The Case for Banning Monsanto's Roundup 

There's strong evidence that the herbicide causes birth defects and probably causes cancer. There's also reason to believe it causes or exacerbates numerous chronic illnesses.

Page 4 of 5

Glyphosate's ability to produce birth defects and its association with cancer show that the herbicide actively impacts a number of important biological processes. Scientists have uncovered some of these impacts, and this work may have far-reaching implications for human health.

As noted above, Dr. Carrasco showed that glyphosate causes birth defects in vertebrates by interfering with the Vitamin A signaling pathway. And this pathway is part of a much larger enzyme system known as the "Cytochrome P450" system. This enzyme system is present in most tissues of our bodies. It is an extremely important and complex, responsible for inactivating toxic compounds and metabolizing medications. The Cytochrome P450 system is also important in the metabolism of sex hormones, cholesterol, and Vitamin D. And glyphosate interferes with several of the enzymes in this vital system.

One of the enzymes it inhibits is aromatase, which converts testosterone to estrogen. The testosterone-estrogen balance is fundamental to normal functioning. Glyphosate can mimic estrogen by binding to estrogen receptors, as we saw in the case of glyphosate's ability to accelerate breast cancer cell growth in tissue culture. The herbicide can also prevent the chemical conversion of testosterone to estrogen. Glyphosate's interference with aromatase may explain its association with impaired fertility. Clearly, these endocrine disrupting effects are cause for concern.

Glyphosate is also toxic to many gut bacteria that are important for human health. These bacteria live symbiotically with humans: The human digestive tract provides a friendly environment, full of nutrients for the bacteria, and in exchange, the bacteria perform a number of essential functions, including the synthesis of vitamins and the detoxification of foreign substances. The bacteria also aid immunity and help digestion and the maintenance of the normal permeability of the gastrointestinal tract.

And when glyphosate kills off helpful gut bacteria, other harmful bacteria can proliferate. Studies analyzing the gut bacteria of cows, horses, and poultry have shown that many highly pathogenic bacteria are glyphosate resistant. The loss of helpful bacteria may also make us vulnerable to leaky gut syndrome, ulcerative colitis, and other gastrointestinal maladies.

Research has suggested that the overgrowth of harmful bacteria can also cause a deficiency in essential amino acids and in necessary metals, like zinc and sulfur. The change in bacterial flora may also lead to the overproduction of ammonia.

Because the presence of glyphosate is not tested in our food supply nor by healthcare providers caring for the sick, implicating glyphosate in the etiology of diseases has been difficult. There is concern, however, that a large number of chronic diseases, including neurological illnesses, may be triggered or exacerbated by changes in amino acid, ammonia, and metal concentrations.

The depletion of amino acids, for example, can result in abnormally low levels of the neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine. Serotonin regulates mood, appetite, and sleep. Its depletion may lead to depression, insomnia, and disorders of the appetite, such as obesity and anorexia. Dopamine depletion in a key brain area is also the hallmark of Parkinson's disease.

Researchers have also found elevated ammonia levels in children with autism. Sulfur deficiency also has been associated with autism and Parkinson's disease, and with Alzheimer's disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Zinc deficiency, too, has been associated with autism and Alzheimer's disease, and also with attention deficit and hyperactivity disorders.

An interesting finding from a study at the University of Leipzig showed an unexpected association between chronic illness and glyphosate exposure. The researchers tested urine from humans. They found that chronically ill humans have significantly higher glyphosate residues in their urine when compared to healthy people.

Another chronic illness may have a direct link to glyphosate. Peasant farmers exposed to pesticides in Central America, India, and Sri Lanka have developed a new and fatal kidney ailment. The cause has been difficult to pin down. The illness has become known as "Chronic Kidney Disease of Unknown Etiology [CKDu]."

CKDu is now the second-leading cause of death among men in El Salvador. This small Central American nation has the highest kidney disease mortality rate in the world. Neighboring Honduras and Nicaragua also have extremely high rates of death from kidney disease. More men in El Salvador and Nicaragua are dying from CKDu than from HIV/AIDS, diabetes, and leukemia combined. In one area of rural Nicaragua, so many men have died that the community is called "the Island of the Widows."

India and Sri Lanka have also been hit hard by the epidemic. More than 20,000 people have died from CKDu in the past two decades in Sri Lanka. In the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, more than 1,500 have been treated for the ailment since 2007.

While the exact cause of the kidney ailment remains under investigation, a leading hypothesis is that glyphosate-metal complexes are to blame. It appears that glyphosate's chelating properties give the chemical the ability to form complexes with heavy metals that can be readily absorbed through the skin, inhaled, or ingested. Scientists are concerned that these glyphosate-metal complexes can travel through the bloodstream to the kidney and destroy the kidney tubule, leading to renal failure and death.

In response, both the governments of El Salvador and Sri Lanka have instituted bans on glyphosate.


Glyphosate and its degradation product amino-methyl-phosphonic acid have been found in air, rain, groundwater, surface water, seawater, and soil. These studies show that glyphosate persists in soil and water for long periods of time. In addition, the amount of glyphosate detected in samples is increasing over time. The chemical is accumulating in our environment. It also accumulates in animal tissue. A study conducted last year at the University of Leipzig showed that cows were excreting glyphosate in their urine. These cows also had comparable levels of the herbicide in their organs (kidney, liver, lung, spleen, muscle, intestine), proving that meat and dairy are a source of glyphosate for humans.

Tags:

Comments (9)

Showing 1-9 of 9

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-9 of 9

Add a comment

Anonymous and pseudonymous comments will be removed.

Readers also liked…

Latest in Opinion

Most Popular Stories

Special Reports

Summer Guide 2018

It's the Express' guide to all things summer!

© 2018 East Bay Express    All Rights Reserved
Powered by Foundation