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Genetically engineered crops, glyphosate and the deterioration of health in the United States of America

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A huge increase in the incidence and prevalence of chronic diseases has been reported in the United States (US) over the last 20 years. Similar increases have been seen globally. The herbicide glyphosate was introduced in 1974 and its use is accelerating with the advent of herbicide-tolerant genetically engineered (GE) crops. Evidence is mounting that glyphosate interferes with many metabolic processes in plants and animals and glyphosate residues have been detected in both. Glyphosate disrupts the endocrine system and the balance of gut bacteria, it damages DNA and is a driver of mutations that lead to cancer. In the present study, US government databases were searched for GE crop data, glyphosate application data and disease epidemiological data. Correlation analyses were then performed on a total of 22 diseases in these time-series data sets. The Pearson correlation coefficients are highly -5 significant (< 10 ) between glyphosate applications and hypertension (R = 0.923), stroke (R = 0.925), diabetes prevalence (R = 0.971), diabetes incidence (R = 0.935), obesity (R = 0.962), lipoprotein metabolism disorder (R = 0.973), Alzheimer’s (R = 0.917), senile dementia (R = 0.994), Parkinson's (R = 0.875), multiple sclerosis (R = 0.828), autism (R = 0.989), inflammatory bowel disease (R = 0.938), intestinal infections (R = 0.974), end stage renal disease (R = 0.975), acute kidney failure (R = 0.978), cancers of the thyroid (R = 0.988), liver (R = 0.960), bladder (R = 0.981), pancreas (R = 0.918), kidney (R = 0.973) and myeloid leukaemia (R = 0.878). -4 The Pearson correlation coefficients are highly significant (< 10 ) between the percentage of GE corn and soy planted in the US and hypertension (R = 0.961), stroke (R = 0.983), diabetes prevalence (R = 0.983), diabetes incidence (R = 0.955), obesity (R = 0.962), lipoprotein metabolism disorder (R = 0.955), Alzheimer’s (R = 0.937), Parkinson's (R = 0.952), multiple sclerosis (R = 0.876), hepatitis C (R = 0.946), end stage renal disease (R = 0.958), acute kidney failure (R = 0.967), cancers of the thyroid (R = 0.938), liver (R = 0.911), bladder (R = 0.945), pancreas (R = 0.841), kidney (R = 0.940) and myeloid leukaemia (R = 0.889). The significance and strength of the correlations show that the effects of glyphosate and GE crops on human health should be further investigated.
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ISSN 1177-4258 6
Journal of Organic Systems, 9(2), 2014 ORIGINAL PAPER
Genetically engineered crops, glyphosate and the
deterioration of health in the United States of America
Nancy L. Swanson
1
, Andre Leu
2
*, Jon Abrahamson
3
and Bradley Wallet
4
1
Abacus Enterprises, Lummi Island, WA, USA
2
International Federation of Organic Agricultural Movements, Bonn, Germany
3
Abacus Enterprises, Lummi Island, WA, USA
4
Crustal Imaging Facility, Conoco Phillips School of Geology and Geophysics, University of
Oklahoma, USA
* Corresponding author: andreleu.al@gmail.com
Abstract
A huge increase in the incidence and prevalence of chronic diseases has been reported in the United
States (US) over the last 20 years. Similar increases have been seen globally. The herbicide
glyphosate was introduced in 1974 and its use is accelerating with the advent of herbicide-tolerant
genetically engineered (GE) crops. Evidence is mounting that glyphosate interferes with many
metabolic processes in plants and animals and glyphosate residues have been detected in both.
Glyphosate disrupts the endocrine system and the balance of gut bacteria, it damages DNA and is a
driver of mutations that lead to cancer.
In the present study, US government databases were searched for GE crop data, glyphosate
application data and disease epidemiological data. Correlation analyses were then performed on a
total of 22 diseases in these time-series data sets. The Pearson correlation coefficients are highly
significant (< 10
-5
) between glyphosate applications and hypertension (R = 0.923), stroke (R = 0.925),
diabetes prevalence (R = 0.971), diabetes incidence (R = 0.935), obesity (R = 0.962), lipoprotein
metabolism disorder (R = 0.973), Alzheimer’s (R = 0.917), senile dementia (R = 0.994), Parkinson's (R
= 0.875), multiple sclerosis (R = 0.828), autism (R = 0.989), inflammatory bowel disease (R = 0.938),
intestinal infections (R = 0.974), end stage renal disease (R = 0.975), acute kidney failure (R = 0.978),
cancers of the thyroid (R = 0.988), liver (R = 0.960), bladder (R = 0.981), pancreas (R = 0.918), kidney
(R = 0.973) and myeloid leukaemia (R = 0.878).
The Pearson correlation coefficients are highly significant (< 10
-4
) between the percentage of GE corn
and soy planted in the US and hypertension (R = 0.961), stroke (R = 0.983), diabetes prevalence (R =
0.983), diabetes incidence (R = 0.955), obesity (R = 0.962), lipoprotein metabolism disorder (R =
0.955), Alzheimer’s (R = 0.937), Parkinson's (R = 0.952), multiple sclerosis (R = 0.876), hepatitis C (R
= 0.946), end stage renal disease (R = 0.958), acute kidney failure (R = 0.967), cancers of the thyroid
(R = 0.938), liver (R = 0.911), bladder (R = 0.945), pancreas (R = 0.841), kidney (R = 0.940) and
myeloid leukaemia (R = 0.889). The significance and strength of the correlations show that the effects
of glyphosate and GE crops on human health should be further investigated.
Swanson, Leu, Abrahamson & Wallet Journal of Organic Systems, 9(2), 2014
ISSN 1177-4258 7
Keywords: Glyphosate, GMO, GE corn, GE soy, toxicology, obesity, cancer, hypertension, diabetes,
Alzheimer’s disease, senile dementia, autism, Parkinson’s disease, inflammatory bowel disease,
intestinal infections, hepatitis C, end stage renal disease, kidney failure, thyroid cancer, liver cancer,
bladder cancer, pancreatic cancer, kidney cancer.
Introduction
Within the last 20 years there has been an alarming increase in serious illnesses in the US, along with
a marked decrease in life expectancy (Bezruchka, 2012). The Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention (CDC) estimates that the cost of diabetes and diabetes-related treatment was
approximately $116 billion dollars in 2007. Estimated costs related to obesity were $147 billion in 2008
and cardiovascular diseases and stroke were $475.3 billion in 2009. Health care expenditures in the
US totaled 2.2 trillion dollars in 2007 (CDC, 2013a). The onset of serious illness is appearing in
increasingly younger cohorts. The US leads the world in the increase in deaths due to neurological
diseases between 1979-81 and 2004-06 for the 55-65 age group (Pritchard et al., 2013). These
mental disorder deaths are more typical of the over 65 age group. There have been similar findings for
obesity, asthma, behavior and learning problems, and chronic disease in children and young adults
(Van Cleave et al., 2010). Type II diabetes in youth is being called an epidemic (Rosenbloom et al.,
1999). The rate of chronic disease in the entire US population has been dramatically increasing with
an estimated 25% of the US population suffering from multiple chronic diseases
(Autoimmunity
Research Foundation, 2012). These findings suggest environmental triggers rather than genetic or
age-related causes.
During this same time period, there has been an exponential increase in the amount of glyphosate
applied to food crops and in the percentage of GE food crops planted (Benbrook, 2012). We
undertook a study to see if correlations existed between the rise of GE crops, the associated
glyphosate use and the rise in chronic disease in the US.
Genetic engineering
To genetically modify a plant for herbicide tolerance, genes are identified which convey tolerance of
the active chemical in the herbicide to the organism. In the case of glyphosate, glyphosate-tolerant
genes were isolated from a strain of Agrobacterium. These were inserted into the genome of the plant
via a multi-step process resulting in a plant that can withstand the direct application of the herbicide.
Genetic modification is also utilised for developing insect resistant plants by using insecticidal proteins
from Bacillus thuringiensis, or Bt toxin. The promoter used to drive the expression of the foreign genes
is generally the 35S promoter from the Cauliflower Mosaic Virus (CaMV). Not only are the virus and
bacteria genes themselves potentially harmful (Ho, 2013; Ewen & Pusztai, 1999), but the plants are
sprayed directly with herbicides. The herbicide-tolerant plants absorb the poisons and humans and
domestic animals eat them.
The GMO industry claims that genetic engineering is no different than plant hybridisation, which has
been practiced for centuries (FDA, 1992). It is the reason they gave, which the US Food and Drug
Administration (FDA) accepted, for not having to submit GE food to rigorous safety testing to obtain
FDA approval.
This distortion of the facts needs to be corrected. One critical issue is that multiple
genes are being transferred across taxonomical kingdoms in ways that do not occur by natural
breeding methods (Bohn et al., 2014).
All living things are classified according to a ranking system that starts with species and sub species.
Closely related species are grouped together under a rank that is called a genus. Closely related
genera are grouped together under the rank of family. There are seven ranks. Starting with the highest
they are: kingdom, phylum or division, class, order, family, genus, species.
Plants, animals, fungi, viruses and bacteria belong to separate kingdoms. Natural inter-breeding can
take place between some species that belong to the same genus and very occasionally between
species of different genera. However, species that belong to different families do not inter-breed and
definitely species that belong to different kingdoms such as plants, animals, fungi, bacteria and viruses
do not inter-breed in nature. Plants, for example, do not inter-breed with animals, bacteria or viruses.
Genetic engineering allows for the transfer of genes between kingdoms in a way that does not occur
naturally.
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ISSN 1177-4258 8
The other great misconception is that only one gene with the desired trait is inserted. At this stage,
science is not sophisticated enough to insert a single gene and get it to work. To overcome this
problem, scientists have to combine the gene with the desired trait (such as herbicide tolerance or
pesticide production) with other genes that will make it work, such as promoter genes and marker
genes. The result is a complex construction of transgenes that can come from bacterial, viral, fish,
plant and other sources. This is completely different from natural hybridisation.
The stance taken by Monsanto, Dow, Bayer and the other purveyors of both chemicals and genetically
engineered seeds is that GE food is “substantially equivalent” to non-GE products. According to the
US FDA, “the substances expected to become components of food as a result of genetic modification
of a plant will be the same as or substantially similar to substances commonly found in food, such as
proteins, fats and oils, and carbohydrates” (FDA, 1992, Section I). The FDA maintains that it is up to
the biotech companies that manufacture GE seeds to research and determine the safety of their
products.
But Bohn et al. (2014) were able to discriminate between organic, conventional and GE soybeans
without exception, based on vitamin, fat and protein content. Furthermore, they were able to
distinguish GE soybeans from both conventional and organic by their glyphosate and AMPA
(glyphosate degradation product) residues, as well as substantial non-equivalence in numerous
compositional characteristics of soybeans. The researchers stated, “Using 35 different nutritional and
elemental variables to characterise each soy sample, we were able to discriminate GM, conventional
and organic soybeans without exception, demonstrating ‘substantial non-equivalence’ in compositional
characteristics for ‘ready-to-market’ soybeans” (p. 207).
Exponentially increasing use of glyphosate world-wide
Since glyphosate was introduced in 1974 as the active ingredient in Roundup® it has become the
most widely used herbicide for urban, industrial, forest and farm use (Monsanto, 2010). Pre-harvest
application of glyphosate to wheat and barley as a desiccant was suggested as early as 1980, and its
use as a drying or ripening agent 7-10 days before harvest has since become routine. It is now used
on grain crops, rice, seeds, dried beans and peas, sugar cane and sweet potatoes (Monsanto, 2010;
Orgeron, 2012; Orson & Davies, 2007). According to the Canadian Pulse Growers Association (PGA
pamphlet, 2012), “Desiccants are used worldwide by growers who are producing crops that require
'drying down' to create uniformity of plant material at harvest. These products may also assist in pre-
harvest weed control. In Canada, products such as diquat (Reglone) and glyphosate (Roundup) have
been used as desiccants in pulse crops in the past, and there are new products on the way.” In 2012,
98% of spring wheat, 99% of durum wheat and 61% of winter wheat were treated with glyphosate or
glyphosate salts in the US (USDA:NASS, 2013c). The glyphosate plots in this study include all
formulations of glyphosate.
Monsanto, the manufacturer of Roundup®, states, “Since its discovery in the early 1970’s the unique
herbicidal active ingredient glyphosate has become the world’s most widely used herbicide because it
is efficacious, economical and environmentally benign. These properties have enabled a plethora of
uses which continue to expand to this day providing excellent weed control both in agricultural and
non-crop uses to benefit mankind and the environment. Glyphosate has an excellent safety profile to
operators, the public and the environment. ... It is approved for weed control in amenity, industrial,
forestry and aquatic areas. Roundup Pro Biactive and ProBiactive 450 can be used at any time of the
year as long as weeds are green and actively growing” (Monsanto, 2010, p.1).
The Monsanto document outlines use areas including vegetation control on agricultural land, on GE
Roundup Ready Crops and on non-agricultural land. By 2006, glyphosate became used routinely for
both agricultural and non-agricultural weed control and pre-harvest treatment. Since 1995, glyphosate
use has rapidly increased with the planting of GE glyphosate-tolerant crops. Glyphosate and its
degradation product, aminomethylphosphonic acid (AMPA) have been detected in air (Majewski et al.,
2014, Chang et al., 2011), rain (Scribner et al., 2007, Majewski, 2014), groundwater (Scribner, 2007),
surface water (Chang, 2011; Scribner, 2007; Coupe et al., 2012), soil (Scribner, 2007) and sea water
(Mercurio et al., 2014). These studies show that glyphosate and AMPA persist in the soil and water,
and the amounts detected are increasing over time with increasing agricultural use. Chang et al.
(2011) reported that glyphosate was frequently detected in water, rain and air in the Mississippi River
basin with concentrations as high as 2.5 µg/L in agricultural areas in Mississippi and Iowa.
Because glyphosate is in air, water and food, humans are likely to be accumulating it in low doses
over time. Glyphosate residues of up to 4.4 parts per million (ppm) have been detected in stems,
leaves and beans of glyphosate-resistant soy, indicating uptake of the herbicide into plant tissue
Swanson, Leu, Abrahamson & Wallet Journal of Organic Systems, 9(2), 2014
ISSN 1177-4258 9
(Arregui et al., 2004). Reports from Germany of glyphosate in the urine of dairy cows (Kruger et al.,
2013b), rabbits and humans (Kruger et al., 2014) ranged from 10-35 ppm. According to the study
(Kruger, 2014, p. 212), “Chronically ill humans had significantly higher glyphosate residues in urine
than healthy humans.” Furthermore, the cows were dissected and glyphosate residues in the tissues
of the kidney, liver, lung, spleen, muscles and intestines were comparable to that found in the urine.
This means that the glyphosate is not being passed through the urine without affecting the organism
and that meat and dairy are an additional source of dietary glyphosate for humans.
Industry and lobbyists claim that GE crops reduce the amount of pesticides used on crops, resulting in
a more sustainable agriculture. This has proved not to be the case. Since the introduction of GE seeds
in 1996 the amount of glyphosate used on crops in the US has increased from 27 million pounds in
1996 to 250 million pounds in 2009 (US Geological Survey pesticide use maps, 2013). Charles
Benbrook (2012) showed that there was a 527 million pound (239 million kilogram) increase in
herbicide use in the United States between 1996 and 2011. Furthermore, Benbrook states that the
spread of glyphosate-resistant weeds has brought about substantial increases in the number and
volume of herbicides applied. This has led to genetically engineered forms of corn and soybeans
tolerant of 2,4-D, which he predicts will drive herbicide usage up by approximately 50% more.
In the US, glyphosate residues allowed in food are some of the highest in the world. In July of 2013
the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA, 2013) raised the maximum allowable residues of
glyphosate. An abbreviated list is provided in Table 1 and Table 2.
Table 1. Glyphosate residues allowed in food from crops (EPA, 2013).
Crop Maximum residue allowance for glyphosate (ppm)
Beet, sugar, dried pulp 25
Beet, sugar, roots 10
Beet, sugar, tops 10
Canola, seed 20
Corn, sweet, kernel plus cob 3.5
Grain, cereal, group 15 30
Oilseeds, except canola 40
Pea, dry 8
Peppermint, tops 200
Quinoa, grain 5
Shellfish 3
Soybean, seed 20
Spice subgroup 19B 7
Sugarcane, cane 2
Sugarcane, molasses 30
Sweet potatoes 3
Vegetable, legume, group 6 except soybean
and dry pea
5
Table 2. Glyphosate residues allowed in livestock feed (EPA, 2013).
Animal feeds Maximum residue allowance for glyphosate (ppm)
Grass, forage, fodder and hay, group 17 300
Grain, cereal, forage, fodder and straw 100
Soybean, forage 100
Soybean, hay 200
Soybean, hulls 120
Cattle, meat byproducts 5
Glyphosate and disease
The connection between glyphosate and chronic disease has been outlined in a recent review paper
by Samsel & Seneff (2013a). The authors show how glyphosate disrupts the metabolic process by
interfering with the Cytochrome P450 (CYP) pathways. The CYP is known as a super-family of
enzymes that are present in most tissues of the body. They are responsible for around 75% of the
reactions involved in drug metabolism and the oxidation of organic molecules. According to the
authors, “glyphosate enhances the damaging effects of other food borne chemical residues and
environmental toxins. Negative impact on the body is insidious and manifests slowly over time as
inflammation damages cellular systems throughout the body. Here, we show how interference with
CYP enzymes acts synergistically with disruption of the biosynthesis of aromatic amino acids by gut
bacteria, as well as impairment in serum sulfate transport. Consequences are most of the diseases
Swanson, Leu, Abrahamson & Wallet Journal of Organic Systems, 9(2), 2014
ISSN 1177-4258 10
and conditions associated with a Western diet, which include gastrointestinal disorders, obesity,
diabetes, heart disease, depression, autism, infertility, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. We explain
the documented effects of glyphosate and its ability to induce disease, and we show that glyphosate is
the 'textbook example' of exogenous semiotic entropy: the disruption of homeostasis by environmental
toxins” (p. 1416).
Séralini et al. (2011) reviewed 19 studies of animals fed with GE soy and corn. The studies covered
more than 80% of the GE varieties that are widely cultivated around the world. Their review found
significant levels of negative effects to the kidneys and livers of the animals that ingested GE feed.
In another review article, Samsel & Seneff (2013b) point out that glyphosate is patented as a biocide
and, as such, it kills the beneficial bacteria in our gut, leading to the steep rise in intestinal diseases.
This has also been reported in the microbiota of horses and cows (Kruger, 2013a) and poultry
(Shehata et al., 2012) where it was found that, “highly pathogenic bacteria as Salmonella Entritidis,
Salmonella Gallinarum, Salmonella Typhimurium, Clostridium perfringens and Clostridium botulinum
are highly resistant to glyphosate. However, most of beneficial bacteria such as Enterococcus faecalis,
Enterococcus faecium, Bacillus badius, Bifidobacterium adolescentis and Lacto-bacillus spp. were
found to be moderate to highly susceptible” (p. 350). The authors postulate that glyphosate is
associated with the increase in C. botulinum-mediated diseases in these domestic farm animals.
Carman et al. (2013) reported that a diet of GE corn and soy was associated with stomach
inflammation in pigs.
In 2012, Antoniou et al. published a review of the evidence on the teratogenicity and reproductive
toxicity of glyphosate on vertebrates. Gasnier et al. (2009)
published evidence that glyphosate-based
herbicides are endocrine disruptors in human cells. They reported toxic effects to liver cells at 5 ppm
and endocrine disrupting actions starting at 0.5 ppm. They concluded that glyphosate damages DNA
in human cells. Subsequent studies have also shown that glyphosate is an endocrine disruptor
(Paganelli et al., 2010; Antoniou et al., 2012). A more recent study showed that glyphosate causes the
multiplication of estrogen sensitive human breast cancer cells, which further confirms that it acts as an
endocrine disruptor (Thongprakaisang et al., 2013).
An endocrine disruptor is a chemical that either mimics or blocks hormones and disrupts the body's
normal functions. This disruption can happen through altering normal hormone levels, halting or
stimulating the production of hormones, or interacting directly with the organ the hormone was meant
to regulate. Because hormones work at very small doses, endocrine disruption can occur from low-
dose exposure to hormonally active chemicals (Vandenberg et al., 2012). Threshold doses of
pesticides are set based on toxicology studies assuming the response is linear. But the response is
not only non-linear, it is also dependent on the hormone level in the body at any given time. The meta
study on endocrine disruption by the World Health Organisation and the United Nations Environment
Program clearly makes this point (Bergman et al., 2013, p. 19): “Endocrine disruptors produce non
linear dose responses both in vitro and in vivo; these non linear dose responses can be quite complex
and often include non-monotonic dose responses. They can be due to a variety of mechanisms;
because endogenous hormone levels fluctuate, no threshold can be assumed.” Consequently, low
doses over long periods of time may lead to very serious illnesses.
Endocrine disruptors can increase or decrease hormone production, imitate hormones or even
transform one hormone into another. Endocrine disruptors can also tell cells to die prematurely,
compete with essential nutrients and build up in hormone-producing organs. These imbalances and
malfunctions of the endocrine system can lead to diabetes, hypertension, obesity, kidney disease,
cancer (breast, prostate, liver, brain, thyroid, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma) (Marc et al., 2004;
Thongprakaisang et al., 2013), osteoporosis, Cushing's syndrome, hypo- and hyperthyroidism,
infertility, birth defects, erectile dysfunction (Soto & Sonnenschein, 2010), sexual development
problems and neurological disorders such as: learning disabilities, attention deficit disorder (ADD) (de
Cock et al., 2012), autism (Schulkin, 2007), dementia (Ghosh, 2010), Alzheimer's (Merlo et al., 2010),
Parkinson's and schizophrenia (MacSweeney et al., 1978). Endocrine disruptors are especially
damaging to organisms undergoing hormonal changes: fetuses, babies, children, adolescents and the
elderly (Bergman et al., 2013).
Given that glyphosate disrupts gut bacteria balance, the metabolic process, the uptake of nutrients,
the endocrine system, and damages DNA, it seemed likely that there would be correlations between
the increase of these diseases and the exponential increase in the use of glyphosate, particularly with
the advent of glyphosate-resistant food crops. To this end, we searched for epidemiological disease
data, along with pesticide use on crops and the percentage of GE crops planted since first being
Swanson, Leu, Abrahamson & Wallet Journal of Organic Systems, 9(2), 2014
ISSN 1177-4258 11
introduced in 1995. These were plotted and Pearson correlation coefficients were calculated. These
data, provided by the US government, are readily available on the internet.
Methods
United States Government databases were searched for GE crop data, glyphosate application data
and disease epidemiological data. Correlation analyses were then performed on these time-series
data sets.
Crop data
The United States Department of Agriculture National Agricultural Statistics Service (USDA:NASS)
maintains a database of US crops. Every year they randomly select fields of certain crops and send
surveys to the persons who manage those fields. Among other things, they ask what herbicides were
used, the application rate, how many times was it applied, and whether or not the field was planted
with a GE variety. Surveys are only sent to the states that are the major producers of a given crop,
usually accounting for about 90% of the total US acreage planted in that crop. They then perform a
statistical analysis and report the total acreage planted, the percentage of acres that are GE, the
Percentage of Acres Treated (PAT) with each herbicide for that crop and the application rate per acre
per year. One can then calculate the total amount of an herbicide that was applied to that crop in the
survey states for that year.
Data files from the USDA containing the information for GE varieties are available from 2000-2013
(USDA:NASS 2013a), but only corn, cotton and soy are tracked. Data for 1996-1999 were obtained
from a USDA agricultural report (Fernandez-Cornejo & McBride, 2002). The survey states accounted
for 85-90% of all corn, cotton and soy grown in the US. Sampling errors for the percentage of GE
crops planted are given as 1-2%, varying by year and crop. The increase in the adoption of GE crops
in the US from 1996-2010 is shown in Figure 1.
Data files containing the information for herbicide applications are available from 1990-2012
(USDA:NASS 2013b). Sampling errors (reported as standard errors) are small (<5%) in both the PAT
and the application rate if the PAT is greater than 50%. Sampling errors are 5-10% if the PAT is
between 10-50%, while the sampling errors are 10-100% if the PAT is <10%. We extracted the data
for glyphosate applications to corn, cotton and soy. Data for cotton was not included in these results
because, except for cottonseed oil in food and cottonseed meal in animal food, cotton is not generally
considered a food crop. Though the manufacturers claim that there are no GE content or traits in
processed foods (like oil), it has been reported that glyphosate residues up to 0.350 ppm have been
detected in refined soy oil (GEAC, 2006).
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Figure 1. Adoption of GE crops in US.
From 1990-2002, glyphosate data were available for all three crops, but beginning in 2003 data were
not collected for all three crops in any given year. Data on the application rates were interpolated for
the missing years by plotting and calculating a best fit curve. Results for the application rates for soy
and corn are shown in Figures 2 and 3. Because the PAT was relatively small prior to about 1995, the
sampling errors are much larger for pre-1995 data, more so for corn than for soy. Also, data were not
missing until 2003 for soy and 2004 for corn. For these reasons, the interpolated curves begin in 1996
for soy and 1997 for corn in Figures 2 and 3.
To calculate the amount of glyphosate applied, it was also necessary to interpolate the PAT for both
corn and soy. This was easier because they followed almost exactly the curves for the percentage of
acres planted in GE crops. GE soy crops are only herbicide tolerant (HT), which nicely tracked with
the PAT for glyphosate, as shown in Figure 4. GE corn crops can be either insecticide resistant (Bt) or
HT or both (stacked). The HT and stacked trait percentages, reported separately in the USDA files for
corn, were plotted with the PAT for glyphosate as shown in Figure 5.
Swanson, Leu, Abrahamson & Wallet Journal of Organic Systems, 9(2), 2014
ISSN 1177-4258 13
1996
1997
1998
1999
2000
2001
2002
2003*
2004
2005
2006
2007*
2008*
2009*
2010*
2011
2012
0
0.2
0.4
0.6
0.8
1
1.2
1.4
1.6
1.8
Best fit: y = ax + b
Applicati on rat e l b/acre/
yr
Applicati on rat e l b/acre/
yr
Year
Application rate (lbs/acre/yr)
R2 =0.96
Figure 2. Application rate of glyphosate on soy. Best fit y=ax+b, interpolated values indicated
with * next to the year. Error bars are from reported standard error from USDA. The residual
standard error from the linear fit is 0.07 lb/acre/year.
1997
1998
1999
2000
2001
2002
2003
2004*
2005
2006*
2007*
2008*
2009*
2010
0
0.2
0.4
0.6
0.8
1
1.2
Best fit y = al n(x)+ b
Appli cation R ate
(lbs/acr e/y r )
Appli cation R ate
(lbs/acr e/y r )
Appli cation R ate
(lbs/acr e/y r )
Application rate
R
2
=0 .92
Figure 3. Application rate of glyphosate on corn. Best fit y=a ln(x)+b, interpolated values
indicated with * next to the year. Error bars are from reported standard error from USDA. The
residual standard error from the linear fit is 0.06 lb/acre/year. Large errors for the earlier years
are because of the smaller PAT with glyphosate.
Swanson, Leu, Abrahamson & Wallet Journal of Organic Systems, 9(2), 2014
ISSN 1177-4258 14
Figure 4. Percentage of GE soy crops planted and PAT with glyphosate. Interpolated values are
indicated with an * next to the year. Data were not available for glyphosate applications to soy
from 2007-2011. Data were only used through 2010; therefore the data point at 2011 was not
interpolated. Data for 2012 are shown for reference.
Figure 5. Percent GE corn crops and PAT with glyphosate; interpolated values indicated with *.
From these data, along with the total acreage planted in the survey states, the amount of glyphosate
(in tons) applied to corn and soy crops in those states for each year from 1990-2010 was calculated
and is shown in Figure 6. The calculation is: application rate (lbs/acre/year)*PAT/100*total acres
planted. The contribution of glyphosate on soy is about twice that for corn. While both corn and soy
are major US food crops (75-80 million acres planted annually), GE corn was more slowly adopted
(Figure 1) and some of the earlier GE corn is Bt only. The curve for glyphosate applied to all three
crops is included only to show that the shape of the curve is unchanged, so it is doubtful there would
have been much change in the results had cotton been included.
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ISSN 1177-4258 15
Figure 6. Glyphosate applied to corn, cotton and soy crops in the surveyed states. Standard
errors (corn & soy): 2007-2010: 3-10%; 2000-2006: 7-16%; 1998-2000: 16-62%; 1992-1997: 16-
100%; 1990-1991: 22-100%. Errors calculated from the USDA reported standard errors.
Epidemiological disease data
Databases were searched for epidemiological data on diseases that might have a correlation to
glyphosate use and/or GE crop growth based on information given in the introduction. The primary
source for these data was the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). These data were
plotted against the amount of glyphosate applied to corn and soy from Figure 6 and the total %GE
corn and soy crops planted from Figure 1. The percentage of GE corn and soy planted is given by:
(total estimated number of acres of GE soy + total estimated number of acres of GE corn)/(total
estimated acres of soy + total estimated acres of corn)x100, where the estimated numbers were
obtained from the USDA as outlined above.
Statistical analyses
A statistical analysis was performed on each of the data sets. A standard analysis for correlating two
sets of data is to calculate the Pearson correlation coefficients. The Pearson correlation coefficient is
based on the linear least-squares formulation, which in turn is based on the assumption that each of
the individual variables is normally distributed. All of the US government data, both crop data and
disease data, were gathered from surveys and census data. These data were statistically analysed
and the results reported as an average with an associated error (standard deviation of the mean),
indicating that normal distributions were assumed in the statistical methods used.
We generated scatter plots for each set of data (disease vs. glyphosate applications and disease vs.
percentage of GE crops) to determine whether or not the Pearson correlation method (i.e. linear least-
squares method) was appropriate. The scatter plots showed a strong linear relationship between the
two data sets in all cases. Plots of the residuals were checked to confirm homogeneity.
The Pearson's correlation coefficient, R, is a determination of how closely correlated the two data sets
are, i.e., how close the scatter plot is to a line. For
N
pairs of (
x
,
) data, the correlation coefficient is
given by
)/(
yxxy
R
σσσ
=
where
xy
σ
is the covariance,
= ))((/1 yyxxN
iixy
σ
and
x
σ
and
y
σ
are the standard deviations of the
x
and
variables.
When the individual standard deviations are not known, but calculated from the data sets themselves,
the statistic
)1/()2(
2
RNRt =
can be used to test the claim that there is a positive correlation
by calculating the probability that a value of R greater than or equal to that observed would have been
Swanson, Leu, Abrahamson & Wallet Journal of Organic Systems, 9(2), 2014
ISSN 1177-4258 16
obtained if R were in fact 0 (the null hypothesis). If this probability, the P-value, is less than 5%, the
correlation is deemed to be significant. If it is less than 1% it is described as highly significant. The
probabilities obtained here are very small, so we may confidently reject the null hypothesis that R = 0.
After verifying the accuracy of the results, we performed the correlation calculations using the online
statistical package from the University of Amsterdam (UA, 2014).
Much of the CDC data is stored and retrieved according to the International Classification of Disease
(ICD) codes. These codes changed from 1998 to 1999, causing some concern that there would be a
discontinuity in the graphs between those years due to improper coding or added or subtracted
categories. This only showed up in one graph, Alzheimer's. It is unclear whether the jump in the data
on this graph is real or an artefact from the code change.
Results and Discussion
The plots are loosely grouped into related disease categories. If the disease data were linearly
increasing prior to the 1990s, a linear trend line was overlaid on the plot in green. The error bars on
the green trend lines are the residual standard errors from the least squares fit. In some cases, the
axes have been adjusted to better illustrate the correlation; otherwise the data are plotted as is. In all
cases, the left vertical axis is the prevalence or the rate of incidence or death from the disease. The
right vertical axis is both the percentage of GE corn and soy planted and the amount (in 1,000 tons) of
glyphosate applied to the corn and soy crops.
Correlations of cancers of the liver, kidney, bladder, and thyroid with the planting of GE crops and
glyphosate applications
Epidemiology data for cancer incidence were obtained from the National Cancer Institute Surveillance,
Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) database (National Cancer Institute, 2013). Based on
published reports on endocrine disruptors, we expected but did not find correlations for: non-Hodgkin's
lymphoma (slightly rising), prostate (oscillating), testicular (slightly rising), colon (slightly decreasing)
and breast (slightly decreasing) cancers. The decrease in breast cancer may be attributable to
reduced use of hormone replacement therapy (Chlebowski, 2012).
We found strong correlations for cancers of the liver, kidney, bladder/urinary and thyroid. Results are
shown in Figures 7-10. Thyroid and bladder cancers especially seem to track with the advent of GE
crops and associated glyphosate applications. Thyroid cancer seems to affect females more, while
males are more susceptible to liver and kidney cancers (not shown in graphs). We found weaker
correlations between pancreatic cancer incidence (R = 0.84 with %GE crops & R = 0.92 with
glyphosate applications) and deaths from acute myeloid leukaemia (R = 0.89 with %GE crops & R =
0.88 with glyphosate applications). Both of these peaked in the 1980s, then decreased and are now
rising again. Pancreatic cancer incidence began rising again in 1996 and myeloid leukaemia deaths in
1989.
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Figure 7. Correlation between age-adjusted liver cancer incidence and glyphosate applications
and percentage of US corn and soy crops that are GE.
Figure 8. Correlation between age-adjusted kidney cancer incidence and glyphosate
applications and percentage of US corn and soy crops that are GE.
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Figure 9. Correlation between age-adjusted bladder/urinary tract cancer and glyphosate
applications and percentage of US corn and soy crops that are GE.
Figure 10. Correlation between age-adjusted thyroid cancer incidence and glyphosate
applications and percentage of US corn and soy crops that are GE.
Correlations between hypertension and hemorrhagic strokes with the planting of GE crops and
glyphosate applications
Correlations for deaths due to hypertension and hemorrhagic stroke are shown in Figures 11 & 12.
Death data were obtained from the CDC mortality files (CDC, 2013b).
Data for hypertensive heart
disease suffered from a discontinuity between the years 1998 and 1999, most likely due to the change
in ICD codes at that time (Joyner-Grantham, 2010). After adjusting the latter data (multiplying by a
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constant factor) to remove the discontinuity, we found R = 0.93 with glyphosate applications and R =
0.94 with %GE crops, but the results are not presented here due to the necessary manipulation of
those data.
Figure 11. Correlation between age-adjusted hypertension deaths and glyphosate applications
and percentage of US corn and soy crops that are GE.
Figure 12. Correlation between age-adjusted hemorrhagic stroke deaths and glyphosate
applications and percentage of US corn and soy crops that are GE.
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Correlations of obesity, lipoprotein metabolism disorder and diabetes with the planting of GE crops
and glyphosate applications
Epidemiological data for obesity deaths, lipoprotein metabolism (hyperlipidemia &
hypercholesterolemia) disorder deaths, and diabetes incidence and prevalence also showed strong
correlations with glyphosate use and GE crop growth. Death data were again obtained from the CDC
mortality files (CDC, 2013b). Diabetes prevalence (CDC, 2013c) and incidence (CDC, 2013d) data
were obtained from CDC National Center for Health Statistics. Results are shown in Figures 13-16.
According to the CDC, approximately one third of people with diabetes have not been diagnosed.
Therefore, the National Health Interview Survey underestimates the true incidence and prevalence of
diabetes. Because diabetes and obesity are associated with sugar consumption, we present the per
capita sweetener delivery for US consumption (USDA, 2013) in Figure 17. The majority of the sugar
consumed is from corn, sugar beets and sugar cane. In 2011, 88% of the corn (USDA:NASS, 2013a)
and 90% of sugar beets (ISAAA, 2011) planted in the US were GE. Glyphosate is routinely used for
sugar cane crop ripening and desiccation (Orgeron, 2012).
Hyperlipidemia is characterised by inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis), abdominal pain,
enlargement of the liver and spleen (hepatosplenomegaly), and small yellow skin lesions called
eruptive xanthomas (Raphael, 1993; Berglund, 2012). Diseases associated with secondary
hyperlipidemias include obesity, diabetes mellitus (type I and type II), hypothyroidism, Cushing's
syndrome, chronic kidney disease, nephrotic syndrome, and cholestatic disorder, a major risk factor
for atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease.
According to Samsel & Seneff (2013a) glyphosate disrupts the CYP enzymes that are heavily involved
in producing bile acids. Ordinarily, the liver exports a lot of cholesterol as cholesterol sulfate into the
bile acids. This allows the digestive system to digest fats, which are then packaged up into the
chylomicron with the cholesterol sulfate packed into its outer shell to deliver cholesterol to all the
tissues. When the liver cannot make bile acids, it is forced to divert the cholesterol into LDL, so the
LDL rises, resulting in hypercholesterolemia.
Furthermore, lipoprotein metabolism disorder has been associated with Alzheimer's (AD) and
Parkinson's diseases (Merlo, 2010). According to Merlo, “Recent evidence suggests a strict link
between metabolic disorders and AD. In the last decade much attention has focused specifically on
the connection between dysfunction of lipid metabolism and AD. Here we discuss aspects of lipid
regulation, including changes in cholesterol levels, function of apolipoproteins and leptin, and how
these relate to AD pathogenesis. Despite the vast literature available, many aspects still need
clarification. Nevertheless, the route is already delineated to directly connect aspects of lipid regulation
to AD” (p. 537).
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Figure 13. Correlation between age-adjusted obesity deaths and glyphosate applications and
percentage of US corn and soy crops that are GE.
Figure 14. Correlation between age-adjusted diabetes incidence and glyphosate applications
and percentage of US corn and soy crops that are GE.
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Figure 15. Correlation between age-adjusted diabetes prevalence and glyphosate applications
and percentage of US corn and soy crops that are GE.
Figure 16. Correlation between age-adjusted lipoprotein disorder deaths and glyphosate
applications and percentage of US corn and soy crops that are GE.
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Figure 17. Sugar consumption in the US. The black line is sugar from cane, beet and corn
combined; the red line is the total of all sources, including honey and syrups.
Correlations of renal failure with the planting of GE crops and glyphosate applications
Deaths from end stage renal disease (ESRD) and acute renal failure showed strong correlations with
glyphosate use and GE crop growth. Death data were obtained from the CDC mortality files (CDC
2013b). Results are shown in Figures 18 and 19. Both of these have a peak in the mid-1980s, then
decline and start rising again in the mid-1990s. The slight jump in ESRD deaths from 1998 to 1999
could be due to the ICD code changes at that time, but this was not apparent in the crude death rate
data.
Researchers in Sri Lanka reported massive kidney failure in rice paddy workers exposed to
glyphosate in combination with minerals in hard water. According to Jayasumana et al. (2014)
glyphosate’s strong chelating properties allow it to combine with heavy metals and arsenic in hard
water resulting in damage to renal tissues, thereby causing chronic kidney diseases. The authors
concluded that, “The GMA [Glyphosate-metal/arsenic complex] lattice hypothesis gives rational and
consistent explanations to the many observations and unanswered questions associated with the
mysterious kidney disease in rural Sri Lanka. Furthermore, it may explain the similar epidemics of
CKDu [Chronic Kidney Disease of Unknown etiology] observed in Andra Pradesh, India and Central
America” (p. 2139).
An earlier study found that a 96 hour exposure to low levels of Roundup in water caused oxidative
stress to the cells in the kidneys of goldfish (Lushchak et al., 2009). Studies by El-Shenawy (2009)
and de Liz Oliveira Cavalli et al. (2013) confirm that Roundup and its active ingredient, glyphosate,
caused oxidative stress and necrosis in the hepatic cells of rats.
The only lifetime feeding trial of rats with GE maize, Roundup, and GE maize combined with Roundup,
compared to the controls fed the non-GE isogenic line of the maize, found very significant chronic
kidney deficiencies, for all treatments compared to the controls. Seralini et al. (2014) reported that, “In
treated males, liver congestions and necrosis were 2.5 to 5.5 times higher. Marked and severe
nephropathies were also generally 1.3 to 2.3 times greater. In females, all treatment groups showed a
two- to threefold increase in mortality, and deaths were earlier.” (p.1)
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Figure 18. Correlation between age-adjusted End Stage Renal Disease deaths and glyphosate
applications and percentage of US corn and soy crops that are GE.
Figure 19. Correlation between age-adjusted renal failure deaths and glyphosate applications
and percentage of US corn and soy crops that are GE.
Correlations of gastrointestinal disorders, (inflammatory bowel disease, intestinal infections and liver
disorders) with the planting of GE crops and glyphosate applications
It is well-known that autistic children and people who suffer from neurological diseases also suffer
intestinal problems (Anderson, 2012; Kang, 2013; Ashwood, 2003). According to Samsel & Seneff
(2013b),
glyphosate also disrupts the gut microbial balance. Data for inflammatory bowel disease were
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obtained from the CDC hospital discharge data and are plotted in Figure 20 (CDC, 2013e). Data for
deaths due to intestinal infection were obtained from the CDC mortality files (CDC, 2013b) and are
shown in Figure 21.
While retrieving these data, we stumbled upon a startling increase in hospital discharges for viral
hepatitis C. At first this was puzzling. We do not imply that hepatitis is transmitted by food, but that the
CaMV is very similar to hepatitis and HIV and if those are already dormant in the body, introduction of
the CaMV through the food could activate them. Ho (2013, p. 4760) has stated that, “insertion
mutations [can occur] including those leading to cancer, activation of dormant viruses, and
recombination with viral sequences in the genome to generate new viruses; all of which have been
demonstrated in gene therapy experiments”. And also, New evidence raises the possibility that the
CaMV 35S promoter in practically all transgenic crops grown commercially may enhance multiplication
of disease-associated viruses including HIV through induction of proteins required for their
transcription” (Ho et al., 2009, p. 172).
Furthermore, recent evidence (Furuta, 2013) suggests that cholesterol sulfate is an inhibitor of the
hepatitis C virus and, according to Samsel & Seneff (2013a),
glyphosate also interferes with the
uptake of nutrients, particularly sulfates. We searched the hospital discharge data from the CDC
(CDC, 2013e) for diagnoses of hepatitis C. We found a correlation between those data and the
percent of GE soy crops planted in the US. Results are shown in Figure 22. We also looked at the
data for deaths from HIV, but found that they have been steadily decreasing.
Figure 20. Correlation between inflammatory bowel disease and glyphosate applications to US
corn and soy crops.
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Figure 21. Correlation between age-adjusted intestinal infection deaths and glyphosate
applications to US corn and soy crops.
Figure 22. Correlation between diagnoses of hepatitis C and GE soy crop growth.
Correlations of neurological disorders (autism, Alzheimer's, senile dementia and Parkinson's) with the
planting of GE crops and glyphosate applications
The incidence and prevalence of neurological disorders are not readily available for two reasons: they
are not as well-studied as other diseases (cancer, diabetes etc.), and the diagnostic methods keep
changing. Researchers argue over whether the increases are real, or a by-product of changes in
diagnostics, along with greater attention given to these disorders in recent times. For example, a
former diagnosis of mental retardation might now result in a diagnosis of autism. Furthermore, there is
a large degree of overlap in symptoms. Typical manifestations of ADHD, such as distractibility or
hyperactivity, are also present in pediatric bipolar disorder. However, the increases have been so
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great in recent years that most experts now agree that they are real and must be environmentally
induced (Weintraub, 2011).
We found data for autism from the US Department of Education, Individuals with Disabilities Education
Act (USDE:IDEA) (Gallup, 2002; Snyder, 2012). These data are for autistic children 6-21 years old
served under IDEA. In the plot in Figure 23, the numbers for the year correspond to the beginning of
the school year in the fall.
According to the University of Washington Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (UW, 2012),
Alzheimer's disease went from number 32 in 1990 to number 9 in 2010 in the ranking of leading
causes of premature death in the US. Senile dementia and its care costs have also skyrocketed in the
last two decades. Prevalence and incidence data were sparse, but data on death rates were available
from 1979. Death data were again obtained from the CDC for senile dementia, Parkinson's &
Alzheimer's diseases (CDC, 2013b). These are presented in Figures 24-26. A weaker correlation was
found for multiple sclerosis deaths (R = 0.88 for %GE crops and R = 0.83 for glyphosate applications).
Cattani et al. (2014) found that both acute and chronic exposure to Roundup induced oxidative stress
resulting in neural cell death and neurotoxic effects in the hippocampus of immature rats. Lushchak et
al. (2009) found that a 96-hour exposure to low levels of Roundup in water caused oxidative stress to
the cells in the brains, livers and kidneys of goldfish.
Figure 23. Correlation between children with autism and glyphosate applications.
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Figure 24. Correlation between age-adjusted dementia deaths and glyphosate applications.
Figure 25. Correlation between age-adjusted Alzheimer's disease deaths and glyphosate
applications and percentage of US corn and soy crops that are GE.
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Figure 26. Correlation between age-adjusted Parkinson's disease deaths and glyphosate
applications and percentage of US corn and soy crops that are GE.
Statistical summary of disease data correlations with GE crops planted and glyphosate applications
The Pearson correlation coefficient is a measure of the linear relation between two variables, X and Y.
The correlation coefficient, R lies between -1 and 1, and the coefficient of determination, R
2
is the
proportion of the variation in Y that can be accounted for by the linear part of its relation with X. If, for
example, R = 0.9, then 81% of the variation in Y can be accounted for by the linear relation with X. If R
= 1 and the (x,y) pairs are plotted on a graph, they lie on a straight line. In the social sciences, R 0.8
is considered a strong correlation. The values obtained here are much greater than that.
It is important to bear in mind that the correlation coefficient measures only the strength of the linear
part of the relation. Correlation of course only suggests cause and effect; it does not prove it. If,
however, the variables X and Y both increase in time but not linearly, then the observation that the
relation between them is close to linear, as indicated by the very high correlation coefficients that were
obtained, is stronger evidence in favour of a causal relationship.
The correlation coefficients, their squares and the p-values for the various incidences, prevalence and
deaths due to diseases are summarised in Tables 3 and 4.
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Table 3. Pearson's coefficients between disease and glyphosate applications (N=21
encompassing 1990-2010), except autism (N=16; autism data only available for 1995-2010).
Disease Coefficient, R R
2
× 100 Probability, p
Thyroid cancer (incidence) 0.988 97.6 7.6E-9
Liver cancer (incidence) 0.960 92.1 4.6E-8
Bladder cancer (deaths) 0.981 96.2 4.7E-9
Pancreatic cancer (incidence) 0.918 84.2 4.6E-7
Kidney cancer (incidence) 0.973 94.8 2.0E-8
Myeloid leukaemia (deaths) 0.878 77.1 1.5E-6
Lipoprotein metabolism (deaths) 0.973 94.8 7.9E-9
Hypertension (deaths) 0.923 85.2 1.6E-7
Stroke (deaths) 0.925 85.5 1.5E-7
Obesity 0.962 92.5 1.7E-8
Diabetes (prevalence) 0.971 94.3 9.2E-9
Diabetes (incidence) 0.935 87.4 8.3E-8
ESRD (deaths) 0.975 95.0 7.2E-9
Renal failure (deaths) 0.978 95.6 6.0E-9
Autism (prevalence) 0.989 97.9 3.6E-7
Alzheimer's (deaths) 0.917 84.1 2.2E-7
Parkinson's (deaths) 0.875 76.6 1.6E-6
Dementia (deaths) 0.994 98.8 1.8E-9
Multiple sclerosis (deaths) 0.828 68.5 1.1E-5
Intestinal infection (deaths) 0.974 94.8 7.6E-9
Inflammatory bowel 0.938 88.0 7.1E-8
Table 4. Pearson's coefficients between disease and the percentage of US corn and soy crops
that are GE (N=15 encompassing 1996-2010; GE crops were first planted in 1995).
Disease
Coefficie
nt,
R
R
2
×
10
0
Probability,
p
Thyroid
cancer
(incidence)
0.938
87.9
2.2E
-
5
Liver cancer (incidence) 0.911 82.9 5.4E-5
Bladder cancer (incidence) 0.945 89.3 7.1E-6
Pancreatic cancer (incidence) 0.841 70.7 4.0E-4
Kidney cancer (incidence) 0.940 88.4 2.0E-5
Myeloid leukaemia (deaths) 0.889 79.0 5.4E-5
Lipoprotein metabolism (deaths) 0.955 91.2 4.7E-6
Hypertension (deaths) 0.961 92.3 3.7E-6
Stroke (deaths) 0.983 96.6 1.4E-6
Obesity 0.962 92.5 3.5E-6
Diabetes (prevalence) 0.983 96.6 5.1E-7
Diabetes (incidence) 0.955 91.2 2.0E-6
ESRD (deaths) 0.958 91.7 4.2E-6
Renal failure (deaths) 0.967 93.6 2.7E-6
Alzheimer's (deaths) 0.937 87.9 9.6E-6
Parkinson's (deaths) 0.952 90.6 5.4E-6
Multiple sclerosis (deaths) 0.876 76.7 8.0E-5
Hepatitis C (hospital diagnoses) 0.946 89.4 6.9E-6
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There are four diseases in Table 3 that are not in Table 4 because we did not plot the percentage of
GE crops for autism, dementia, inflammatory bowel and intestinal infection. We plotted only
glyphosate applications against inflammatory bowel and intestinal infection because the information
from Samsel & Seneff (2013b) indicated that glyphosate causes intestinal problems by killing
beneficial bacteria in the intestines. We plotted only glyphosate applications against autism and
dementia because the correlation coefficients were already 0.989 and 0.994 respectively.
There is one disease (hepatitis C) in Table 4 that is not included in Table 3 because we did not plot
hepatitis against glyphosate applications. This is because, according to Ho (2009; 2013), viral
diseases may be activated by the CaMV promoter used in GE crops. We plotted the hepatitis C
against the percentage of GE soy crops planted in the US because soy was more quickly adopted, is
currently 98% of the total US soy crops, and is ubiquitous in packaged food in the US.
Table 5 provides a summary of which diseases have the highest correlation. All of these have a very
strong correlation coefficient with very high significance (very low probability that the correlation is
random). The highest correlations were found for senile dementia, autism, bladder and thyroid cancer
with glyphosate applications and stroke and diabetes prevalence with %GE crops planted. In most
cases, diseases that had correlation coefficients of less than 0.95 with glyphosate applications had
greater than 0.95 with %GE crops planted and vice-versa. Some had correlation coefficients
exceeding 0.95 for both GE crops and glyphosate applications: obesity, lipoprotein metabolism
disorder, ESRD, renal failure, prevalence of diabetes as well as kidney and bladder cancers.
Table 5. Summary of correlation coefficients, showing the number of diseases with R in the
various ranges for glyphosate applications and for %GE crops planted.
R-value range Correlation with glyphosate Correlation with %GE crops planted
No. Disease No.
Disease
R > 0.98
R
2
× 100 > 96%
4 Thyroid, autism, dementia, &
bladder
2 Stroke, diabetes (prevalence)
0.97 < R < 0.98
94% < R
2
× 100 < 96%
6 ESRD, diabetes (prevalence),
lipoprotein metabolism, intestinal,
kidney & renal
0.95 < R < 0.97
90% < R
2
× 100 < 94%
2 Obesity, liver 7
Parkinson's, hypertension, diabetes
(incidence), obesity, lipoprotein
metabolism, ESRD, renal
0.90 < R < 0.95
81% < R
2
× 100 < 90%
6 Diabetes (incidence),
inflammatory bowel
, hypertension,
stroke, Alzheimer's, pancreatic
7 Liver, bladder, kidney thyroid,
pancreatic, Alzheimer's, hepatitis
0.86 < R < 0.9
74% < R
2
× 100 < 81%
2 Parkinson's, myeloid leukaemia 2 Myeloid leukaemia, multiple
sclerosis
Correlation 0.90 18 16
Interpretation of results
Some of the plots show a significant linear rise that began prior to 1990. Others show a peak in the
1980s, then a decline followed by another rise in the 1990s. Clearly, there are multiple factors
involved. Though the data for glyphosate are only available beginning in 1990, glyphosate was first
introduced in the marketplace in 1974. Other known endocrine disruptors are: BPA (bisphenol-A) and
phthalates (both in plastics), dioxins (by-product of smelting, paper bleaching, manufacture of
herbicides and pesticides), hexane (cooking oil extraction), atrazine, and polychlorinated biphenyls
(PCBs - used in electrical equipment, coatings, inks, adhesives, flame-retardants, and paints)
(Kavlock, 1996).
The population of the US is bombarded with a veritable cocktail of chemicals daily in addition to GE
food and glyphosate (Reuben, 2010). These include food preservatives (BHA & BHT), water
contaminants (chlorine & fluoride), heavy metals, food additives (aspartame, monosodium glutamate,
carrageenan) and food colouring, to name a few. The US President’s Cancer Panel reported that a
study by the CDC found many toxic chemicals in the blood and urine of most Americans that they
tested, and the Environmental Working Group found up to 232 xenobiotic chemicals in the placental
cord blood of newborns in the US (Reuben, 2010). The people have been exposed to an increasing
background level of chemicals and other toxins for over 70 years, yet few, if any, have increased at
the rate of glyphosate and GE crops.
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According to Samsel & Seneff (2013a), glyphosate disrupts the ability of animals, including humans, to
detoxify xenobiotics. This means that exposures to the numerous chemicals in food and the
environment, such as endocrine disrupting chemicals and carcinogens, could be causing levels of
damage that would not occur if the body were able to detoxify them. The accumulation of toxins as the
result of low levels of poisoning over a long period of time leads to a high body burden or toxic load.
Every person is unique and the ability of the body, or the path it takes to detoxify, is both genetic and
acquired (Anderson, 2012). If the body burden becomes overwhelming, it could be that only a small
amount of additional stress will induce the breakdown of the system in whatever way that manifests
according to individual predisposition.
If we know that a causal factor exists, that is A causes B, then we would expect a high degree of
correlation between the two data sets for A and B. The inverse is not true, i.e. because there is a high
degree of correlation between A and B it is not necessarily the case that A causes B or vice-versa.
However, we have data for 22 diseases, all with a high degree of correlation and very high
significance. It seems highly unlikely that all of these can be random coincidence. Ruling out
coincidence, we are left with these three options:
1. There is a direct cause and effect relationship
2. The relationship may be caused by a third variable
3. The relationship may be caused by complex interactions of several variables
In 1965, Austin Bradford Hill addressed the problem of deducing causation when observations reveal
an association beyond what can be considered random chance (Hill, 1965). Hill proposed nine
conditions that should be considered as an aid in determining causation. These are the well-known
Hill's Criteria. Since we have not performed an experiment, and we do not have information on
dose/response, it would be difficult to go through and say this criterion is true and this one is not for all
of the diseases as a whole. However, we quote from the American Academy of Environmental
Medicine's position paper on genetically modified (GM) foods: “[S]everal animal studies indicate
serious health risks associated with GM food consumption including infertility, immune dysregulation,
accelerated aging, dysregulation of genes associated with cholesterol synthesis, insulin regulation, cell
signaling, and protein formation, and changes in the liver, kidney, spleen and gastrointestinal system.”
“There is more than a casual 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 plausibility” (Dean & Armstrong, 2009, online). The document goes
on to explain in detail why and how each of these criteria are met based on published research.
Conclusions
These data show very strong and highly significant correlations between the increasing use of
glyphosate, GE crop growth and the increase in a multitude of diseases. Many of the graphs show
sudden increases in the rates of diseases in the mid-1990s that coincide with the commercial
production of GE crops. The large increase in glyphosate use in the US is mostly due to the increase
in glyphosate-resistant GE crops.
The probabilities in the graphs and tables show that it is highly unlikely that the correlations are a
coincidence. The strength of the correlations shows that there is a very strong probability that they are
linked somehow. The number of graphs with similar data trends also indicates a strong probability that
there is a link. Although correlation does not necessarily mean causation, when correlation coefficients
of over 0.95 (with p-value significance levels less than 0.00001) are calculated for a list of diseases
that can be directly linked to glyphosate, via its known biological effects, it would be imprudent not to
consider causation as a plausible explanation.
We do not imply that all of these diseases have a single cause as there are many toxic substances
and pathogens that can contribute to chronic disease. However, no toxic substance has increased in
ubiquity in the last 20 years as glyphosate has. The disruption by glyphosate of the detoxification
pathways in the human body can intensify the effect of other toxic chemicals. The disruption of the
Cytochrome P450 pathways by glyphosate could account for it causing numerous diseases (Samsel &
Seneff, 2013a). The Cytochrome P450 enzymes are the superfamily of enzymes that are responsible
for around 75% of the reactions involved in drug metabolism and the oxidation of organic molecules
(Guengerich, 2008). Another critical issue is that glyphosate is an endocrine disruptor and it has been
argued that there are no safe levels of endocrine disruptors (Vandenberg et al., 2012; Bergman et al.,
2013). This would imply that the current permitted residue levels in food could be causing multiple
Swanson, Leu, Abrahamson & Wallet Journal of Organic Systems, 9(2), 2014
ISSN 1177-4258 33
health problems that have been documented in the scientific literature to be caused by endocrine
disrupting chemicals.
The findings reported by Kruger et al. (2014) that there is no significant difference in glyphosate
residues detected in the urine, tissue and organs of cows is evidence that glyphosate bio-accumulates
in our bodies. The research showing that Roundup and glyphosate cause oxidative stress resulting in
changes to cell functions, necrosis in cells and neurotoxic effects in brain, kidney hepatic, testis and
Sertoli cells needs to be considered as a possible causative agent in a range of diseases (Cattani et
al., 2014; de Liz Oliveira Cavalli et al., 2013; Lushchak et al., 2009; El-Shenawy, 2009).
The prevalence of certain diseases is likely to rise simply due to better treatments available, allowing
people to live longer with the diseases. All of the graphs, save three (inflammatory bowel, hepatitis &
autism), are age-adjusted. The age-adjustment would partially account for many of the people living
longer with chronic diseases, and consequently this group of people would not be a significant reason
for the dramatic increase in diseases found in most of the graphs.
An increase in surveillance of a particular disease can artificially increase the prevalence of the
disease because it merely increases the known number of cases, when the actual number has not
changed. Surveillance of certain diseases has been boosted over recent decades, and may have
artificially increased the prevalence of some of these diseases. The increased surveillance would
initially find more cases and subsequently show an increase; however this would be expected to
capture approximately the same percentage every year and would thus level off fairly quickly. If the
actual prevalence of diseases was not increasing, the graphs would show a new stasis that would
remain fairly level reflecting the extra cases found by the surveillance. The rates of disease prevalence
are steadily increasing, so increased surveillance cannot be a significant reason for the dramatic and
continuing rise in many of the diseases shown in the graphs since the 1990s. Any increase in
surveillance could only account for part of the increase shown in the graphs.
In reviewing the toxicity of chemicals based on the latest peer reviewed science, the US President’s
Cancer Panel report was critical about the current testing methodologies and the lack of action taken
by regulatory authorities (Reuben, 2010). According to the report, the regulatory approach in the US is
reactionary rather than precautionary. Instead of taking preventive action when uncertainty exists
about the potential harm a chemical or other environmental contaminant may cause, a hazard must be
incontrovertibly demonstrated before action is initiated. Instead of requiring industry to prove the safety
of their devices or chemical products, the public bears the burden of proving that a given
environmental exposure is harmful.
The current testing methodologies, length of feed trials of GE crops, and the parameters measured
are insufficient to evaluate the health problems that may be caused by diets consisting of GE food
(Seralini et al., 2011). The lack of proper testing protocols means that there is insufficient data to show
that the increase in GE crops and glyphosate is not linked to the increase in diseases. The data
presented in this paper highlight the need for independent scientific research to be conducted,
especially in the areas of the endocrine disruption, cancer precursor, oxidative stress, gut microbiome
and the Cytochrome P450 pathways. It is our hope that, in addition to more basic research in the form
of toxicology and carcinogenic studies, epidemiology studies will be undertaken by experts in each of
these disease categories.
Conflicts of Interest
The authors declare no conflicts of interest.
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... Claims have been made by the genetic modification (GM) industry that millions of meals of GM crops (most of them sprayed with Roundup) have been eaten by people with no ill effect; but the claim has no scientific basis. In fact, Swanson et al. [2] showed that strong correlations existed between the increasing use of Roundup and the increasing rise in the number of Americans suffering from one or more of the 22 chronic illnesses in the study, which included obesity, hypertension, senile dementia, and several types of cancer. ...
... Since the introduction of genetically engineered crops in 1996 that tolerated spraying with Roundup, the use of Roundup has risen dramatically-and so has the incidence of illnesses in the United States. Strong correlations over time were found by Swanson et al. [2] between the number of deaths of Americans from various chronic illnesses in any year and the amount of glyphosate applied in that year. The diseases studied in this paper included obesity, stroke, hypertension, senile dementia, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, autism, and several kinds of cancer, among the 22 diseases included in total. ...
Article
Full-text available
Roundup is the most widely used herbicide in agriculture. It contains glyphosate as the ‘active ingredient’, together with formulants. There are various versions of Roundup, with somewhat different effects depending on the formulants. Most genetically-modified crops are designed to tolerate Roundup, thus allowing spraying against weeds during the growing season of the crop without destroying it. Having been so heavily used, this herbicide is now found in the soil, water, air, and even in humans worldwide. Roundup may also remain as a residue on edible crops. Many studies have found harm to the environment and to health, making it imperative to regulate the use of Roundup and to ensure that its various formulations pose no danger when used in the long-term. Unfortunately, regulators may only assess the ‘active ingredient’, glyphosate, and ignore the toxicity of the formulants, which can be far more toxic than the active ingredient. This omission is in violation of a ruling by the Court of Justice of the European Union. There are close ties between the regulators and the industry they are supposed to regulate. Objectionable practices include ‘revolving doors’ between the regulators and the industry, heavy reliance on unpublished papers produced by the industry while dismissing papers published by independent scientists, and strong covert influence on the regulatory process by industry. Although this paper focuses on the European Union (EU), the situation is much the same in the United States.
... In line with this, there is evidence of the participation of Wnt signaling in various neurocognitive developmental disorders, such as autism [55,56]. Thus, the deregulation of this pathway by glyphosate in human cells in vitro could be related to a higher incidence of developmental and autism spectrum disorders in children whose mothers were exposed to pesticides [57][58][59], including glyphosate, during pregnancy [47]. ...
... A wide variety of studies show the correlation between pesticide exposure and the development of various types of diseases. Organophosphate exposure has been reported to be associated with various human conditions, such as mood disorders, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, cancer, kidney damage, and autism, among others [166][167][168][169]. Furthermore, it has been postulated that pesticides may be the main environmental factor associated with the etiology of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease [59,170]. ...
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Glyphosate, a non-selective systemic biocide with broad-spectrum activity, is the most widely used herbicide in the world. It can persist in the environment for days or months, and its intensive and large-scale use can constitute a major environmental and health problem. In this systematic review, we investigate the current state of our knowledge related to the effects of this pesticide on the nervous system of various animal species and humans. The information provided indicates that exposure to glyphosate or its commercial formulations induces several neurotoxic effects. It has been shown that exposure to this pesticide during the early stages of life can seriously affect normal cell development by deregulating some of the signaling pathways involved in this process, leading to alterations in differentiation, neuronal growth, and myelination. Glyphosate also seems to exert a significant toxic effect on neurotransmission and to induce oxidative stress, neuroinflammation and mitochondrial dysfunction, processes that lead to neuronal death due to autophagy, necrosis, or apoptosis, as well as the appearance of behavioral and motor disorders. The doses of glyphosate that produce these neurotoxic effects vary widely but are lower than the limits set by regulatory agencies. Although there are important discrepancies between the analyzed findings, it is unequivocal that exposure to glyphosate produces important alterations in the structure and function of the nervous system of humans, rodents, fish, and invertebrates.
... Inhaled MP intoxication leads to cardiovascular lesions, pulmonary edema, liver lesion and acute nephrosis of the kidney [3,52]. Glyphosate can exhibit endocrine-disrupting activity [160,164], ...
... Non Commercial Use effect human erythrocytes in vitro [90] and augment skin carcinogenicity in mouse [57]. Correlation analyzes raised concerns about possible connections between use of glyphosate and several health effects and diseases including diabetes, autism, hypertension, strokes, kidney failure, autism, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases and cancer [160]. Many OPCs are quickly absorbed by skin, conjunctiva, gastrointestinal tract, and lungs. ...
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Pesticide application increases crop yield by controlling, repelling, or destroying pests; but their excessive use cause harmful effects to various life forms including humans. When applied in large amounts, the agricultural pesticides move longer distances and can reach the water table at observable concentration. Consequently, pesticides can contaminate the areas which are far away from the sites where they were used actually. Among different groups of pesticides, organophosphorus pesticides (OPs) are applied globally and constitute the crucial and most commonly applied group which accounts for almost 36% of the entire world market. Methyl parathion (MP) is one of the most commonly used OPs. It has been recorded across the world that excessive use of OPs leads to the contamination of soil and water bodies and exposure to OPs causes disastrous effects to human health, various life forms and ecosystems. Thus, decontaminating pesticide contaminated area is a costly affair. Microorganisms play an important role in biodegradation of pesticides due to their adaptive nature to the environment that is contaminated. Mostly, organophosphorus compounds (OPCs) are completely mineralized by the microorganisms. Microorganisms degrade most of the OPCs as carbon or phosphorus source. From microbes, different enzymes have been isolated for studying and understanding the pathways involved in the biodegradation of OPs. This chapter explores the role of pesticides particularly OPs on crop productivity, along with their transport in environment; their influence on human and animal health and their degradation by microorganisms.
... 13 cardiovascular disease, 14 male reproductive system problems, 15 nervous system impacts 16 hypertension, diabetes, 2 Environmental Health Insights and kidney failure. 17 Chronic illnesses have a substantial social and economic impact on affected workers, families, and communities. 18 According to previous studies, factors contributing to poor handling practice during pesticide application included poor knowledge, 6,7 inadequate supply of PPE, [8][9][10] absence of pesticide-related training, 5,9,11 and unfavorable attitude toward pesticide. ...
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Pesticides are substances that are used to kill, decrease, or repel pests and are used extensively to boost agricultural production. Ethiopian floriculture is one of the pesticide-intensive agricultural production centers and it provides jobs for 1000s of Ethiopians. Despite its significant contribution to the national economy, many issues are raised by the workers. The study aimed to assess the knowledge, attitudes, practices, and factors associated with the practices of workers against pesticide exposure among floriculture workers in Bahirdar city. A cross-sectional occupational study was done. The participants were recruited using a stratified sample technique. The final study participants were chosen using a simple random sampling procedure. The survey received 300 responses, 95.2% response rate from the entire sample size. The mean age of floriculture workers was 20 (SD ± 3.21) years, with a range of 17 to 48 years. The majority of workers (228) were females, and 36 (12.0%) of workers were illiterate. About 259 (86.3%) of floriculture workers did not know the name of the pesticide they were using. More than three-fourth 256 (85.3%) of respondents know at least one type of pesticide-related health problem. In this study, the most known type of pesticide routes of entry into the body were eyes (72.3%), skin (67.3%) followed by ingestion (67.0%). About 100 (33.3%) of the participants had good overall knowledge related to pesticide use and 134 (44.7%) of workers had a positive attitude on safe pesticide application. The level of good practice was 61.3% (N = 184). Knowing the impact of pesticide on environment (AOR, 0.54; 95% CI, 0.30-0.96), Knowing pesticide health problems, (AOR, 0.36; 95% CI, 0.20-0.63), willingness to wear and invest for PPE (AOR, 0.53; 95% CI, 0.28-0.98) and PPE supply (AOR, 0.29; 95% CI, 0.16-0.51) were significantly associated with workers pesticide handling practices. Workers who didn’t know pesticide health problems were 36% less likely to have a good practice. The likelihood of having good practices among works who disagree to wear and invest on PPE 53% lower than those who agree on it. The likelihood of having good practices among workers who didn’t have any PPE supply was lower than their counterparts with (AOR, 0.29; 95% CI, 0.16-0.51). Floriculture workers had poor handling practices therefore continuous pesticide training programs for workers could be implemented.
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Food and nutritional security, environmental sustainability, mitigating climatic vulnerability, shifting of weed flora, weed developed resistance against the herbicide, high capital investment through manual weed management, and increasing the requirement for energy input in the agriculture sector are the major issues in crop production in the coming years. It is no doubt that the introduction of herbicide in the agriculture sector increases the income of farmers, which boost the economy of the nation, but its improper uses create several problems. The consumption of herbicide in the world during 2018 was 1.30Mt. The excess uses of herbicide in agriculture pose several consequences such as environmental pollution, increasing demand for energy in the industrial sector, increase resistance in different weed species, appearing novel weed flora in the cropping system, and incurred higher cost of cultivation in crop production. Sustainable food production is one of the important tools in maintaining ecological balance and soil health. In this circumstance, integrating legumes into cropping systems provides several ecosystem services which fulfill the objectives of ecological weed management. Sustainable intensification is fulfilling the demand for food and ensuring nutritional security in a sustainable manner while maintaining biodiversity and providing many ecosystem services. In a cropping system or single crop production weeds are poses a serious loss by reducing crop growth, yield, quality, depletes fertility status of soil, and act as an alternate host for several insects, pest, and diseases. The yields reduction in direct-seeded rice due to weeds was reported up to 90%. Globally, more than US$ 100 billion was a loss due to infestation of weed in annual crops. The weed seed of Argemone mexicana crushed mustard seed and the oil feed by human beings causes glaucoma or dropsy. The weed green Amaranthus (Amaranthus viridis) can accumulate about 3% N in its biomass and causes severe depletion of nitrogen (N) economy in soil. The three solanaceous weeds such as Solanum nigrum, Datura stramonium, and Datura ferox are act as an alternate host for tomato leaf minor. The application of herbicides during the crop production causes adverse effects on the environment, soil ecosystem, pollute ground water, damage ecological diversity, and affects human health. Besides, the use of herbicide for weed management incurred about US$ 25 billion annually across the globe. Therefore, to tackle such issues of weed the integration of legumes in the different crop production systems as cover crop, relay crop, green manure crop, brown manuring crop play a key role in providing many ecosystem services such as suppressing weed species by smothering or by allelopathy effect, break the life cycle of disease and pest, increasing carbon (C) and N pool in soil, enhancing soil organic matter content, enhance soil health by improving physical, chemical and biological properties of soil. In intercropping system, legumes have better suppression on weed flora by reducing their density and biomass. Further, legumes fulfill the requirement of N of the component crop. Legumes in the crop rotation system break the infestation of frequently occurrence weeds due to its allelopathic effects or smothering effects on the weed seed bank. Based on the diverse benefits of legumes, it is ensured that legumes either in the cropping system or alone as crop residue plays a key role in driving sustainable intensification.
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Utilization of plant allelopathic potential to control weed infestations provides an effective, cost-efficient, labor-free, and environmentally acceptable alternative to traditional chemical and mechanical methods. Conocarpus erectus, known as buttonwood, belongs to the Combretaceae family with high contents of phytochemicals and antioxidant activity. There have been no studies on the allelopathic potential of C. erectus. The present study (1) examined the allelopathic potential of C. erectus against selected weeds (Chenopodium murale and Amaranthus viridis) and crops (Solanum lycopersicum and Cucumis sativus) via investigating the growth inhibition ability of its aqueous extract, and (2) identified the potential allelochemicals found in this plant. Aqueous extracts were prepared from leaves, roots, and seeds of C. erectus by immersing the dried powder of the examined plant parts in sterile distilled water for 24 h on a shaker set to 180 rpm. The resulting filtrate was considered as 100% solution, and then dilutions were made to various concentrations (75%, 50%, and 25%). C. erectus leaves and seeds showed the highest rate of inhibition at all concentrations against Chenopodium murale and Amaranthus viridis grown in either Petri dishes or pots. Conversely, all the studied extracts did not show any toxic effects against tomato and cucumber plants grown in pots. In Petri dishes, a slight reduction in growth was observed. HPLC analysis of total phenolic contents in C. erectus methanolic extracts showed that leaves have the highest contents of gallic acid, caffeic acid, and ferulic acid (153.963, 69.135, and 39.801 ppm, respectively). The finding of the current study demonstrated that the part of the plant and the concentration of extraction have a significant effect on phytotoxicity. The positive results of this study might be used to develop environmentally-friendly herbicides for agricultural purposes.
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Glyphosate, a broad-spectrum herbicide, is globally used in crop production and persists in bread and flour. Tolerance limits for glyphosate in cereal products have been established internationally. In Lebanon, there are scarce published data on the level of glyphosate food products and consumer exposure levels remains unknown. All bread and flour products available (n = 164 samples) characterized by their distinct processing methods have been collected from Mount Lebanon and Beirut governorates. Glyphosate concentrations were assessed, using ELISA and compared across samples by brand, flour types and country of origin. The exposure level of the Lebanese population to glyphosate was also assessed through estimated daily intake calculations. Out of the assessed bread products and of flour products tested 80% and 100% were contaminated with glyphosate. All the values were below the international limits (30 mg/kg for bread and 0.5 mg/kg for flour). The glyphosate median residue level was significantly higher in unconventional bread (52.9 ppb), as compared to bran (28.5 ppb) and whole grain (25.7 ppb) and white bread (14.9 ppb) (p = 0.004). Highest percentage positive samples were found for unconventional bread types and lowest for brown bread type (100 and 69.2%, respectively). The findings also showed that glyphosate occurrence and level was statistically identical in all the flour samples including different types and country of origin (p = 0.75, 0.146, respectively). Lebanese population daily exposures to glyphosate through consumption of bread and flour products were estimated to be 0.0702 μg/kg BW/day and 0.1318 μg/kg BW/day, respectively. Daily bread exposure was only 0.000117% of the Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI) of 1 mg/kg/day as listed by Codex, and 0.00039% of the ADI of 0.5 mg/kg/day as listed by the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment. Dietary exposure to glyphosate through flour and flour-based bread products seems to be low in Lebanon. Future extensive studies need to evaluate exposure to glyphosate from other staple foods and through other routes of exposure beyond diet.
Chapter
The chapter classifies different emerging pollutants such as antibiotics, resistant bacteria, genes, steroids, and biocides. Moreover, the current regulatory status of different agencies is also summarized. The drug and multidrug resistance of pathogens and the transmission from wastewater treatment plants into soil is described in detail. The technological solutions preventing emerging contaminants (EC) and drug-resistance expansion are also summarized. The occurrence and bioavailability of EC limits the agronomic usage of sewage sludge, composts, sediments, and other biosolids. The transport and bioavailability of ECs is an important issue and will be monitored. Thus the emergence of EC in soil and water environments is a key issue, especially when the obtained biosolids are used for agriculture.
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According to various studies, numerous pesticides and other toxic chemicals are found in most industrial livestock systems and their animal products. The United States Food and Drug Administration found 64 different pesticides in animal foods. Regulatory authorities state that most of these residues are below the maximum residue limit (MRL) and are therefore safe. A substantial body of published peer-reviewed papers shows serious concerns about the safety of MRLs, as well as other aspects of pesticide testing. In particular, concerns include what are claimed to be the best practice testing guidelines, concerns around the combinations of pesticides with other compounds, the health of the fetus and offspring, developmental neurotoxicity, intergenerational damage, endocrine and metabolic disruption, as well as the effects of metabolites, additives, and impurities. Furthermore, the use of unpublished commercial-in-confidence industry studies over published peer reviewed studies exacerbates the testing bias. Considering that there are millions of hectares of organically managed livestock systems in the world that are financially profitable without using these toxic chemicals, pesticides are not necessary for commercial production. Given the uncertainties around the safety of pesticides, the precautionary principle should be invoked until there is clear evidence of safety.
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In the present study glyphosate residues were tested in urine and different organs of dairy cows as well as in urine of hares, rabbits and humans using ELISA and Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectroscopy (GC-MS). The correlation coefficients between ELISA and GC-MS were 0.96, 0.87, 0.97and 0.96 for cattle, human, and rabbit urine and organs, respectively. The recovery rate of glyphosate in spiked meat using ELISA was 91%. Glyphosate excretion in German dairy cows was significantly lower than Danish cows. Cows kept in genetically modified free area had significantly lower glyphosate concentrations in urine than conventional husbandry cows. Also glyphosate was detected in different organs of slaughtered cows as intestine, liver, muscles, spleen and kidney. Fattening rabbits showed significantly higher glyphosate residues in urine than hares. Moreover, glyphosate was significantly higher in urine of humans with conventional feeding. Furthermore, chronically ill humans showed significantly higher glyphosate residues in urine than healthy population. The presence of glyphosate residues in both humans and animals could haul the entire population towards numerous health hazards, studying the impact of glyphosate residues on health is warranted and the global regulations for the use of glyphosate may have to be re-evaluated.
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Celiac disease, and, more generally, gluten intolerance, is a growing problem worldwide, but especially in North America and Europe, where an estimated 5% of the population now suffers from it. Symptoms include nausea, diarrhea, skin rashes, macrocytic anemia and depression. It is a multifactorial disease associated with numerous nutritional deficiencies as well as reproductive issues and increased risk to thyroid disease, kidney failure and cancer. Here, we propose that glyphosate, the active ingredient in the herbicide, Roundup(®), is the most important causal factor in this epidemic. Fish exposed to glyphosate develop digestive problems that are reminiscent of celiac disease. Celiac disease is associated with imbalances in gut bacteria that can be fully explained by the known effects of glyphosate on gut bacteria. Characteristics of celiac disease point to impairment in many cytochrome P450 enzymes, which are involved with detoxifying environmental toxins, activating vitamin D3, catabolizing vitamin A, and maintaining bile acid production and sulfate supplies to the gut. Glyphosate is known to inhibit cytochrome P450 enzymes. Deficiencies in iron, cobalt, molybdenum, copper and other rare metals associated with celiac disease can be attributed to glyphosate's strong ability to chelate these elements. Deficiencies in tryptophan, tyrosine, methionine and selenomethionine associated with celiac disease match glyphosate's known depletion of these amino acids. Celiac disease patients have an increased risk to non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, which has also been implicated in glyphosate exposure. Reproductive issues associated with celiac disease, such as infertility, miscarriages, and birth defects, can also be explained by glyphosate. Glyphosate residues in wheat and other crops are likely increasing recently due to the growing practice of crop desiccation just prior to the harvest. We argue that the practice of "ripening" sugar cane with glyphosate may explain the recent surge in kidney failure among agricultural workers in Central America. We conclude with a plea to governments to reconsider policies regarding the safety of glyphosate residues in foods.
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The current chronic kidney disease epidemic, the major health issue in the rice paddy farming areas in Sri Lanka has been the subject of many scientific and political debates over the last decade. Although there is no agreement among scientists about the etiology of the disease, a majority of them has concluded that this is a toxic nephropathy. None of the hypotheses put forward so far could explain coherently the totality of clinical, biochemical, histopathological findings, and the unique geographical distribution of the disease and its appearance in the mid-1990s. A strong association between the consumption of hard water and the occurrence of this special kidney disease has been observed, but the relationship has not been explained consistently. Here, we have hypothesized the association of using glyphosate, the most widely used herbicide in the disease endemic area and its unique metal chelating properties. The possible role played by glyphosate-metal complexes in this epidemic has not been given any serious consideration by investigators for the last two decades. Furthermore, it may explain similar kidney disease epidemics observed in Andra Pradesh (India) and Central America. Although glyphosate alone does not cause an epidemic of chronic kidney disease, it seems to have acquired the ability to destroy the renal tissues of thousands of farmers when it forms complexes with a localized geo environmental factor (hardness) and nephrotoxic metals.
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A variety of current-use pesticides were determined in weekly-composite air and rain samples collected during the 1995 and 2007 growing seasons in the Mississippi Delta agricultural region. Similar sampling and analytical methods allowed for direct comparison of results. Decreased overall pesticide use in 2007 relative to 1995 generally resulted in decreased detection frequencies in air and rain, but observed concentration ranges were similar between years even though the 1995 sampling site was 500 m from active fields while the 2007 sampling site was within 3 m of a field. Mean concentration of detections were sometimes greater in 2007 than in 1995 but the median values were often lower. Seven compounds in 1995 and five in 2007 were detected in ≥50% of both air and rain samples. Atrazine, metolachlor, and propanil were detected in ≥50% of the air and rain samples in both years. Glyphosate and its degradation product, AMPA, were detected in ≥75% of air and rain samples in 2007, but were not measured in 1995. The 1995 seasonal wet depositional flux was dominated by methyl parathion (88%) and was >4.5 times the 2007 flux. Total herbicide flux in 2007 was slightly greater than in 1995, and was dominated by glyphosate. Malathion, methyl parathion, and degradation products made up most of the 2007 non-herbicide flux. Environ Toxicol Chem © 2014 SETAC.
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New evidence raises the possibility that the CaMV 35S promoter in practically all transgenic crops grown commercially may enhance multiplication of disease-associated viruses including HIV through induction of proteins required for their transcription.
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This is the final report of a project lasting for 4 months which started in January 2007. The work was funded by a contract of £15,271 from HGCA (Project No. 3311), together with in-kind contributions of £40,000 from TAG and £35,000 from SAC making a total of £90,271. The Home-Grown Cereals Authority (HGCA) has provided funding for this project but has not conducted the research or written this report. While the authors have worked on the best information available to them, neither HGCA nor the authors shall in any event be liable for any loss, damage or injury howsoever suffered directly or indirectly in relation to the report or the research on which it is based. Reference herein to trade names and proprietary products without stating that they are protected does not imply that they may be regarded as unprotected and thus free for general use. No endorsement of named products is intended nor is it any criticism implied of other alternative, but unnamed, products.
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The health effects of a Roundup-tolerant NK603 genetically modified (GM) maize (from 11% in the diet), cultivated with or without Roundup application and Roundup alone (from 0.1 ppb of the full pesticide containing glyphosate and adjuvants) in drinking water, were evaluated for 2 years in rats. This study constitutes a follow-up investigation of a 90-day feeding study conducted by Monsanto in order to obtain commercial release of this GMO, employing the same rat strain and analyzing biochemical parameters on the same number of animals per group as our investigation. Our research represents the first chronic study on these substances, in which all observations including tumors are reported chronologically. Thus, it was not designed as a carcinogenicity study. We report the major findings with 34 organs observed and 56 parameters analyzed at 11 time points for most organs. Biochemical analyses confirmed very significant chronic kidney deficiencies, for all treatments and both sexes; 76% of the altered parameters were kidney-related. In treated males, liver congestions and necrosis were 2.5 to 5.5 times higher. Marked and severe nephropathies were also generally 1.3 to 2.3 times greater. In females, all treatment groups showed a two- to threefold increase in mortality, and deaths were earlier. This difference was also evident in three male groups fed with GM maize. All results were hormone- and sex-dependent, and the pathological profiles were comparable. Females developed large mammary tumors more frequently and before controls; the pituitary was the second most disabled organ; the sex hormonal balance was modified by consumption of GM maize and Roundup treatments. Males presented up to four times more large palpable tumors starting 600 days earlier than in the control group, in which only one tumor was noted. These results may be explained by not only the non-linear endocrine-disrupting effects of Roundup but also by the overexpression of the EPSPS transgene or other mutational effects in the GM maize and their metabolic consequences. Our findings imply that long-term (2 year) feeding trials need to be conducted to thoroughly evaluate the safety of GM foods and pesticides in their full commercial formulations.
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Previous studies demonstrate that glyphosate exposure is associated with oxidative damage and neurotoxicity. Therefore, the mechanism of glyphosate-induced neurotoxic effects needs to be determined. The aim of this study was to investigate whether Roundup(®) (a glyphosate-based herbicide) leads to neurotoxicity in hippocampus of immature rats following acute (30min) and chronic (pregnancy and lactation) pesticide exposure. Maternal exposure to pesticide was undertaken by treating dams orally with 1% Roundup(®) (0.38% glyphosate) during pregnancy and lactation (till 15-day-old). Hippocampal slices from 15 day old rats were acutely exposed to Roundup(®) (0.00005 to 0.1%) during 30min and experiments were carried out to determine whether glyphosate affects (45)Ca(2+) influx and cell viability. Moreover, we investigated the pesticide effects on oxidative stress parameters, (14)C-α-methyl-amino-isobutyric acid ((14)C-MeAIB) accumulation, as well as glutamate uptake, release and metabolism. Results showed that acute exposure to Roundup(®) (30min) increases (45)Ca(2+) influx by activating NMDA receptors and voltage-dependent Ca(2+) channels, leading to oxidative stress and neural cell death. The mechanisms underlying Roundup(®)-induced neurotoxicity also involve the activation of CaMKII and ERK. Moreover, acute exposure to Roundup(®) increased (3)H-glutamate released into the synaptic cleft, decreased GSH content and increased the lipoperoxidation, characterizing excitotoxicity and oxidative damage. We also observed that both acute and chronic exposure to Roundup(®) decreased (3)H-glutamate uptake and metabolism, while induced (45)Ca(2+) uptake and (14)C-MeAIB accumulation in immature rat hippocampus. Taken together, these results demonstrated that Roundup(®) might lead to excessive extracellular glutamate levels and consequently to glutamate excitotoxicity and oxidative stress in rat hippocampus.