The Roundup on Roundup®

Source interview: Dr. Mercola interviews Dr. Don Huber, Professor Emeritus Purdue University

“We gain in science only when we recognize we have to address the system as a whole.”

–Don Huber, PhD

Dr. Don Huber is undeniably one of the most intelligent people on this planet. He has been a professor of plant pathology at Purdue University for the last 35 years. His research has led him to become very outspoken against genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and the use of the herbicide glyphosate, which is also known as Roundup®. He recently spoke with Dr. Mercola about glyphosate and I want to share some highlights here.

Glyphosate is an herbicide (a weed killer) that is used extensively in agriculture, landscaping, and even along roadsides. It is the primary herbicide used on genetically modified plants such as Roundup-Ready® soybeans, alfalfa, and corn. Glyphosate was patented by Monsanto® in 1974. Since the introduction of GMO crops in 1996, its usage has increased exponentially. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) continues to increase its allowable levels in food. On May 1, 2013, the EPA doubled the allowable level so that soybean oil can now contain 40 parts per million (ppm) of glyphosate.

As an herbicide, glyphosate does not actually kill weeds itself. Glyphosate is a chelator. That means that it immobilizes minerals, essentially depleting the nutrition from the plant. This weakens the plant so that it becomes susceptible to disease from pathogens like fungus in the soil. It is actually the soil pathogens that end up killing the weeds.

Glyphosate is also patented as a potent antibiotic. It kills beneficial gut bacteria in humans at a level of only 0.1 parts per million (ppm). Since the allowable level in food is now 400 times that amount, we can be fairly certain that eating foods that have been sprayed with glyphosate will devastate our microflora.

The link between glyphosate exposure and gut health is profound. Dr. Huber references an article published this year that details the biochemical connection between glyphosate, intestinal health, and diseases that are rapidly becoming epidemic in our society. He also references epidemiological data that shows a correlation between the increased prevalence of GMOs, glyphosate use, and more than 35 modern diseases. It is well established that modern diseases such as allergies, asthma, autism, irritable bowel, and autoimmune disease correlate with inflamed, leaky, or otherwise compromised gut health. It may be that glyphosate is playing a key role in that pathology.

Glyphosate does not just stay on the surface of the plant so that we can wash it off. It actually gets incorporated into the plant itself so that we inevitably eat it in our food. The best way to avoid glyphosate is to not eat genetically engineered foods. You can read more about GMOs and how to avoid them at the Institute for Responsible Technology or the NonGMO Project.

Dr. Huber asserts that glyphosate’s “primary claim to fame is to benefit the bottom line of a commercial enterprise.” We need to vote with our forks and do everything within our power not to support these corporate giants.

You may also like Dirtier than the Dirty Dozen

Have a GMO-Free Halloween!

I can handle ghosts, witches, and even bloody axes. But as a mom, the scariest moment on Halloween is when I see heaps of chemical-laden candy dumped from my little monsters’ bags onto the living room floor. After an evening filled with anticipation, laughter, and glee, what do I do now? Do I let them eat as much as they want? Do I allow them one consolation piece and scoop the rest into the garbage? How can I have peace of mind without utterly destroying this moment and this holiday for my sweet goblins?

What scares me the most about this pile of candy is not the sugar. In fact, I would rather see my kids eat cane sugar straight from the bowl than any of these brightly colored nuggets from shiny packages. The problem with Halloween candy is that it is the end result of our damaged food supply. The ingredient list for any given piece of candy may include high fructose corn syrup, artificial colors or flavors, preservatives, and inevitably genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Of course it won’t say GMO on the ingredient list. That is for you to figure out. If you wonder why you should care about GMOs, read Dirtier than the Dirty Dozen. Here are the ingredients for M&M’s® with the items likely to be genetically modified in bold:

MILK CHOCOLATE (SUGAR, CHOCOLATE, SKIM MILK, COCOA BUTTER, LACTOSE, MILKFAT, SOY LECITHIN, SALT, ARTIFICIAL FLAVOR), SUGAR, CORNSTARCH, LESS THAN 1% – CORN SYRUP, DEXTRIN, COLORING (INCLUDES BLUE 1 LAKE, YELLOW 6, RED 40, YELLOW 5, BLUE 1, RED 40 LAKE, BLUE 2 LAKE, YELLOW 6 LAKE, BLUE 2), GUM ACACIA. CONTAINS MILK AND SOY. MAY CONTAIN PEANUTS.

Not only do these little candies contain 10 potentially GMO ingredients, but they also contain nine artificial food dyes. Food dyes are made from petroleum and may cause hyperactivity, allergic reactions, or even cancer. The British government and the European Union have taken action to virtually end the use of food dyes in Europe but they are still used freely in the United States. I do not mean to pick on M&M’s®. I could have chosen any candy from the bag and the outlook would not be any better. I have often considered Reese’s® peanut butter cups to be one of the least toxic Halloween candies. But even these contain five potentially GMO ingredients and a preservative that increases tumors in rats and is listed by the Center for Science in the Public Interest as an additive to avoid.

SAM_3231There are actually better options available: treats we can give our little ones that contain all natural and GMO-free ingredients. You will not find these in any major grocery store, but you can order them online. I recommend visiting the Natural Candy Store.  You can get non-GMO Project Verified miniature chocolates, snack size jelly beans, and organic candy mixes. You can even get super-fruit chews made with brown rice syrup and freeze-dried berries that taste just like Starbursts®. If you really hate to see those M&M’s® go, order a case of Sun Drops®.

Other options for Halloween treats include raisins, organic fruit leathers, pretzels, or toys. Whatever your approach, be sure to secure a stash of natural treats before Halloween arrives. Offer your kids a trade. Let them choose a number of treats from your bag and find a way to dispose of the chemical ones.

Luckily there are infinite ways you can get rid of that unwanted loot. The Halloween candy buyback program has become very popular. This is a way that your kids can get cash for candy (one dollar per pound) and the candy is donated to the troops. If you cannot find a participating location near you, create your own buyback program. Establish a rate (maybe a nickel a piece) with your child before Halloween night. I have some friends who have a “Halloween witch” visit in the night to trade out the candy for a toy. Others have their kids open all the candy into a pot of water and make a pretend “soup.” The possibilities of what to do are virtually endless. The key to success, I believe, is having a plan that everybody agrees upon in advance.

So make a Halloween plan. Get whatever you need in advance (natural candies, toys, money, or just an address for buyback the next day). Make sure that your little ghosts are aware of the plan and in full agreement. Use this as an opportunity to teach your kids something about our messed up food supply. And when that chemical-laden candy gets dumped, IT will have something to fear.

Join me in making this a GMO-Free Halloween!

Dirtier than the Dirty Dozen: What Parents Need to Know about GMO

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This article is intended for all moms and dads who have heard of GMO’s but just haven’t taken the time to figure out why they matter. It is for those of you whose children eat bread, crackers, or cereal that are not certified organic. It is for those of you who have never thought twice about what brand of corn chips you have in your kitchen. If this does not describe you, then stop reading now.

You may have heard of the “dirty dozen” list of most contaminated produce. You may buy your children organic strawberries and apples. But pesticide residues are rapidly becoming the least of my worries.

There is a category of toxic foods that has been creeping into our food supply since the mid 1990’s. The safety of these foods has never been proven. They are called GMOs: Genetically Modified Organisms.

GMOs are made by forcing DNA from one organism (such as bacteria or viruses) into the DNA of another (such as soy, corn, or canola). This creates a food never before in the human food supply.

Two of the most prevalent genetically modified foods are soy and corn. They were introduced to the market in 1994 and 1996 respectively. How old were you then? I was 18 years old. And over the ensuing 18 years, the prevalence of these GMO crops has grown exponentially.

Currently more than 88% of all corn grown in the United States and 94% of all soy is genetically modified. This means that if you or your children are eating any foods containing corn or soy ingredients, you are eating GMOs.

But so what?

There is no requirement for long-term safety studies on either animals or humans before GMO foods appear on our grocery store shelves. Despite this laxity in regulation, the research that is available is enough to make anyone clear half of their pantry directly into the dumpster.

Here are a few things that we know about GMOs:

  • GMO foods contain proteins not found in natural foods that trigger allergic reactions. In fact soy allergies skyrocketed by 50% in the UK after GMO soy was introduced1.
  • GMO foods may also make you allergic to other foods. Mice fed genetically modified peas started reacting to a variety of other foods1.
  • The Bt toxin produced by GMO corn acts as a pesticide by puncturing holes in the stomachs of insects. It is now known to kill human kidney cells2.
  • This same Bt toxin produced in every cell of GMO corn has been found in the majority of pregnant women’s blood tested3.
  • GMO corn contains startling levels of formaldehyde4. Formaldehyde is known to cause cancer.
  • The only human study on GMO foods showed that genetically modified DNA could transfer to human gut bacteria and continue to function1. That’s right.  Our gut bacteria can become genetically modified. We do not know if this is ever reversible.
  • GMO foods have higher levels of pesticide and herbicide residues, especially the most commonly used herbicide, Roundup®5.
  • Roundup® cannot be washed off the food. It is sprayed on the fields and taken up into the edible parts of the plants.
  • Roundup® kills beneficial gut bacteria in humans6.
  • Roundup® may be linked with inflammatory bowel, obesity, depression, cancer, and even autism5.

If you want to eliminate genetically modified foods from your child’s diet, you have to start by trashing all of the non-organic processed foods including Cheerios®, Goldfish®, Capri-Sun®, and even Nature Valley® Granola Bars. A partial list of GMO ingredients commonly found in kids’ food is here:

  • Sugar (cane sugar and organic sugar are ok)
  • High Fructose Corn Syrup / Corn Syrup / Other Corn-derived ingredients
  • Soybean oil / Soy protein / Other Soy-derived ingredients
  • Canola oil
  • Vegetable oil or hydrogenated vegetable oil

Other ways to avoid GMOs is to purchase the following:

  • Certified Organic products
  • Products with the “Non-GMO Project Verified” seal

Today our children are part of a great experiment by biotech companies. They are the first generation to be born and raised on genetically modified food. What is their fate? I would rather not wait to see.

For more comprehensive information, please visit the following websites:

References:

  1. Smith, J.M. (2007) Genetic Roulette. White River Junction, VT: Chelsea Green Publishing. Pp. 50, 56, 130.
  2. Sirinathsinghii, Eva. “Bt Toxin Kills Human Kidney Cells” ISIS March 14, 2012. http://www.i-sis.org.uk/Bt_Toxin_Kills_Human_Kidney_Cells.php
  3. Aris, Aziz and Samuel Leblanc. “Maternal and fetal exposure to pesticides associated to genetically modified foods in Eastern Townships of Quebec, Canada.” Reprod Toxicol. 2011 May;31(4):528-33. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0890623811000566
  4. Honeycutt, Zen. “Study Reveals GMO corn to be highly toxic.” April 15, 2013. http://www.momsacrossamerica.com/stunning_corn_comparison_gmo_versus_non_gmo
  5. Samsell, Anthony and Stephanie Seneff. “Glyphosate’s Suppression of Cytochrome P450 Enzymes and Amino Acid Biosynthesis by the Gut Microbiome: Pathways to Modern Diseases.” Entropy 2013, 15(4), 1416-1463. http://www.mdpi.com/1099-4300/15/4/1416
  6. Smith, Jeffrey. “Roundup Damages Beneficial Gut Bacteria, Promotes Botulism and other Pathogens.” Spilling the Beans Newsletter May 8, 2013. http://www.responsibletechnology.org/posts/roundup-damages-beneficial-gut-bacteria/