Precautionary Principle: Be concerned about Glyphosate
Monsanto argues that glyphosate (main active ingredient in RoundUp) is not toxic to humans, because it interferes with a biochemical pathway in plants and bacteria, but which is not present in human cells. Read on…
Yes, I know this is quite a technical read, but I hope you get the message that one should not be complacent about this chemical risk.
How does glyphosate work?
Glyphosate inhibits an essential enzyme known as EPSPS (5-enolpyruvyl – shikimate -3-phosphate synthase), which is part of the shikimic acid pathway required for synthesis of aromatic amino acids i.e. protein synthesis that are essential for metabolic processes in plants, fungi and some bacteria (Myer etal, 2016). Human cells do not have this shikimate pathway, but bacterial species that make up our microbiome do. Inhibition of this pathway may therefore cause us harm. It is research by Stephanie Seneff and others that is revealing the extent of this potential harmful disruption of our microbiome and biochemistry.
“This pathway is present in gut bacteria, which play an important and heretofore largely overlooked role in human physiology through an integrated biosemiotic relationship with the human host. In addition to aiding digestion, the gut microbiota synthesize vitamins, detoxify xenobiotics, and participate in immune system homeostasis and gastrointestinal tract permeability. Furthermore, dietary factors modulate the microbial composition of the gut." (Mercola, nd)
Summary of potential adverse effects of glyphosate (Seneff, nd)
Inhibits the shikimate pathway in our gut bacteria, and hence can interfere with synthesis of aromatic amino acids (phenylalanine, tyrosine, trytophan).
Disrupts gut bacteria – leads to pathogen overgrowth and many digestive issue.
Disrupts sulfate synthesis and transport; leads to glutathione deficiency; Interferes with P450 enzymes involved in liver detoxification; leads to impaired bile flow and low vitamin D.
Impairs methylation pathways: glyphosate may substitute for glycine, but unlike glycine does not provide methyl groups, which are needed to re-methylate molecules of vitamin B12 and B9 (folate) and prevent cancerous changes occurring in the genetic structure of cells; interferes with synthesis of methionine, which can lead to shortages in critical neurotransmitters.
Damages red blood cells (RBC) – leads to anemia and toxicity due to free iron; hypoxia leads to low grade encephalopathy.
Chelates important minerals: depletes iron (Fe), manganese (Mn) and zinc (Zn) in plants . Manganese deficiency leads to impaired mitochondrial function and glutamate toxicity in the brain.
Nutrient deficiencies e.g. Zn and lipopolysaccharides (LPS) fragments from gut bacteria can contribute to development of leaky gut and leaky brain barrier – leading to further digestive disorders, autoimmune diseases and neurological diseases.
Inhibition of pituitary release of TSH can lead to hypothyroidism.
Have a read of this ABSTRACT and go here to read the full article.
ABSTRACT: Glyphosate’s Suppression of Cytochrome P450 Enzymes and Amino Acid Biosynthesis by the Gut Microbiome: Pathways to Modern Diseases (Samsel and Seneff, 2013)
Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup®, is the most popular herbicide used worldwide. The industry asserts it is minimally toxic to humans, but here we argue otherwise. Residues are found in the main foods of the Western diet, comprised primarily of sugar, corn, soy and wheat. Glyphosate's inhibition of cytochrome P450 (CYP) enzymes is an overlooked component of its toxicity to mammals. CYP enzymes play crucial roles in biology, one of which is to detoxify xenobiotics. Thus, glyphosate enhances the damaging effects of other food borne chemical residues and environmental toxins. Negative impact on the body is insidious and manifests slowly over time as inflammation damages cellular systems throughout the body. Here, we show how interference with CYP enzymes acts synergistically with disruption of the biosynthesis of aromatic amino acids by gut bacteria, as well as impairment in serum sulfate transport. Consequences are most of the diseases and conditions associated with a Western diet, which include gastrointestinal disorders, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, depression, autism, infertility, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. We explain the documented effects of glyphosate and its ability to induce disease, and we show that glyphosate is the “textbook example” of exogenous semiotic entropy: the disruption of homeostasis by environmental toxins.
Hence glyphosate may be an indirect contributor to many health problems, including:
Neural tube defects (from folate deficiency)
Impaired blood flow
Concern should not just be about our own bodies, but also the potential impact on the natural environment and environmental services that support natural systems. Myer etal (2016) have identified the following risks:
environmental and soil eco-system problems affecting inter alia, fish, earthworms, beneficial soil organisms
accumulation in soils and contamination of groundwater, with potential loss of soil health and fertility and reduced crop productivity
significant negative effects on freshwater invertebrate species.
So, what to do?
Keep listening for the evidence now becoming more publicly available through the claims cases against Monsanto by cancer sufferers, mainly farmers and sprayers who may have been chronically exposed to this and other agricultural and horticultural chemicals (chemical cocktails!).
Inform yourself about these risks and if risk-averse, take steps to stop using RoundUp yourself and minimise your environmental exposure and ingestion of foods likely to be most contaminated by glyphosate residues. In particular:
Avoid the primary genetically modified foods, especially soy, corn and canola that are more liberally sprayed with RoundUp
Avoid all non-organic cereals and grains, which may have been harvested with glyphosate, including wheat, barley, buckwheat, millet, rice, oats, rye, sorghum, wild rice, popcorn, and teff
Eat as much certified organic food/known chemical free food as you can afford.
There are functional tests available that can assess your body burden of toxicity, if this is something you are willing to pay for. Given that it's realistically impossible to avoid these chemical toxins, a regular program of detoxification would be a healthful protective strategy.
Mercola, 2013, Research reveals previously unknown pathway by which glyphosate wrecks health, 2013, Viewed here 9 October 2018,
Myers JP etal, 2016, “Concerns over use of glyphosate-based herbicides and risks associated with exposures: a consensus statement’, in Environmental Health 17 February 2016, viewed here online 9 October 2018.
Samsel A and Seneff S, 2013, 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, viewed here 9 October 2018.
Seneff S, nd, Glyphosate: the most damaging toxic chemical in our environment, webinar accessed through Research Nutrition.
Webster T and Santos E, 2015, Global transcriptomic profiling demonstrates induction of oxidative stress and of compensatory cellular stress responses in brown trout exposed to glyphosate and Roundup, in BMC Genomics 16(1): 32, Viewed here 9 October 2018,