There is a new trend in food consumption away from genetically modified organisms (GMOs), pesticides and herbicides like glyphosate. This is all thanks in part to better understanding of how food affects our bodies and our children’s development. It also speaks volume to the old proverb of we are what we eat. So if we explain GMOs (#GMO), these are foods that have been genetically altered with genes from other plants or animals. Some call this the creation of frankenfoods while others call this optimized feeding for the world. It is up to you to determine which view you hold dear.
There are some examples of foods gone out of control based on GMOs. There have been studies performed where pigs were injected with a gene from jellyfish so they can glow in the dark. Our dear and popular tomato have been developed to resist frost and freezing with antifreeze genes from a cold-water fish. The color and shape have also been engineered to look picture perfect. If nature had intended to naturally provide these genes due to the environment, natural selection and evolution would have adapted plants towards it. The sad part is that with these changes comes the loss of the original genetic code which made imperfect tomatoes full of flavor.
Glyphosate is an herbicide designed to kill weeds and protect crops. Everyone knows about it under its product name of Roundup. Roundup is that well marketed weed killer created and patented by Monsanto. But it is not only Monsanto that markets glyphosate. Since the patent has expired, about 30 other companies have started to sell different concentrations of the weed killer glyphosate. China alone has cranked out huge volumes of this product cheaply for use in agriculture. The glyphosate herbicide has become the worlds most popular form of weed control.
Our concern with this weed killer is that recently, the World Health Organization has classified this product as a human carcinogen. Yet, there have been crops such as alfalfa, soybeans and corn just to name a few which have had their genetic code altered to resist the herbicide. To better understand this, as these modified crops are sprayed with the herbicide, the plant absorbs the herbicide but nothing happens to it since it is resistant to the chemical. However, that sprayed chemical stays on the plant. It doesn’t just go away. It stays on the plant and these genetically modified traits do not offer increased yield, drought tolerance, enhanced nutrition, or any other consumer benefit.
Now, farmers might tell you that they carefully spray glyphosate (#glyphosate) on their fields but have you ever tried to spray paint a chair. No matter how careful you are, the paint still makes it in every direction. So by now you are thinking that you can wash it off but in fact, the herbicide is absorbed by the plant. So the next time you have a tofu salad, you might actually be adding a side of Roundup to your salad.
Glyphosate Side Effects
A major side effect is actually performed on the environment which leads to humans. The more pesticides or herbicides that are used, the more resistant weeds have become to the treatment. Naturally then, you begin to use more chemicals which in turns kills less weeds but those toxins still are transferred into the soil. Mother Nature always wins. There are a growing number of cases where the weeds treated with herbicides like glyphosate have become superweeds. In essence, they have become resitant to the toxins. It is the same concept as using triclosan in our cleaning products. You kill off 99.9% of bacteria but that 0.1% becomes resistant and eventually takes over.
If we talk about glyphosate toxicity in humans, several types of side effects come into play. The first common one is skin rashes and irritation when exposed to . There have been instances of skin burns but those cases are rare. This exposure is not just on farmland but driveways and gardens as well. If you accidentally inhale the mist from spraying, you will have discomfort in your throat, mouth or nose and I assume that the taste is not pleasant. Eye exposure may lead to mild conjunctivitis and if not washed quickly, it can lead to loss of vision.
By now your fear is what if you drink it or swallow it. Keep in mind that this is a toxic herbicide so small amounts ingested wont kill you but will harm your stomach, mouth and throat. At this point you would call poison control to get treatment. If you drink enough of these ready-to-use glyphosate solutions, you can die within hours. There have been toxic tests performed that show patients who suffered from inflammation of the lungs, impaired consciousness, fluid in your lungs which follows heart failure, shock, abnormal heart beats, kidney failure, metabolic acidosis (the body produces excessive quantities of acid or when the kidneys are not removing enough acid) and high blood potassium.
We have established that constant use of Roundup and other chemicals is not good for anyone. There have been new theories on glyphosate autism connection and our overall health in general has not improved. It is still early as science is starting to catch up but would you alter the way you landscape based on this information?