The Dangers of Glyphosate Farming
By Marty Lucas
Growing up on a farm and then going to the military, I was taught not to cut corners. I learned that when I did, I always paid the price in the long run.
Our romance with biotech seed is one of those corners. It seemed like a perfect way to farm… just plant, spray, wait and then harvest. And let’s face it, it worked very well for several years. This shortcut allowed good farmers to get better and poor farmers to look good. It also allowed a farmer to cover more acres in less time. This seemed to be the ultimate answer to ‘get big or get out’.
However, just like when we cut corners in other areas, it has come time to pay for this shortcut as well. Unfortunately, it’s not us that will pay the ultimate price for our convenience, it isn’t even our children, it is our grandchildren.
I come from a farm background and even own a small farm in Southeast Iowa. I understand the implications of this work. It is a game changer. It is a matter of life and death. It is not just a matter of money anymore.
The promise of biotech crops has changed the way we produce food. Unfortunately the law of unintended consequences is changing much more than that. Round Up is a trade name for glyphosate. Glyphosate is the most popular herbicide in use around the world.
At the end of this article, if you understand what I have presented, you will go through your cupboards and throw away any cereals that are not organic. You’ll throw away the rest of your non-organic corn based products and pitch your non-organic eggs as well.
If you’ve got a glyphosate herbicide in your garden shed, you’ll throw it away. With what we know now, there is no weed problem serious enough anywhere in the world to justify its use.
The Effects of Glyphosate
There are 3 factors we will look at when we are talking about glyphosate. Number one is the chemical itself, number two is the genetic modification of the plant that makes it resistant to glyphosate and number three is a newly discovered micro-fungus that has been found in all genetically modified grain.
The effects of these three are intertwined. Science is not sure which causes what problems, so their answer has been to ignore the problems and do nothing. Unfortunate we don’t have that luxury.
Here is what we do know. The glyphosate chemical is a strong chelator. It works by tying up the minerals in the plant that are necessary for its immune system to function. These are exactly the same minerals that our own immune system needs to function, but more on that later. Glyphosate also stimulates pathogenic fungi in the soil, so that the defenseless plant is quickly killed by disease.
When applied, it trans-locates throughout the plant, especially toward the growing tissues and the reproductive tissues. Much of it is exudated out of the roots into the soil, where it further ties up minerals in the soil and distorts the soil micro-biology. It is absolutely deadly to some species of soil life and a strong stimulant to others.
Glyphosate is toxic to mycorrhizae fungi in as little as 1 ppm. It reduces nitrogen fixing in the soil by 20% and reduces the number of nitrogen fixing nodules by 70%. Seed germination tests run on cotton showed it reduced germination by 24-85% and reduced seedling weight by 19-83%. Exposure to glyphosate kills up to 50% of some beneficial insects including Lady Bugs.
For farmers, the cost in nitrogen, the impaired nitrogen fixation by your soybeans, and the destruction of the mycorrhizae should be enough for you to consider dropping it, but there is more.
When we say it chelates cations, it may be beneficial to review exactly what that means. A cation is a positively charged ion. In the soil these minerals include: potassium, magnesium, calcium, sodium, sulfur, manganese, selenium, copper, and zinc. Hydrogen, the energy element of the soil is also a cation. Without energy, none of our biological systems work.
Even varieties of crops that are resistant to the glyphosate are still deficient in the minerals. Dr. Richard Olree lists five minerals that are critical for the functioning of the immune system. These are: selenium, magnesium, boron, silica and iodine. Four out of five of the minerals that are essential for the human immune system to work are tied up by glyphosate.
As a side note, the Des Moines Register recently had an article that was concerned about the increasing number of strokes in young people. They blamed the increase on obesity. There was no mention that a shortage of copper makes the blood vessels of the brain fragile and subject to hemorrhage. Nor was there any mention that a shortage of selenium causes heart failure (usually seen in young athletes). Both copper and selenium are cations that are tied up by glyphosate.
If the minerals are tied up in the soil, then they are not available to the plant. It then follows that they are not in our food. So we can trace the problem of these strokes, not to obesity, but to malnutrition. At a recent seminar a physician said that Americans are the first people in history to die of malnutrition with their bellies full.
Glyphosate applied to the leaves moves into the growing and reproductive tissues. Those tissues include the seed. That is the grain we grind and put into our food; flour, chips, cereals, etc.
A study from Denmark showed residues of glyphosate in half of their cereals at levels of .11 ppm. At .5ppm glyphosate has anti-androgenic properties (meaning it is Feminizing, it is anti-testosterone). At 2 ppm it is anti-estrogenic (meaning it is Masculinizing). At 1 ppm it disrupts enzymes, at 5ppm it damages DNA and at 10 ppm it kills cells. Researchers in France saw cellular damage at all levels of concentration, even that as low as 100,000 times more dilute than the product sold on shelves.
So at .1 ppm in cereal we don’t need to be concerned, except that it builds up in the tissue over time, like radiation or dioxins. There is no safe level of exposure, because your 1/10 ppm today simply adds to the 1/10 ppm tomorrow, etc. etc.
So if you eat 2 pounds of GMO-fed food per day and drink a high fructose corn syrup soda, it adds up to consuming about .16 ppm of glyphosate per year. In chickens about 20% ends up in manure, so if we assume the same in people, within just a couple of years we have high enough concentrations to see the health effects already noted.
Now, if we take the person that drinks 3 or 4 sodas per day, or the person that eats either more contaminated food or just more food altogether, you can see how quickly it adds up.
Regardless of your political or religious views, based upon what we know glyphosate does to the endocrine system and hormone balance, perhaps it is a little hypocritical to condemn a person for their sexual orientation, when it very well may be the chemicals we used on our crops that caused the condition in the first place.
The Food and Drug Administration allows glyphosate residues of up to 400 ppm to be in feed. Studies in chicken manure showed that 20% of the glyphosate found in feed goes right on through the animal. So where is the rest of it………..?
Glyphosate in the Food Chain
Once the glyphosate is applied, it stays in the food chain. There is a cow-calf operation in Nebraska where they split the herd and fed half of it wheatlege. The wheat had not had any glyphosate; however, the farmer had used glyphosate as a weed burn down before he planted his wheat. The half of the herd that was fed the wheatlege has had a 45% miscarriage rate.
That means the heifers that lost their calves (for whatever reason) now go to the feedlot. They weren’t healthy enough to reproduce, but we’ll eat them anyway.
That creates some very disturbing questions.
What killed the unborn calves?
Glyphosate tolerant wheat is not sold in the United States, so any glyphosate residue in the soil should have killed the wheat outright. That means it must have been something the glyphosate did to the soil or did to the organisms in the soil.
Something killed those calves. The next questions become, ‘Is it still in the heifers? Will it be in the meat?’ Does glyphosate do it to all soils? What about corn and soybeans? What about around my yard?
If glyphosate has stimulated some super-killer fungus, I want to know. When tests were done on the placentas from the aborted calves, every one had detectable levels of the micro-fungus associated with glyphosate. Further tests on swine and horses revealed the same thing. And when tests were made on the placentas of still born children, they contained the fungus as well. This micro-fungus is found in high concentrations in RoundUp Ready soybeans, corn, and distillers’ grains.
But there is more.
Where it used to take about 1.2 servicings to produce a calf, now infertility is so widespread that many calves are sterile and heifers may take as many as 8 or 10 servicings in order to get pregnant.
The problem is so severe in some herds, that veterinarians are wondering where the replacement animals will come from. It is hard to have a profitable cow-calf operation when there aren’t any calves. Maybe you know someone who quit the beef business, when their cows couldn’t conceive. Infertility in dairy herds now hovers around 20%.
These tests have not been done in humans, but is it a coincidence that up to 1/3 of young couples in the United States are infertile? Is it a coincidence that according to the March of Dimes 1 in 4 pregnancies ends in miscarriage? Even more conservative research shows that miscarriages have increased by 20% since 1976. What does that mean to you, your wife or daughter? If you’ve lost child you already know.
How sympathetic is a young mother going to be when she finds out what killed her unborn baby? Do you think she will care how much easier it was for you to farm? Do you think she will care about how clean your fields were?
In a middle class suburb here in Des Moines of three babies born in the last 6 months, only one is healthy. The other two have allergy and/or food issues. That is too small a sample to be scientific, but when my children were born, they were healthy. We didn’t know anyone that had a child with health problems. Now, school nurses dispense prescriptions to children every day.
We used not to worry about a lack of fertility, quite the converse. In my generation, more than just a few marriage proposals were unplanned, if you know what I mean... Today, we all know people that need a doctor’s help in order to conceive. Even then many of those couples remain infertile.
Genetic Damage from Glyphosate
Studies in Europe show that there is genetic damage with concentrations as low as 4 ppm. It has been shown to concentrate in the liver, kidneys, thyroid and testicles. Those are exactly the same organs where cancer rates have skyrocketed.
So when you drop your dollar into the cup at the gas station for some poor sot that has cancer, how would you feel if you knew it was your application of chemicals that caused it? Of course we can’t prove where it came from, and the lawyers can keep things ted up for years so that no one has to take responsibility, but the bottom line is people are dying because of the farmers that use glyphosate. That is a terrible responsibility. That is a crime against our neighbors that cannot be repaid.
A 54 year old man accidentally sprayed himself with glyphosate. One month later he developed asymmetrical Parkinsonian symptoms. Two years later an MRI showed that the damaged portion of the man’s brain that was in exactly the same area as seen with other Parkinson’s patients.
Drinking as little as a cup of glyphosate is a popular method of suicide in Taiwan.
When the brain is nutrient deficient it cannot properly function. One study several years ago concluded that all mental illness including depression is related to nutrition. As a side note farmers have double the national rate of suicide.
We don’t have the most nutritionally dense food to start with, but when you tie up the few minerals that are in that food, you end up with a disaster. The food doesn’t taste as good and it spoils, but worst of all it doesn’t feed the body. We are an obese nation that is starving to death.
It is no wonder that we are all so hungry. Even when we eat, the food is empty. Our cells know the food is empty, so we stay hungry. We eat empty calories, we get fat. Poisons (like glyphosate) are stored in fat, so the problem simply makes itself worse.
When our bodies are unable to get rid of a toxin, it will surround that toxin in fat so it cannot cause any further damage. So when we eat a toxin, like glyphosate, our body will make fat just to store it. Which by the way, is exactly how your body treat aspartame found in many diet sodas.
The next thing we need to consider with the chemical is that it gets tied up but not used up. Meaning that is stays in the soil or in the seed or in the tissue until it is released again. It can be released in the soil anytime phosphorus fertilizer is applied. It can be released in the tissues as well. It is like radiation, exposure is cumulative. It just collects in the tissues. That is why there is no safe level of exposure.
The laboratory tests to confirm the presence of glyphosate are expensive, as much as $300 per test. That is one of the primary reasons so very little testing has been done here in the US. That is also why you don’t have any idea how much glyphosate residue is in your food. If it didn’t build up, it probably would not be important, but since it accumulates, day by day, month by month, year by year……..
Enough bad news about the chemical, what about the genetically modified plant itself. That can be an entire class by itself. But in a nutshell, when studies were still permitted even the presence of the genetic modification caused a 10% yield drag. Genetically modified hybrids require twice as much water to produce a bushel of grain. But the scariest part is this…
Most hybrids do not accept the genetic modification. So the very narrow genetic base of our feed grains, is furthered narrowed when genetically modified crops are grown. That means the risk of catastrophic disease throughout a crop is much higher. This year, the bacterium that causes Goss’ Wilt swept through central Iowa. Anthracnose has become so common that many corn producers think that corn naturally matures from the top and bottom at the same time. Sudden Death Syndrome in soybeans was seen in Central Iowa fields as early as mid-July.
We no longer have the genetic diversity we need to stop an epidemic that could cause a complete crop failure. Perhaps a few of you remember the Corn Leaf Bight that wiped out the Texas Male Sterile varieties in the early 70’s. I remember that blight because of what that crop failure cost my family. There is no world-wide grain surplus. What would happen if we had a major crop failure?
The way the modifications are made is of interest as well. They attach the gene they want to implant onto a Mosaic virus and basically shoot it into the DNA strand. They cannot control where it lands or what other genes it disrupts.
It attaches and produces a protein that is completely foreign to the plant and foreign to the animal that eats the crop as well. Studies by Verity Farms on swine stomachs clearly show additional lesions and inflammation in the animals that are fed genetically modified grain. The human digestive system is very similar to a pig’s. Perhaps that explains the recent and rapid increase in digestive disorders in people; including indigestion, irritable bowel syndrome and any number of allergies. That also explains why wild life, including mice and rats, only eat the genetically modified grain as a last resort.
Every farmer has seen the small piles of grain that gets spilled when we harvest or move grain. Have you noticed that in recent years, many of those piles will lay there all winter? My farm is along a river, so there is plenty of wild life including deer, pheasants, and turkey. However, when my neighbor has spilled grain along the edge of my lane, it lies there all winter. Nothing eats it. Is it because the animals know something that we don’t?
Two years ago a dairyman from South Africa told us that when he ran out of his conventional corn and bought some genetically modified corn to feed his cows; his milk production went down and somatic cell count went up. When he found more non-genetically modified corn his production returned to normal.
We don’t have definitive proof that genetically modified grain causes problems in people. But that is only because the universities and government institutions that are responsible for that research are unwilling to investigate anything that might offend large contributors such as the biotech industry.
In the real world, one plus one equals two. If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it is a duck. If you have digestive problems, try a remedy that works for cows and pigs. Stop eating genetically modified food and see if your intestines return to normal.
The Glyphosate Fungus
Now what about this newly discovered fungus? First of all it has been found in all grain from genetically modified crops. It can only be detected with an electron microscope and is only slightly larger than a virus.
It may be related to the mosaic virus used in the genetic implantation or it may be something entirely new. It was this fungi that Dr. Huber wanted more study on before the USDA lifted the restrictions on RoundUp Ready Alfalfa and Sugar Beets.
Those studies have not been done. This is the fungus that has been related to sudden death syndrome in soybeans, anthracnose in corn, miscarriages and sterility in animals. It may not be the same fungi, but it seems to be related.
At a recent meeting one farmer (before he walked out) asked, ‘If the world finds out about this fungus who is going to buy our grain?’ The physician that was presenting answered him simply by asking him, ‘Who should buy it? If it poisons livestock, why would you sell it to anyone?’
It isn’t a new dilemma. Tobacco farmers of the south and the poppy farmers of Afghanistan know their products poison people, but they choose to grow them anyway. The difference is the people that use their poisons, do so voluntarily. Opium and tobacco kill the people that use them, they don’t affect the next generation. Glyphosate is different.
Until now we have enjoyed the ignorance of not knowing what the effects of glyphosate and glyphosate-resistant crops are. We can’t deny the evidence anymore. A farmer that thinks like a chemist can stay in business for years. A farmer that thinks like an accountant can stay in business for decades. But if a farmer wants to have something worth passing onto his children, he needs to think like a farmer. We are stewards of the land, we have a responsibility to take care of it and make it better for the generations that come after us.
The Moral Dilemma
When we simply poisoned our weeds and bugs, we knew that it wasn’t sustainable, but it kept us in business. With glyphosate, it is no longer a business decision, it is a moral one.
Our government has refused to protect us or even investigate the problem. Within days of receiving the information that Dr. Huber had compiled; Secretary Vilsack approved genetically modified alfalfa. The very next week he approved genetically modified sugar beets.
The USDA is supposed to protect us. Instead they have turned the American population into the biggest research experiment the world has ever seen.
Well, here we are. We have the herbicide and technology that has allowed us to farm more acres with fewer weeds. The only problem is we end up with birth defects, cancer, miscarriages and sterility.
We have a choice, either act on what we know, or ignore the facts and pretend what we do doesn’t matter.
We could even do what many livestock producers already do. We grow the ‘good stuff’ for ourselves and sell the rest to the public. After all we don’t get paid for quality.
But when the young couple next door has a miscarriage, perhaps sending them a sympathy card isn’t enough. Your weed-free fields will be small comfort to them. Besides we can’t prove any of the chemicals we use directly cause any health problems. It might even have been the chemicals from the neighbors, or the chemicals on the food at the store.
If you or a loved one start showing symptoms of Parkinson’s you can always pretend that no one know what causes it, but that won’t change the fact that as the disease progresses they’ll be needing wheel chairs, diapers and round the clock nursing care before it is over.
As you pray for the people in the congregation that have cancer, think about what role you may have plaid. There is no proof; there is no way to definitively prove any farm chemical directly caused the problem. But we know that glyphosate causes cancer. We know there is residue in the grains. We know that is builds up in the tissues.
I know it is a difficult decision. For me, I am endangering my work with many of my farmer customers. For farmers, we’re talking about a major change in the way you do business. It also means a major change in our shopping patterns.
For those of you that eat, you know that most of the breakfast cereal is grown with glyphosate. You know that the corn the chickens eat is genetically modified and that the chemical passes right into the eggs.
I’ve had people tell me it is too expensive to eat organic food. I tell them they can’t afford not to. If they feed their children glyphosate residue, there is a good chance there won’t be grandchildren……
Who wants to watch a loved one battle liver, kidney, thyroid or testicular cancer? There are a lot of things I would like to have in common with Lance Armstrong; cancer is not one of them.
Go look at your cupboard, which of those foods do you trust to be safe for your children to eat? According to the Grocery Manufacturers Association and the Biotechnology Industry Association, approximately 80 percent of current grocery food items contain GMOs.
Look under the counter, which of the weeds in the front yard are worth the chance of a miscarriage?
(SO what if it isn’t you or your wife? A miscarriage by anyone is a tragedy. It may be easier to ignore if it is a stranger, but that doesn’t make it any less of a tragedy.)
Now is the time to take action. Go through your cupboards, go through the chemicals you use on the lawn and if you are a farmer, decide what is more important to you.
What you decide is important, it makes a difference.
Your only effective defense is good, solid nutrition. I recommend everyone take high quality supplements, especially mineral supplements. No matter how careful we are, it is too easy to end up eating GMO food.
Eliminating GMOs from your diet and glyphosate from your garden or farm operations, may be the most important decisions you will ever make. You will never know the lives you’ll touch with it. It is not an economic decision at all, it is a moral one.