The Effects of Glyphosate on Your Body
Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup, is the most heavily used agricultural chemical of all time. It’s a mind-boggling amount of usage for one agricultural chemical and it was only a matter of time before the wide‐reaching environmental and public health implications became apparent.
Monsanto advertised Roundup as biodegradable and environmentally friendly, even going so far as to claim it left the soil clean until they were found guilty of false advertising. Now it’s showing up in people at alarming levels with unknown effects on human health.
Researchers from the University of California San Diego (UCSD) School of Medicine tested urine levels of glyphosate and its metabolite aminomethylphosphonic acid (AMPA) among 100 people living in Southern California over a period of 23 years from 1993 to 2016. Genetically engineered (GE) crops were introduced in the US in 1994.
Glyphosate is used in large quantities on GE glyphosate-tolerant and its use has increased nearly fifteen‐fold since 1996. Glyphosate is also a popular tool for desiccating (or accelerating the drying out) of crops like wheat and oats, with the UCSD researchers noting in JAMA that Roundup is applied as a desiccant to most small non-genetically modified grains. As a result, Glyphosate is found in GE crops and non-GE grains crops at harvest.
At the start of the study, Paul Mills (Professor of family medicine and public health at the University of California San Diego) stated that very few of the participants had detectable levels of glyphosate in their urine but by 2016 this figure had increased to seventy percent. Overall, the prevalence of human exposure to glyphosate increased by 500 percent during the study period whist actual levels of the chemical, in ug/ml, increased by a shocking 1,208 percent.
It’s unknown what this means for human health but in 2017 separate research revealed that daily exposure to ultra‐low levels of glyphosate for two years led to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) in rats. Mills stated that the glyphosate levels revealed by their JAMA study were 100‐fold greater than those detected in the rat study.
In response to the featured study, Monsanto was quick to say that the amounts reported do not raise health concerns and the fact that the chemical is detected in urine is just one way our bodies get rid of nonessential substances. Speaking to GM Watch, Michael Antoniou of King’s College London, had another take on the matter:
“This is the first study to longitudinally track urine levels of glyphosate over a period before and after the introduction of GM glyphosate-tolerant crops. It is yet another example illustrating that the majority of present-day Americans have readily detectable levels of glyphosate in their urine, ranging from 0.3 parts per billion, as in this study, to ten times higher – 3 or more parts per billion – detected by others.
These results are worrying because there is increasing evidence to show that exposure to glyphosate-based herbicides below regulatory safety limits can be harmful.”
Concerns over glyphosate’s toxicity have been mounting since the International Agency for Research on Cancer›s (IARC) 2015 determination that glyphosate is a probable carcinogen. As of July 2017, California›s Environmental Protection Agency›s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment also listed glyphosate as a chemical known to cause cancer under Proposition 65, which requires consumer products with potential cancer‐causing ingredients to bear warning labels.
Meanwhile, in the EU, European Commission leaders met in March 2016 to vote on whether to renew a fifteen‐year license for glyphosate, which was set to expire in June of that year. The decision was tabled amid mounting opposition as more than 180,000 Europeans signed a petition calling for glyphosate to be banned outright. Ultimately, more than 2 million signatures were collected against relicensing the chemical.
The European Parliament voted in favour of phasing out glyphosate over the next five years and immediately banned it for household use. As EcoWatch reported, Nathan Donley, a senior scientist with the Center for Biological Diversity noted:
“This wasn’t just a vote against glyphosate. This was a vote supporting independent science and a vote against an industry that has manipulated, coerced and otherwise soiled independent decision-making in Europe and the rest of the world.”
FRom the East London Garden Society.