“Someday we shall look back on this dark era of agriculture and share our heads. How could we have ever believed that it was a good idea to grow our food with poisons?”
– Jane Goodall
Results are in.
And they’re not great.
I’ve ridden a few medical roller coasters to know too well the sinking feeling of just *waiting* to take the test. Then waiting for the results. And then, finally, the surreal moment where it’s confirmed you have “it.” (It being the worst possible outcome.)
In many cases, “it” is a defined problem requiring surgery or unpleasant treatment. In other cases, it is not clear what is going on. In this case my “it” is 3.1 parts per billion glyphosate in my body.
Glyphosate in my body! 3.1 parts per billion! Huh? Say what? How? Why?
Although I have more questions than answers, I wanted to share this news with you. I’ve been slowly ruminating on the results, trying to learn more about its implications. Let me backtrack for a second…. In the summer, through the detox project www.detoxproject.org I sent off samples of my urine and kitchen tap water. They were part of the first ever batch of Canadian samples from a small group of Canadians including Tony Mitra, worried about toxic exposure to glyphosate. When the results came in a few weeks ago, I found that the tap water was blessedly clean. But the urine… Well… Here are my results from The Detox Project (previously known as Feed the World):
If you’re not familiar with this ‘herbicide’ which I prefer to call a biocide, here’s a summary in the next paragraph. Glyphosate is the main ingredient in round-up, a best selling herbicide, a patented antibiotic and one of the worst things to ever be used in agriculture. Up there with DDT and Agent Orange perhaps? For a video summary about glyphosate in our food, check out Thierry Vrain’s talk:
A quick summary- skip if you know about glyphosate. Glyphosate started off as a patented industrial descaler invented to bind to heavy metals. It was discovered to kill plants and then used widely as a herbicide. Resistance was spliced into most GMOs that are available for human consumption. This is in order to control weeds (I won’t talk about superweeds and resistance to glyphosate in this post). It kills plants and bacteria by disrupting the shikimate pathway. So farmers spray glyphosate on GMO crops such that everything in the field dies except the GMO plant. Some folks call GMOs: Glyphosate Modified Organisms. Glyphosate is also widely used as a dessicant, killing and drying out a field of non-organic wheat, for example, to allow the farmer to harvest the field in one go. (The wheat isn’t washed before it’s ground into flour.) Other crops are also subject to this dessicant treatment. This is not a GMO application, which makes it perhaps even more insidious. Glyphosate was originally considered ‘safe’ because it doesn’t attack human cells. Well, there’s a more sinister application of glyphosate; Monsanto patented it a few years ago as an antibiotic because they determined that it kills bacteria. Guess what? We humans walk around with 10 bacteria cells for every human cell. So it attacks our micro-biome (the magical mysterious universe of gut bacteria).
Glyphosate is not allowed in organic farming and this is one reason I try to feed my body and my growing familys’ bodies certified organic food as much as possible. When I sent in the samples I wasn’t sure what to expect. Maybe a low level of ‘environmental’ glyphosate in my body? Not purposely ingested of course, but emanating from the air (public parks and train tracks are sprayed with the stuff). OCD gardeners spray it on weeds like dandilions. It can come from the water (polluted from industrial farming run-off). Or perhaps from the non-organic food I ingest. I have read studies where unborn babies have glyphosate in their blood, and others that show glyphosate in wild animals. I have also read that in some studies, the chronically ill have higher levels of glyphosate in their bodies.*
I certainly didn’t expect such a level of 3.1 ppb. What does it mean to have 3.1 ppb in my body of glyphosate? To be honest, nobody really knows for sure exactly what it means in humans. But it’s certainly not *good* – how could any levels of this toxin, chelator, biocide, and antibiotic IN MY BODY be good? Without my permission. Without my volition.
Here are some links for you to peruse:
5 things you need to know about glyphosate testing:
10 things you need to know about glyphosate:
And for those of you who want to geek out:
Glyphosate in Numbers with links to peer-reviewed studies.
So, you may ask, if I suspected that I might have glyphosate in my body due to environmental contamination, why did I spend money to test myself?
Simply put: I want to know.
I ought to know.
I have the right to know and empower myself.
Knowledge is the first step towards change.
Let me tell you what I want. I want my fellow citizens to be aware of this probable carcinogen and toxin insidiously entering our bodies. I want our governments to change laws, to protect us and to focus on sustainable agriculture than replenishes the soil.
I want all toxic biocides removed from our food production. I want chemical company shills to stop claiming that glyphosate is safe to drink! But what I really really want is the growing of food to return to being an act of love.
Ah.. just take a second and envision that. Smile. It’s a happy place.
See the shiny happy children of a clean world? It’s summer and they are playing geocache in ancient forests, whispering secrets to butterflies in restored meadows, canon-balling into clean waters teeming with life, growing vegetables with their grandparents…
And thanking you.
[I dedicate this post to the brave and beautiful Australian women from Byron Shire Chemical Free Landcare Volunteers.]
*Studies not funded by the companies that manufacture Glyphosate, tend to show that it is harmful. In fact, the WHO declared Glyphosate as a probable carcinogen. The US regulatory bodies, however, have relied on research provided by the companies who will profit from its sale.
It’s different in Europe. A few weeks ago in Rome, I was speaking with a forestry biologist from the FAO (sort of like the UN’s FDA). Nicolas Picard said that the FAO has a whole department who researches the *sources* and *funding* of research. They ensure that the research used in studies or to make important policy decision are independent. Thus they discount the corporate research and University research primarily funded by industry. When I mentioned how Robyn O’Brien says that researches should wear lab coat or tee shirts with the logos of the companies that sponsor them, Nicolas gleefully agreed!