Are Your Children Roundup-Ready?

October 1st, 2015

Use of the Herbicide Glyphosate Has Skyrocketed Since the 1990s

Nearly 90% of U.S. corn is treated with glyphosate.
The typical American child’s diet includes dozens
of corn-based processed foods.
Image source: ThinkStockPhotos.com

For thousands of years, children ate the same food their parents ate when they were children. In the United States today, this is no longer the case. Most dramatically, the proliferation of the use of the herbicide glyphosate, made possible by genetically engineered (GE) foods, is subjecting our children to a large-scale science experiment.

Children born today are repeatedly exposed to genetically engineered (GE) foods. GE crops include soybeans, corn, canola, alfalfa, and cotton, with wheat under development. GE ingredients find their way into many processed foods — unless they are certified organic. Beverages, candy, baked beans, and many other products are sweetened with corn syrup or sugar from GE sugar beets. Salad dressings, crackers, and chips are made with canola oil, corn oil, or soybean oil, and unless certified organic, all are likely GE.

Most of the corn grown in the U.S. today is genetically engineered for either insect resistance, herbicide resistance, or both. Children are most likely exposed to significant amounts of GE food when they eat corn-based dry cereals, like corn flakes or corn puffs, and snack foods that are corn-based.

Glyphosate was brought to market in the 1970s. Since then, its use has increased exponentially. Today, glyphosate is the active ingredient in the most heavily used herbicide in the world: Monsanto’s Roundup.

Children in the 1980s were exposed to only trace amounts of glyphosate because it could not be sprayed on a crop without killing it. That all changed with the advent of genetically engineered crops in the 1990s. By 2010,“Roundup-Ready” crops — plants designed to tolerate repeated applications of the herbicide  — had come to dominate conventional agriculture. Dangers from GE foods include both the unknown effects of novel DNA, as well as the known effects of high doses of herbicides.

Today, children are exposed to much higher amounts of glyphosate than their counterparts even a decade ago. Since the Roundup-Ready trait for glyphosate resistance is the most common GE trait, the spread of GE crops has caused an increase in the levels of glyphosate in food. Glyphosate may be applied several times to GE crops, each time being absorbed and stored in the tissues. The residues cannot be removed by washing, and they are not broken down by processing, such as freezing or drying. When humans or animals eat the herbicide-treated foods, they ingest the herbicide.

Feeding herbicide-tolerant GE corn and soy to children gives them a dose of glyphosate with every bite. Glyphosate is often portrayed by the manufacturers as safe for human exposure while being deadly to weeds. However, scientific research indicates that the herbicide is not as harmless as it has been portrayed. Rather, evidence shows that glyphosate may be the most important factor in the development of multiple chronic diseases and conditions now prevalent in Westernized societies.

Scientists now know that glyphosate effects are long-term. These effects include interfering with fundamental biochemical reactions in the human GI tract, depleting essential amino acids, and predisposing us to obesity, depression, autism, inflammatory bowel disease, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s.

There is a great need for additional studies to verify the effects of glyphosate consumption over a human life span, in particular its effects on bacteria in the GI tract, especially when fed to young children.

As the number of herbicide-resistant crops increases, so too does the use of glyphosate use and its presence in our food and our environment. GE crops and the toxic agrichemicals used to grow them are expressly prohibited in organic production. Feeding your children organic foods is one sure way to minimize their exposure to glyphosate, avoiding harmful exposures that could potentially affect them for the rest of their lives.

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