What are GMO’s? Glyphosate? How do they affect us? Why should I eat organic? These are all great questions I will attempt to shed some light on.
Remember the Austrian monk Gregory Mendel from the mid 1800’s? He conducted experiments breeding different types of peas to alter gene expression. The plants were being bred within the same taxonomic kingdom through traditional genetic breeding. Hybrid corn came out in the 1920’s, using that same kind of
genetic breeding.1 Some people claim that many foods are already genetically modified, through plant breeding. Researcher Nancy Swanson and her colleagues, stated in regards to modern genetic engineering, “Multiple genes are being
transferred across taxonomical kingdoms in ways that do not occur by natural breeding methods…Genetic engineering allows for the transfer of genes between kingdoms in a way that does not occur naturally.”8 The taxonomical kingdoms are
Animal, Plant, Bacterias, Protists, and Fungi.
The discovery of the helical structures of DNA in the early 1950’s paved the way for biochemists, Herbert Boyer and Stanley Cohen, to develop the first modern genetic modification. In 1973, they inserted genes from human insulin DNA into the circular DNA (plasmid) from a bacteria, and then let them
multiply.1 In 1982, the FDA approved the first GMO product, synthetic insulin.5
In 1950, Dr. H. Martin discovered a substance called glyphosate (N-phosphonomethyl glycine). Not finding a pharmaceutical use for glyphosate, it was sold for research. Dr. John Franz, of Monsanto, discovered glyphosate had herbicidal activities and its use was
patented in 1971, (U.S. Patent No 3,799,758) and later patented as an antibiotic, (US Patent No.
7,771,736 B2). Roundup, with its main active ingredient glyphosate, was released and has been used as a “weed” killer for lawns since the late 1970’s.
Glyphosate works by interfering with the shikimate pathway which destroys plants, bacteria, and fungi. Humans do not have a shikimate pathway. Plants, bacteria, and fungi use the shikimate pathway for making necessary aromatic amino acids such as phenylalanine, tyrosine, and tryptophan. Our intestinal tract
contains bacteria and fungi that use this pathway. The shikimate pathway helps make neurotransmitters that affect serotonin, epinephrine, dopamine, as well as thyroid hormones and melanin. Scientists have been on both sides of this conversation saying that certain enzymes and microorganisms in our intestinal tract can help eliminate glyphosate, and some say that it cannot sufficiently and destroys our healthy gut bacteria and fungi.8, 13
GMO foods have been sold commercially since 1994. Monsanto came out with “Roundup Ready” crops in 1996, which have a genetic modification applied to the seeds so that they have a tolerance to glyphosate, allowing it to kill the weeds, and not kill the plant. Glyphosate in Roundup also is designed to
“accelerate ripening, facilitate more uniform drying of grains and expedite harvesting of crops."13 Regulations were put in place in 1986 in regards to its safety.8 Officials state that since humans do not have a shikimate pathway, it is safe, and indicate that glyphosate will eliminate through the urine and not build up in tissues.10 However, researchers have found glyphosate build up in many animals, as well as humans, in tissues throughout the body.8
Glyphosate usage has had a steady increase since 1996, to increase more standardized crops and to counter developing bacteria resistance to glyphosate. Several researchers have found correlation to its use and the rise in diseases such as autism, diabetes, kidney, liver, cancer, thyroid, hypertension, stroke,
obesity, inflammatory bowel, and other diseases. This is a strong claim, but I highly encourage you to research further N. Swanson, S. Seneff8,
9 The American Academy of Environmental Medicine’s position on genetically modified (GM) foods stated, “There is more than a causal association between GM foods and adverse health effects. There is causation as defined by Hill’s Criteria in the areas of strength of association, consistency, specificity, biological gradient, and biological
GMO’s unnaturally select segments of genes, use pesticides which destroy bacteria and fungi in the soil, and unnaturally hasten ripening.8, 13 Skipping the natural processes of plant’s growth, along with these other factors may be one of the reasons why organic or homegrown produce tastes so full of flavor compared to GMO crops.
Thanks to organizations such as The Non GMO Project, people have become increasingly aware of purchasing organic foods and of the effects of pesticides and GMOs.12
Synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, and genetically modified organisms have an effect on the soil, microorganisms, animals, plants, and humans.
There is so much more to be said and learned regarding GMOs, glyphosate, and organic foods. I encourage you to go out and research further, so you can decide for yourself what you feel is best for you, your loved ones, and our future earth. Wishing you increased peace and
1. Science and History of GMOs and Other Food Modification Processes. (2021). Retrieved 13 September 2021, from https://www.fda.gov/food/agricultural-biotechnology/science-and-history-gmos-and-other-food-modification-processes
2. McLeman, R. A., Dupre, J., Berrang Ford, L., Ford, J., Gajewski, K., & Marchildon, G. (2014). What we learned from the Dust Bowl: lessons in science, policy, and adaptation. Population and environment, 35(4), 417–440.
3. The Postwar Fertilizer Industry Explodes. (2021). Retrieved 13 September 2021, from https://livinghistoryfarm.org/farminginthe40s/crops_04.html
4. Sabry, K. (2015). Synthetic Fertilizer; Roles and Hazards. Retrieved 11 September 2021, from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/283500340_Synthetic_Fertilizers_Role_and_Hazards (History of artificial fertilizers and their benefits and repercussions)
5. GM Vs Animal Insulin - IDDT. (2021). Retrieved 13 September 2021, from https://www.iddt.org/about/gm-vs-animal-insulin
6. Benbrook C. M. (2016). Trends in glyphosate herbicide use in the United States and globally. Environmental sciences Europe, 28(1), 3. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12302-016-0070-0
7. Timeline of Monsanto - Wikipedia. (2021). Retrieved 13 September 2021, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_Monsanto
8. Swanson, Nancy & Leu, Andre & Abrahamson, Jon & Wallet, Bradley. (2014). Genetically engineered crops, glyphosate and the deterioration of health in the United States of America. Journal of Organic Systems.
9. Seneff, S. (2021). Glyphosate Substitutes for Glycine: Does it or Doesn’t it? - Seneff. Retrieved 19 September 2021, from https://stephanieseneff.net/glyphosate-substitutes-for-glycine/
10. Mesnage, R., & Antoniou, M. N. (2017). Facts and Fallacies in the Debate on Glyphosate Toxicity. Frontiers in public health, 5, 316. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpubh.2017.00316
11. Gunstone, T., Cornelisse, T., Klein, K., Dubey, A., & Donley, N. (2021). Pesticides and Soil Invertebrates: A Hazard Assessment. Retrieved 13 September 2021, from https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fenvs.2021.643847/full Soil and pesticides journal
12. History – The Non-GMO Project. (2021). Retrieved 19 September 2021, from https://www.nongmoproject.org/about/history/
13. Mesnage, R., & Antoniou, M. (2021). Computational modelling provides insight into the effects of glyphosate on the shikimate pathway in the human gut microbiome. Retrieved 6 October 2021, from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2666027X20300049