Glyphosate is a chemical compound from the phosphonate category that serves as the chief ingredient in Roundup herbicide, the most widely-used of all such weed eliminators in the whole of the US. Developed in the 1970’s by the Monsanto Company, it has been the subject of persistent rumors regarding its toxicity to plants, animals, and humans.

A 2014 study, conducted by the widely recognized experts Anthony Samsel and Stephanie Seneff (from MIT), has finally proven the adverse effects that Roundup, and by extension, all glyphosate-based herbicides, can have to public health. It significantly increases the risk of developing cancer and a host of metabolic diseases. Read below to find out more!

glyphosate formula

The Prevalence of Glyphosate

We hate to rain on your parade, however, glyphosate-based herbicides are not only the most commonly used in the United States but also in Europe and the whole of the developed and developing worlds. This means that there is almost no escaping it.

And it is present not only in crops that are grown on an industrial scale but also in gardening products, which you probably buy and use without even looking on the label. Its success on the market also means that there is no escaping its prevalence as it is present in all the stores (at an always reasonable price compared to the competition) and its distributors have the means to continue to ensure the status quo.

Glyphosate’s popularity stems from the fact that it is highly effective, even at a low concentration, and especially for genetically-engineered crops, which are known for their being resistant against most types of herbicides. It makes you want to put things into perspective when you think that more than 80 % of the world’s soy, corn and wheat come from genetically-engineered crops.

Action of Glyphosate and Diseases it Facilitates

For a number of years, the official explanation provided by Monsanto seemed to hold its own: glyphosate-based herbicides destroy weeds through a process known as shikimate pathway, a biological trait that is not present in the metabolism of humans or animals. That automatically meant that animals fed with grain grown with the aid of substances such as Roundup were perfectly suitable for the consumption by humans.

Recent scientific developments, however, have shed light that the shikimate pathway is present in all bacteria. And everybody knows that every organism is littered with billions of (mostly harmless or even beneficial) bacteria. Changes in the behavior of these bacteria brought on by glyphosate wreaks havoc in the symbiosis between us and them. Therefore, a series of serious conditions are facilitated by a product which claims innocuous levels of toxicity.

Some of the life-threatening conditions that products affected by glyphosate may generate are:

  • various types of cancers;
  • Obesity;
  • Parkinson’s Disease;
  • Alzheimer’s Disease;
  • Crohn’s Disease;
  • Infertility;
  • Multiple Sclerosis;
  • Autism;
  • sudden onset of allergies.

An older study, from the Department of Agriculture, has shown contradicting results regarding the link between glyphosate and cancer risk, with farmers being more prone to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma than the general population, however, official results state that there is no significant risk for those who are not directly subjected to the chemicals themselves.

Here is an interview with Dr. Seneff where she discusses the details of how glyphosate (and especially its predominance in the face of more friendly, yet expensive alternatives) creates favorable conditions for the development of these diseases.

Other Underlying Effects of Exposure to Glyphosate

As if the afflictions mentioned above were not enough to initiate at least a nation-wide concern regarding the use of glyphosate, it is important to know that it also produces deeper ranging effects to the most vital biological processes.

These have been documented by recreating the dosage that the average consumer is exposed to in laboratory conditions on rats. While this may not convince some skeptics it is still worth taking into consideration, especially when thinking that our being exposed to GMO foods is still a relatively novel occurrence.

This means that there has not been enough time for the adverse effects of the dietary change to be well documented by the scientific and medical communities. The short life span of rats provides a relevant simulation of what we should be expecting in the ensuing generations.

man spraying herbicide in a field

Here is what should be expected from a prolonged exposure to glyphosate and a diet that consists mainly of genetically engineered products:

  • severe nutritional deficiencies – the herbicide alters the natural chemical composition of the plants, rendering them less nutritious;
  • a constant increase in direct toxin exposure;
  • systemic toxicity – due to the disruption of the behavior of beneficial bacteria;
  • chronic metabolic problems – though it has not been established with a definite degree of certainty, there are enough indications of the havoc that is wreaked on the hormonal and excretory systems. Furthermore, this diet change would create a series of alien amino acids in your body that would prevent the correct function of detoxifying enzymes.
  • reduced capacity of minerals absorption;
  • rising levels of ammonium, whose presence has been linked to Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and other mental diseases.

Change and progress have never been straightforward, having both positive dimensions and negative ones. In this particular case, the use of glyphosate is associated with an increase in agricultural productivity and (until now not fully confirmed) potentially dramatic health threats to the general population. It surely poses a dilemma!

Image Sources: 1, 2.