Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide, is the most used agricultural chemical in history.
In 2014, farmers sprayed enough glyphosate to apply 0.8 pounds of the chemical to every acre of cultivated cropland in the U.S. and nearly 0.5 a pound of glyphosate to all cropland worldwide.1
Yet, mysteriously, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Residue Program, which is tasked with monitoring pesticide residues in the U.S. food supply, does not test for glyphosate residues.
As more health risks emerge — in March 2015 the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) determined glyphosate is a “probable carcinogen” — more people are starting to wonder just how much glyphosate is in our food.
The signs so far are not reassuring. Glyphosate has been detected in blood, breastmilk and urine samples.
Further, U.S. women had maximum glyphosate levels that were more than eight times higher than levels found in urine of Europeans, according to laboratory testing commissioned by the organizations Moms Across America and Sustainable Pulse.2
The Alliance for Natural Health (ANH) recently conducted its own research to determine if glyphosate is found in commonly consumed breakfast foods and their tests revealed the worst — that “our food system has been saturated with glyphosate, reaching even into some organic products.”3
Glyphosate Found in Common Breakfast Foods
Ten out of 24 breakfast foods tested in ANH’s analysis had detectable levels of glyphosate. This included oatmeal, bagels, coffee creamer, organic bread and even organic, cage-free, antibiotic-free eggs.
The majority of the glyphosate was found at levels below the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed allowable daily intake (ADI), but this is a dubious measure of safety. As ANH noted, the EPA’s ADI for glyphosate is nearly six times higher than the EU’s and fails to take into account:
- Recent evidence of carcinogenicity
- Toxicity of adjuvants in glyphosate formulations
- The very wide distribution of glyphosate in food and water
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced in February 2016 that it would begin testing foods, such as corn and soybeans, for glyphosate, which may help to quantify just how much glyphosate Americans are consuming.
But keep in mind that current allowable limits may be set far too high to protect your health, so unless that’s revised as well, you may be lulled into a false sense of security if the tests come back “within allowable limits.”
Americans Are Likely Consuming Glyphosate on a Daily Basis
The ANH analysis results suggest that Americans are consuming glyphosate, a probable carcinogen, daily. Further, the tests did not take into account analogs of glyphosate, such as N-Acetylglyphosate, which is used by Dupont in their herbicide formulations used for GE crops.
If these analogs are present in food along with glyphosate, the end result would be “a greater bioaccumulation of glyphosate in our bodies and consequential increased chance of biological disruption and disease,” ANH noted.
Gretchen DuBeau, executive and legal director of ANH-USA, further told The Huffington Post:4
“The fact that it [glyphosate] is showing up in foods like eggs and coffee creamer, which don’t directly contact the herbicide, shows that it’s being passed on by animals who ingest it in their feed …;
This is contrary to everything that regulators and industry scientists have been telling the public.”
While glyphosate was long said to be harmless and environmentally safe, accumulating research suggests the chemical does not break down rapidly in the environment, as its manufacturer claims, and instead might be accumulating (both in the environment and in people, potentially leading to cancer and other chronic disease).
Many Crops Are Desiccated With Glyphosate Just Days Before Harvest
ANH’s analysis found the highest levels of glyphosate in non-genetically engineered (GE) crops including bagels, bread and wheat cereal. This, they noted, is likely the result of the common practice of using glyphosate as a desiccant shortly before harvest.
In northern, colder regions farmers of wheat and barley must wait for their crops to dry out prior to harvest. Rather than wait an additional two weeks or so for this to happen naturally, farmers realized they could spray the plants with glyphosate, killing the crop and accelerating their drying (a process known as desiccating).
Desiccating wheat with glyphosate is particularly common in years with wet weather and has been increasing in North Dakota and Upper Midwestern states in the U.S., as well as in areas of Canada and Scotland (where the process first began).
What this means is that even non-GE foods are likely to be contaminated with glyphosate, and possibly even more so because they’re being sprayed just weeks prior to being made into your cereal, bread, cookies and the like.
Along with wheat and oats, other crops that are commonly desiccated with glyphosate include:
|Corn||Flax||Rye and Buckwheat|
No one is keeping track of how many crops are being desiccated with glyphosate; those in the industry have described it as a ‘don’t ask, don’t tell policy.’
Monsanto Products Have Been Poisoning People and the Environment for Decades
Monsanto (and Monsanto-related entities) is now facing at least 700 lawsuits on behalf of people who claim their exposure to polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), which Monsanto manufactured until the 1970s, caused non-Hodgkin lymphoma.5 As they have done with glyphosate, the company claimed the PCBs it produced were safe and “singularly free of difficulties,” yet the U.S. government banned PCBs in 1976 due to their carcinogenic potential.6
Prior to this, many internal documents have revealed that Monsanto did know of their toxicity. This includes a 1955 announcement that workers should no longer eat lunch in the Aroclor [PCB] department because “chlorinated biphenyls were quite toxic materials by ingestion or inhalation.”7
The U.S. Navy also rejected Monsanto’s PCBs for use in submarines after their own toxicity tests showed all rabbits died after skin application of the chemical and inhalation resulted in “definite liver damage.”8 In 2002, Monsanto was eventually found guilty of decades of “outrageous acts of pollution” in the town of Anniston, Alabama, where it dumped PCBs into the local river and secretly buried the toxic chemical in a landfill.9
U.S. Cities Sue Monsanto
Internal documents revealed Monsanto had full knowledge of the severity of the pollution problem it caused for at least three decades and decided to ignore it. San Diego has sued Monsanto for polluting the Coronado Bay with PCBs,10 and Seattle also filed a lawsuit against the company for PCB pollution.
Seattle wants Monsanto to pay to help clean up pollution it caused in the Duwamish River and also wants to hold Monsanto responsible for making the river’s fish too contaminated to eat. The city alleges that Monsanto knew all along that PCBs were toxic but continued to market them anyway.
In addition to Seattle and San Diego, San Jose, Oakland and Berkeley, California and Spokane, Washington have also filed lawsuits against Monsanto for continuing to produce and promote PCBs despite knowing their hazards.11
‘Monsanto Clause’ Lets Monsanto Off the Hook for Environmental Destruction
Congress is in the process of updating the Toxic Substances Control Act, a 40-year-old piece of legislation in serious need of overhaul. Once reformed, the Act will determine how the chemical industry is regulated, including which chemicals are allowed and who can sue over any related problems.
That latter part is important, especially when faced with the type of devastation caused by chemicals like PCBs. But the House of Representatives has slipped in a clause that many are calling a “gift” to chemical giant Monsanto; the paragraph shields the company from legal liability related to PCBs.
Monsanto produced almost all PCBs sold in the U.S. — all 1.25 billion pounds of them.12 If the clause is allowed to remain in the Toxic Substances Control Act, PCB lawsuits against Monsanto by state and local governments and individuals would be blocked. States would also be blocked from passing PCB regulations.
As reported by The New York Times, Monsanto insists it did not ask for the clause to be added, and the House denies it is a “gift.”13 But the clause benefits only one company.
Now city officials and lawyers involved in suing Monsanto to recover cleanup costs associated with PCBs or receive compensation for related health problems are protesting the “Monsanto Clause.” Pete Holmes, the city attorney for Seattle, told The New York Times:14
“Call me a dreamer, but I wish for a Congress that would help cities with their homeless crises instead of protecting multinational corporations that poison our environment.”
Monsanto Doesn’t Want You to Know What’s in Your Food
Monsanto has spent millions to defeat GMO labeling initiatives, so you won’t know which foods contain their genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
In 2013, the company donated nearly $5 million to the anti-labeling campaign in Washington State, and in 2012 they donated more than $7 million to help defeat California’s Proposition 37. Together with the food and industrial agriculture industries, biotechnology companies like Monsanto spent more than $101 million on lobbying to avert GMO labeling and preempt state rights, and that was in 2015 alone.15
They may feel defeat is near, as such lobbying efforts have risen sharply. For instance, these industries spent $66 million on such lobbying efforts in 2014 and just over $25 million in 2013.16 The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), whose 300-plus members include Monsanto, Coca-Cola, and General Mills, is among those pushing a Congressional bill called the “Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2014.”
The bill, dubbed the “DARK” (Denying Americans the Right to Know) Act, would preempt all states from passing GMO labeling laws. It would also bar states from enacting laws that make it illegal for food companies to misrepresent their products by labeling GE ingredients as “natural.” Last but not least, the DARK Act would also limit the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) power to force food companies to disclose GE ingredients.
They are trying to HIDE the presence of genetically engineered ingredients and are pulling out ALL the stops to do so. Now it’s known that toxic glyphosate exists even in non-GE food, making it even harder, if not impossible, to avoid this company’s pervasive toxic products.
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