The statistics on glyphosate, the world’s most commonly used pesticide, are staggering. Since 1974, over 1.6 billion kilograms of glyphosate active ingredient have been applied in the United States. Two-thirds of the total volume of glyphosate applied in the U.S. from 1974 to 2014 has been sprayed in just the last 10 years. Glyphosate is sprayed on 80% of crops in this country.
Where can you find Glyphosate?
Glyphosate is the active ingredient in the popular weed-control products like Roundup, Rodeo, and Pondmaster. It’s often used in fruit and vegetable crops, particularly glyphosate-resistant crops like canola, corn, cotton, soybeans, sugar beets, and wheat. It’s also used in plantings, greenhouses, and lawns.
You can be exposed to glyphosate by breathing it in, getting it on your skin, getting it in your eyes, or even digesting it. Since many farmers use glyphosate products in their crops – including non-genetically modified ones – it can be found in your food. These are some unexpected places you may encounter Glyphosate in your food:
- Oat-based products. Recently, certain oat-based products have been found to contain glyphosate, with one study finding 43 of 45 oat-based products having it, including Quaker Old Fashioned Oats and Cheerios.
- Hummus. Watch out for your hummus, too; the Environmental Working Group (EWG) tested popular hummus brands (like Sabra, Whole Foods, and Harris Teeter) and found the chemical glyphosate in 90% of them. In fact, over one-third of the conventional hummus had more glyphosate than EWG’s limit (160 ppb – parts per billion) for daily consumption, based on a 4 tablespoon serving size.
- Wine and Beer. U.S. Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) tested 5 wines and 15 beers (some organic) and found glyphosate in 19 out of 20 of them. Companies that tested positive included Budweiser, Coors Light, Miller Lite, Sam Adams, Corona, and more.
- Water. Glyphosate can run into water sources and end up in your water system.
In 1997, the EPA increased the allowable amount of glyphosate in chickpeas from 200 ppb to 5,000 ppb - more than 30 times what EWG considers to be safe. While this was intended to be a temporary action, it has stayed in place for the last 23 years.
Apart from food and beverage, glyphosate is found in feminine hygiene products, deodorants, wipes, and itch creams.
The use of Glyphosate is becoming increasingly rampant, despite looming health risks. These are just a couple of shown health risks:
- Disrupts the endocrine system. As an endocrine disruptor, glyphosate can mimic or interfere with your body’s hormones and endocrine system, which is responsible for the synthesis and secretion of hormones along with its metabolism. The study concluded that glyphosate caused cell death which decreased levels of progesterone, the hormone responsible for regulating the menstrual cycle. Glyphosate also depletes the body of methionine and selenium, which are necessary to make thyroid hormones.
- Disrupt amino acid production. Postulating that glyphosate disrupts the synthesis of amino acids by gut bacteria, one study showed a decrease in amino acid levels in a carrot cell line when exposed to glyphosate.
- Damages DNA --> cancer. The International Agency for Research on Cancer classified glyphosate as a probable carcinogenic to humans in 2015. One study found that glyphosate raises the risk of cancer, particularly non-Hodgkin lymphoma, by 41%. Glyphosate has also been linked to Hodgkin lymphoma, breast cancer, leukemia, melanoma, and multiple myeloma. Another study found that the chances of a child developing brain cancer are doubled when either parent has been in close proximity to glyphosate in the two years before the child’s birth.
- Decreases energy (ATP) production. Glyphosate has ben shown to down-regulate and inhibit mitochondria’s ability to produce energy (ATP).
- Impedes our detoxifying system. Glyphosate hinders the gene pathway called the Cytochromes P450 (CYP) pathway, which is involved in detoxification of foreign chemicals and environmental toxins. With accumulating exposure to glyphosate, our body has a decreased capacity to detoxify toxins, further overloading the liver and kidneys.
How can you avoid Glyphosate?
To avoid Glyphosate as much as possible, buy organic products, as glyphosate is banned in organic farming. While crops may be farmed organically, glyphosate may drift from neighboring fields that use it. Furthermore, you can limit your intake of the glyphosate-resistant crops, making your own food (I.e. hummus), and not using RoundUp on your landscaping. To kill weeds without Roundup, consider using vinegar, salt, Borax, or even boiling water. You may also consider investing in a HEPA air filter and look for organic hygiene products.
Where integrative medicine comes in
At PIH, we realize that your body is inextricably tied to your environment. With all these environmental toxins, we look to support your body’s natural detoxifying processes to minimize and eradicate any toxic buildup. When you come to our office, we look for ways in which your lifestyle can be improved, along with supplements that may aid your systems in functioning more optimally.