Before we describe glyphosate, did you know that 8.6 billion kilograms of this potentially carcinogenic pesticide is used globally every year? To put that in perspective, the human population on Earth is only 7.3 billion. Sadly, that is more than a kilogram of this toxic pesticide for every man, woman and child.
What is Glyphosate?
Glyphosate is a commonly used pesticide. It also goes by the trade name of Roundup® Renew, Watkins Weedkiller, McGregor’s Weedout and Samurai ™.
While some countries have taken leadership to limit or ban this pesticide, we still have a long way to go.
Why is Glyphosate so bad?
Glyphosate is a chemical that is very similar to an amino acid in our body called glycine. Amino acids are building blocks of proteins in our bodies and about 20% of the human body is made up of protein. Consequently, amino acids are necessary for our bodies to function properly.
Here is a diagram of the amino acids glycine and here is a diagram of of glyphosate. And you can see that they look similar.
Because of this similarity in structure, glyphosate can be taken into the body. Studies show that levels of this pesticides have been found in adult humans. This has caused growing concern.
What is interesting about glyphosate is that before it was used as a herbicide it was initially patented as mineral chelator clean out calcium and other mineral deposits in pipes and boilers of hot water systems. It was only later in the 1970s that its parent company Monsanto patented glyphosate as a broad spectrum herbicide. In 1985 the EPA classified glyphosate as a class C carcinogen but after some “negotiations” with the parent company Monsanto, the EPA decided to scale that back for this chemical.
Later in the 2000s, glyphosate was patented as an broad spectrum antibiotic and as a biocide. (FYI – A biocide is an agent that it kills insects, spiders, bacteria, fungi and rodents.)
Initially when glyphosate was first introduced, it was considered very favorable among many farmers because it was a very powerful weedkiller. Also, if farmers were planting genetically modified soy or corn it would lead to higher yields and more thus money.
But now, farmers are having misgivings it causes serious damages to the soil and the yields they were promised have not come to fruition.
Glyphosate enters the root system
Glyphosate was initially thought not to going into the root system of plants but was later found to enter the root system. Being a mineral chelator, it robs plants of vital minerals. So, when we eat these plants that were sprayed with this pesticide we are not getting these minerals either.
Glyphosate acts like an antibiotics
Because of its antibiotic properties, it kills the beneficial bacteria and fungi in the soil and makes the soil inert. There is concern that this antibiotic effect is affecting the beneficial bacteria in our bodies as well. We host a multitude of bacteria that are essential for our health and well being and if those bacteria are affected we are too. Keep in mind that levels of glyphosate have been found in human adults
Glyphosate in the Rain
Glyphosate is water soluble so even if you or your farmer are not using this chemical it evaporates and comes down in the rain.
If you go to Monsanto’s website it states this pesticide has a history of safe use in humans. However, the is growing evidence to the contrary linking glyphosate to linkage to kidney failure, infertility, birth defects, auto-immune issues and cancers. A growing number of countries have some type of ban on this pesticide. A few of this countries include Belgium, Bermuda, Colombia, El Salvador, Netherland and Sri Lanka.
And sadly now it has been found in many foods at levels way higher than what is acceptable. Glyphosate is used in many GMO foods but it is also found in most non organic wheat because it used as a desiccant to dry up wheat before harvest. And it would even posit that this might be a reason why so many people are reacting to gluten. If you are having non-organic wheat, there is a good chance it contains glyphosate.
Glyphosate was even found in many California wines and several beers. Here is a list of food that have high levels on glyphosate. This is a list from the United States so it may not be country specific but it will give you an idea of what brands and companies have foods that contain this pesticide.
Knowledge is power
This might sound cliche but it is still very true. Yes, knowledge is power and the more we know the more we can make a difference. I encourage you to read about glyphosate with some of the references below. Make sure you look at studies that are not funded by industry.
Also, when possible try to eat organic because it will limit you exposure to this and other pesticides.
Lastly, I would like to close by saying that we are not separate from this planet. We are part of the richness and the vastness that the Earth offers. And while humans have built great buildings and innovations we can not have the hubris separate ourselves from Nature. Without clean water, healthy soils and other living beings we would not exist.
I think it is important for us to collectively reconsider using such a destructive chemical because it will impact the health and well being of our soils, plants and animals and ourselves.
Environ Sci Process Impacts. 2018 Jul 10. doi: 10.1039/c8em00119g. On the degradation pathway of glyphosate and glycine.
Tags: glyphosate health organic farming pesticide