As I walked to my car the other day I noticed a healthy dose of weeds growing at the edge of my driveway, and even a few in the crack between cement slabs. I hate weeds, and they certainly make it look like we’re the hillbillies of the neighborhood. They need to go.
Walking through the lawn care section of my local hardware store where they sell this stuff showed that Roundup is the big product available. You all have heard about it- many of you have even used it. At some point it’s possible we’ve all used it.
But what about all the hubbub you’ve heard about Roundup? Is it something that we should be using on our lawns, or even on our driveway? It’s not like we eat the weeds in our yard, is it?
Well, if you have kids you know that you can never assume what they will or won’t eat. Or what weeds they’ll chew on like Huckleberry Finn. Like Mark Twain’s character, most kids continue to run around the world barefoot. And do I need to mention the difference in the purity of the air today compared to Huck’s time?
And let’s not forget that Huck Finn was a fictional character.
Our kids suck on weeds, play on pesticide covered lawns, absorbing toxins through their skin, and breathe things that are just plain not-healthy. Given the amount of pesticides used in the United States it’s no wonder that our health is going down the tubes.
Before I go any further I want to say something, just for the sake of clarity. Pesticides have one purpose: to kill another living organism, whether it be a weed, fungus or insect. It is a biocide. They are designed to destroy life. Period. And they are effective.
What could go wrong? Plenty. You think I’m joking?
As I relate the information about studies that have been done I do have to say up front that most of them involve ingesting the components of pesticides rather than absorbing them through the skin. That doesn’t mean that the chemical components are safer when taken through skin absorption, just different.
The active ingredient in Roundup is glyphosate which, according to Dr. Stephanie Seneff, a research scientist from MIT, can cause nutritional deficiencies and/or systemic toxicity.[i]
Dr. Seneff also says that glyphosate is probably, “the most important factor in the development of multiple chronic diseases and conditions that have become prevalent in westernized societies.”
What diseases are those? you ask. Some of them are:
- Parkinson’s Disease
- Multiple sclerosis
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Gastrointestinal diseases
- Cardiovascular disease
This is the kind of thing that makes you doubt Monsanto’s (the maker of Roundup) word when they say it’s as safe to humans as aspirin. Or maybe Monsanto is right and aspirin is worse for us than we think! Considering the German aspirin company, Bayer, just bought Monsanto it’s not odd that you should be smelling a rat right now. A big, fat, $66 billion rat.
The mechanism of action that Roundup uses is the shikimate pathway, which Monsanto correctly says is not present in all animals. What they don’t tell you, because they have plenty to hide, is that the shikimate pathway is present in bacteria, and that there is ten times more bacteria in your body than cells, and every one of them responds to glyphosate. And glyphosate affects beneficial bacteria, allowing pathogens to overgrow and take over. This leads to chronic inflammation, which, in turn, can lead to the ailments mentioned above.[ii]
“The recent alarming increase in all of these health issues can be traced back to a combination of gut dysbiosis, impaired sulfate transport, and suppression of the activity of the various members of the cytochrome P450 (CYP) family of enzymes,” Dr. Seneff says. Glyphosate inhibits cytochrome P450 (CYP) enzymes- enzymes that catalyze the oxidation of organic substances.
BUT I DON’T USE PESTICIDES…
You don’t need to be using Roundup, or other pesticides to be taking them in. Their use in agriculture is widespread in the United States, even while other countries have banned their use and even sued the manufacturers. In France a court found Monsanto guilty of lying for saying that Roundup is “biodegradable,” “environmentally friendly” and saying it “left the soil clean.”
Apparently we are less concerned with these things in the United States.
So, the French found them not biodegradable, environmentally friendly or capable of leaving the soil clean, which means our soil is loaded with this stuff. I don’t have to drive more than a mile or two from our office to be surrounded by farms in America’s Dairyland, all boasting the brand of seeds spread throughout on signs. Minimal research reveals that almost all of the seed companies are owned by Monsanto, who uses their own pesticides to help produce the abundant crops that end up in the grocery store produce aisle we travel so frequently. Have you been exposed? Yes, of course you have.
There are over 80,000 registered chemicals used as pesticides in the United States, according to a 2014 article at Mercola.com. Out of 80,000 only a few hundred are actually tested for safety. You don’t need to be a toxicologist to find that inadequate.[iii]
That same article prominently features André Leu’s book, The Myths of Safe Pesticides, which had only recently been released at the time (there’s also a twenty-five-minute video interview that is worth your time as well). Leu has a lot to say about clearing up the mythconceptions regarding pesticides in the US.[iv]
One of those myths is that the pesticides are rigorously tested before going on the market. Many of them aren’t. Of the ones that are much of the methods used to test are up to four centuries old. Modern, more accurate methods of testing are rarely used.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) can measure more accurately, and toxicity levels can be measured down to the parts per trillion.
“(To) understand what a part per trillion is, if I were to get three Olympic-sized swimming pools and just put one drop in there, that is a part per trillion. We now know that there are hundreds of chemicals that can cause adverse effects at that level.”
Paradoxically some chemicals can have a more toxic effect at lower levels. What may not be a problem with a “part per billion” could have serious effects when dosed at “parts per trillion,” where they can cause hormonal disruptions.
This appears to be particularly true in utero, as the hormonal signals that trigger the baby’s development are very minute.
Another myth is that the people who regulate these things are reliable and unbiased. We always hope that’s true but it rarely is. Am I being cynical? Not really; the facts speak for themselves. The science they use is flawed as most of the methodologies used to establish their “safe levels” are data-free assumptions.
“(I) and showed how they are ignoring hundreds of very good published peer-reviewed scientific studies demonstrating the adverse health effects of these chemicals. All they are really taking into account are the studies that are submitted to them by the manufacturers. That really is a conflict of interest,” André says.
The proof is in the pudding, as my dear old dad used to say. Other countries are banning the product or making Roundup use illegal.[v] Why is this stuff still legal in the U.S.? Not only that, but why is it applied in such massive doses across our farmer’s fields that the people applying it need to wear Hazmat suits? Sure, the sales reps say it’s safe enough to drink, and they have done so but come on… it’s been well established that this stuff will cause serious damage to life and limb, otherwise the rest of the world wouldn’t be banning it.Money talks…
The next myth Leu exposes is the idea that the chemicals in these pesticides break down to safe levels.
“It’s not like the old days,” they say (read that bit with a venal voice). “These are new chemicals. They breakdown and biodegrade.”
It’s easy to throw the B.S. flag on that because you find residue in food, soil and water where it’s been used. Even worse, residual levels continue to be found in humans who consume the food. But it gets even worse!
“The other thing we know is that when they break down, they break down into metabolites—and quite a lot of them. For instance, organophosphates break down to oxons, and suddenly they are 100 to 300 times more toxic.
“To say that they break down is one thing. But they don’t mention that actually when they break down, they are worse.”
Leu also exposes the myth that the chemicals are present in such tiny amounts that it’s not worth worrying about.
As I mentioned earlier, some of these chemicals are more dangerous at lower levels. Endocrine disruptors are classic examples of this.
“This is a data-free assumption,” André says. “They do not test the actual low dose of the ADI. Not one chemical is tested for that; it’s assumed it will be safe.
It’s a myth to say ‘because we have lowered the dose, it is safe.’ The regulations should be done on actual evidence-based science, not data-free assumptions.”
If you want to know more about what André Leu has to say about popular myths of pesticides, you can find his book online or in bookstores.[vi]
SO WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DO?
The easy answer is, don’t use Roundup. Grow your own food or buy from local farmers that you know don’t contaminate their crops with this garbage.
As far as the weeds in my driveway go?
Try this: Mix a gallon of vinegar and ½ a cup of Epsom salt until it is dissolved. Then add a tablespoon of Dawn dishwashing liquid. Spray it on the weeds over a period of time. The mixture will kill the weeds all right, but be careful. It will kill whatever you put it on. It will also keep anything from growing where you spray it so handle it with care.
Don’t give up hope. The tide is turning and people are beginning to realize that we are poisoning ourselves and, fortunately, they’re not happy about it. Things are changing.
Be part of that change.
[ii] Entropy 2013, 15(4), 1416-1463
[iv] “The Myths of Safe Pesticides.” André Leu. Austin, TX. Acres U.S.A., Copyright 2014, André Leu