to growing roots and leaves and this systemic activity is important for its effectiveness. Inhibiting the enzyme causes shikimate to accumulate in plant tissues and diverts energy and resources away from other processes, eventually killing the plant. While growth stops within hours of application, it takes several days for the leaves to begin turning yellow.

Uses

Glyphosate is effective in killing a wide variety of plants, including grasses and broadleaf and woody plants. By volume, it is one of the most widely used herbicides. In 2007, glyphosate was the most used herbicide in the United States agricultural sector, with 180 to 185 million pounds (82,000 to 84,000 tons) applied, the second-most used in home and garden with 5 to 8 million pounds (2,300 to 3,600 tons) and government applied 13 to 15 million pounds (5,900 to 6,800 tons) in industry and commerce. It is commonly used for agriculture, horticulture, viticulture, and silviculture purposes, as well as garden maintenance (including home use). It has a relatively small effect on some clover species and morning glory.

Glyphosate and related herbicides are often used in invasive species eradication and habitat restoration, especially to enhance native plant establishment in prairie ecosystems. The controlled application is usually combined with a selective herbicide and traditional methods of weed eradication such as mulching to achieve an optimal effect.

In many cities, glyphosate is sprayed along the sidewalks and streets, as well as crevices in between pavement where weeds often grow. However, up to 24% of glyphosate applied to hard surfaces can be run off by water. Glyphosate contamination of surface water is attributed to urban and agricultural use. Glyphosate is used to clear railroad tracks and get rid of unwanted aquatic vegetation. Since 1994, glyphosate has been used in aerial spraying in Colombia in coca eradication programs; Colombia announced in May 2015 that by October, it would cease using glyphosate in these programs due to concerns about human toxicity of the chemical.

Glyphosate is also used for crop desiccation (siccation) to increase harvest yield and uniformity. Glyphosate itself is not a chemical desiccant; rather glyphosate application just before harvest kills the crop plants so that the food crop dries from environmental conditions (“dry-down”) more quickly and evenly. Because glyphosate is systemic, excess residue levels can persist in plants due to incorrect application and this may render the crop unfit for sale. When applied appropriately, it can promote useful effects. In sugarcane, for example, glyphosate application increases sucrose concentration before harvest. In grain crops (wheat, barley, oats), uniformly dried crops do not have to be windrowed (swathed and dried) prior to harvest, but can easily be straight-cut and harvested. This saves the farmer time and money, which is important in northern regions where the growing season is short, and it enhances grain storage when the grain has a lower and more uniform moisture content.

Genetically modified crops

Some micro-organisms are resistant to glyphosate inhibition. A version of an enzyme that was both resistant to glyphosate and that was still efficient enough to drive adequate plant growth was identified by Monsanto scientists after much trial and error in an Agrobacterium strain called CP4, which was found surviving in a waste-fed column at a glyphosate production facility. This CP4 EPSPS gene was cloned and transfected into soybeans. In 1996, genetically modified soybeans were made commercially available. Current glyphosate-resistant crops include soy, maize (corn), canola, alfalfa, sugar beets, and cotton, with wheat still under development.

In 2015, 89% of corn, 94% of soybeans, and 89% of cotton produced in the United States were from strains that were genetically modified to be herbicide-tolerant.

Environmental fate

Glyphosate adsorbs strongly to soil, and residues are expected to generally be immobile in soil. (Adsorbtion is the taking up of organic compounds by soils or sediments) Glyphosate is readily degraded by soil microbes to aminomethylphosphonic acid (AMPA, which like glyphosate strongly adsorbs to soil solids and is thus unlikely to leach to groundwater). Though both glyphosate and AMPA are commonly detected in water bodies, a portion of the AMPA detected may actually be the result of degradation of detergents rather than from glyphosate. Glyphosate does have the potential to contaminate surface waters due to its aquatic use patterns and through erosion, as it adsorbs to soil particles suspended in runoff.

Detection in surface waters (particularly downstream from agricultural uses) has been reported as both broad and frequent by USGS researchers, although other similar research found equal frequencies of detection in urban-dominated small streams. Rain events can trigger dissolved glyphosate loss in transport-prone soils. The mechanism of glyphosate sorption to soil is similar to that of phosphate fertilizers, the presence of which can reduce glyphosate sorption. Phosphate fertilizers are subject to release from sediments into water bodies under anaerobic conditions, and similar release can also occur with glyphosate, though significant impact of glyphosate release from sediments has not been established. Limited leaching can occur after high rainfall after application. If glyphosate reaches surface water, it is not broken down readily by water or sunlight.

The half-life of glyphosate in soil ranges between 2 and 197 days; a typical field half-life of 47 days has been suggested. Soil and climate conditions affect glyphosate’s persistence in soil. The median half-life of glyphosate in water varies from a few to 91 days. At a site in Texas, half-life was as little as three days. A site in Iowa had a half-life of 141.9 days. The glyphosate metabolite AMPA has been found in Swedish forest soils up to two years after a glyphosate application. In this case, the persistence of AMPA was attributed to the soil being frozen for most of the year. Glyphosate adsorption to soil, and later release from soil, varies depending on the kind of soil. Glyphosate is generally less persistent in water than in soil, with 12- to 60-day persistence observed in Canadian ponds, although persistence of over a year has been recorded in the sediments of American ponds. The half-life of glyphosate in water is between 12 days and 10 weeks.

Residues in food products

According to the National Pesticide Information Center fact sheet, glyphosate is not included in compounds tested for by the Food and Drug Administration’s Pesticide Residue Monitoring Program, nor in the United States Department of Agriculture’s Pesticide Data Program. However, a field test showed that lettuce, carrots, and barley contained glyphosate residues up to one year after the soil was treated with 3.71 lb of glyphosate per acre (4.15 kg per hectare). The U.S. has determined the acceptable daily intake of glyphosate at 1.75 milligrams per kilogram of bodyweight per day (mg/kg/bw/day) while the European Union has set it at 0.5.

Pesticide residue controls carried out by EU Member States in 2016 analysed 6,761 samples of food products for glyphosate residues. 3.6% of the samples contained quantifiable glyphosate residue levels with 19 samples (0.28%) exceeding the European maximum residue levels (MRLs), which included six samples of honey and other apicultural products (MRL = 0.05 mg/kg) and eleven samples of buckwheat and other pseudocereals (MRL = 0.1 mg/kg). Glyphosate residues below the European MRLs were most frequently found in dry lentils, linseeds, soya beans, dry peas, tea, buckwheat, barley, wheat and rye.

Toxicity

Glyphosate is the active ingredient in herbicide formulations containing it. However, in addition to glyphosate salts, commercial formulations of glyphosate contain additives (known as adjuvants) such as surfactants, which vary in nature and concentration. Surfactants such as polyethoxylated tallow amine (POEA) are added to glyphosate to enable it to wet the leaves and penetrate the cuticle of the plants.

Glyphosate alone

Humans

The acute oral toxicity for mammals is low, but death has been reported after deliberate overdose of concentrated formulations. The surfactants in glyphosate formulations can increase the relative acute toxicity of the formulation. In a 2017 risk assessment, the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) wrote: “There is very limited information on skin irritation in humans. Where skin irritation has been reported, it is unclear whether it is related to glyphosate or co-formulants in glyphosate-containing herbicide formulations.” The ECHA concluded that available human data was insufficient to support classification for skin corrosion or irritation. Inhalation is a minor route of exposure, but spray mist may cause oral or nasal discomfort, an unpleasant taste in the mouth, or tingling and irritation in the throat. Eye exposure may lead to mild conjunctivitis. Superficial corneal injury is possible if irrigation is delayed or inadequate.

Cancer

The question whether labeled uses of glyphosate have demonstrated evidence of human carcinogenicity is hotly contested. A number of European agencies have concluded that there is no evidence that glyphosate poses a carcinogenic or genotoxic risk to humans. The EPA has classified glyphosate as “not likely to be carcinogenic to humans.” One international scientific organization, however, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, classified glyphosate in Group 2A, “probably carcinogenic to humans” in 2015.

There is evidence human cancer risk might increase as a result of occupational exposure to large amounts of glyphosate, such as agricultural work. According to one systematic review and meta-analysis published in 2016, when weak statistical associations with cancer have been found, such observations have been attributed to bias and confounding in correlational studies due to workers often being exposed to other known carcinogens. The review reported that studies that show an effect between glyphosate use and non-Hodgkin lymphoma have been criticized for not assessing these factors, underlying quality of studies being reviewed, or whether the relationship is causal rather than only correlational. Writing for the Natural Resources Defense Council environmental advocacy group, h owever, Jennifer Sass criticized the influence exerted by Monsanto on research about glyphosate safety, and noted that the review was funded by Monsanto.

A meta-analysis published in 2019 looked at whether there was an association between an increased risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma in humans and high cumulative exposures to glyphosate-based herbicides. The analysis used the most recent update of the Agricultural Health Study cohort published in 2018 and five case-control studies published in 2019. The research found a “compelling link” between exposures to glyphosate-based herbicides and increased risk for non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

Other mammals

Amongst mammals, glyphosate is considered to have “low to very low toxicity”. The LD50 of glyphosate is 5,000 mg/kg for rats, 10,000 mg/kg in mice and 3,530 mg/kg in goats. The acute dermal LD50 in rabbits is greater than 2,000 mg/kg. Indications of glyphosate toxicity in animals typically appear within 30 to 120 minutes following ingestion of a large enough dose, and include initial excitability and tachycardia (a rapid heart rate), ataxia (impaired coordination), depression, and bradycardia (abnormally slow heart action), although severe toxicity can develop into collapse and convulsions.

A review of unpublished short-term rabbit-feeding studies reported severe toxicity effects at 150 mg/kg/day and “no observed adverse effect level” doses ranging from 50 to 200 mg/kg/day. Glyphosate can have carcinogenic effects in nonhuman mammals. In reproductive toxicity studies performed in rats and rabbits, no adverse maternal or offspring effects were seen at doses below 175–293 mg/kg of body weight per day.

Glyphosate-based herbicides may cause life-threatening arrhythmias in mammals. Evidence also shows that such herbicides cause direct electrophysiological changes in the cardiovascular systems of rats and rabbits.

Aquatic fauna

In many freshwater invertebrates, glyphosate has a 48-hour LC50 ranging from 55 to 780 ppm. The 96-hour LC50 is 281 ppm for grass shrimp (Palaemonetas vulgaris) and 934 ppm for fiddler crabs (Uca pagilator). These values make glyphosate “slightly toxic to practically non-toxic”.

Antimicrobial activity

The antimicrobial activity of glyphosate has been described in the microbiology literature since its discovery in 1970 and the description of glyphosate’s mechanism of action in 1972. Efficacy was described for numerous bacteria and fungi. Glyphosate can control the growth of apicomplexan parasites, such as Toxoplasma gondii, Plasmodium falciparum (malaria), and Cryptosporidium parvum, and has been considered an antimicrobial agent in mammals. Inhibition can occur with some Rhizobium species important for soybean nitrogen fixation, especially under moisture stress.

Soil biota

When glyphosate comes into contact with the soil, it can be bound to soil particles, thereby slowing its degradation. A 2016 meta-analysis concluded that at typical application rates glyphosate had no effect on soil microbial biomass or respiration. A 2016 review noted that contrasting effects of glyphosate on earthworms have been found in different experiments with some species unaffected, but others losing weight or avoiding treated soil. Further research is required to determine the impact of glyphosate on earthworms in complex ecosystems.

Endocrine disruption

In 2007, the EPA selected glyphosate for further screening through its Endocrine Disruptor Screening Program (EDSP). Selection for this program is based on a compound’s prevalence of use and does not imply particular suspicion of endocrine activity. On June 29, 2015, the EPA released Weight of Evidence Conclusion of the EDSP Tier 1 screening for glyphosate, recommending that glyphosate not be considered for Tier 2 testing. The Weight of Evidence conclusion stated “…there was no convincing evidence of potential interaction with the estrogen, androgen or thyroid pathways.” A review of the evidence by the European Food Safety Authority published in September 2017 showed conclusions similar to those of the EPA report.

Effect on plant health

Some studies have found causal relationships between glyphosate and increased or decreased disease resistance. Exposure to glyphosate has been shown to change the species composition of endophytic bacteria in plant hosts, which is highly variable.

Glyphosate-based formulations

Glyphosate-based formulations may contain a number of adjuvants, the identities of which may be proprietary. Surfactants are used in herbicide formulations as wetting agents, to maximize coverage and aid penetration of the herbicide(s) through plant leaves. As agricultural spray adjuvants, surfactants may be pre-mixed into commercial formulations or they may be purchased separately and mixed on-site.

Polyethoxylated tallow amine (POEA) is a surfactant used in the original Roundup formulation and was commonly used in 2015. Different versions of Roundup have included different percentages of POEA. A 1997 US government report said that Roundup is 15% POEA while Roundup Pro is 14.5%. Since POEA is more toxic to fish and amphibians than glyphosate alone, POEA is not allowed in aquatic formulations. A 2000 review of the ecotoxicological data on Roundup shows at least 58 studies exist on the effects of Roundup on a range of organisms. This review concluded that “…for terrestrial uses of Roundup minimal acute and chronic risk was predicted for potentially exposed non-target organisms”.

Human

Acute toxicity and chronic toxicity are dose-related. Skin exposure to ready-to-use concentrated glyphosate formulations can cause irritation, and photocontact dermatitis has been occasionally reported. These effects are probably due to the preservative benzisothiazolin-3-one. Severe skin burns are very rare. Inhalation is a minor route of exposure, but spray mist may cause oral or nasal discomfort, an unpleasant taste in the mouth, or tingling and irritation in the throat. Eye exposure may lead to mild conjunctivitis. Superficial corneal injury is possible if irrigation is delayed or inadequate. Death has been reported after deliberate overdose.

Ingestion of Roundup ranging from 85 to 200 ml (of 41% solution) has resulted in death within hours of ingestion, although it has also been ingested in quantities as large as 500 ml with only mild or moderate symptoms. Adult consumption of more than 85 ml of concentrated product can lead to corrosive esophageal burns and kidney or liver damage. More severe cases cause “respiratory distress, impaired consciousness, pulmonary edema, infiltration on chest X-ray, shock, arrhythmias, renal failure requiring haemodialysis, metabolic acidosis, and hyperkalaemia” and death is often preceded by bradycardia and ventricular arrhythmias. While the surfactants in formulations generally do not increase the toxicity of glyphosate itself, it is likely that they contribute to its acute toxicity.

A 2000 review concluded that “under present and expected conditions of new use, there is no potential for Roundup herbicide to pose a health risk to humans”. A 2012 meta-analysis of epidemiological studies (seven cohort studies and fourteen case-control studies) of exposure to glyphosate formulations found no correlation with any kind of cancer. The 2013 systematic review by the German Institute for Risk Assessment of epidemiological studies of workers who use pesticides, exposed to glyphosate formulations found no significant risk, stating that “the available data are contradictory and far from being convincing”. However, a 2014 meta-analysis of the same studies found a correlation between occupational exposure to glyphosate formulations and increased risk of B cell lymphoma, the most common kind of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Workers exposed to glyphosate were about twice as likely to get B cell lymphoma. A 2016 systematic review and meta-analysis found no causal relationship between glyphosate exposure and risk of any type of lymphohematopoietic cancer including non-Hodgkin lymphoma and multiple myeloma. The same review noted that the positive associations found may be due to bias and confounding. The Natural Resources Defense Council has criticized that review, noting that it was funded by Monsanto.

A 2015 systematic review of observational studies found that except for an excess of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder among children born to glyphosate appliers, no evidence that glyphosate exposure among pregnant mothers caused adverse developmental outcomes in their children. Noting the limited size and scope of the review articles available, the authors noted that “these negative findings cannot be taken as definitive evidence that glyphosate, at current levels of occupational and environmental exposures, brings no risk for human development and reproduction.”

Aquatic fauna

Glyphosate products for aquatic use generally do not use surfactants, and aquatic formulations do not use POEA due to aquatic organism toxicity. Due to the presence of POEA, such glyphosate formulations only allowed for terrestrial use are more toxic for amphibians and fish than glyphosate alone. The half-life of POEA (21–42 days) is longer than that for glyphosate (7–14 days) in aquatic environments. Aquatic organism exposure risk to terrestrial formulations with POEA is limited to drift or temporary water pockets where concentrations would be much lower than label rates.

Some researchers have suggested the toxicity effects of pesticides on amphibians may be different from those of other aquatic fauna because of their lifestyle; amphibians may be more susceptible to the toxic effects of pesticides because they often prefer to breed in shallow, lentic, or ephemeral pools. These habitats do not necessarily constitute formal water-bodies and can contain higher concentrations of pesticide compared to larger water-bodies. Studies in a variety of amphibians have shown the toxicity of GBFs (glypohosate-based formulations) containing POEA to amphibian larvae. These effects include interference with gill morphology and mortality from either the loss of osmotic stability or asphyxiation. At sub-lethal concentrations, exposure to POEA or glyphosate/POEA formulations have been associated with delayed development, accelerated development, reduced size at metamorphosis, developmental malformations of the tail, mouth, eye and head, histological indications of intersex and symptoms of oxidative stress. Glyphosate-based formulations can cause oxidative stress in bullfrog tadpoles.

A 2003 study of various formulations of glyphosate found, “[the] risk assessments based on estimated and measured concentrations of glyphosate that would result from its use for the control of undesirable plants in wetlands and over-water situations showed that the risk to aquatic organisms is negligible or small at application rates less than 4 kg/ha and only slightly greater at application rates of 8 kg/ha.”

A 2013 meta-analysis reviewed the available data related to potential impacts of glyphosate-based herbicides on amphibians. According to the authors, the use of glyphosate-based pesticides cannot be considered the major cause of amphibian decline, the bulk of which occurred prior to the widespread use of glyphosate or in pristine tropical areas with minimal glyphosate exposure. The authors recommended further study of species- and development-stage chronic toxicity, of environmental glyphosate levels, and ongoing analysis of data relevant to determining what if any role glyphosate might be playing in worldwide amphibian decline, and suggest including amphibians in standardized test batteries.

Genetic damage

Several studies have not found mutagenic effects, so glyphosate has not been listed in the United States Environmental Protection Agency or the International Agency for Research on Cancer databases. Various other studies suggest glyphosate may be mutagenic. The IARC monograph noted that glyphosate-based formulations can cause DNA strand breaks in various taxa of animals in vitro.

Legal cases

Lawsuits claiming liability for cancer

In June 2018, Dewayne Johnson, a 46-year-old former California school groundskeeper who is dying of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, took Monsanto (which had been acquired by Bayer earlier that month) to trial in San Francisco County superior court, alleging that it has spent decades hiding the cancer-causing dangers of its Roundup herbicides. The judge ordered that jurors be allowed to consider both scientific evidence related to the cause of Johnson’s cancer and allegations that Monsanto suppressed evidence of the risks, with possible punitive damages. In August 2018, the jury awarded Johnson US $289 million in damages. Monsanto said they would appeal, saying they were confident that glyphosate does not cause cancer when used appropriately. In November 2018, the award was reduced to $78 million on appeal.

In August 2018, the potential for additional cases was estimated at up to 4,000. Bayer announced in April 2019 that over 13,000 lawsuits related to Roundup had been launched in the US.

In March 2019, a man was awarded $80 million in a lawsuit claiming Roundup was a substantial factor in his cancer, resulting in Costco stores discontinuing sales. In July 2019, U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria reduced the settlement to $26 million.Chhabria stated that a punitive award was appropriate because the evidence “easily supported a conclusion that Monsanto was more concerned with tamping down safety inquiries and manipulating public opinion than it was with ensuring its product is safe.” Chhabria stated that there is evidence on both sides concerning whether glyphosate causes cancer and that the behavior of Monsanto showed “a lack of concern about the risk that its product might be carcinogenic.”

On May 13, 2019 a jury in California ordered Bayer to pay a couple $2 billion in damages after finding that the company had failed to adequately inform consumers of the possible carcinogenicity of Roundup. On July 26, 2019, an Alameda County judge cut the settlement to $86.7 million, stating that the judgment by the jury exceeded legal precedent.

Using litigation discovery emails it was later revealed that in 2015 when Monsanto was discussing papers they wanted to see published to counter the expected IARC glyphosate results they wrote in an email, “An option would be to add Greim and Kier or Kirkland to have their names on the publication, but we would be keeping the cost down by us doing the writing and they would just edit & sign their names so to speak. Recall that is how we handled Williams Kroes & Munro, 2000.”




Why Glyphosate?

For many Americans glyphosate, the active ingredient in the herbicide Roundup, and its maker, the chemical company Monsanto, are examples of the worst aspects of American business. Despite concerns raised by scientists and health professionals about human carcinogenicity among those exposed to the compound, Monsanto (and now Bayer which recently bought the company) have denied any such possibility and initiated campaigns to discredit studies and professionals that warn about its danger to health.

This is on top of a widespread campaign more than a dozen years old now to sue farmers who save seed from their GMO crops. GMOs are genetically modified organisms or crops which have had specific chemical pathways introduced into their germ plasm. These pathways enable the crop to survive the absence of certain nutrients which are normally required for plant growth. This allows glyphosate, which is a chelater (a substance that binds to certain chemicals and makes them unavailable), to be sprayed throughout a field and kill anything which has not been specifically engineered with the pathways that enable them to survive the effects of the spray. GMOs enabled farmers to spray several times during the season to kill weeds, a trait which farmers valued and which made seed from the crops expensive. When they tried to save seeds from their GMO crops in order to avoid having to purchase them the next year, however, farmers were targeted by a hard-hitting Monsanto legal campaign to sue them for theft of Monsanto’s intellectual property, namely the engineered seeds. Many farmers lost their farms as a result of judgments against them for such seed-saving.

Perhaps even worse were the anti-science efforts of Monsanto to undermine and discredit researchers and professors who challenged the safety of glyphosate. Aggressive internet campaigns to anonymously attack respected scientists and their work, pressuring journal editors to recall already peer-reviewed articles which question glysophate’s safety, were tracked to Monsanto-paid PR firms. Flaks hired by the company posed as qualified scientists to undermine the reputations and results of eminent researchers with phony data (see story in this issue by Carey Gillam).

All these lies and deceits were authored in the pursuit of corporate profit at the expense of the innocent. We hope this issue of The Natural Farmer can serve to correct these falsehoods somewhat. Read within what experts think about glyphosate, what Monsanto has done to obscure these criticisms, and what users of the product have experienced when they have bought and used it. Learn also about real alternatives to what has become the most popular toxic chemical in the world.

We hope that by the time you have finished this issue you will never again buy anything containing glyphosate, eat anything raised with it, or believe anything said about it by Monsanto. Unfortunately, in our society there is a presumption of innocence within which falsehoods can be perpetuated without challenge not only in the political arena but also in the economic one. We need to exercise due diligence against such cynical abuse of our trust. This issue is offered in that quest.




A Short History of Glyphosate

Dewayne Johnson

Dewayne Johnson, a California father who has non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, which was caused by Monsanto’s glyphosate-based weedkiller Roundup.

1961: Glyphosate was patented in the U.S. as a Descaling and Chelating Agent by the Stauffer Chemical Co.
Due to its strong metal chelating properties, glyphosate was initially used as a descaling agent to clean out calcium and other mineral deposits in pipes and boilers of residential and commercial hot water systems. Descaling agents are effective metal binders, which grab on to Calcium, Magnesium and heavy metals to make the metal water soluble and easily removable.

1970: Glyphosate was discovered to be a herbicide (weedkiller) by Monsanto scientist John Franz and was patented as such.

1974: Monsanto brought glyphosate to market under the trade name Roundup.

1982: Monsanto was already working on creating Roundup Ready genetically modified crops. So was Luca Comai, a scientist from Calgene (a biotech company that Monsanto would later acquire).

1985: The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) classified glyphosate as a Class C Carcinogen.
On February 11, 1985 the carcinogenic potential of glyphosate was first considered by an EPA panel, called the Toxicology Branch Ad Hoc Committee. The Committee, in a consensus review dated March 4, 1985, then classified glyphosate as a Class C Carcinogen. A Class C Carcinogen has “Suggestive evidence of carcinogenic potential” according to the EPA.

1985: Monsanto tried to persuade the U.S. EPA that glyphosate was not a possible human carcinogen
Dr. George Levinskas, who joined Monsanto in 1971 and became Director of Environmental Assessment and Toxicology, was a lead player in the cover up of the carcinogenic potential of the now banned PCBs in the 1970s. In April 1985 he wrote an internal company letter stating the following: “Senior management at the EPA is reviewing a proposal to classify glyphosate as a class C “possible human carcinogen” because of kidney adenomas in male mice. Dr. Marvin Kuschner will review kidney sections and present his evaluation of them to the EPA in an effort to persuade the agency that the observed tumors are not related to glyphosate.”

1985: In the summer of 1985, Monsanto successfully created genetically modified petunia plants tolerant of small amounts of Roundup “but not to the amounts that farmers typically spray on weeds.” In October of that year, Comai’s team published their own work in Nature. Still, neither group produced anything that could be commercialized.

1989: Monsanto strikes deal with Asgrow to create Roundup Ready genetically modified crops for commercial market
In 1989, three companies struck a deal: Agracetus, Asgrow and Monsanto. Up until this point, Monsanto had trouble transferring genes into the most valuable crops on the market, corn and soybeans, using its existing method of genetic engineering. Agracetus offered a new method, called a gene gun. In hopes of using it on soybeans, Agracetus had approached Asgrow, a leading soybean seed company. The two approached Monsanto because they needed a gene worthy of engineering into Asgrow’s soybeans. Monsanto gave them free access to the Roundup Ready gene.

1991: EPA changes classification of glyphosate from Class C “Suggestive evidence of carcinogenic potential” to Class E which suggests “evidence of non-carcinogenicity for humans” The Class C carcinogen classification for glyphosate, which was decided upon in 1985, was changed by the EPA to a Class E category which suggests “evidence of non-carcinogenicity for humans”. Mysteriously this change in glyphosate’s classification occurred during the same period that Monsanto was developing its first Roundup-Ready (glyphosate-resistant) GM Crops.

1992: Pioneer pays Monsanto for use of Roundup resistance gene
Pioneer (DuPont) paid a one-time payment of half a million dollars for the rights to use Monsanto’s Roundup resistance gene in its soybeans forever. Monsanto’s profit would come entirely via the additional sales of Roundup it would gain.

1996: Introduction of Roundup Ready Soybeans
Roundup Ready soybeans were commercialized by Asgrow in coordination with Monsanto and separately by Pioneer (DuPont). In 1996, the first year genetically engineered (GE), glyphosate-tolerant crops were planted commercially in the U.S., glyphosate accounted for just 3.8% of the total volume of herbicide active ingredients applied in agriculture (28 million pounds in 1995).

2007: Glyphosate usage is more than double that of the next most heavily sprayed pesticide – Atrazine.
By 2007, the EPA reported agricultural use of glyphosate in the range of 180–185 million pounds. In the 20-year timespan covered by EPA sales and usage reports (1987–2007), glyphosate use rose faster and more substantially than any other pesticide. Usage in the range of 81.6–83.9 million kilograms, which occurred in 2007, was more than double the next most heavily sprayed pesticide (atrazine, 73–78 million pounds; ~33.1–35.4 million kilograms). For over a decade, glyphosate-based herbicides have been, by far, the most heavily applied pesticides in the U.S.

2010: Glyphosate was patented in the U.S. by Monsanto as an antibiotic.
This patent has led to major concerns about possible harm being caused by glyphosate including the killing of beneficial gut bacteria which causes immune system damage.

2012: Professor Seralini study shows harm being caused by low doses of glyphosate-based herbicides and GM crops
In 2012 the French Professor Gilles-Eric Seralini published his famous toxicity study, which showed how rats fed on a diet containing NK603 Roundup tolerant GM maize or given water containing Roundup, at levels permitted in drinking water and GM crops in the U.S., suffered severe liver and kidney damage. This was not the first independent study showing the possible damage being caused to health by glyphosate-based herbicide but it was the most high profile long-term study.

2014: Glyphosate usage booms even more in the U.S.
Since genetically modified crops were introduced in 1996 glyphosate use had increased 9-fold in the U.S. and 15-fold worldwide by 2014. By 2014, annual farm-sector glyphosate usage increased to approximately 240 million pounds (~108.8 million kilograms), based on average annual crop use reported by the NASS. Available use data published by the USDA, USGS, and EPA show that a surprisingly large share (approximately two-thirds) of the total volume of GBH applied since 1974 has been sprayed in just the last decade.

2015: The World Health Organization’s cancer agency IARC classified glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic to humans” (Group 2A).
This was based on “limited” evidence of cancer in humans (from real-world exposures that actually occur) and “sufficient” evidence of cancer in experimental animals (from studies of “pure” glyphosate). IARC also concluded that there was “strong” evidence for genotoxicity, both for “pure” glyphosate and for glyphosate formulations.

2016: University of California San Francisco (UCSF) discovers glyphosate in 93% of urine samples collected across U.S.
In a unique public testing project carried out by a laboratory at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF), glyphosate was discovered in 93% of urine samples during the early phase of the testing in 2015. The urine and water testing was organized by The Detox Project and commissioned by the Organic Consumers Association.

2016: Alarming levels of glyphosate contamination found in popular American foods
Glyphosate was found at alarming levels in a wide range of best-selling foods across the U.S., Food Democracy Now! and The Detox Project announced in November 2016. The testing project found alarming levels of glyphosate in General Mills’ Cheerios and Honey Nut Cheerios, Kellogg’s Corn Flakes, Raisin Bran and Frosted Flakes and PepsiCo’s Doritos Cool Ranch, Ritz Crackers and Stacy’s Simply Naked Pita Chips, as well as many more famous products.

2017: Groundbreaking study shows Roundup causes liver disease at low doses
This peer-reviewed study led by Dr Michael Antoniou at King’s College London using cutting edge profiling methods describes the molecular composition of the livers of female rats administered with an extremely low dose of Roundup weedkiller over a 2-year period. The dose of glyphosate from the Roundup administered was thousands of times below what is permitted by regulators worldwide. The study revealed that these animals suffered from non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). This study is unique in that it is the first to show a causative link between consumption of Roundup at a real-world environmental dose and a serious disease condition.

2017: Internal Monsanto and EPA communications, released during a growing number of Roundup cancer court cases, reveal the reality of the 30+ year glyphosate cover-up
The internal company e-mails show how Monsanto has colluded with the EPA to play down glyphosate safety concerns, admitted that Roundup / glyphosate could possibly cause cancer and other harm to human health and also attempted to silence the work of Professor Seralini.

2018: Monsanto Loses Landmark Roundup Cancer Trial, Set to Pay USD 78 Million in Damages

Monsanto lost a landmark cancer trial in San Francisco and was ordered to pay over USD 289 Million (reduced on appeal to USD 78 Million) in total damages to the former school groundskeeper Dewayne Johnson, a California father who has non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, which was caused by Monsanto’s glyphosate-based weedkiller Roundup.




How Monsanto Manufactured ‘Outrage’

Five years ago Monsanto executives realized they had a big problem on their hands. It was September 2014 and the company’s top-selling chemical, the weed killer called glyphosate that is the foundation for Monsanto’s branded Roundup products, had been selected as one among a handful of pesticides to undergo scrutiny by the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). Monsanto had spent decades fending off concerns about the safety of glyphosate and decrying scientific research indicating the chemical might cause cancer or other diseases. And even though the IARC review was still months away, Monsanto’s own scientists knew what the outcome would likely be—and they knew it wouldn’t be good.

Internal company records show not just the level of fear Monsanto had over the impending review, but notably that company officials fully expected IARC scientists would find at least some cancer connections to glyphosate. Company scientists discussed the “vulnerability” that surrounded their efforts to defend glyphosate amid multiple unfavorable research findings in studies of people and animals exposed to the weed killer. In addition to epidemiology studies, “we also have potential vulnerabilities in the other areas that IARC will consider, namely, exposure, genetox and mode of action…” a Monsanto scientist wrote in October 2014. That same email discussed a need to find allies and arrange funding for a “fight”—all months before the IARC meeting in March 2015.

And Monsanto predicted internally before IARC even met that the review of the scientific evidence would result in a decision that glyphosate “possibly” was carcinogenic or “probably” was. Monsanto officials had forecast the IARC decision in an internal “preparedness” plan that warned colleagues to “assume and prepare for the outcome…” The document shows Monsanto thought it most likely that IARC would peg glyphosate as a “possible human carcinogen.” The rating of probable carcinogen was “possible but less likely,” the Monsanto memo stated. IARC ultimately did classify glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic to humans.”

As the IARC meeting loomed, the internal documents show that Monsanto did not wait for the actual IARC decision before acting. It enlisted teams of PR and lobbying experts, scientists and others in a plan aimed at creating what was designed to appear as a storm of “outcry” and “outrage” to follow the IARC classification. IARC had a history of “questionable and politically charged rulings,” the Monsanto memo said.

The plan was to create enough controversy to thoroughly discredit IARC’s evaluation because Monsanto officials knew that regulators would be influenced by IARC, and continued widespread use of the top-selling chemical could be at risk.

“It is possible that IARC’s decision will impact future regulatory decision making,” Monsanto stated in its internal correspondence.

The timing was critical because in 2015 both the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the European Commission were evaluating re-authorizations of Monsanto’s weed killer. Following IARC’s classification, both the European Union and the EPA delayed final decisions on glyphosate amid the still-brewing debate over the chemical’s safety.

“What this indicates to me is that it was obvious to Monsanto that there was evidence of carcinogenicity,” said Peter Infante, an epidemiologist who worked for more than 24 years for the U.S. government studying cancer risks to workers from exposure to toxic substances. “It would seem to me that Monsanto does not like the public to be informed of the cancer hazard.”

After the IARC ruling, a storm of protest did erupt from various individuals and organizations alongside Monsanto’s howls of indignant outrage. Some have questioned the wisdom of U.S. funding for IARC and Monsanto has perpetuated a false narrative that the chairman of the IARC working group withheld critical information from the team.

The document trail, which includes internal emails, memos and other communications obtained from Monsanto by plaintiffs’ attorneys through litigation pending in the U.S., makes clear that the debate over, and challenge to, IARC’s classification did not sprout authentically from a variety of voices, but rather was manufactured by Monsanto in advance of IARC’s decision and continued afterward. The goal was—and is—to convince regulators to discount the findings of the team of independent scientific experts who made up the IARC team that examined glyphosate.

The internal records obtained through litigation, combined with documents obtained through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and state records requests also show that the actions employed to discredit IARC were part of a decades-long pattern of deceptive tactics by Monsanto to persuade regulators, lawmakers and members of the press and public that glyphosate and Roundup are safe. The company has used these tactics multiple times over the years to try to discredit several scientists whose research has found harmful effects associated with glyphosate.

“Orchestrate Outcry”
The IARC attack plan, which was laid out in a February 2015 memo, involved not only Monsanto’s internal PR people, scientists and marketing experts, but a range of outside industry players. Various individuals were assigned tasks. The “strategies and tactics” included:

“Orchestrate Outcry” with IARC Decision—Industry conducts robust media/social media outreach on process and outcome.

“Identify/request third-party experts to blog, op/ed, tweet and/or link, repost, retweet, etc.” The documents show one such “expert,” academic Henry Miller, was provided a draft article to submit to Forbes for publication under his name with no mention of Monsanto’s involvement. Forbes learned of the deceit last month and severed relations with Miller.

“Inform/Inoculate/Engage Industry Partners”—Notably the industry partners listed included three organizations that purport to be independent of Monsanto but have long been seen by critics as front groups for the company—Monsanto named Academics Review and the Genetic Literacy Project, both based in the U.S. and Sense About Science, which has run operations in the United Kingdom and the U.S., as groups to help with its mission. In fact, Sense About Science was the group identified by Monsanto to lead the industry response and “provide a platform for IARC observers.” The groups did as Monsanto planned, posting scathing attacks on IARC on their websites.

Engagement with Regulatory Agencies—Monsanto planned for grower associations/ growers to “write regulators with an appeal that they remain focused on the science, not the politically charged decision by IARC.”

“Push opinion leader letter to key daily newspaper on day of IARC ruling” with assistance of the Potomac Group marketing firm.

The preparedness plan also called for supporting “the development of three new papers on glyphosate focused on epidemiology and toxicology.” As planned, shortly after the IARC decision Monsanto arranged for several scientists—many of them former employees or paid consultants—to author and publish research papers supporting glyphosate safety. It was revealed through discovery documents that Monsanto discussed ghostwriting the papers. In one email, company scientist William Heydens told colleagues the company could “ghost-write” certain reports that would carry the names of outside scientists—”they would just edit & sign their names so to speak,” he wrote. He cited as an example a 2000 study that has been regarded as influential by regulators. Documents show Monsanto’s heavy writing and editing involvement in the resulting purportedly “independent” review.

Monsanto has adamantly denied ghostwriting, but one memo from August 2015 from the files of Monsanto scientist David Saltmiras actually uses that term, stating that he “ghostwrote cancer review paper Greim et al (2015)…” referring to a paper that showed authorship by German scientist Helmut Greim along with Saltmiras. (Monsanto has acknowledged that Greim worked as a consultant to the company with part of his job being to publish peer-reviewed data on glyphosate).

Another internal email illustrates the writing by a Monsanto scientist of a research paper titled “Developmental and Reproductive Outcomes… after Glyphosate Exposure.” The scientist, Donna Farmer, did extensive work, including what she called a “cut and paste” of certain information. But her name was not included as an author before the paper was submitted to a journal. The published version concluded there was “no solid evidence linking glyphosate exposure to adverse developmental or reproductive effects.”

The paper trail of documents also show that Monsanto feared that a U.S. health agency planning to review glyphosate in 2015 might agree with IARC and collaborated with the EPA to successfully block that agency—the Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry (ATSDR)—from doing its review. “We’re trying to do everything we can to keep from having a domestic IARC occur,” a company official wrote.

The record also shows that well before IARC, Monsanto recruited networks of academic scientists in the U.S and Europe who have defended Monsanto’s products, including its weed killer, without declaring their collaborations with Monsanto. And that these silent soldiers helped Monsanto discredit scientists who reported research showing harm associated with glyphosate and Roundup, including working at Monsanto’s bidding to get one damaging study by French scientist Gilles-Éric Séralini retracted from a scientific journal where it was published in September 2012. The company even discounted concerns by one of its own paid consultants who found evidence of glyphosate’s genotoxicity and refused to do the additional tests he recommended.

If what Monsanto says is true, that glyphosate is so very safe, and that there is no evidence it causes cancer or other health problems, then why all the smoke and mirrors? Why would the company need to ghostwrite research papers to present to regulators? Why would Monsanto need to establish networks of scientists to promote glyphosate safety and to tear down scientists whose research raises concerns? Why would Monsanto try to block a review of glyphosate by the U.S. ATSDR?

Throughout this debate, it is worthwhile to remember that the concerns about glyphosate safety have deep roots that date all the way back to at least 1985 when EPA toxicologists looked at data showing rare tumors in mice dosed with glyphosate and determined that glyphosate was “possibly carcinogenic to humans.”

Monsanto protests eventually reversed that classification but in light of all of the deceptive tactics recently revealed in documents, the words of an EPA scientist more than 30 years ago are worth considering today: “Glyphosate is suspect… Monsanto’s argument is unacceptable.”

The EPA scientist in that 1985 memo also wrote: “Our viewpoint is one of protecting the public health when we see suspicious data. It is not our job to protect registrants…”

Originally published in EcoWatch. Carey Gillam is author of “Whitewash – The Story of a Weed Killer, Cancer and the Corruption of Science” which is reviewed in this issue. She will also be the keynoter at the NOFA/Mass Winter Conference on January 11, 2020 and will lead a one-day intensive on pesticide advocacy on January 10,




Glyphosate News Notes

Glyphosate Sourced From Controversial Mines

Roundup, the world’s top herbicide, has been mired in controversy in recent months as the jurors in three court cases have found it causes cancer. Bayer Crop Science, the company that produces Roundup, has been ordered to pay billions of dollars in damages, and thousands of other cancer cases are pending in state and federal courts. And while the majority of the nation’s corn, soybean, and cotton growers continue to use it, Roundup’s damage to soil health and history of producing herbicide-tolerant “superweeds” are also critical concerns to farmers and consumers.

But few people know that Roundup is equally contentious at its source.

Glyphosate, the herbicide’s main ingredient, isn’t manufactured in a lab, but originates in a mine. To produce it, phosphate ore is extracted and refined into elemental phosphorus. While Bayer, which recently bought Monsanto, touts its sustainable mining process, environmentalists contend that the process involves stripping away the soil off mountaintops, which destroys vegetation, contaminates water and creates noise and air pollution that is detrimental to wildlife and the environment for years to come.

For decades, Monsanto has quietly mined the phosphate ore in a remote corner of Southeast Idaho known as the phosphate patch. Because its current mine is nearly tapped out, Bayer has applied for a permit to start a new mine nearby. In May, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) released the final environmental impact statement analyzing the proposed mine. The agency will issue its final decision later this summer.

But opponents say the government has failed to properly analyze environmental damage, including impacts to the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem and a connecting regional wildlife corridor, the dwindling greater sage grouse population, and local Native American tribes who depend on the land and wildlife. They point to the cumulative impact of the proposed mine and a total of about 20 other inactive, active, and proposed mines in the phosphate patch, many of which are contaminated Superfund sites that will require years of cleanup.

“From the cradle to the grave, glyphosate is deeply problematic,” said Hannah Connor, a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity, which has submitted critical comments to the BLM on the project and is considering legal action. “The environmental costs begin with open-pit mines that destroy hundreds of acres of habitat critical to the survival of imperiled species and end with a pesticide that harms wildlife and people. It’s pretty disturbing.”

The phosphate ore that’s currently used to make Roundup is mined at the Blackfoot Bridge Mine near Soda Springs, in southeastern Idaho’s Caribou County, on public land administered by the BLM. That mine, which began operating in 2013, has enough ore supply to last until about 2022, according to Bayer. P4 Production LLC, a subsidiary of Bayer (and formerly of Monsanto), owns and operates the mining and processing facilities that produce the ore and turn it into phosphorus.

Bayer’s newly proposed project, the 1,559-acre Caldwell Canyon mine located just northeast of the town of Soda Springs, would start extracting ore in 2023 and operate for an estimated 40 years. It would disturb 1,559 acres—one-fourth of it public land, the rest private land.

At Caldwell Canyon, the ore would be extracted from two new open pits, hauled out by truck on a newly constructed road to an existing railroad load and transported daily to the Soda Spring processing plant by a train up to 130 rail cars long.

The local Shoshone-Bannock Tribes are unhappy with the proposed mine. Their reservation, located just northwest of the phosphate patch and home to more than 6,000 tribal members, was created in 1868. For millennia, they have hunted wild game, fished the region’s abundant streams and rivers, and collected native plants and roots for food and medicinal purposes. A treaty enshrines their inherent right to freely hunt “on the unoccupied lands of the United States.” But the phosphate mines —as well as cattle grazing and development—have slowly encroached on these activities.

“There is too much destruction on and around our reservation that affects our way of life,” Councilman Lee Juan Tyler said. “I would like to see us all work together in keeping our environment pristine for all.”

A pristine environment, however, is further over the horizon, according to the tribes. The new mine would occupy the land and impact treaty rights and cultural activities, said Kelly Wright, the tribes’ environmental waste program manager. Mining would affect elk hunting and the gathering of culturally important plants such as berries, bitterroot, camas bulbs, flowering plants, and mushrooms. It would also impact sweat lodges, spiritual rituals, and journeys.

The BLM said the abundance of similar big game habitat and vegetation types near the Caldwell Canyon project should provide adequate opportunities for the tribes to exercise their rights to hunt, fish, gather, and conduct other traditional uses and practices, “making these short-term effects negligible.”

Wright said the tribe does use other areas when a mine closes off a piece of land, but the amount of unoccupied land in the area is shrinking and a new mine site also impacts wildlife on surrounding land.

Bayer said the company is working with Utah State University to conduct a habitat research project on 250 acres of its 2,200-acre Fox Hills Ranch just northeast of Soda Springs. The project entails, in part, improving the habitat by transplanting sagebrush removed from the Caldwell Canyon site, as well as planting additional seedlings raised in a greenhouse. Such off-site mitigation is no longer required by the BLM under the Trump administration (though pending lawsuits could change that). Environmentalists say because the land restoration is voluntary and Bayer may decide to stop it at any time, although BLM’s Cudnick said his agency may decide to make the cleanup mandatory.
After a decision on the new mine is issued this summer, and a subsequent 30-day appeals period, Bayer’s subsidiary will likely begin to extract phosphate ore and Bayer will continue to make more Roundup.

“It’s a tragedy that the BLM is allowing a private actor to use public land to create poison,” said Connor from the Center for Biological Diversity. “That’s not what public lands are for.”

source: Civil Eats. June 24, 2019

LA County Bans Roundup on County Property Over Health Concerns
The same day that a second jury in seven months found that glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup, causes cancer, Los Angeles County banned any further use of the toxic weedkiller by all county departments.

On Tuesday, March 19, 2019 the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors ordered a moratorium on applications of glyphosate on county property until public health and environmental experts can determine whether it’s safe. More than 50 U.S. cities and counties have banned the use of glyphosate on parks, playgrounds and schoolyards.

In 2015, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, part of the World Health Organization, classified the chemical as probably carcinogenic to humans. In 2017, California listed glyphosate in its Proposition 65 registry of chemicals known to cause cancer. Bayer AG, which bought Monsanto last year, faces more than 11,000 U.S. lawsuits alleging that glyphosate causes cancer.

“Kicking Bayer-Monsanto and its cancer-causing weedkiller off L.A. County property was absolutely the right call,” said EWG President Ken Cook. “We know glyphosate causes cancer in people and shouldn’t be sprayed anywhere – period. We don’t know how many Angelenos have been exposed to this dangerous chemical through its use by the county, but we can keep others from being exposed.”

The county’s decision came the same day a jury in a federal court in San Francisco delivered a verdict in favor of Edward Hardeman, who said his cancer was caused by exposure to Roundup. Last year, another California jury awarded Dewayne Lee Johnson, a former school groundskeeper who has non-Hodgkin lymphoma and regularly handled Roundup, $289 million in his case against Monsanto.

Glyphosate is the most heavily used herbicide in the world. People who are not farm workers or city or county groundskeepers are being exposed to the cancer-causing chemical through food.

Two separate rounds of laboratory tests commissioned last year by EWG found glyphosate in nearly every sample of popular oat-based cereals and other oat-based food marketed to children. The brands in which glyphosate was detected included several cereals and breakfast bars made by General Mills and Quaker.
source: https://www.ewg.org/release/la-county-bans-use-monsanto-s-roundup-weedkiller-over-health-concerns.

Seattle has joined Miami, Austin, and other cities in restricting the use of glyphosate
When invasive Himalayan blackberry creeps into one of Seattle’s wooded parks, it takes over, conquering native plants. In the past, Seattle park managers may have sprayed the noxious plant with the weed killer Roundup. But Seattle is the most recent in a wave of U.S. cities turning away from Roundup because of growing concern that it could be giving people cancer.

Roundup’s active ingredient, glyphosate, has helped grow food and stamp out weeds since it was introduced by Monsanto in 1974. Its popularity swelled in the 1990s, when Monsanto began also to sell specially designed crop seeds, including soybeans, canola, and corn, that could withstand the herbicide when it was sprayed on surrounding weeds. The company’s patent on glyphosate expired in 2000, and then other companies entered the market; today, several hundred products for sale in the U.S. contain glyphosate.

Public concerns about glyphosate’s safety grew in the years that followed, so the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer reviewed the scientific evidence. In a 2015 report, it classified glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic to humans,” based on the most reliable studies at the time, which were carried out on animals. Since then, people diagnosed with the cancer non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma sued Monsanto (now owned by Bayer), blaming their disease on their exposure to glyphosate.

Juries have sided with plaintiffs, forcing Bayer to pay millions of dollars in damages each time. (Bayer maintains that the chemical “can be used safely and [is] not carcinogenic,” but recently announced it will spend $5.6 billion to develop glyphosate-free alternatives to Roundup.)
While the court cases emerged, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency carried out its own review of the evidence. In April, the agency announced its conclusion that the chemical does not cause cancer in people.

In the wake of mixed evidence and court rulings, cities including Seattle are taking a defensive stance against glyphosate.

“The concern was mainly for the people who are applying it,” says Patricia Bakker, natural resources manager at Seattle’s Parks and Recreation Department. The department stopped using glyphosate last fall, Bakker said, because parks managers worried they were putting employees in harm’s way. It became official policy on August 23, 2019, when Mayor Jenny Durkan signed an executive order restricting Seattle city departments’ use of glyphosate-containing pesticides.

The executive order designates glyphosate as a last-resort option, to be used only to battle the worst weeds—weeds the state requires the city to remove—after other methods have been exhausted. Mowing, mulching, and a plant-killing fungus called rust are some of the first lines of defense. Other herbicides, like those containing the active ingredients triclopyr and imazapyr, can also be used.

Without the power of Roundup, Bakker expects her staff won’t be able to tame non-native plants with the same vigor. “There are just going to be some areas that look a little weedy,” Bakker says.

However, Seattle’s native plants may have a better chance of survival because of the glyphosate restriction, according to one expert. Viktoria Wagner, a plant ecologist at the University of Alberta in Canada, says that because glyphosate is non-selective, it can hurt native plants when it’s targeted at nearby weeds. Hurting native plants deprives them of their ability to compete, and “this gives an opportunity to fast competitors to get a head start and take over,” Wagner says.

When Seattle officials were considering cutting back on glyphosate, they sought advice from San Francisco, which began rolling out restrictions on chemical pesticides in 1997. Seattle’s not alone—tens of cities across the U.S. have recently cracked down on glyphosate use.

In 2018, Portland, Maine, banned the chemical, and Austin, Texas, restricted it. This year, Miami and Los Angeles County approved their own bans on city property. Some cities, like Boston, avoid glyphosate on an unofficial basis. Others, like New York City, may be poised to ban it in the near future.
source: https://www.citylab.com/environment/2019/10/glyphosate-pesticide-cancer-roundup-lawsuit-bayer-monstanto/598537/

Court Documents Reveal That Monsanto Paid Industry Front Group to Push Back Against Scientific Evidence That Roundup Causes Cancer

“If a company like [Monsanto] won’t support us, then who will?” the head of the American Council on Science and Health wrote to a Monsanto scientist in 2015. A day later came the reply: “[T]he answer is yes…. [D]efinitely count us in!!”

Emails between Monsanto and the American Council on Science and Health, or ACSH, and related internal Monsanto emails were first made public during the 2018 trial of a lawsuit by a former California school groundskeeper who was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma after using Roundup. The jury awarded Dewayne “Lee” Johnson $289 million in punitive and compensatory damages, later reduced by the judge to $78 million.The internal Monsanto/ACSH emails reappeared as evidence in the most recent lawsuit to go before a court, brought by a California couple who were both diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma after decades of using the herbicide. In May, the jury ordered Bayer-Monsanto to pay Alva and Alberta Pilliod more than $2 billion in damages.

It was the third verdict in less than a year in which juries found that glyphosate, the key ingredient in Roundup, causes cancer and that Monsanto covered up evidence of its health risk for decades. Last year, Bayer bought Monsanto for $63 billion and is now facing tens of thousands of similar lawsuits.

The emails show that in February 2015, Monsanto was working with ACSH to prepare for the expected fallout from a pending report on the safety of glyphosate by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, or IARC. The following month the IARC, part of the World Health Organization, would release a report that classified glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic to humans.”

Anticipating the report, Gilbert Ross, then the acting head of ACSH, asked Monsanto for support, “particularly if ACSH’s commentary is needed to critique an adverse outcome.”

On Feb. 26, Dr. Daniel Goldstein, the head of medical sciences and outreach at Monsanto, wrote to several colleagues, urging them to support continued payment to ACSH for its work.

Later that day, after his colleagues expressed reservations, Goldstein wrote:

But on March 16, just days before the IARC’s report, the ACSH’s Ross wrote to Goldstein complaining the group has still not received payment for its work on glyphosate:

Goldstein replied “count us in!!,” and Ross wrote back: “Great news, thanks Dan.”

From the emails, it is unclear how much Monsanto paid ACSH to defend the company and its weedkiller. But since the IARC report, ACSH has posted dozens of blogs or releases attacking scientists or organizations that have raised concerns about the health risks of glyphosate exposure. ACSH officials have also been quoted in news media reports, accusing the Environmental Working Group (EWG) – “an alarmist group” – and other glyphosate critics of scare tactics.

According to ACSH’s website, the group is a “consumer advocacy organization” that does “not represent any industry.” But in 2013 Mother Jones reported that an internal ACSH document showed the organization received more than $390,000 in that year from corporations and large private foundations, including $30,000 from Bayer Cropscience, $22,5000 from the Chinese-owned pesticide and seed company Syngenta, and $30,000 from chemical giant 3M, among many others.

The ACSH document also lists Monsanto among “potential sources of support from previous donors.” As the recently released emails show, that potential was soon realized.
source: Court Docs: Monsanto Paid Chemical Industry Front Group To Claim Cancer-Causing Weedkiller ‘Safe’ and Attack Its Criti

https://www.ewg.org/news-and-analysis/2019/05/court-docs-monsanto-paid-chemical-industry-front-group-claim-cancer




Understanding Glyphosate

Don-HuberForty plus years ago, U.S. agriculture started a conversion to a primarily monochemical herbicide program focused around glyphosate (Roundup®). The near simultaneous shift from conventional tillage to no-till or minimum tillage stimulated this chemical conversion that was reinforced by the subsequent introduction of genetically modified crops tolerant to glyphosate. The introduction of genetically modified (Roundup Ready®, RR) crops has greatly increased the volume and scope of glyphosate usage, and the conversion of major segments of crop production to a monochemical herbicide strategy. The promotion of glyphosate based herbicides (GBH) as readily biodegradable, non-toxic and environmentally friendly by the Monsanto Company masked the fact that glyphosate is a powerful mineral chelater, artificial amino acid, and broad spectrum antibiotic that interferes with mineral nutrition to increase plant, environmental, animal and human disease. Fraudulent safety reports of non-toxicity provided a false-sense of safety as adoption expanded throughout the environment. Although previously over-looked, long-term damage to the soil, environment, crop, animal and human diseases have become more prevalent each year as glyphosate accumulation and residual effects escalate and become more apparent.

The extensive use of glyphosate, and the rapid adoption of genetically modified glyphosate-tolerant crops such as soybean, corn, cotton, canola, sugar beets, potato and alfalfa; each with its own unknown toxicity, have greatly increased the indiscriminate application of glyphosate and intensified deficiencies of numerous essential micronutrients and some macronutrients. Additive nutrient inefficiency of the Roundup Ready® (RR) genetics and glyphosate herbicide necessitate extensive nutrient remediation, and increase the need well above previously established soil and tissue levels for nutrients considered sufficient for specific crop production. Previous sufficient nutrient levels also may be inadequate indicators in the less nutrient efficient glyphosate weed management program because of its extensive antibiotic effects on soil biology essential for nutrient cycling, soil structure, and symbiotic nutrition.

Understanding glyphosate’s mode of action and the impact of the RR genetics, are necessary to understand the numerous long-term negative impacts of this monochemical system on plant nutrition and its predisposition to disease. An absolute consideration in this regard should be a much more regulated use of glyphosate, if not a total ban. Because of its persistence and broad impact on the physical-chemical and biological environment, glyphosate damage is often subtle and attributed to other causes such as drought, cool soils, deep seeding, high temperatures, crop residues, water fluctuations, etc. Some of the common symptoms of drift and residual glyphosate damage to crops presented in Table 1 reflect nutrient and disease interactions affected by glyphosate and the RR genetics as presented in scientific publications.

Understanding Glyphosate
Glyphosate was first patented by Stauffer Chemical Co. in 1964 as a strong mineral chelator and used to descale boilers and steam pipes. Glyphosate chelates and immobilizes mineral nutrients that are essential for plant and animal physiological processes. It was subsequently patented as an herbicide and later as a general biocide whereby it immobilizes mineral co-factors (Co, Cu, Fe, Mg, Mn, Ni, Zn, etc.) essential for enzyme activity and cell function. In contrast to some compounds that chelate with a single or only a few mineral species, glyphosate is a broad-spectrum chelator with both macro and micronutrients. It is this strong, broad-spectrum chelating ability that also makes glyphosate a broadspectrum herbicide, a potent antimicrobial agent and powerful environmental toxicant, since the function of numerous essential enzymes is affected.

Primary emphasis in understanding glyphosate’s herbicidal activity has focused on inhibition of the enzyme 5-enolpyruvylshikimate-3-phosphate synthase (EPSPS) at the start of the Shikimate physiological pathway for secondary metabolism. This enzyme requires reduced FMN Reductase as a co-factor (catalyst) whose reduction requires manganese (Mn). Thus, by immobilizing Mn by chelation, glyphosate denies the availability of reduced FMN for the EPSPS enzyme. It also can affect up to 25 other plant enzymes that require Mn as a co-factor and 290 other enzymes in both primary and secondary metabolism that require other mineral co-factors (Ca, Co, Cu, Fe, Mg, Ni, Zn). Several of these enzymes also function with Mn in the Shikimate pathway that is responsible for plant responses to stress and defense against pathogens (amino acids, hormones, lignin, phytoalexins, flavenoids, phenols, etc.). By inhibiting these enzymes, a plant becomes highly susceptible to various ubiquitous soilborne pathogens (Fusarium, Pythium, Phytophthora, Rhizoctonia, etc.). It is this pathogenic activity that actually kills the plant as “the herbicidal mode of action”. If glyphosate is not translocated to the roots because of stem boring insects or disruption of the vascular system, aerial parts of the plant may be stunted, but the plant is not killed.

Recognizing that glyphosate is a strong chelator to immobilize essential plant micronutrients provides an understanding for the various non-herbicidal and herbicidal effects of glyphosate. Glyphosate is a phloem-mobile, systemic chemical in plants that accumulates in meristematic tissues (root, shoot tip, reproductive organs, legume nodules) and is released into the rhizosphere through root exudation (from RR as well as non-RR plants) or mineralization of treated plant residues. Degradation of glyphosate in most soils is slow or non-existent since it is not readily ‘biodegradable’ and is primarily by microbial co-metabolism when it does occur. Although glyphosate can be immobilized in soil (also spray tank mixtures, and plants) through chelation with various cations (Ca, Mg, Cu, Fe, Mn, Ni, Zn), it is not readily degraded and can accumulate for years (in both soils and perennial plants). Very limited degradation may be a “safety” feature with glyphosate since most degradation products are toxic to normal as well as RR plants. Phosphorus fertilizers can desorb accumulated glyphosate that is immobilized in soil to damage and reduce the physiological efficiency of subsequent crops. Some of the observed affects of glyphosate are presented in Table 1.

Understanding the Roundup Ready® Genetics
Plants genetically engineered for glyphosate-tolerance contain an alternate EPSPS pathway (EPSPS-II) that is not blocked by glyphosate. The purpose of these gene inserts is to provide herbicidal selectivity so glyphosate can be applied directly to these plants rather than only for preplant applications. This duplicate pathway (Roundup Ready® genetics, RR) tolerance of glyphosate requires energy from the plant that otherwise could be used for yield. The RR genes are ‘silent’ in meristematic tissues where glyphosate accumulates so that these rapidly metabolizing tissues are not provided an active alternative EPSPS pathway to counter the physiological effects of glyphosate’s inhibition of EPSPS. Meristematic tissues have high physiologic activity requiring a higher availability of the essential micronutrients needed for cell division and growth that glyphosate immobilizes by chelation.

Residual glyphosate in RR plant tissues can immobilize Co, Fe, Mn, Ni, Zn or other nutrients applied as foliar amendments for 8-35 days after it has been applied. This reduces the availability of micronutrients required for photosynthesis, disease resistance, and other critical physiological functions. The presence of the RR genetics reduces nutrient uptake and physiological efficiency and may account for some of the ‘yield drag’ reported for RR crops when compared with the ‘normal’ isolines from which they were derived (Table 2). Reduced physiological efficiency from the RR gene is also reflected in reduced water use efficiency (WUE) and increased drought stress to predispose plants to more extensive damage from abiotic factors in the ecology. Application of glyphosate to a plant insures the systemic distribution of this powerful antibiotic into the soil throughout the root zone, often below areas of microbial activity for potential degradation.

The widespread presence of the glyphosate tolerance genetics into a high percentage (70-100 %) of our essential and economically important plants (alfalfa, canola, maize, soybean, cotton, etc.) increases societies’ vulnerability to natural stress and overt disease damage. The subsequent application of glyphosate to plants engineered to tolerate it further erodes food and feed production sustainability and increases vulnerability to disease and stress. This vulnerability is further enhanced by disruption of the biotic ecological factors essential for efficient feed and food production as well as maintaining a healthy supportive ecology of the organisms within. Soil degradation, void of important microbial activity to provide an abundance of nutritional and disease suppression benefits has generational impacts on the ecology.

Glyphosate as a potent antibiotic
The falsified promotion of glyphosate as a benign chemical that is non-persistent and safe for the environment has led to its indiscriminate, extensive application at increasingly high rates to result in its accumulation in the soil, air, water and food chain. In addition to glyphosate’s direct impact on the ecology through reduced mineral availability, it also damages the ecology through its potent antibiotic activity whereby it drastically disrupts the natural biological balance of soil, animal and human microbiomes. Soil structure, water holding capacity, fertility, and ecology are dependent on biological activity that is damaged by the antibiotic glyphosate to reduce crop production, increase disease and threaten agricultural sustainability.

Few areas have escaped contamination with this potent antibiotic that affects all living matter. As a consequence, the populations of bees, frogs, lizards and other animals have been decimated in many areas because of the extensive contamination of their habitat with glyphosate that is toxic to the Lactobacillus, Bifidobacteria and other species essential for their digestion and disease resistance. The populations of pollinaters essential for seed production of many plants especially have been decimated. Gut dysbiosis of animals and humans predisposes them to many diseases because of compromised immunity and the absence of functional vitamins and compounds otherwise produced by their gastro-intestinal microbiome.

In contrast to glyphosate’s toxicity to many beneficial and essential microbes, many pathogens are stimulated directly by it or indirectly through its toxicity to the natural biological controls that would function to suppress pathogen activity. This has resulted in the emergence of new economic diseases and the reemergence of endemic diseases in more virulent forms that are not readily managed by available control measures. Loss of productivity, income, and nutrition are observed on the one hand; while mycotoxins and other toxic entities in the food chain have greatly increased to threaten the health and well-being of those consuming the products.

The irresponsible application of this massive experiment with glyphosate and GMO crops appears to be more of a generalized ecocide than a benefit to society as commercially promoted. Future historians may well look back upon our time and write, not about how many pounds of pesticides we did or did not apply, but about how willing we are to sacrifice our children and jeopardize future generations for this massive experiment we call genetic engineering that is based on failed promises and flawed science, just to benefit the bottom line of a commercial enterprise.

Dr. Don M. Huber, Professor Emeritus of Plant Pathology at Purdue University, holds B.S. and M.S. degrees from the University of Idaho (1957, 1959), a Ph-D from Michigan State University (1963), and is a graduate of the US Army Command & General Staff College and Industrial College of the Armed Forces. He was Cereal Pathologist at the University of Idaho for 8 years before joining the Department of Botany & Plant Pathology at Purdue University in 1971. His agricultural research the past 55 years has focused on the epidemiology and control of soilborne plant pathogens with emphasis on microbial ecology, cultural and biological controls, nutrient-disease interactions, pesticide-disease interactions, physiology of host-parasite relationships and techniques for rapid microbial identification. He is author or co-author of over 300 journal articles, Experiment Station Bulletins, book chapters and review articles; three books, and 84 special invited publications and an active scientific reviewer; consultant to academia, industry, and government; and international research cooperator. Dr. Huber is past Chairman of the USDA-APS National Plant Disease Recovery System; a member of the US Threat Pathogens Committee; former member of the Advisory Board for the Office of Technology Assessment, U.S. Congress; and OTSG Global Epidemiology Working Group.




Life in Mount Santo

A long, long time ago, far, far away, in the town of Mount Santo, there started a congregation of citizens, the Herbicidalists, that was in the occupation of forming a great new reality. They created a Magical Elixir that was spread over everything, and everything was rendered uniform, simplified. The Company the Herbicidalists spawned ensured that all the Mount Santoites were enlightened many times daily to this new way of living via this miraculous potion, its virtues touted on television, the Internet and social media, for the benefit of all. Everywhere there were beautiful young mothers with even more beautiful children and Golden Retrievers and kittens cavorting on the perfect green lawns of Mount Santo. Grownup Yuppie larvae husbands came home to their own personal golf courses, replete with landscape linoleum plantings, and nary a not-so-dandy lion to be seen – all thanks to this simple solution. Life was wonderful there – easy, simple, and so green. The Company was governed by a federation of people called the Knights of the Roundup Table. The leader, King Gly of Phosate, wanted all his subjects to know that he and his Knights had everything well in-hand; there was no reason to think or even question this new existence. All was well and always will be well. Should a problem pop up, the Knights had Dr. Spin and his merry band of Fixers on retainer to take care of any trifles.

Soon, the people found there was no need to think for themselves anymore. All of life’s decisions were to be resolved by the Company because the Company knew best and was always right. All the while, novel uses for the Company’s Magic Elixir were dreamed up, and it continued to be lavished on the countryside. The townsfolk venerated this new way of life the Company had bestowed upon them. Having all their thinking done for them, they became dreamily compliant and docile as fawns. As life became more and more simplified, these citizens evolved into a new nature of populace: the Consumerables. King Gly of Phosate, being the astute leader he was, saw that it was good for the Company to pacify the Consumerables, so he bestowed upon them the entitlement of More. More hours at work to get More; More house to fit More in it; More land for More lawn and More landscape linoleum; More and bigger cars to look and feel like More. And of course, More Magic Elixir. So, on life went, blissful and oblivious.

Yes, the people of Mount Santo seemed to not have a care in the world. Life continued to be easy, simple and so green. Then one day, a rival clan led by the cunning and rapacious Sir Mugwort of Artemesia and his doctrine of Invasivism insinuated itself among the countryside of Mount Santo. This scourge began to slowly but surely pervade the very fabric of life in the once nirvanic Mount Santo. Narcoticized by their sloth and desire for More, the Consumerables barely noticed the changes happening about them. Besides, the Company was in charge; the Company would take care of “it”.

The Knights of the Roundup Table, now bloated with unfathomable wealth and hubris, were incapable of confronting this new and insidious threat to their supremacy. Even the mighty King Gly of Phosate was short to the task. The very complacency of the Consumerables that the Company so craftily instilled over its fiefdom was at stake. Frantically, they chose to use the very power they infested upon their minions: More. More and More Magic Elixir. This, at first, seemed to help. Invasivism was slowed but not stopped. Then the unthinkable happened: it stopped working. In fact, Invasivism was getting stronger and stronger, in spite of the copious amounts of the once tried-and-true Magic Elixir that was smeared over the landscape. Sir Mugwort of Artemesia enlisted the dregs of society to spread his blight of Invasivism. He Knighted Sir Stiltgrass to spread thickly and rapidly across the land. Knave Burning Bush, with his incendiary vitriol, was taking over more and more of the coveted landscape linoleum of the Conusmerables. The diabolical duo, Bitter and Sweet wrapped themselves like pythons around the once pristine and homogenized landscapes of Mount Santo. All the while, the Company, incapable of change, tried with new and insidious ways to thwart the aggressor with More and More Magic Elixir.

Suddenly, the Consumerables began to sicken and some of them died. Young and old alike began to fall prey to this novel ailment that no one could understand. The numb existence of More was finally exacting its toll, and the Company began to lose its grip on its citizenry. Slowly, and without the yoke of pacifism the Company had perpetrated upon them previously, they began to develop independent thought again. Some of the Consumerables noticed that most of the Herbicidalists were not as affected by this strange new malady and they wondered why.

It was discovered the one great difference was that most of the Magic Elixir was foisted upon the Consumerables and not on the Herbicidalists. Dr. Spin and the Fixers, seeing the once all-powerful Company beginning to unravel, looked to survive. They decided to turn and feed on the hands that once fed them: the now impotent Company. One by one, court cases decided against the Company and the Herbicidalists. In a last-ditch attempt to survive, the Company allowed itself to be devoured, hoping to hide inside, like Lyme Disease spirochetes take refuge in red blood cells. With lots of money to be made, Dr. Spin and his Fixers grew more cunning with each victory. Finally, as the Company fiddled, Mount Santo burned. Now Mount Santo is laid Bayer.

A fairy tale yes, but sadly not too far from reality. I took my own “trip” through that kind of fabled existence when I adopted the pop culture mantra of the day, “Better Living Through Chemicals”. The day was the early 80’s and I was new in business, finally for myself.

To start at the beginning, I was a real Nature Boy and I loved trees. Better yet, I loved woods. And meadows. And mountains. And swamps. More than ten years earlier, at the ripe young age of 12 years old, I was indentured to the next-door neighbor’s landscaping company. My dad, a former potato farmer in northern Maine, had instilled that good ole’ Maine Work Ethic in me. I mowed lawns, weeded and edged beds, and raked leaves – mountains of leaves. Every day after school, on most weekends, and every summer vacation was spent sweating blood for my boss. This was before the advent of rotary mowers and leaf blowers. Mowing was done with a “reel mower” called a Locke mower, made by hand in Bridgeport, CT. Although it was supposed to be self-propelled, it was often necessary to push this sixty-inch cast iron and steel monstrosity up hills and through wet spots. Lawn trimming was accomplished with a push mower and a scissors-like hand trimmer. I still remember my throbbing forearms after hand trimming long fence lines and the blisters from the rake handle in my sweaty hands because it was uncool to wear gloves back then.

I got really good at these mundane tasks and thought of myself a “professional”. Or so I thought. A day in July came when my boss finally let me do a job totally on my own. I was too young to drive, so he dropped me off and picked me up later. The job was to “prune” Mrs. Jones’ foundation plantings, weed and edge the beds, and apply mulch for the finishing touch. I use the word “prune” in parenthesis because I didn’t know the first thing about pruning, as this story will elucidate. Hand shears were the pruning tool of the day and I used them to render perfectly natural plants – Rhododendrons, Azaleas, Yews and the like – to look like symmetrical boxes and meatballs, replete with lower limbs scalped into a vase shape. I weeded all the weeds and created a wavy and exaggerated edge, dug deep with the halfmoon-shaped hand edger, so deep that I cut many of the roots of the plants I just pruned within an inch of their lives. I stood back and beheld this travesty and declared it a job well done. My boss would be proud. Actually, he was pleased. That should have been a clue.

Next spring comes around and I am mowing Mrs. Jones’ lawn – the same Mrs. Jones where I did the shrub butchery ten months earlier. Again, I stepped back to pat my ego with my fine accomplishment. Only this time the foundation plantings of the houses on either side of Mrs. Jones’ property were erupting in bloom and the shrubs I so meticulously “pruned” had only a smattering of flowers and the yews looked like they were dying. Huh. How can a job that looked so good not even a year ago look so awful now? You guessed it: back in July I “pruned” off most of the flower buds and removed too much foliage from the yews. And those plants were upset, upset with me. I truly felt it. Some “professional” I was. Ironically, my boss didn’t know any better either. I wanted to learn from real professionals.

I don’t know where I heard about it, but there was something called an arboretum a few towns south of where I lived. Still not old enough to drive and too far to bicycle, I begged and begged my boss to drive me to the arboretum where there were landscaping classes taught at night by real teachers. He thought I’d lose interest quickly, so he agreed. I loved it! From the very first day I was mesmerized at what there was to learn; that I could learn. My boss was less than thrilled. He thought education was for “others”. Lucky for me there was a man in class who owned a landscaping company not far from my house and was willing to give me a ride to class and home again every Wednesday night. I learned and I studied, sucking up the knowledge like dry soil in a downpour. High school didn’t do much for me and I wasn’t college material, but I excelled at this kind of learning.

The teachers taught me to be aware of weeds, insects and diseases and to “control” them as soon as possible. I learned about aphids, that they are all female until more are needed; that cedar trees can spoil apples; that dandelions are slippery and can hurt a child if they slip on one. Then, one of the most mysterious things I learned about – pesticides – can “control” all those bad plants, diseases and bugs. “Wow, how groovy is this!” I thought. Soon, chemicals with cool names like Methoxychlor, Cygon, Metasystox-R, and Thiram began to roll off my tongue.

These were the tools that were going to make me a great tree and landscape “professional”. So many ounces of this, mixed with that, applied at ten-day intervals will thwart those nasty pests and make me a landscape hero. This feeling of power over Nature was truly intoxicating. They were right: Better Living Through Chemicals! I soon became the youngest CT-licensed Arborist in the state at seventeen years young. My Custom Grounds Supervisory license followed shortly after. Now armed with knowledge and science and licenses to use them, I was out to “control” everything and anything, from the ground-up. The sky was the limit. Or so I thought. In all my early education I never once heard the term, “Beneficial Organism”. Plants kept getting sick and required new and ever more powerful chemicals to keep them alive. That should have been a clue.

That was it. A turning point. The beginning of my enlightenment. I now knew that I didn’t know what I didn’t know. I thought, ‘This has to change’. Another thing I knew was that I wasn’t going to learn much more than how to work hard from my boss. I left my boss’ employ and started out on my own. That was 1982.

Around this time a new chemical concoction came on the market. It was an herbicide that “destroyed” anything you sprayed it on. No more “control”; out and out death was the new game. What made this invention so novel is that it used a new mode of action to kill a plant down to its roots with very short residual action. We were told that soil organisms would render it harmless by breaking it down into harmless elements. What’s more is that it did all this in ten days or less. Miraculous. For the first time I could spray this material to kill everything, then ten days later be able to plant directly in the same soil without the new plants being affected. Another very hip thing was its name: Roundup. Wow, the first chemical without a chemical name. That nice, Italian-sounding company, Monsanto, really had it going for them. Or so I thought.

People from Monsanto were sent out to teach us “professionals” how to use this wonder herbicide to our (and their) best advantage. I soon began to use it by the gallon for everything from weeds in driveways to total lawn renovations, to meadow site preparation, to invasive plant removal. They even have a formulation that can be used in wetlands with an equally cool name along the same theme: Rodeo. The difference is one of the secret ingredients – which Roundup and Rodeo have many – a surfactant that was responsible for killing amphibians, was removed. Roundup took the thinking out of herbicide use. It even came in a “Tip & Pour” jug that virtually eliminated spillage and made formulating so easy and no need for a measuring cup. It was so easy to use and worked so well on so many plants that it felt like I hit a home run every time I used it. It was so convenient to use because of few restrictions and it is very successful at killing plants of almost all kinds. The biggest draw of all was what it said on the label: Relatively Non-Toxic.

I am still shocked and ashamed to admit that I used to use Paraquat, an herbicide so deadly to mammals that it is the suicide elixir of choice in India. One seventieth of a teaspoon is a lethal dose for a 150-pound man. Now I could do the same job with something “relatively non-toxic”. Joy! Rapture! Or so I thought. Off came the gloves and the respirator and the Tyvek suit. Short sleeves and shorts became the garb of the day. I was totally lulled into an audacious sense of indestructability, as this stuff was “safe” to use. As Jim Jones put it, “I drank the Kool Aid”. Monsanto was so good at marketing Roundup that clients began asking for it by name. I would bet serious money, (and I am not a chance-taker with money), that at least half the garages and sheds of the typical American consumer contain Roundup in some form.

The truth is now out, although it is being spun by the smartest people money can buy. Roundup causes cancer. Period. It is important to remember that Glyphosate is NOT Roundup; it is only one of the major ingredients in the concoction we know as Roundup. Roundup, with all its top-secret adjuvants, synergists, emulsifiers and “inert ingredients”, render Roundup many more times toxic than straight Glyphosate. There is now a homeowner version of Roundup that incorporates another herbicide to make it work faster. Monsanto knows the consumers’ lust for “Instant Gratification” and spoon feeds it to us any way it has to, to sell more Roundup. Multi-billion dollar lawsuits are being awarded to plaintiffs who suffered losses due to using Roundup. But Lawyers, Guns and Money (a nod to Warren Zevon) are holding up these settlements, buying time for Bayer/Monsanto to figure new ways to slither out of these comeuppances.

I am not a religious man by any stretch of the term, but if there is an Antichrist, Monsanto (and now Bayer) is it. Speaking of Bayer, the sweet company that brought us Bayer Aspirin – the wonder drug – has bought Monsanto. Why would a respectful (at least for the time being) company like Bayer with such positive consumer recognition, get into such a filthy bed with Monsanto? I’m no economist but I think Bayer bought Monsanto because Monsanto is a cash cow in the short term and a huge write-off in the long term. I also suspect that down the road the same fate will befall Bayer, with its exposure to its own Neonicotinoid evils: Colony Collapse Disorder (pollinators and others), near extermination of the iconic Monarch Butterfly (along with excessive use of GMO Bt), suspected estrogen production and nervous system disorders in humans.

Did I mention that I was a Nature Boy? Throughout the many thousands of gallons and pounds of synthetic pesticides that I personally applied, the feeling that something was wrong never left me. So many missed clues. I began to feel the same way when I witnessed those sickly plants that I had mis-pruned and almost killed. I began to feel like this almost every day. Again, I knew something had to change. Armed with a plethora of one-sided conventional knowledge, I was still ignorant. Although I no longer pruned flower buds off plants unintentionally, I still had no idea about the harm I was causing. The same feeling that prodded me to learn how to be a conventional synthetic nozzlehead propelled me away from such misinformation and toward a new mindset and an old personal ethic. It appears that I am still a Nature Boy, but a little more grown up and my mind a little more open. I have repented my past actions to every organism I “controlled” with narcoticized numbness and have devoted a considerable portion of my life to inform people of the ills of my past ways and how to avoid them. I have slowly come to peace with who I was, who I am today, and who I am becoming. Today, my work consists of guiding landowners and business owners toward organic and ecological solutions and away from the thoughtless, reductionist thinking of the day. Because of this I have never slept better in my life.

In closing, if I may offer a few pieces of free advice (and we know what that’s worth!): 1) Disdain the moniker “Consumer”. The term reduces us to units of measure required by corporations to produce their obscene profits, environmental destruction, the income inequality gap, and chains us to mindless, insatiable Capitalism. We are flesh and blood, bones and muscle, minds, hearts and spirits, not consumers; 2) Don’t drink their Kool Aid! Think for yourself. There are a lot of Mount Santo’s out there. Be individualistic but work in community. Learn how to work with different opinions. If everyone is doing it, RUN in the opposite direction! Find a place where you can stop and think about who and how you want to be, and then do it; 3) Go back to what used to work, although it will require more thought and work, but will align with your ethics; 4) Look for clues. Use your gut sense. Always be on the lookout for “the hook” and for opportunities to make life better.

With respect,

Mike Nadeau




Genetically Engineered Crops, Glyphosate and the Deterioration of Health in the United States of America

excerpted by from a study by Nancy L. Swanson, Andre Leu, Jon Abrahamson and Bradley Wallet

A huge increase in the incidence and prevalence of chronic diseases has been reported in the United States over the last 20 years. Similar increases have been seen globally. The herbicide glyphosate was introduced in 1974 and its use is accelerating with the advent of herbicide-tolerant genetically engineered (GE) crops. Evidence is mounting that glyphosate interferes with many metabolic processes in plants and animals and glyphosate residues have been detected in both. Glyphosate disrupts the endocrine system and the balance of gut bacteria, it damages DNA and is a driver of mutations that lead to cancer.

In the present study, US government databases were searched for GE crop data, glyphosate application data and disease epidemiological data. Correlation analyses were then performed on a total of 22 diseases in these time-series data sets. The correlation coefficients are highly significant between glyphosate applications and hypertension, stroke, diabetes prevalence, diabetes incidence, obesity, lipoprotein metabolism disorder, Alzheimer’s, senile dementia, Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, autism, inflammatory bowel disease, intestinal infections, end stage renal disease, acute kidney failure, cancers of the thyroid, liver, bladder, pancreas, kidney and myeloid leukemia.

The correlation coefficients are highly significant between the percentage of GE corn and soy planted in the US and hypertension, stroke, diabetes prevalence, diabetes incidence, obesity, lipoprotein metabolism disorder, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, hepatitis C, end stage renal disease, acute kidney failure, cancers of the thyroid, liver, bladder, pancreas, kidney and myeloid leukemia. The significance and strength of the correlations show that the effects of glyphosate and GE crops on human health should be further investigated.

Introduction

Within the last 20 years there has been an alarming increase in serious illnesses in the US, along with a marked decrease in life expectancy. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that the cost of diabetes and diabetes-related treatment was approximately $116 billion dollars in 2007. Estimated costs related to obesity were $147 billion in 2008 and cardiovascular diseases and stroke were $475.3 billion in 2009. Health care expenditures in the US totaled 2.2 trillion dollars in 2007. The onset of serious illness is appearing in increasingly younger cohorts. The US leads the world in the increase in deaths due to neurological diseases between 1979-81 and 2004-06 for the 55-65 age group. These mental disorder deaths are more typical of the over 65 age group. There have been similar findings for obesity, asthma, behavior and learning problems, and chronic disease in children and young adults. Type II diabetes in youth is being called an epidemic. The rate of chronic disease in the entire US population has been dramatically increasing with an estimated 25% of the US population suffering from multiple chronic diseases . These findings suggest environmental triggers rather than genetic or age-related causes.

During this same time period, there has been an exponential increase in the amount of glyphosate applied to food crops and in the percentage of GE food crops planted. We undertook a study to see if correlations existed between the rise of GE crops, the associated glyphosate use and the rise in chronic disease in the US.

Genetic engineering

To genetically modify a plant for herbicide tolerance, genes are identified which convey tolerance of the active chemical in the herbicide to the organism. In the case of glyphosate, glyphosate-tolerant genes were isolated from a strain of Agrobacterium . These were inserted into the genome of the plant via a multi-step process resulting in a plant that can withstand the direct application of the herbicide. Genetic modification is also utilized for developing insect resistant plants by using insecticidal proteins from Bacillus thuringiensis , or Bt toxin. The promoter used to drive the expression of the foreign genes is generally the 35S promoter from the Cauliflower Mosaic Virus (CaMV). Not only are the virus and bacteria genes themselves potentially harmful, but the plants are sprayed directly with herbicides. The herbicide-tolerant plants absorb the poisons and humans and domestic animals eat them.

The GMO industry claims that genetic engineering is no different than plant hybridization, which has been practiced for centuries. It is the reason they gave, which the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) accepted, for not having to submit GE food to rigorous safety testing to obtain FDA approval. This distortion of the facts needs to be corrected. One critical issue is that multiple genes are being transferred across taxonomical kingdoms in ways that do not occur by natural breeding methods.

All living things are classified according to a ranking system that starts with species and sub species. Closely related species are grouped together under a rank that is called a genus. Closely related genera are grouped together under the rank of family. There are seven ranks. Starting with the highest they are: kingdom, phylum or division, class, order, family, genus, species.

Plants, animals, fungi, viruses and bacteria belong to separate kingdoms. Natural inter-breeding can take place between some species that belong to the same genus and very occasionally between species of different genera. However, species that belong to different families do not inter-breed and definitely species that belong to different kingdoms such as plants, animals, fungi, bacteria and viruses do not inter-breed in nature. Plants, for example, do not inter-breed with animals, bacteria or viruses. Genetic engineering allows for the transfer of genes between kingdoms in a way that does not occur naturally.

The other great misconception is that only one gene with the desired trait is inserted. At this stage, science is not sophisticated enough to insert a single gene and get it to work. To overcome this problem, scientists have to combine the gene with the desired trait (such as herbicide tolerance or pesticide production) with other genes that will make it work, such as promoter genes and marker genes. The result is a complex construction of transgenes that can come from bacterial, viral, fish, plant and other sources. This is completely different from natural hybridization.

The stance taken by Monsanto, Dow, Bayer and the other purveyors of both chemicals and genetically engineered seeds is that GE food is “substantially equivalent” to non-GE products. According to the US FDA, “the substances expected to become components of food as a result of genetic modification of a plant will be the same as or substantially similar to substances commonly found in food, such as proteins, fats and oils, and carbohydrates”. The FDA maintains that it is up to the biotech companies that manufacture GE seeds to research and determine the safety of their products.

But scientists are able to discriminate between organic, conventional and GE soybeans without exception, based on vitamin, fat and protein content. Furthermore, they are able to distinguish GE soybeans from both conventional and organic by their glyphosate and AMPA (glyphosate degradation product) residues, as well as substantial non-equivalence in numerous compositional characteristics of soybeans. The researchers stated, “Using 35 different nutritional and elemental variables to characterize each soy sample, we were able to discriminate GM, conventional and organic soybeans without exception, demonstrating ‘substantial non-equivalence’ in compositional characteristics for ‘ready-to-market’ soybeans”.

Exponentially increasing use of glyphosate world-wide

Since glyphosate was introduced in 1974 as the active ingredient in Roundup® it has become the most widely used herbicide for urban, industrial, forest and farm use. Pre-harvest application of glyphosate to wheat and barley as a desiccant was suggested as early as 1980, and its use as a drying or ripening agent 7-10 days before harvest has since become routine. It is now used on grain crops, rice, seeds, dried beans and peas, sugar cane and sweet potatoes. According to the Canadian Pulse Growers Association, “Desiccants are used worldwide by growers who are producing crops that require ‘drying down’ to create uniformity of plant material at harvest. These products may also assist in preharvest weed control. In Canada, products such as diquat (Reglone) and glyphosate (Roundup) have been used as desiccants in pulse crops in the past, and there are new products on the way.” In 2012, 98% of spring wheat, 99% of durum wheat and 61% of winter wheat were treated with glyphosate or glyphosate salts in the US. The glyphosate plots in this study include all formulations of glyphosate.

Monsanto, the manufacturer of Roundup®, states, “Since its discovery in the early 1970’s the unique herbicidal active ingredient glyphosate has become the world’s most widely used herbicide because it is efficacious, economical and environmentally benign. These properties have enabled a plethora of uses which continue to expand to this day providing excellent weed control both in agricultural and non-crop uses to benefit mankind and the environment. Glyphosate has an excellent safety profile to operators, the public and the environment. … It is approved for weed control in amenity, industrial, forestry and aquatic areas. Roundup Pro Biactive and ProBiactive 450 can be used at any time of the year as long as weeds are green and actively growing”.

The Monsanto document outlines use areas including vegetation control on agricultural land, on GE Roundup Ready Crops and on non-agricultural land. By 2006, glyphosate became used routinely for both agricultural and non-agricultural weed control and pre-harvest treatment. Since 1995, glyphosate use has rapidly increased with the planting of GE glyphosate-tolerant crops. Glyphosate and its degradation product, aminomethylphosphonic acid (AMPA) have been detected in air, rain, groundwater, surface water, soil and sea water. These studies show that glyphosate and AMPA persist in the soil and water, and the amounts detected are increasing over time with increasing agricultural use.

Because glyphosate is in air, water and food, humans are likely to be accumulating it in low doses over time. Glyphosate residues of up to 4.4 parts per million have been detected in stems, leaves and beans of glyphosate-resistant soy, indicating uptake of the herbicide into plant tissue. Reports from Germany of glyphosate in the urine of dairy cows, rabbits and humans ranged from 10-35 ppm. According to the study, “Chronically ill humans had significantly higher glyphosate residues in urine than healthy humans.”

Furthermore, the cows were dissected and glyphosate residues in the tissues of the kidney, liver, lung, spleen, muscles and intestines were comparable to that found in the urine. This means that the glyphosate is not being passed through the urine without affecting the organism and that meat and dairy are an additional source of dietary glyphosate for humans.

Industry and lobbyists claim that GE crops reduce the amount of pesticides used on crops, resulting in a more sustainable agriculture. This has proved not to be the case. Since the introduction of GE seeds in 1996 the amount of glyphosate used on crops in the US has increased from 27 million pounds in 1996 to 250 million pounds in 2009. Charles Benbrook showed that there was a 527 million pound increase in herbicide use in the United States between 1996 and 2011. Furthermore, Benbrook states that the spread of glyphosate-resistant weeds has brought about substantial increases in the number and volume of herbicides applied. This has led to genetically engineered forms of corn and soybeans tolerant of 2,4-D, which he predicts will drive herbicide usage up by approximately 50% more. In the US, glyphosate residues allowed in food are some of the highest in the world. In July of 2013 the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) raised the maximum allowable residues of glyphosate. An abbreviated list is provided in Table 1 and Table 2.

Table 1. Glyphosate residues allowed in food from crops
Crop                                   Maximum residue allowance
for glyphosate (ppm)

Beet, sugar, dried pulp 25
Beet, sugar, roots 10
Beet, sugar, tops 10
Canola, seed 20
Corn, sweet, kernel plus cob 3.5
Grain, cereal, group 15, 30
Oilseeds, except canola 40
Pea, dry 8
Peppermint, tops 200
Quinoa, grain 5
Shellfish 3
Soybean, seed 20
Spice subgroup 19B, 7
Sugarcane, cane 2
Sugarcane, molasses 30
Sweet potatoes 3
Vegetable, legume, except soy & dry pea) 6

Table 2. Glyphosate residues allowed in livestock feed
Animal feeds Maximum residue allowance for glyphosate (ppm)

Grass, forage, fodder and hay, group 17, 300
Grain, cereal, forage, fodder and straw 100
Soybean, forage 100
Soybean, hay 200
Soybean, hulls 120
Cattle, meat byproducts 5

Glyphosate and disease

The connection between glyphosate and chronic disease has been outlined in a recent review paper. The authors show how glyphosate disrupts the metabolic process by interfering with the Cytochrome P450 (CYP) pathways. The CYP is known as a super-family of enzymes that are present in most tissues of the body. They are responsible for around 75% of the reactions involved in drug metabolism and the oxidation of organic molecules. According to the authors, “glyphosate enhances the damaging effects of other food borne chemical residues and environmental toxins. Negative impact on the body is insidious and manifests slowly over time as inflammation damages cellular systems throughout the body. Here, we show how interference with CYP enzymes acts synergistically with disruption of the biosynthesis of aromatic amino acids by gut bacteria, as well as impairment in serum sulfate transport. Consequences are most of the diseases and conditions associated with a Western diet, which include gastrointestinal disorders, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, depression, autism, infertility, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. We explain the documented effects of glyphosate and its ability to induce disease, and we show that glyphosate is the ‘textbook example’ of exogenous semiotic entropy: the disruption of homeostasis by environmental toxins”.
Séralini reviewed 19 studies of animals fed with GE soy and corn. The studies covered more than 80% of the GE varieties that are widely cultivated around the world. Their review found significant levels of negative effects to the kidneys and livers of the animals that ingested GE feed. In another review article, Samsel & Seneff point out that glyphosate is patented as a biocide and, as such, it kills the beneficial bacteria in our gut, leading to the steep rise in intestinal diseases. This has also been reported in the microbiota of horses and cows and poultry where it was found that, “such highly pathogenic bacteria as Salmonella Entritidis , Salmonella Gallinarum, Salmonella Typhimurium, Clostridium perfringens and Clostridium botulinum are highly resistant to glyphosate. However, most of beneficial bacteria such as Enterococcus faecalis, Enterococcus faecium , Bacillus badius , Bifidobacterium adolescentis and Lacto-bacillus spp. were found to be moderate to highly susceptible”. The authors postulate that glyphosate is associated with the increase in C. botulinum-mediated diseases in these domestic farm animals. Carman reported that a diet of GE corn and soy was associated with stomach inflammation in pigs.

In 2012, Antoniou published a review of the evidence on the teratogenicity and reproductive toxicity of glyphosate on vertebrates. Gasnier published evidence that glyphosate-based herbicides are endocrine disruptors in human cells. They reported toxic effects to liver cells at 5 ppm and endocrine disrupting actions starting at 0.5 ppm. They concluded that glyphosate damages DNA in human cells. Subsequent studies have also shown that glyphosate is an endocrine disruptor. A more recent study showed that glyphosate causes the multiplication of estrogen sensitive human breast cancer cells, which further confirms that it acts as an endocrine disruptor.

An endocrine disruptor is a chemical that either mimics or blocks hormones and disrupts the body’s normal functions. This disruption can happen through altering normal hormone levels, halting or stimulating the production of hormones, or interacting directly with the organ the hormone was meant to regulate. Because hormones work at very small doses, endocrine disruption can occur from low dose exposure to hormonally active chemicals. Threshold doses of pesticides are set based on toxicology studies assuming the response is linear. But the response is not only non-linear, it is also dependent on the hormone level in the body at any given time. The meta study on endocrine disruption by the World Health Organization and the United Nations Environment Program clearly makes this point: “Endocrine disruptors produce non linear dose responses both in vitro and in vivo; these non linear dose responses can be quite complex and often include non-monotonic dose responses. They can be due to a variety of mechanisms; because endogenous hormone levels fluctuate, no threshold can be assumed.” Consequently, low doses over long periods of time may lead to very serious illnesses.

Endocrine disruptors can increase or decrease hormone production, imitate hormones or even transform one hormone into another. Endocrine disruptors can also tell cells to die prematurely, compete with essential nutrients and build up in hormone-producing organs. These imbalances and malfunctions of the endocrine system can lead to diabetes, hypertension, obesity, kidney disease, cancer (breast, prostate, liver, brain, thyroid, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma), osteoporosis, Cushing’s syndrome, hypo- and hyperthyroidism, infertility, birth defects, erectile dysfunction, sexual development problems and neurological disorders such as: learning disabilities, attention deficit disorder (ADD), autism, dementia, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and schizophrenia. Endocrine disruptors are especially damaging to organisms undergoing hormonal changes: fetuses, babies, children, adolescents and the elderly.

Given that glyphosate disrupts gut bacteria balance, the metabolic process, the uptake of nutrients, the endocrine system, and damages DNA, it seemed likely that there would be correlations between the increase of these diseases and the exponential increase in the use of glyphosate, particularly with the advent of glyphosate-resistant food crops. To this end, we searched for epidemiological disease data, along with pesticide use on crops and the percentage of GE crops planted since first being introduced in 1995. These were plotted and Pearson correlation coefficients were calculated. These data, provided by the US government, are readily available on the internet.

Methods

United States Government databases were searched for GE crop data, glyphosate application data and disease epidemiological data. Correlation analyses were then performed on these time-series data sets.

Crop data

The United States Department of Agriculture National Agricultural Statistics Service (USDA:NASS) maintains a database of US crops. Every year they randomly select fields of certain crops and send surveys to the persons who manage those fields. Among other things, they ask what herbicides were used, the application rate, how many times was it applied, and whether or not the field was planted with a GE variety. Surveys are only sent to the states that are the major producers of a given crop, usually accounting for about 90% of the total US acreage planted in that crop. They then perform a statistical analysis and report the total acreage planted, the percentage of acres that are GE, the Percentage of Acres Treated (PAT) with each herbicide for that crop and the application rate per acre per year. One can then calculate the total amount of an herbicide that was applied to that crop in the survey states for that year.

Data files from the USDA containing the information for GE varieties are available from 2000-2013 (USDA:NASS 2013a), but only corn, cotton and soy are tracked. Data for 1996-1999 were obtained from a USDA agricultural report (Fernandez-Cornejo & McBride, 2002). The survey states accounted for 85-90% of all corn, cotton and soy grown in the US. Sampling errors for the percentage of GE crops planted are given as 1-2%, varying by year and crop. The increase in the adoption of GE crops in the US from 1996-2010 is shown in Figure 1.

Data files containing the information for herbicide applications are available from 1990-2012 (USDA:NASS 2013b). Sampling errors (reported as standard errors) are small (<5%) in both the PAT and the application rate if the PAT is greater than 50%. Sampling errors are 5-10% if the PAT is between 10-50%, while the sampling errors are 10-100% if the PAT is <10%. We extracted the data for glyphosate applications to corn, cotton and soy. Data for cotton was not included in these results because, except for cottonseed oil in food and cottonseed meal in animal food, cotton is not generally considered a food crop. Though the manufacturers claim that there are no GE content or traits in processed foods (like oil), it has been reported that glyphosate residues up to 0.350 ppm have been detected in refined soy oil (GEAC, 2006).

From 1990-2002, glyphosate data were available for all three crops, but beginning in 2003 data were not collected for all three crops in any given year. Data on the application rates were interpolated for the missing years by plotting and calculating a best fit curve. Results for the application rates for soy and corn are shown in Figures 2 and 3. Because the PAT was relatively small prior to about 1995, the sampling errors are much larger for pre-1995 data, more so for corn than for soy. Also, data were not missing until 2003 for soy and 2004 for corn. For these reasons, the interpolated curves begin in 1996 for soy and 1997 for corn in Figures 2 and 3.

To calculate the amount of glyphosate applied, it was also necessary to interpolate the PAT for both corn and soy. This was easier because they followed almost exactly the curves for the percentage of acres planted in GE crops. GE soy crops are only herbicide tolerant (HT), which nicely tracked with the PAT for glyphosate, as shown in Figure 4. GE corn crops can be either insecticide resistant (Bt) or HT or both (stacked). The HT and stacked trait percentages, reported separately in the USDA files for corn, were plotted with the PAT for glyphosate as shown in Figure 5

Epidemiological disease data

Databases were searched for epidemiological data on diseases that might have a correlation to glyphosate use and/or GE crop growth based on information given in the introduction. The primary source for these data was the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). These data were plotted against the amount of glyphosate applied to corn and soy from Figure 6 and the total %GE corn and soy crops planted from Figure 1. The percentage of GE corn and soy planted is given by: (total estimated number of acres of GE soy + total estimated number of acres of GE corn)/(total estimated acres of soy + total estimated acres of corn)x100, where the estimated numbers were obtained from the USDA as outlined above.

Statistical analyses

A statistical analysis was performed on each of the data sets. A standard analysis for correlating two sets of data is to calculate the Pearson correlation coefficients. The Pearson correlation coefficient is based on the linear least-squares formulation, which in turn is based on the assumption that each of the individual variables is normally distributed. All of the US government data, both crop data and disease data, were gathered from surveys and census data.

Results and Discussion

We found strong correlations for cancers of the liver, kidney, bladder/urinary and thyroid. Results are shown in Figures 7-10. Thyroid and bladder cancers especially seem to track with the advent of GE crops and associated glyphosate applications. Thyroid cancer seems to affect females more, while males are more susceptible to liver and kidney cancers (not shown in graphs). We found weaker correlations between pancreatic cancer incidence (R = 0.84 with %GE crops & R = 0.92 with glyphosate applications) and deaths from acute myeloid leukaemia (R = 0.89 with %GE crops & R = 0.88 with glyphosate applications). Both of these peaked in the 1980s, then decreased and are now rising again. Pancreatic cancer incidence began rising again in 1996 and myeloid leukaemia deaths in 1989.

From Swanson, Leu, Abrahamson & Wallet in the Journal of Organic Systems , 9(2), 2014
ISSN 1177-4258 33




Will the Lawsuits Kill Glyphosate Off?

Baum Hedlund legal team

Baum Hedlund legal team which won 2019 verdict against Monsanto/Bayer for Dewayne Johnson. Johnson is in white in center.

In September the NY Times ran a story challenging whether the lawsuits being awarded against Bayer and it’s recent acquisition Monsanto, based on findings that their herbicide glyphosate caused Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma among applicators, will be enough to destroy the value of the product to the companies. The paper interviewed farmers who dismissed the court’s findings, arguing that it is too valuable a product for them to stop using it.

“Roundup is still a fabulous tool,” said one, Andy Bensend, who farms 5000 acres in northwestern Wisconsin and grows corn, soybeans and alfalfa. He says he relies on Roundup’s key ingredient — glyphosate — to easily kill weeds, helping increase his yields and reduce his costs.

“The faith that American farmers like Mr. Bensend have in Roundup,” the paper says, “is what prompted the German company Bayer to spend $63 billion in 2018 to buy Monsanto, the herbicide’s creator. And it is now what undergirds Bayer’s confidence that Roundup will remain a moneymaker, even if the company ends up paying billions of dollars to settle the legal morass it inherited with the sale.”

Nationwide, 94 percent of soybeans and roughly 90 percent of cotton and corn are resistant to glyphosate, allowing it to kill weeds but not crops.

A settlement has been looking more likely, the Times suggests, because a federal judge in California ordered Bayer to enter into negotiations with plaintiffs’ lawyers and appointed the victim-compensation expert Kenneth R. Feinberg to lead them. In addition, rattled investors have ratcheted up pressure on Bayer to put the litigation behind it. The three court losses so far undermined confidence in what is now the world’s largest pesticide-and-seed company. Its stock lost nearly 40 percent of its value at one point. At this year’s spring meeting, shareholders delivered what amounted to a rare vote of no confidence in Bayer’s chief executive, Werner Baumann. Some institutional investors say that without a deal, Mr. Baumann is unlikely to survive next year’s annual meeting. But they also insist that their gamble on Bayer will pay off.

Glyphosate is already the most widely used agricultural chemical in history, they reason, and farmers will continue to depend on Roundup as a growing population increases the demand for food. Independent market researchers project that the global market for glyphosate could reach $12 billion by 2024, regardless of health worries.

According to the article, Liam Condon, president of Bayer’s crop science division, said the litigation “doesn’t fundamentally change the rationale” for its purchase of Monsanto. As for Roundup, he said, “We are committed to making sure the product remains available.”

Consumer-protection and health groups have long warned about the safety of chemicals and pesticides used in agriculture. But alarm about a cancer link with Roundup exploded in 2015, when the International Agency for Research on Cancer, an arm of the World Health Organization, reviewed public studies and concluded that glyphosate can “probably” cause cancer.

The chemical was introduced to commercial agriculture in 1974. But the Roundup revolution took off in 1996, when Monsanto started selling genetically modified seeds that produced crops resistant to the herbicide’s attack on weeds.

“We spray the weeds and the crop keeps growing, and it’s just lovely,” said Lorenda Overman, one of the farmers interviewed in the article, who has 4,000 acres in eastern North Carolina. “We used to till the ground, then plant, then go back and plow at least twice, and then spray a chemical,” said Ms. Overman, who grows soybeans, corn and wheat. “Now we’re not tilling at all,” which means less soil erosion and less chemical runoff. We’re not using that diesel fuel, and our employees are doing other things so they’re more productive.”

Although the patent on glyphosate expired in 2000, the combination of Roundup and Roundup Ready seeds has ensured the products’ continued popularity. Farmers saw their costs fall. Glyphosate was also considered less toxic and environmentally friendlier than many of the other substances that American farmers were using. According to estimates by the United States Geological Survey, 287 million pounds of glyphosate was sprayed nationwide in 2016, 20 times as much as was used in 1992.

The phenomenally fast adoption of such a transformative technology, though, unsettled the public and spurred fears about the safety of the food supply. Glyphosate was drawn into the bitter public debate over genetically engineered crops, the international cancer agency’s report immediately turned into a rallying point for critics, and it provided ammunition to mount legal challenges to Roundup’s safety.

In succeeding years, several countries, localities and school districts banned or restricted its use. Some retail outlets, including Costco, stopped selling it. Just this month, Germany, Bayer’s base, announced it would ban glyphosate by the end of 2023.

But Bayer continues to maintain that decades of scientific studies have repeatedly shown glyphosate to be safe. Regulators around the world, in Canada, Australia, the European Union and the United States, have for the most part agreed.

As recently as August, the Environmental Protection Agency issued a ruling that it would not approve any product labels that said glyphosate caused cancer, stating it was a “false claim.”

In the court cases over Roundup, though, plaintiffs’ lawyers used evidence of Monsanto’s attempts over the years to influence regulators, shape scientific research and discredit critics to undermine governmental pronouncements.

Documents released as a result of the litigation, for example, included a confidential report from a consulting firm that Monsanto hired in 2018, which assured company executives that a White House adviser had said, “We have Monsanto’s back on pesticides regulation.”

It also summarized differences between the “professional” staff at the E.P.A. and the “political” employees over what the scientific evidence about glyphosate indicated.

Bayer now pledges to do business differently. It has announced that it will release all crop-safety studies — including the negative ones — and identify third-party funding so there is no confusing independent research with industry-financed work.

Most of the lawsuits filed so far have been brought by homeowners and groundskeepers, estimated R. Brent Wisner, a plaintiffs’ lawyer who worked on the Roundup trials and represents clients in more than 3,000 additional cases. Those kinds of buyers account for a only small slice of Roundup sales. Farmers are by far the primary users, and many say they are satisfied with glyphosate’s safety record.

In fact, it may be that one of the most daunting threats to glyphosate’s dominance and Roundup sales aren’t health concerns or lawsuits but weeds themselves. As use of the herbicide exploded, resistant variants evolved that can withstand higher concentrations of glyphosate or shrug it off altogether. Palmer amaranth, an Iron Man of superweeds, for instance, grows to eight feet and arms each plant with a million seeds.

“That is the much bigger issue,” said Scott H. Irwin, a professor in the department of agricultural and consumer economics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Whatever the cumulative effect of the lawsuits, he said, “in farmers’ minds, the weed-resistant question will determine whether they’re using it or not.”

That is one reason Bayer announced in June that it planned to invest $5.6 billion over the next 10 years in research on weed control. Whatever alternatives are developed, says Mr. Condon at Bayer, glyphosate will remain a base product.

And according to the NY Times, farmers seem receptive.

“I’ve used it for over 40 years, since I was first around the farm,” said Davie Stephens, who has 6,000 acres in Clinton, Ky., and is president of the American Soybean Association. “I’ve never had any problems whatsoever, and the farming community uses it more than anyone.”




Glyphosate Induced Obesity?

Are you struggling with your weight? Are you eating well and exercising but still not losing weight? Well then, it might be time to consider what’s on or in what you are eating or what you are eating eats. Sound complicated? It’s not. An emerging body of evidence shows a strong link between eating foods sprayed with commercial herbicides and eating meats raised on commercial feedlots (that are born and bred on a cocktail of chemicals) and obesity.

After years of eating highly processed and chemically laden fruits, vegetables and meats, the bacteria in our guts shift radically towards a species that emit what are called endotoxins. These endotoxin releasing bacteria induce inflammation, which then shifts a series biochemical pathways that favor fat storage as a protective and compensatory reaction to the steady state of chemicals coming from our diet and the lack of nutrients contained within these foods. Indeed, what we now call autoimmune reactions, the continued elevation in inflammation and antibodies, may be a result of the food we eat (and the other pharmacological and environmental chemical exposures). It turns out, that the constant state of inflammation many of us find ourselves in is the body’s way of trying to clear those toxins.

With obesity in particular, there have been several interesting studies published over the last couple years providing clear links between chemical exposures and fat storage. Whether the body stores fat or uses fat depends upon the balance of good and bad bacteria in the gut and that balance is predicated heavily upon nutrient availability and toxic exposures. High calorie, low nutrient, chemically dosed foods, shift bacterial communities that increase fat storage and inflammation. Not only that, but since gut bacteria metabolize dietary vitamins and even synthesize vitamins from scratch on their own, the high fat, low nutrient, chemically laden diet down regulates the vitamin producing bacteria, in favor of the more pathogenic and opportunistic bacteria. This further depletes nutrient stores while enhancing inflammation. The cycle becomes very difficult to end, as anyone struggling to lose weight knows all too well. There is hope, however. New research from disparate sources demonstrates how reducing the toxic load and increasing nutrient availability can re-calibrate fat usage and storage parameters.

Gut Bacteria and Obesity

Just a few years ago, researchers from Shanghai, China identified one of the gut bacterial over growths associated with obesity and published their results in a paper entitled: An opportunistic pathogen isolated from the gut of an obese human causes obesity in germfree mice. Called enterobacter clocae, the endotoxin producing bacteria was found overpopulated in the gut of a severely obese patient who was also insulin resistant, hypertensive and suffered from the array of obesity related health issues. The enterobacter clocae pathogens made up 35% of the total bacterial content in this patient’s gut; a huge bacterial load.

Knowing that enterobacter emitted endotoxins and that endotoxins were associated with inflammation and insulin dysregulation, the researchers speculated that a reduction in the enterobacter population would correspond with a reduction in weight and the other health issues. They were correct. With a special diet and traditional Chinese herbs, weight loss and health parameters changed along with the reduction in toxic load. After 9 weeks, enterobacter represented only 1.7% of the total gut bacteria and at 23 weeks, .32%. The total weight loss during that period was 50kg or 110lbs.

Could something as simple as reducing the opportunistic enterobacter via diet be the solution to obesity? To answer this question, the researchers went back to lab and designed an experiment to test the hypothesis, only they did it in the reverse. They asked if enterobacter was a causative factor in obesity, could they induce obesity in mice bred specifically to resist excessive weight gain simply by increasing the bacterial load?

From the fecal matter of the obese patient, the researchers isolated the particular strain of enterobacter clocae called B29. They took the B29 and inoculated four groups of seven, germ-free mice; B29 inoculated plus normal diet or high fat diet and non-inoculated normal or high fat diet. Germ-free mice are a strain of mice that are microorganisms free and raised in isolation. They are resistant to obesity even when fed a high fat diet.

One mouse from each of the inoculated groups died immediately after the inoculation indicating the toxic nature of this bacteria. Remember, this strain of bacteria represented 35% of the original patient’s gut bacteria, likely acquired gradually over the course of lifetime. During the first week, all of the inoculated mice lost weight, again indicating the mounting immune response. Anorexia is often a sign of illness as the body reallocates resources towards fighting an infection.

Subsequently, and after the immediate anorexic responses, both groups of inoculated mice gained excessive weight, whereas the non-inoculated mice did not. The inoculated plus high fat diet group not only gained significantly more weight but expressed higher levels of enterobacter inflammatory markers and insulin resistance showing an interaction between diet and bacterial growth. The researchers speculate that the high fat diet facilitates the transfer of this bacteria to the bloodstream and increases the systemic inflammatory reaction. The inflammation then shifts the body towards fat storage via a range biochemical cascades meant to fight the infection but that also induces other reactions along the way; reactions we consider hallmarks of metabolic disease including high cholesterol, insulin resistance, liver damage, decreased adiponectin (satiety hormone – low adiponection means one is always hungry) and even increased amyloid A proteins associated with Alzheimer’s. This study, albeit small and in need of replication, shows us that when the balance of good to bad bacteria shifts, obesity is induced. It doesn’t tell us, however, how environmental chemicals in and on food impact this bacterial shift. For that we have to go to a couple other reports.

Nutritional Perils of the Western Diet

The Western diet has become a synonymous with highly processed foods that barely resemble actual food in nutrient and DNA composition. Indeed, in our efforts to produce the largest and prettiest produce, we’ve cultivated out 95% of the genetic variation from food crops; reducing to almost nothing the ~200,000 plant metabolites that provide nutrition. To make matters worse, we have substituted for nutritionally rich and diverse crops ones that originate from plant seeds engineered with bacterial RNA and DNA and are laced with glyphosate, adjuvants and other chemicals. In addition, all commercial meat production relies heavily on genetically modified, glyphosate-doused feed to grow the cattle, combined with prophylactic antibiotics, growth hormones and a cocktail of other chemicals that compensate for the deplorable conditions under which Western foods are produced. The genetically modified, chemically laden food stuffs are then sold to the consumer as fruits, vegetables, meats and dairy or processed even further into other food-like products. From beginning to end of the food chain are exposures to chemicals and foreign bacterial DNA that our bodies cannot accommodate and that provide only limited nutrients.

So, in addition to the direct exposure to chemical toxicants, conventionally grown Western foodstuffs also impair health by reducing vital nutrient content required for even the most basic cell functioning. By disrupting the balance between good gut bacteria and bad or pathogenic bacteria, conventionally grown diets further disrupt nutrient availability while increasing inflammation and the cascade of ill-health is set in motion.

Metabolic Starvation in the Face of Obesity

Every cell in the body requires energy to exist and function. That energy comes in the form of mitochondrial adenosine triphosphate or ATP. The production of ATP requires nutrients as co-factors and for enzyme functioning. Many of these nutrients come from diet and others are produced de novo or from scratch by the bacteria in our gut. Glyphosate grown foods attack both. Glyphosate reduces the nutrient availability of foodstuffs, even in the less processed, presumed healthy fruits and vegetables, while simultaneously killing the good bacteria in our guts. Glyphosate is a potent bactericide that in a perverse twist of design preferentially targets the beneficial bacteria while leaving untouched the opportunistic and pathogenic bacteria, like enterobacter clocae. So while eating a healthy diet might lead to weight loss and improved health outcomes under normal circumstances, when that diet consists of conventionally grown foods, with genetically engineered seeds capable of withstanding the toxic insults of glyphosate and its adjuvants, neither the diet nor the disrupted intestinal flora can produce the nutrients required to enable healthy cellular metabolism. The GM-glyphosate combo induces a state of metabolic starvation and through a number of survival pathways shifts towards fat storage rather than fat loss as a secondary source of energy.

Critical to this entire equation is the fact that the bactericidal properties of glyphosate disrupt normal gut microflora.  Glyphosate directly shifts the balance of power away from the healthy, vitamin and mineral factories that feed the body’s enzymes and mitochondria, towards more pathogenic bacteria that are resistant to glyphosate and may even feed on it, further evoking metabolic starvation. As the bacterial balance continues to shift, disease appears and inflammation ensues. Those diseases are then treated pharmacologically with drugs that also disrupt gut bacteria, deplete nutrient stores and damage mitochondria. The cascade of ill-health becomes more and more difficult to end using traditional approaches. Moreover, where and how disease appears is as much based upon individual predispositions as it is on nutrition and other exposures, making the complexity of modern illness something modern medicine is not accustomed too. In other words, these diseases do not fit neatly into the one disease, one medication model, and thus, very rarely respond favorably to treatment.

To Lose Weight, Feed the Body What it Needs: Nutrients.

Despite the complexity of the interactions that come together and create the chronic health issues we face today, there is one variable that can be controlled that will mitigate obesity and ill-health directly: eating, or more specifically, what is eaten. The simple act of cleaning up one’s diet, of moving away from processed foods and away from conventionally grown foods towards organics, can have a tremendous effect on reducing the body’s toxic load and subsequent inflammation, weight gain, and disease. Similarly, replacing needed micronutrients so that bacterial and mitochondrial functioning can come back online and switch from fat storage to fat/energy burning will be critical. This will take time, however, and the transition towards health may be slow. Obesity and ill-health did not emerge overnight and they will not disappear overnight. Finally, we have to recognize that there is no one-size-fits-all, silver bullet, diet vitamin or diet pill. Each of us adapts to chemical exposures and the lack of nutrition individually and uniquely. So each of us requires a different cocktail of nutrients to move forward. Which nutrients and at what doses should be determined individually and may involve some degree of trial and error. As the Western diet is devoid of critical vitamins, minerals and amino acids, it is likely many individuals are suffering from broad based deficiencies. It is also likely, that restoring what has been absent chronically will go a long way towards health and healing, regardless of one’s particular health
Published originally on Hormones Matter




Making the Jump Away from Glyphosate: Bernard Perry and Perry-Dice Organics

BernardMachais, NY, in western New York State is just a few miles south of the long east-west stretch of limestone-based upland soils that supports abundant crops and runs along central New York from Schenectady to Buffalo. When it comes to soils, however, even a few miles is a miss and the Machais region developed small dairy operations when farming spread there two hundred years ago.

Now the dairy squeeze, driven by a long-term drop in the price of milk, has forced out all others and the only remaining dairy farm in town shipping milk is Perry-Dice Organics, owned by Bernard Perry.

“I grew up helping my parents and my siblings on the homestead,” says Perry, who comes from a long line of dairymen. “There were fifteen of us siblings. I am the twelfth child — ten boys and five girls, and each and every one of us helped on the farm. We considered it life. What could ever be better — one family pulling for one another?”

At one time there were nine dairy farms in the area that were operated by Bernard’s father’s sons and grandsons.

Bernard bought his farm at the age of twenty three, in 1984. It is 91 acres (although he points out that the power company has a lien on 7, so it is 84, really). Of those, 54 acres are productive land in hay and crops, and the rest is split between pasture and woods. Perry raises his cows on corn silage, ensiled the old-fashioned way in old tall silos. The farm ships their milk to Horizon and is certified by New York NOFA.

At the time he bought the farm, of course, it wasn’t organic and neither was Bernard. Due to a number of available farm chemicals, dairying in this country had developed an addiction. One chemical was particularly beguiling!

“Roundup!” recalls Bernard, “the great all around spray of all sprays! It sure is easy to use — basically anyone can use it. You spray it on once a year, and the weeds are gone for 90 days or longer, with beautiful brown spots wherever it is used, as in barren-looking. It sure is easy to tell where it has been used. It kills the weeds and leaves the fields free of them, so the only plant that grows is the one that is desired. One can’t fault any agricultural producer for using it. Especially in today’s economy.”

When Bernard bought his farm, of course, Roundup was used before planting, to clean up any unwanted plants in the fields by tying up the nutrients they needed. The compound was considered completely safe to use. One could even buy it in a grocery store. Supposedly if one used it according to the label it was considered completely harmless.

Once GMO’s were introduced, starting in about 1992, Roundup could be used not only before planting, but after planting as well. So long as you planted ‘Roundup Ready’ crops, or those which had been engineered to tolerate glyphosate, Roundup’s active ingredient, then you could continue to spray after planting and continue to kill weeds and any other non-Roundup Ready plants. The crops themselves had been engineered to include a pathway to survival despite Roundup being sprayed and denying them the normal nutrients they needed.

“Originally,” recalls Perry, “one was not supposed to use it 2 years in a row in the same field. And with other sprays one needs a permit to spray them on, which I have never had. So when the GMO technology came about I could spray my fields myself, which made for quite a savings.  With the GMO technology I had tremendous yields of only the plants that one truly wants — regardless of whether one grows conventional or organic, nobody wants to see or deal with weeds”.
But despite these advantages, in 2007 Bernard decided to turn his conventional dairy farm into an organic one. He has always had an interest in how Mother Nature works, but until 2007 there just wasn’t any opportunity to go with the Natural approach.

“That’s when I knew things had to change!” he says. “It became quite clear that the issues that I was having with the cows was coming from Roundup and GMO’s. It was quite obvious, There were constant digestive issues, such as nausea, headaches, excessive saliva, gastrointestinal issues, such as cows would fill up with gas (known as bloat), diarrhea, cows became miserable to work with, they were aggressive as in super Bitches.”

“What most people don’t realize,” he continues, “is that cows have the same basic needs as humans do. Speaking of just necessities, they want a diet that keeps them healthy, full, and comfortable.”

When Bernard started to transition into organic he got very little support, he says.

“For one, I was the only one in this area going this route”, he explains. “A high percentage of producers who have gone into the organic world have dealt with this also. I was able to handle the negativity from the farmers in the area. But I had expected to get some support from my siblings. That didn’t happen either. Which made the struggles that much worse. It was difficult enough not being able to share your findings, within the area, but when family wouldn’t give any support, it stung. I don’t want to share negativity, but sometimes it happens.”

When he was conventional Perry strived to keep 40 cows in milk production at all times. Now that he is organic he strives to keep 30 cows in milk production at all times. Not because of the difference in the milk pricing, he says, but more for the ability to do a better job of taking care of the cows, as in not being so excessively busy that one can hardly keep pace.

“By taking care of fewer cows I have to be more observant”, he admits, “but I have more of an opportunity to re-act, I should probably say that I have a better opportunity to be pro-active. By being pro active I have more time to pay attention to Mother Nature, and what she is trying to show me.”

Perry will be 59 shortly, he says, and there is no sense in working 7 days a week forever!

Asked whether he is glad to have gone organic and ditched the chemicals, he answers a loud “yes”!

“I’m tickled to have changed to organic”, he asserts. “I understand, Roundup was great on weeds. You can’t fault farmers who use it. When we converted neighbors thought we were cookoo and going back to horse farming.”

“But our going organic was driven by health needs”, he explains. “I had a wife with asthma and cattle with all sorts of problems. It took us several years on organic feed to correct these – not till 2010 or 2011, really. I’m told that a typical dairy farm takes 7 years to convert to organic, and for several of those you will lose money.”

There were signs that Bernard had made the right move, though. The weed pressure gradually improved as the soil health got better, confirming Jerry Brunnetti’s statement that every weed brings some balance back to the soil. And if you see the cows today, he asserts, you would say they are as peaceful a group of cows as you have ever seen. Kevin and Lisa Englebert, long-term New York organic dairy farmers, have been a continuing inspiration to him.

Perry married a year after buying the farm, and had two sons shortly thereafter. They both farm, one with his own three kids (3, 9, and 11 years old) on an organic diary farm 20 miles away. He has 70 head and ships milk with Horizon. The other son grows organic grains on a portion of his dad’s farm.

Bernard is fully aware of the dire straits of the organic dairying industry. He is not at all sure he will be able to continue shipping milk at current prices.

“Yes, I am thinking about transitioning out of the cows”, he nods, “and into a crop operation. Especially as I age. I may not be able to stay organic unless prices improve, but there is a good market for non-GMO grains. If I gave up dairying I’d do corn, soy, wheat, and oats and maybe after 5 years move into vegetables. I already do some of the grains now.

“When I started on this farm 35 years ago”, he continues, “there were for the most part cows on all the farms in the road that I live on, and predominately every farm in this town. Now 35 years later I am the only one left shipping milk! With that said the farm land is pretty much still in production. Either grain crops, hay fields, or in gravel mining.

“The sad part of this”, he concludes, “is that there is not enough reason for the youth to want to stay in the area. It’s like most small towns USA: dissolving daily. I’d like my grandkids to farm. I hope they will. Once it is in your blood it is hard to get rid of. But farming is much more of a cut-throat business than it was when I started. You used to get farmers to work together. That is harder now. They have been forced to focus on economics.”




How Did Students Convince the University of California to End Herbicide Use?

Mackenzie Feldman, Founder of Herbicide-Free Campus, has been working to end herbicide use by the University of California campus system. This May, the University announced a ban on glyphosate citing “concerns about possible human health and ecological hazards”.

ISN: What events caused you to protest chemicals on your campus?

Mackenzie: Recently at the 2019 Brower Youth Awards, I spoke about some of the defining moments that catalyzed my activism. During my time at UC Berkeley, I took an environmental biology class taught by Dr. Ignacio Chapela. On one of our field trips, Professor Chapela told our class that herbicides like Roundup were sprayed on campus. I was shocked, and I wanted to do something about this. I wrote a research paper on this subject for class, titled “Can the Campus of UC Berkeley Be Turned Into an Herbicide-Free Campus?” but didn’t know what to do from there.

As I reflect back now, I suppose it was only a matter of time before I found the moment that would propel me into action. I began to exercise my activism after a personal experience made me realize I had no other option. During my time at UC Berkeley, I was a student-athlete on the Beach Volleyball team. When I showed up for practice one day in the Spring of 2017, our coach cautioned us not to chase after the balls if they rolled off the court because the surrounding area had just been sprayed with an herbicide.

My teammate Bridget Gustafson and I were shocked, and we spoke with the Athletics Grounds Manager to ask what herbicide was applied and how often. He told us that he sprays the Monsanto product “Ranger” once a year all around our courts. Ranger contains 41 percent glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup. I knew that the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) had determined that glyphosate would be added to the list of Proposition 65 chemicals known by the state to cause cancer. Additionally, glyphosate has been identified as a contributor, even at low doses, to autism, Alzheimer’s disease, depression, ADHD and many other illnesses.

I was shocked that we were being exposed to chemicals in our everyday environment. This realization, combined with my passion for protecting the environment is what set my activism into motion. I wrote about this day at the volleyball courts in an Op-Ed for The Daily Californian, which garnered much attention to the issue, and from there, our campaign was born.

ISN: Tell us about your campaign to ban all synthetic herbicides on your campus?

Mackenzie: Soon after this day at practice and the article was published, Bridget Gustafson and I decided to start Herbicide-Free Cal, a campaign to ban herbicides at UC Berkeley. To be clear, the campaign is about banning all synthetic herbicides, not just Roundup. More specifically, this campaign is about teamwork.

Step 1: We have put a lot of our efforts into developing personal relationships with the groundskeepers on campus. When we met with the Athletic Grounds Manager, he agreed to stop spraying near our courts as long we could figure out how to manage the weeds without herbicides. So our team began having weeding days before practice. As we expanded our efforts campus-wide, we worked with the UC Berkeley ASUC Student Government to put together an herbicide-free student team, and together we began to hold educational events and host weeding “work-days” where students pick weeds or mulch with the groundskeepers. We also passed a Resolution stating that we wanted an herbicide-free campus.

Step 2: Beyond Pesticides: Thanks to Parents for a Safer Environment, who heard about us from the Op-Ed, we were given a grant that allowed Beyond Pesticides to come to UC Berkeley, and bring Professional Horticulturist Chip Osborne to teach the groundskeepers how to manage the landscapes without the use of chemicals. We initially chose two test sites: Memorial Glade and Faculty Glade. This was a huge test for the sustainability of the campaign, as we would monitor this model before expanding. Later, we used it as an example for other schools looking to transition away from herbicide use.

Step 3: Food and Water Watch: At this point in the campaign, we had the passion and were acquiring the tools, but needed to learn how to combine them to create active, permanent change. The non-profit organization Food and Water Watch taught me and Bridget campaign strategy. This included leadership development, digital organizing tools, student recruitment, and how to align our vision with university-wide policy. One of the most important tools I gained was how to teach other students to start and lead a campaign. Empowering others has allowed this campaign to multiply across the country. We have expanded this campaign to schools across the UC-system, and then began to expand to schools nationwide. Food and Water Watch published this article on the work we did together.

ISN: How did you meet Dewayne ‘Lee’ Johnson?

Mackenzie: I met Lee Johnson at the Dewayne Johnson v. Monsanto trial on August 7th, 2018, in a San Francisco courtroom.

During closing arguments, when the Monsanto lawyer was speaking, I simply could not listen anymore. I was sitting with my mentor Anna Lappé, and I felt moved to write Lee a note, so I took out a spare piece of paper and composed my thoughts. I explained that Hawaii, where I am from, is ground zero for industrial agriculture, and many people, especially Native Hawaiians, are getting sick from pesticides. I also told him about the campaign we started at UC Berkeley, and how we are trying to eliminate these cancer-causing chemicals from our campus. I left my email for him and passed the letter to the lawyer sitting in front of me, who passed it to Lee. Later that day, as we were sitting in the courtroom, Anna Lappé whispered to me that I needed to expand this campaign. I knew she was right.

On August 10th, I was back in the courtroom for the final verdict. My mom and I were on the edge of our seats. The verdict was announced-Lee Johnson had won! This day was incredibly emotional for everyone. I hugged Mr. Johnson and cried, and I could feel how significant this moment was, how important this day would be in history. A few days later after the trial, Lee Johnson emailed me. He asked how he could help with our campaign.

ISN: How did your campaign spread to Hawai’i?

Mackenzie: Hawaii, where I was born and raised, is my home. Hawaii is ground zero for industrial agriculture, and 17 times the amount of pesticides are sprayed in Hawaii compared to the mainland United States, resulting in cancer clusters and birth defects. I learned all about this in high school, and since then, it has been an issue incredibly close to my heart.

It was important to me that eventually, my efforts would expand to Hawaii, so that I could give back to a place that has given me so much. This summer, I had the opportunity to partner with the Protect Our Keiki Coalition and return to Hawaii with Lee Johnson and his family. The visit was part of the Coalition’s efforts to continue to educate the public, teachers, groundskeepers and policy-makers about moving away from carcinogenic pesticides that are currently used year-round in the islands, at great risk to public health.

This multi-island speaking tour, featuring Lee Johnson, allowed Lee to share his story with community leaders, policy makers and government officials. To see how this journey unfolded, watch this video.

During this trip, immediately after a Board of Education community meeting with Johnson, the Hawaii Department of Education issued a memo prohibiting herbicide use on all island-wide school grounds. So I suppose my campaign spread to Hawaii because it is my home, but also because it is a state deeply in need of this reform. Our work there was a huge victory and I am determined to continue this work in every state, and around the world.

In Hawaii specifically, the work is not over yet. As of September 2019, the counties of Maui, Hawaiʻi and Kauaʻi are actively working towards implementing pesticide and herbicide-free county parks and roadways.

ISN: What do you say to people who have concerns that institutions that ban Roundup will replace it with compounds that are perhaps even worse?

Mackenzie: This question is exactly why we are not Glyphosate-Free or Roundup-Free Campus. We are “Herbicide- Free Campus.” I would say that activists need to be cautious when fighting for reform, that institutions don’t just replace glyphosate with barricade or glufosinate, for example. Moreover, there are other herbicides used on campuses like 2,4-D and dicamba that are worse, so it’s best not to focus on glyphosate. At the same time, liability concerns around glyphosate have a lot of schools, cities, and states worried about potential litigation, and this factor can be used as meaningful dialogue to initiate stakeholder engagement.

ISN: Why were Baum Hedlund (the law firm that represented Mr. Johnson) successful in a Monsanto lawsuit when others have not been, do you think?

Mackenzie: This is a question that involves a number of layers of detail. To give you the most accurate information, I have reached out to representatives of the Baum Hedlund firm.

It is not true that others have not been successful. Only three cases have gone to trial and there, they have won. Baum Hedlund co-tried the first and last trials (Johnson and Pilliod) with the Miller Law Firm. Furthermore, Baum Hedlund paired with Aimee Wagstaff and Jennifer Moore to assist with the second trial (Hardeman). The trial teams in all three cases were very fortunate to win on behalf of the plaintiffs. What is also of interest is the momentum that this has carried into 2020. There are six more trials scheduled for 2020 for 37 plaintiffs.

In terms of the details of the actual trials, the success comes down to evidence and the jury. The Baum Hedlund legal team, on the Monsanto cases, is deeply educated about the chemicals. Presenting numerous studies linking Roundup to Non Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, along with the experts who explain what they mean, and trusting that educated juries will understand, has been a straight-forward method leading to success.

ISN: As advertisements appear seeking potential victims of glyphosate exposure, what do people need to know about the law firms who advertise? Are they all equally competent and effective?

Mackenzie: There are many law firms now advertising for Roundup clients, especially after the second and third verdicts were handed down. Moreover, since the Baum Hedlund law firm discovery documents are public record, any lawyer can take that information and use it in court. For anyone seeking a claim for their Roundup or Non Hodgkin’s Lymphoma damages, it is important to carefully study the firm(s) of interest and find out as much as possible about their record.

A word of caution: many law firms have jumped on the band-wagon and some are pressuring people with deadlines and other techniques. Those would be firms to steer clear of. Compare what one might offer relative to others. A straight 40% fee is about the norm, and a Mass Tort (where each client’s settlement will vary according to their specific losses) is far better than a Class Action (where settlement amount for all clients is the same).

ISN: Have Lee Johnson and his family yet received any compensation following their court victory?

Mackenzie: As far as I know, he still has not been awarded compensation. Lee Johnson was initially awarded $289 million, which was reduced to $78 million on Oct. 22, 2018.

ISN: Currently, many communities are banning herbicides. What advice can you give communities that have yet to make that step?

Mackenzie: I think the biggest piece of advice I would offer is to understand where the groundskeeper workers are coming from, and then partner with them. They are being instructed by their supervisors, therefore it is not their fault, but rather the fault of a larger systemic problem–the way we view and treat our natural world. It may take more labor to maintain an organic landscape, but as we fight for systemic change, we must support the groundskeepers every step of the way through this transition by being their allies.

What are your future plans?

Mackenzie: I am looking forward to advancing the momentum from the Brower Youth Award in order to grow the campaign. My goal for Herbicide-Free Campus is to continue expanding to schools nationwide, ensuring that every school discontinues the use of synthetic herbicides and transitions to organic land care maintenance. My other priorities are advocating for farm worker safety by forcing the EPA to write more stringent regulations and enforce them, and to make sure that part of the Green New Deal includes replacing herbicides used in agriculture with regenerative farming solutions. In general, there is systemic change that is necessary for our country, and I intend for my campaign to be part of that solution.

Any day now, the University of California system will decide whether or not to renew its ban on glyphosate-based herbicides, including Roundup — on their campuses Tell UC President Napolitano to permanently ban glyphosate and adopt organic land management. If you are a student and are interested in bringing this campaign to your school, or a community member interested in getting involved, visit the website (https://www.herbicidefreecampus.org/) and fill out the Get Started form! Additionally, feel free to contact us at herbicidefreecampus(at)gmail.com.




Monsanto Built a Step-By-Step Strategy to Destroy my Reputation as a Journalist

As a journalist who has covered corporate America for more than 30 years, very little shocks me about the propaganda tactics companies often deploy. I know the pressure companies can and do bring to bear when trying to effect positive coverage and limit reporting they deem negative about their business practices and products.

But when I recently received close to 50 pages of internal Monsanto communications about the company’s plans to target me and my reputation, I was shocked.

I knew the company did not like the fact that in my 21 years of reporting on the agrochemical industry – mostly for Reuters – I wrote stories that quoted skeptics as well as fans of Monsanto’s genetically engineered seeds. I knew the company didn’t like me reporting about growing unease in the scientific community regarding research that connected Monsanto herbicides to human and environmental health problems. And I knew the company did not welcome the 2017 release of my book, Whitewash – The Story of a Weed Killer, Cancer and the Corruption of Science, which revealed the company’s actions to suppress and manipulate the science surrounding its herbicide business.

But I never dreamed I would warrant my own Monsanto action plan.

The company records I’ve obtained show a range of actions. One Monsanto plan involved paying for web placement of a blogpost about me so that Monsanto-written information would pop up at the top of certain internet searches involving my name. The correspondence also discussed a need to produce “third party talking points” about me. In addition, Monsanto produced a video to help it amplify company-engineered propaganda about me and my work.

I even inspired a Monsanto spreadsheet: as part of “Project Spruce”, the “Carey Gillam Book plan” lists more than 20 items, including discussion of how the company might get third parties to post book reviews about Whitewash.

The documents show that Monsanto enlisted Washington DC-based FTI Consulting to help it with its plans. FTI was in the news earlier this year after one of its employees posed as a reporter at the Roundup cancer trial held this March in San Francisco. The woman pretended to be reporting on the Hardeman v Monsanto trial, while suggesting to real reporters covering the trial certain storylines that were favorable to Monsanto.

FTI’s Adam Cubbage was the author of a September 2017 email, dated a month before the October 2017 release of Whitewash. Cubbage, senior director of strategic communications, sent Monsanto employees a list of “action items” ahead of the book launch. On the list: the development of an “issue alert” laying out the “flaws of argument” in the book and a link to the book sales page on Amazon where people presumably could post negative reviews. The plan called for enlisting “industry & farmer customers” to potentially post reviews using points puts together by Monsanto.

This was played out on Amazon one weekend. Shortly after the book’s publication, dozens of “reviewers” suddenly posted one-star reviews sharing suspiciously similar themes and language. The efforts were not very successful as Amazon removed many reviews it deemed fake or improper. (The book won the Rachel Carson Book Award from the Society of Environmental Journalists and two other literary awards.)

FTI’s Cubbage also designated for “immediate action” the “paid placement of existing blog post on Carey Gillam when google search ‘Monsanto Glyphosate Carey Gillam”.

The code name “Project Spruce” is the internal company reference for Monsanto’s plans to defend its glyphosate and Roundup herbicide business from all perceived threats, including scientists and journalists. Code names exist for other Monsanto concerns. The company’s efforts to counter litigation over its involvement in PCB contamination was dubbed “Project Chrome”, according to a deposition of the former Monsanto counsel Todd Rands, who now works with FTI.

The records are part of a cache of communications turned over through court-ordered discovery in litigation brought by thousands of cancer victims who allege their exposure to Monsanto’s Roundup herbicides caused their diseases. These internal Monsanto documents have revealed years of dealings by the company aimed at manipulating the scientific record about Roundup. They reveal multi-layered strategies aimed at crafting and controlling the public regarding Monsanto’s top-selling Roundup herbicide products.

Monsanto also had an action plan aimed at discrediting the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) after the scientific group classified glyphosate, the key ingredient in Roundup, as a probable human carcinogen in March 2015. It had a “preparedness and engagement plan” for IARC even before the agency issued its classification of glyphosate.

The company emails also briefly touch on pressure that Monsanto applied while I was at Reuters. The company was perfectly happy with stories that highlighted its new products, or the spread of adoption of its seed technology, or its latest expansion efforts. But if a story I wrote quoted a critic of the company or cited scientific research that Monsanto didn’t consider valid, Monsanto would repeatedly complain to editors, tying up editorial time and resources.

In one email, the Monsanto media relations executive Sam Murphey discussed how he and colleagues “collectively get to share the Carey headache” after publication of a September 2015 story I wrote for Reuters. The story, titled US Workers Sue Monsanto Claiming Herbicide Caused Cancer, brought attention to the growing number of Roundup cancer lawsuits against Monsanto.

“We continue to push back on her editors very strongly every chance we get,” Murphey wrote to his colleagues after that story. “And we all hope for the day she gets reassigned.”

It does not appear that my departure from Reuters eased Monsanto’s irritation much. After I left in late October 2015, joined US Right to Know, a not-for-profit organization seeking transparency in the food industry, and started writing Whitewash in January 2016, a Monsanto email dated May 2016 referred to me as “a pain in the ass”.

The internal Monsanto records are merely a small part of a trove of such records that I’m told mention me in some way. And they only hint at the breadth of the company’s attack on me. I’m routinely trolled on social media by individuals with connections to Monsanto, many making outlandish allegations about me and US Right to Know.

Monsanto affiliates have repeatedly harassed editors at publications that carry my stories, and hosts of webinars and conferences featuring my work have been pressured to exclude me from participation. And, in a particularly juvenile move, an FTI employee attempted to heckle me at one of the Monsanto Roundup cancer trials in California.

I’m just one person, just one reporter working from a home office in the midwest, juggling three kids with irregular writing deadlines. So the knowledge that a multibillion-dollar corporation spent so much time and attention trying to figure out how to thwart me is terrifying.

Truth and transparency are precious commodities, the foundations for the knowledge we all need and deserve about the world we live in. Without truth we cannot know what risks we face, what protections we must make for our families and our futures.

When corporate power is so intensely brought to silence messengers, to manipulate the public record and public opinion, truth becomes stifled. And we should all be afraid.




Glyphosate (Roundup) Fact Sheet

Beyond Pesticides BannerDespite the prevalent myth that this widely-used herbicide is harmless, glyphosate (N-phosphono-methyl glycine) is associated with a wide range of illnesses, including non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL), genetic damage, liver and kidney damage, endocrine disruption, as well as environmental damage, including water contamination and harm to amphibians. Researchers have also determined that the “inert” ingredients in glyphosate products, especially polyethoxylated tallow amine or POEA – a surfactant commonly used in glyphosate and other herbicidal products, are even more toxic than glyphosate itself. Monsanto, manufacturer of glyphosate, formulates many products such as Roundup TM and Rodeo TM and markets formulations exclusively used on genetically engineered (GE) crops. Glyphosate is one of the most widely used herbicides in the world, due in large part to the increased cultivation of GE crops that are tolerant of the herbicide.

General
First registered for use in 1974, glyphosate is used to kill a variety of broadleaf weeds and grasses. Labeled uses of glyphosate account for approximately 276 million pounds applied in 2014 on over 100 terrestrial food crops, as well as other non-food sites, including forestry, greenhouses, rights-of-way, turf, garden beds, and hardscapes.

ChemicalWATCH Summary StatsThe greatest overall glyphosate use by acreage is in the Mississippi River basin where most applications are for weed control on GE corn, soybeans, and cotton, as well as other crops. Contrary to industry claims that GE crops would result in lower pesticide use rates, glyphosate use in agriculture rose 300-fold from 1974 to 2014, with non-agricultural uses increasing by 43-fold during the same time.

Plants treated with glyphosate translocate the systemic herbicide to their roots, growing points, and fruit, where it blocks the activity of the enzyme 5-enolpyruvylshikimate-3-phosphate synthase (EPSPS), a key enzyme in the shikimate pathway of aromatic amino acid production, ultimately leading to the plant’s death by starvation. Because plants absorb glyphosate, it cannot be completely removed by washing or other food preparation. It persists in food products for up to two years.

Glyphosate Formulated Products And Other Ingredients
Glyphosate products (Roundup) are more toxic than glyphosate alone, resulting in a number of chronic, developmental, and endocrine-disrupting impacts. The “inert” ingredients in Roundup formulations kill human cells at very low concentrations. At least some glyphosate-based products are genotoxic. One “inert,” polyethoxylated tallow amine (POEA), is extremely toxic to aquatic organisms. It accounts for more than 86% of Roundup toxicity observed in microalgae and crustaceans.

Acute Exposure To Glyphosate
Although EPA considers glyphosate to be “of relatively low oral and dermal acute toxicity,” symptoms following exposure to glyphosate formulations include: swollen eyes, face and joints; facial numbness; burning and/or itching skin; blisters; rapid heart rate; elevated blood pressure; chest pains, congestion; coughing; headache; and nausea. In developmental toxicity studies using pregnant rats and rabbits, effects of glyphosate in high dose groups include diarrhea, decreased body weight gain, nasal discharge and death.

Chronic Exposure To Glyphosate
Since EPA’s classification of glyphosate as a Group E carcinogen—or “evidence of non-carcinogenicity for humans,” the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) in 2015 classified glyphosate as a Group 2A “probable” carcinogen, which means that the chemical is probably carcinogenic to humans based on sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity in experimental animals. As of July 7, 2017, glyphosate is listed as a cancer-causing chemical under California’s Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986 (Proposition 65). This requires cancer warning labels be placed on end-use glyphosate products in California. It has been specifically linked to non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma (NHL). and multiple myeloma.

Glyphosate causes DNA and chromosomal damage in human cells. Glyphosate and its formulated products adversely affect embryonic, placental and umbilical cord cells, affect fetal development, and increase the risk for spontaneous abortions. Detectable concentrations of glyphosate have been found in the urine of farm children. Chronic, ultra-low dose exposure to glyphosate in drinking water results in adverse impacts on the health of liver and kidneys. Glyphosate is considered to be an endocrine disruptor. It can cause changes to DNA function resulting in the onset of chronic disease.

Glyphosate Is An Antibiotic
Glyphosate works by disrupting a crucial pathway for manufacturing aromatic amino acids in plants—but not animals—and, therefore, many have assumed that it does not harm humans. However, many bacteria use the shikimate pathway, and glyphosate has been patented as an antibiotic. The destruction of bacteria in the human gut is a major contributor to disease, and the destruction of soil microbiota leads to unhealthy agricultural systems with an increasing dependence on agricultural chemicals. Disturbing the microbiota can contribute to a whole host of “21st century diseases,” including diabetes, obesity, food allergies, heart disease, antibiotic-resistant infections, cancer, asthma, autism, irritable bowel syndrome, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, celiac disease, inflammatory bowel disease, and more. The rise in these same diseases is tightly correlated with the use of the herbicide glyphosate, and glyphosate exposure can result in the inflammation that is at the root of these diseases. Glyphosate appears to have more negative impacts on beneficial bacteria, allowing pathogens to flourish.

Antibiotic Resistance
Bacteria resistant to the most commonly prescribed antibiotics result in longerlasting infections, higher medical expenses, the need for more expensive or hazardous medications, and the inability to treat life-threatening infections. The development and spread of antibiotic resistance is the inevitable effect of the use of antibiotics. Use of antibiotics like glyphosate in agriculture allows residues of antibiotics and antibiotic-resistant bacteria on agricultural lands to move through the environment, contaminate waterways, and ultimately reach consumers in food. Both the human gut and contaminated waterways provide incubators for antibiotic resistance.

Environmental Fate
Glyphosate has the potential to contaminate surface waters and is not broken down readily by water or sunlight in surface water, with a half-life of 70 to 84 days. U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) surveys detect glyphosate and its degradate aminomethylphosphonic acid (AMPA) in the majority of samples, persisting from spring through to fall. Glyphosate and/or AMPA have also been detected in significant levels in rain in agricultural areas across the Mississippi River watershed, in more than 50 percent of soil and sediment samples, in water samples from ditches and drains, and in more than 80 percent of wastewater treatment plant samples. Glyphosate also contributes to phosphorous pollution of waterbodies.

Residues of glyphosate may persist for months in anaerobic soils deficient in microorganisms. Heavy use of Roundup on GE crops appears to cause harmful changes in soil, potentially hindering yields of crops. Concerns for soil health from long-term glyphosate use include reduction of nutrient availability for plants and organisms; disruption of organism diversity, especially in the areas around plant roots; reductions of beneficial soil bacteria; increases in plant root pathogens; disturbed earthworm activity; reduced bacterial nitrogen fixation; and compromised growth and reproduction in some soil and aquatic organisms.

Effects On Nontarget Animals
Glyphosate use directly impacts a variety of nontarget animals, including insects, earthworms, and fish, and indirectly impacts birds and small mammals. Roundup kills beneficial insects, including parasitoid wasps, lacewings and ladybugs. Repeated applications of glyphosate significantly affect the growth and survival of earthworms. Environmental factors, such as high sedimentation, increases in temperature and pH levels increase the toxicity of Roundup, especially to young fish

Roundup, in sublethal and environmentally relevant concentrations, causes morphological changes in two species of amphibians by interfering with hormones. It is “extremely lethal” to amphibians in concentrations found in the environment.

Food Residues
Sampling by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration), under pressure after the release of the IARC report, found residues of glyphosate in honey and oats. Residues, which have no established legal allowance in honey, were found in all samples and in some cases at double the allowable limit set in the European Union. FDA also found residues in oat products, including cereals for babies. These tests follow European findings of glyphosate residues in German beer and British bread, in addition to private testing in the U.S. in Cheerios, cookies, crackers, and wine.