Food Integrity Now
by Carol Grieve’
Dr. Robert Kremer is a Professor of Soil Microbiology at the University of Missouri and is recently retired after a 32-year career as a microbiologist with the U.S.D.A. He spoke with Food Integrity Now about the problems he has studied over the past 18 years with transgenic crops (GMOs) and glyphosate. Glyphosate, the active ingredient in RoundUp, is the most widely used herbicide in the world. Eighty percent of all GMO crops are engineered to tolerate Glyphosate.
Dr. Kremer first became concerned with GMOs and glyphosate in 1997 when he and his colleagues observed that plants became overly infested with soil fungi during the dying process from the effects of glyphosate. Knowing that some of the soil fungi were natural biological control agents for some of these pests, including soybean cist nemotode (parasitic roundworm), they looked at these transgenic crops (GMOs) which were receiving glyphosate and looked at the root system and found an increase in soil fungi. They noticed that every time that they checked this GMO crop that the roots were loaded up with the fungus, Fusarium. Fusarium is a fungus that can be potentially pathogenic. He said his concern was that here we have this new release of crops that are tolerant to glyphosate, yet their root systems are piled up with this fungi. He has evaluated several GMO crops over the past 17 years and continues to see increased fungi on their roots.
Dr. Kremer explained some of the ways that glyphosate kills a plant. This chemical inhibits a particular enzyme which is involved in the synthesis of certain amino acids. It also shuts down the shikimate pathway and shuts down protein synthesis. Therefore, the plant can’t produce defense mechanisms and is susceptible to pathogens and can become very infected with these opportunistic pathogens and ultimately become diseased. Glyphosate is also a very strong chelator and can immobilize nutrients like manganese, iron, zinc. It binds up these nutrients and makes them unavailable to the plant. This is very detrimental to plant growth.
Since we have evidence of glyphosate being found in our gut where the bacteria do have shikimate pathways, it makes sense why we are seeing the increase of many allergies and diseases that originate in the gut where 80% of our immune system is in our microbiome. The chelation process of glyphosate can make some of the good gut bacteria unavailable, and, as Dr. Kremer explained, can shift the balance of the microbial population in our gut. Keep in mind, glyphosate has also been found in our urine, human breast milk, and in our blood. The biotech industry claims that glyphosate degrades in the soil and it cannot affect humans because we do not have a shikimate pathway–however the bacteria in our gut does have this pathway.
Monsanto, the maker of RoundUp with its active ingredient glyphosate, makes a claim that glyphosate is neutralized or degrades in the soil. Dr. Kremer shared information on some of the factors that can affect how glyphosate reacts with the soil. These factors affect persistence, availability and degradation of glyphosate in soils. He talked about a few of these factors including the soil’s pH and the amount of phosphorus in the soil. In our interview, he only spoke about a few of the ways glyphosate will react with the soil but there are several other factors which include, soil mineralogy (texture), soil nutrient status, soil surface vegetation residue, type of crop management system in place (cover crops, crop sequence), soil oxygen status, herbicide formulation and components (surfactants), soil organic matter content, and the composition of soil microbial community.
Dr. Kremer further shared his thoughts on the big claim of the biotech industry that we need GMOs to feed the world. He also discussed their claim of decreased use of pesticides. There has been a 527 million pound increase in pesticide use since the introduction of transgenic crops.
Recently, the WHO (World Health Organization) stated that glyphosate “probably” causes cancer. Dr. Kremer discussed the need for more independent testing on glyphosate and is hopeful that WHO’s recent claims would prompt such further independent testing.
Listen to this very informative interview that connects some of the dots as to how GMOs and glyphosate effect plants and human health. Click on the player below to listen:
Dr. Robert Kremer Research Papers