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What is glyphosate and how harmful is it to our health?

Glyphosate spraying
Glyphosate, also called Roundup, is a substance that has caused much controversy lately due to its damaging impact on health. Its use is rising globally each year as it is an effective weedkiller in the farming and gardening sectors. It's specifically prevalent in the cultivation of modified crops such as soya. There is mounting evidence that glyphosate could be detrimental to human well-being. This article will explore in detail the harmful effects of glyphosate and offer solutions.

Table of Contents

What is glyphosate?

Glyphosate is a common weedkiller, often called Roundup. It is widely used to eliminate weeds and is one of the most favoured herbicides globally. It has been used in agriculture since the 1970s and is also utilised in other areas including gardening, forestry and industry.

How does glyphosate work?

Glyphosate works by affecting how plants produce essential amino acids, which are necessary for growth and survival. Specifically, glyphosate disrupts the shikimate pathway, which is involved in the production of these amino acids. When glyphosate is applied to plants, it stops the production of shikimic acid and therefore prevents the formation of essential amino acids. This results in the herbicidal effect, which targets weeds and other unwanted plants.

Genetically modified plants and glyphosate

Most genetically modified crops can survive total herbicides like Monsanto’s Roundup Ready soybean, which is tolerant to the herbicide glyphosate. Soybeans, corn, and cotton are increasingly cultivated in the USA, resulting in a significant rise in the application of Roundup herbicides.

Since 2008, over 80% of the corn and soya bean types grown in the USA have undergone genetic modification. The corn eradicates specific pests and can endure glyphosate as two of its genes were modified. Additionally, the genetically modified soybean is resistant to glyphosate, resulting in the requirement for fewer herbicides.

Over time, though, weeds have become more resistant to glyphosate, which has compelled farmers to employ extra chemicals to handle weed problems.

Where is glyphosate most commonly used?

Glyphosate is used widely across the globe, but in certain countries, it is used in high amounts.

The United States is one of the largest users of glyphosate in the world, predominantly in agriculture, particularly in the cultivation of genetically modified crops like glyphosate-resistant soybeans, corn, cotton, and other crops.

Brazil, Argentina, China, and Canada also use a significant amount of glyphosate. The countries with the highest levels of glyphosate in groundwater are those where genetically modified crops are mostly grown. Glyphosate, a substance linked to cancer, has been found in the urine of 80% of people, according to the US Food and Drug Administration. Scientists are worried about this situation, and Denmark has currently prohibited the use of this chemical.

The most recent data from Denmark reveals that the amount of glyphosate present in groundwater is intensively rising. This threatens health if the trend continues for the next decade. Furthermore, glyphosate seems to be harmful to soil life and soil bacteria.

Glyphosate harms life in the soil and soil bacteria

The soil is a complicated environment that has various life forms, like bacteria, fungi, protozoa and other single-celled organisms. These forms are essential to support the soil’s organic decomposition of plant residues and improve its nutrient cycle – maintaining soil quality, promoting plant growth, and supporting agricultural production.

Glyphosate can harm soil life as it affects not only plants but also microorganisms in the soil, inhibiting the growth and activity of bacteria and fungi. This reduction in soil life leads to a higher requirement for fertilizers.

Danish studies discovered that glyphosate also pollutes groundwater up to 60 metres deep below the soil surface.

The harmful effects of glyphosate on farm animals

We’re searching for reasons why beneficial bacteria die in animals with persistent dysbiosis. Why is it so hard to maintain a healthy microbiome in animals? The number one cause is glyphosate found in genetically modified soybeans – a fact that’s proven and documented.

Doubters should read test results to see how glyphosate affects the body, both in animals and humans. Glyphosate disrupts the microbiome and its functions in farm animals and humans.

The belief that glyphosate is harmless has been debunked. This evidence is accessible to all. I could mention some issues, such as polycystic ovaries in pigs that decrease reproduction, disruption of embryonic development in chickens resulting from genetic defects that could affect the agricultural industry in the long run, and the increasing use of glyphosate, leading to environmental concerns.

We hope that this issue can be resolved soon. The rapid spread of Soybean Death Syndrome in America is caused by its damaging effect on plants’ immune systems via cytochrome P450, leading to the death of soybeans overnight.

The harmful effects of glyphosate on human health

Tryptophan and phenylalanine are essential amino acids needed by both animals and humans. However, genetically modified soybeans containing glyphosate can impede the proper processing of these amino acids in the body. While some advocate for healthy animal products and meat, it’s important to note that glyphosate is highly concentrated and has adverse effects, such as destroying beneficial bacteria in the human gut flora, inhibiting the cytochrome P450 defence enzyme system, and destroying the microbiome.

In Hungary, the soil has 0.98 μg of glyphosate per litre, but in the USA it is eight hundred times higher! Many studies have investigated the damaging effects of glyphosate on health, and there is ample scientific evidence against it.

The research of Anthony Samsel and Stephanie Seneff is particularly noteworthy. Glyphosate is proven to increase the risk of serious diseases and conditions. Some important conclusions are:

  • Studies conducted by French scientist Seralini have proven that when glyphosate and Roundup adjuvant are combined, they destroy DNA and cell death in human embryonic, umbilical cord, and placental cell lines.
  • Glyphosate combines with metal ions (chelating agents) and as a result, key enzymes that require multivalent ions for their efficiency are disabled. Various laboratory experiments have detected evident connections between glyphosate and particular birth defects.
  • Glyphosate has been found to cause kidney damage in farmers.
  • In 2015, the IARC (World Health Organization Agency for Research on Cancer) classified glyphosate as possibly carcinogenic to humans. An IARC report reveals that animal studies indicate a link between this chemical and the development of tumours. It also shows that DNA is damaged in human cell lines.
  • The American Cancer Society has evaluated that glyphosate can cause cancer in people exposed to it. This is because it increases cancer risks for those who frequently work with or encounter the substance.
  • Several studies have also shown a connection between glyphosate use and various cancer types, notably non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma which has led to many legal disputes.
  • Glyphosate is also linked to endocrine disruption. Glyphosate can affect the endocrine system, which controls the production and function of hormones. This can cause hormonal imbalances, infertility, and early sexual development.
  • It may also play a role in the development of histamine intolerance.
  • Glyphosate, even in small amounts of just 0.1 mg/kg, can harm the intestinal flora. It modifies the gut microbiome, increasing toxins produced by LPS (gram-negative) bacteria in the gut. At the same time, it reduces short-chain fatty acids (SCFA) (Dragod et al., 2006).
  • Glycine and glyphosate as well as glycine and AMPA fight for connection points, e.g. on cells or for incorporation into certain proteins. This mechanism can impair muscle function in all three muscle types (heart muscle, skeletal muscle, smooth muscle).
  • Glyphosate blocks the enzyme aromatase. This is why polycystic ovaries occur more frequently in girls and women.
  • Both atrazine and glyphosate are hormonal herbicides. Just one-millionth of a lethal dose in humans can act as a hormone modulator.

Glyphosate can seriously harm the stomach and intestines and negatively impact the gut microbiota. It has been proven to cause liver and kidney damage.

Glyphosate has a hormonal impact by impeding the aromatase enzyme that converts testosterone into estrogen in females. This may cause a testosterone surplus, supporting the growth of polycystic ovaries (PCO).

One issue with using soy in animal farming is that pigs and poultry that consume industrially produced feed containing glyphosate have similar effects to those directly exposed to it.

An imbalance in the microbiome is the cause of almost all degenerative processes. This increases the risk of an imbalance in the microbiome even further. By consuming meat from animals fed on genetically modified soy, which is unhealthy, contaminated and residue-laden, we destroy beneficial bacteria daily.

The shikimate pathway is a seven-stage process that bacteria, fungi, and plants use to create necessary aromatic amino acids such as phenylalanine, tryptophan, and tyrosine. In this process, helpful bacteria have a significant function. Disrupted microbiomes that result from the death of these essential bacteria may cause various infections like Clostridium difficile in humans.

Glyphosate and Clostridium difficile infection

Clostridia are risky as they create spores and can survive glyphosate. When the hazard of glyphosate has passed, they rapidly multiply in the sterile gut environment. Excessive occurrence of LPS intestinal bacteria that are glyphosate-resistant, gram-negative, lipopolysaccharide cell wall-forming, and massively antigenic pose another problem in the intestinal flora.

Despite denials of glyphosate’s negative effects, its US Patent Office classification as an antibiotic makes it hard to refute its impact on gut bacteria.

What can we do to prevent the negative effects of glyphosate?

Without healthy gut bacteria, the immune system won’t function properly. 70% of the immune system is located in the gut (GALT).

  • Avoid readymade products made from pork, poultry and soya and foods with high corn and soya content.
  • When possible, use organic products grown without synthetic chemical pesticides, including glyphosate.
  • If you don’t only buy organic food, search for the EU organic label. It’s particularly vital for strawberries, spinach, cabbage, peaches, pears, nectarines, apples, grapes, peppers, cherries, blueberries, and green beans. According to the US non-profit organization “Environmental Working Group” (EWG), pesticides infect these foods the most.
  • Milk thistle is an incredibly potent detoxifier. The extract from the fruit contains a complex called silymarin which helps the liver. The silymarin complex with fulvic acid effectively attaches to the liver cells, avoiding harm from harmful substances. Silymarin’s neutralising effect improves liver cells’ ability to fight both foreign and natural substances.

The current legal status of glyphosate

The latest plan by the EU Commission is to allow the use of weedkiller glyphosate, which is deemed to be cancer-causing, for a further ten years. This scheme entirely opposes European citizens’ wishes. During a hearing in the European Parliament this week, notable scientists highlighted significant faults and insufficiencies in the official viewpoints on which this proposal hinges.

Five years ago, one million citizens registered an official petition to disallow glyphosate. A recent IPSOS survey in six EU countries revealed that merely 14% of citizens consent to the elongation of the product’s authorisation. The extension of the authorisation has not been approved in the European Parliament yet as there is no qualified majority. Another committee, where the Member States meet, will scrutinise the proposal in the following weeks. If there is further indecision, the European Commission must decide before 15th December as the current authorisation will expire.

Read the article in German: Was ist Glyphosat und wie schädlich ist es für unsere Gesundheit?

 

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