Glyphosate: A Few Big Reasons to Doubt the Safety

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of the Most Widely Used Herbicide on Your Food

Last week on the blog we talked about one of the most commonly used herbicides —  glyphosate —  and the EPA’s recent decision to allow its use on crops like corn or soy much later into the plant’s growth cycle. This will increase the overall use of the herbicide before it hits your plate. If you’re concerned, you have good reason.

Glyphosate and the cancer link

The World Health Organization recently classified glyphosate, one of the main components in the popular herbicide that treats weeds on genetically modified (GMO) crops, as “probably carcinogenic to humans”.

Additionally, in 2014 a paper published in the US Library of Medicine described the review and analysis of 3 decades worth of epidemiological research and uncovered that “B cell lymphoma (cancer) was positively associated with phenoxy herbicides and the organophosphorus herbicide glyphosate.”

No one wants to believe that the food they eat and give to their family could cause one of the most horrifying modern diseases — cancer. Maybe that’s why it’s much easier for some to take the agricultural industry’s word for it — they claim it is safe and that the World Health Organization should immediately retract their findings.

With all this in mind, we wanted to find out more about the most widely used herbicide — glyphosate. Certainly there have been other studies — what clues can they give us about glyphosate and our health?

A disturbing study on genetically engineered crops treated with glyphosate

In 2012, a study was released by Italian and French scientists concerning the long-term toxicity of genetically modified maize (corn) treated with an herbicide containing glyphosate, and the results are disturbing to say the least. The report is available to view here.

Here are some highlights from of the report:

  • The groups treated with the herbicide showed the greatest rates of tumor incidence with 80% of animals affected with up to 3 tumors for one female, in each group (page 4 of the report).
  • The study lasted 2 years and included “the highest number of rats regularly measured in a standard GMO diet study” — keep in mind that glyphosate is contained in the herbicide used on GMO crops.
  • Detailed analyses revealed altered kidney and liver function.
  • Females who were fed treated corn developed large mammary tumors almost always more than before controls
  • The pituitary was the second most disabled organ.
  • Sex hormonal balance was modified by GMO and herbicide treatments.
  • Liver congestions and necrosis (cell death) were 2.5 – 5.5 times higher than controls.
  • The conclusion was that GMO and herbicide have metabolic consequences which often result in endocrine-disrupting effects.

This study is less than 5 years old and at its publication, included the highest number of rats tested, yet shockingly, this study was retracted by the published against the author’s agreement.

Conflict of interest?

The publisher of the study claimed that despite the author’s refusal to withdraw it, and despite the fact that “no evidence of fraud or misrepresentation of data” occurred, the study should be retracted. The official reason was that, according to the publication, the issue had to do with the number and type of animals used.

According to this science journal, the team of researchers stand by their results, and they allege that the retraction is due to the journal’s ties to the biotechnology industry through the editor who made the call. Conflict of interest much?

When scientists speak out…

Consider the words of a former genetic engineer Thierry Vrain. In an interview for The Organic & Non-GMO Report, he said the following about the current struggle of scientists who speak out:

If you are a scientist and discover things that are of concern, then you are accused of doing “pseudoscience” and often viciously attacked by the industry and academics on the payroll. This has happened many times, for example to Arpad Pusztai in England and then Ignacio Chapela, who discovered GMO contamination in native corn in Mexico. He was attacked and almost fired from his post at the University of California. A year later his findings were confirmed.

He also went on to discuss what the USDA scientist found in the 90’s:

Research scientists from the US Food & Drug Administration made it clear in the early 1990s that there could be indirect effects from eating GM crops [created to withstand herbicide use], such as toxins, allergens, and nutritional deficiencies. Those warnings were ignored. Now a good number of publications are confirming the predictions of the FDA scientists.

It troubles me that money and the bottom line are at the root of the use of the technology.

The question is — when are WE going to start to listen to this warning and take back control of the food we feed to our families?

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