The Dangers of Glyphosate
Unless you've been living under a rock over the last 20 years, you've at least heard of the broad spectrum herbicide called glyphosate, commonly sold under the brand name Roundup. But few really know how pervasive it has become and the impact it has on human health.
For instance, did you know a recent study found glyphosate in 93% of urine samples of Americans? Children showed the highest levels. Urine tests are also notorious for not entirely picking up what is actually stored in the body, meaning that the actual results are likely even higher than 93%.
What Is Glyphosate and Why Is It Used?
Glyphosate is an herbicide introduced by Monsanto with the brand name of Roundup in the 70s. Since then, 19 billion pounds have since been sprayed on the earth, leading to billions of dollars of profit per year.
Genetically modified plants (also conveniently created, marketed, and sold by Monsanto, now owned by Bayer) resistant to glyphosate are now ubiquitous and make up the vast majority of crops grown and consumed by both humans and animals. This allows industrial monocrop farmers to blanket the earth and kill nearly everything in sight besides the crop. Nice.
Glyphosate resistant crops make up the vast majority of all monocrops.
Glyphosate isn't just for the GMO crops listed above. It is sprayed on nearly every single crop that humans and animals consume and finds its way into organic food as well. Cool.
Glyphosate is also often used as a drying agent for common crops like wheat and oats, basically killing the plant in place so it can dry and get harvested more efficiently. Awesome.
Glyphosate is also sprayed on almost every single public green space where you go to take your kids and pets to play to keep those lawns nice and green. Even better.
How Are We Exposed to Glyphosate?
Now, back to that 93%+ level. Pretty much every American has detectable levels of glyphosate in their bodies. But how? Most exposure comes from the food and water we consume, but also can be absorbed directly into our skin from rain and air.
The most obvious sources are GMO crops, grains specifically, that are sprayed and dried with glyphosate. Think every Big Food produced item in a box in the middle of a grocery. A recent study showed 100% of cereals tested had high levels of glyphosate. 100%. Even if you don't eat the GMO trash in the middle of grocery store, you're likely still getting blasted day to day and not knowing it.
Glyphosate is water soluble, so if you spray it on a crop, it sucks into the soil and then magically "washes away." Many people argue that this is great. Hey, it's not in the soil anymore! It must be gone. Nothing to see here. But wait a second... where does the water containing glyphosate go?As anyone with common sense could assume--everywhere. Into our aquifers, waterways and tap water, rivers, streams, ponds, which all evaporates and goes into the air, turns into rain, and covers the entire planet.
Think I'm being extreme? The CDC, as conservative of a 3-letter government agency there is, has released reports showing detectable levels of glyphosate in over 75% of rainfall, and 75% of air across the country. If you pulled down the levels they were looking for, I'd estiamte that number to be much higher.
Even organic food contains massive amounts of glyphosate. This studyshows that organic hummus is just as contaminated as conventional. Water cycles are no joke, my friends.
You're literally eating, drinking, and breathing this stuff constantly. But how is this allowed?
There are 28 countries that have banned the use of glyphosate entirely and the EU has limited the exposure to minuscule amounts. Not in the home of the free and the brave! The acceptable levels of glyphosate in the water in the USA are seven thousand times (yes, 7000x) that of the EU. Anything is bought and sold in America, including regulated levels of environmental toxins.
Here's some shocking data from The Detox Project to show some relative amounts of glyphosate (in parts per billion): 0.1 ppb: altered the gene function and severe organ damage in rats 0.1 ppb: permitted level for glyphosate in EU tap water 10 ppb: toxic effects on the livers of fish 700 ppb: permitted level for glyphosate in U.S. tap water 1125 ppb: found in Cheerios 11,900 ppb: found in GMO Soybeans
How Bad Is Glyphosate For Health?
Even though there is a sea of data to sift through (~340,000 study results via Google Scholar), the shocking part might be the fact that glyphosate has never been required to be studied in humans in the levels we are being exposed to. That's right. We allowed a giant, multinational corporation to wage chemical warfare on the entire planet with a compound that kills living things, enters our water and air, and becomes ubiquitous in our environment without studying the effects on life, let alone humans. All for the mighty bottom line.
I don't know about you, but I don't need an RCT to know this is an awful idea with major repercussions. You can't disrupt such complex systems (from soil microbiology, to a human body, to the entire planet) and not expect any downstream ramifications.
I personally try to avoid any "-icides" in my life, as it means literally "to kill." I quite like being alive at the moment and would like to keep it that way for a little while longer.
As the same with any idiotic human large scale experiment, you only make it so long until you find the smoking gun.
In 2015, the WHO's cancer arm, IARC, categorized glyphosate as a "probable human carcinogen." Whenever I see large institutions like the WHO (or any 3-letter agency) who are typically in bed with huge mulitnational corporations and incentivized at all costs to not make claims like this do so, I generally amplify their conclusion by a factor of 10.
Beyond the smoking gun of glyphosate increasing risk of cancer, as with most toxins in complex systems like the human body, this is just the tip of the iceberg.
Glyphosate has also been shown to exhibit an antibiotic effect that can destroy beneficial gut bacteria, cause damage to the gut lining ldeaing to possible autoimmune conditions, act as a chelating substance which binds minerals and leeches them out of your body, an endocrine disruptor that modulates our hormones and turns testosterone into estrogen (hey there, fertility crisis!), lead to celiac and gluten intolerance, and is tightly linked to the rapid increase in autism, and more.
Rates of autism, dementia, celiac, and diabetes compared to amount of glyphosate in our food system. Spurious correlation or not?
There have now been countless jury trials against Monsanto and Bayer awarding those with certain cancers outcomes anywhere from 70 million to several billion dollars in damanges. There are over 150,000 active lawsuits against Bayer for glyphosate health issues. There wouldn't be these repeated punitive damanges in the courts if there wasn't something here.
Because of this, Bayer announced that it is taking glyphosate out of consumer products. This is just a PR stunt. It doesn't matter much for the general population as it is still going to be allowed where 99% of it is being sprayed -- on commercial ag crops.
Where there's a profit, there's a way. Even if they remove glyphosate entirely, we now operate almost exclusively on a system that requires herbicides and pesticides to function. What does that mean? Some brand new magic invention that we'll find out 50 years later is killing us and the planet even more aggressively.
The truly terrifying part? Glyphosate is just one of hundreds of different pesticides and herbicides that we're commonly ingesting that we can test for in our bodies. Here's a quick list of a few others:
4,4′-DDD, 4,4′-DDE, 4,4′-DDT, Acephate, Acetamiprid, Acetochlor, Aclonifen, Alachlor, Aldrin, Allethrin, Ametoctradin, Atrazine, Azoxystrobin, Bifenthrin, Boscalid, Carbendazim, Carfentrazone-ethyl, Chlordane-alpha, Chlordane-gamma, Chlorpyrifos-ethyl, Chlorpyrifos-methyl, Chlotoluron, Clomazone, Cyfluthrin-beta, Cyhalothrin-lambda, Cypermethrin, Cyprodinil, Deltamethrin, Diazinon, Deldrin, Difenoconazole, Diflufenican, Dimethoate, Dimethomorph, Diuron, Endosulfan-alpha, Endosulfan-beta, Endrin, Epoxiconazole, Fenamidone, Fenhexamid, Fipronil, Fipronil sulfone, Fluazinam, Fludioxonil, Flufenoxuron, Fluopyram, Flusilazole, HCBD (Hexachlorobutadiene), HCH-alpha, HCH-beta, Heptachlor, Imidacloprid, Iprovalicarb, Isoproturon, Isoxaben, Kresoxim-methyl, Lindane (HCH-gamma), Linuron, Lufenuron, Malathion, Mepanipyrim, Metalaxyl, Methomyl, Metolachlor, Metribuzin, Mirex, Myclobutanil, Oxadiazon, Oxadixyl, Oxyfluorfen, Perathion-methyl, Penconazole, Pendimethalin, Pentachloroanisole, Pentachlorophenol, Permethrin, Phosmet, Piperonyl Butoxide, Propiconazole, Propoxur, Propyzamide, Prosulfocarb, Pyraclostrobin, Pyrimethanil, Pirimiphos-methyl, Quinoxyfen, Simazine, Spiroxamine, Tebuconazole, Tebufenozide, Tetrachlorvinphos, Tetraconazole, Tetramethrin, Thiacloprid, Transfluthrin, Triadimenol, Trifloxystrobin, Trifluralin, Zoxamide, Glyphosate, AMPA, Glufosinate
If you're now freaked out about all of these invisible chemicals you can't escape from, don't worry, this is a normal part of the process. Once you surrender to the reality of our dirty little zoo cage, you can finally take action. Here's what you can actually do about it:
How to Test for Glyphosate
Although it is safe to assume that you've been exposed far more than you know and that you should act accordingly, people generally want to know relative amounts of glyphosate stored in their body.
There are two main ways to test for glyphosate: the urine and the hair. Neither are perfect for a variety of reasons, but if you are curious and want to understand your toxin load, either can be done. Great Plains Lab offers the urine test, which can be ordered through any physician or through tons of online services, and Kudzu is the hair test which can be ordered here. I prefer the urine test due to more data being available on the accuracy.
How You Can Avoid Exposure
Here are the best ways I know of to avoid and minimize exposure to glyphosate and other weird chemicals:
Eating organic when you can is better than not, but still doesn't gaurantee you less glyphosate. This study shows that organic hummus is just as contaminated as conventional.
The Detox Project does some pretty great work for brands to allow them to be Glyphosate Residue Free certified if you want to be certain of the levels in packaged foods or supplements. Check out their website for more details.
As it always comes back to: the more you can know where your food comes from, the better. If you can literally go to where your food is produced and shake the farmer/rancher's hand -- you're doing the best job at avoiding exposure while simultaneously getting the best tasting food, the most nutritious food, and keeping your local community strong by giving your dollars directly to your farmers instead of huge multinational corporations that poison you and the planet. Check out this free farm finderI built if you want to find farms near you.
Filtering your water is an absolute must. Not just for the glyphosate, but for all of the other nasty stuff in our water supply. Don't believe me? Check out the EWG Tap Water database to see what's in your water.
The most minimal thing you can do is get a counterop Berkely filter for drinking water, and a shower head filter. The drinking water is obvious. The shower is imperative as any weird stuff in your water aerosolized when you shower, your pores are open, and you then inhale the vapor and absorb through your skin. (adapted from dr. A. Gustin)