Perfect Parks Are Harming Us, Our Children, Our Pets, and the Earth

What Bayer does not want you to know about Roundup.

Perfect Glyphosate circles around trees in my local park. Photo by author, Cindy de Villiers

Alive but weak and unthinking. That is the human race on Glyphosate. Not content for this to be the human situation, Bayer has included our pets, the other inhabitants of the Earth, and indeed the Earth itself.

But wait.
Glyphosate, the key ingredient in Roundup, is classified by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as “practically non-toxic and not an irritant”. Furthermore, the molecular target of Glyphosate is the shikimate pathway; a pathway that does not occur in mammals.

The message is that Glyphosate kills weeds, fungi, and bacteria. Sweet. We can have weed-free pathways and perfect lawns for perfect families to frolic on. We can feed the world by growing Glyphosate-resistant crops in Africa. We’re home and hosed.

Why then, has a US appeals court upheld a $25 million verdict against Bayer, the maker of Roundup? Furthermore, Bayer has set aside $9.6 billion to settle future cases. Future cases? Does Bayer know that Roundup or Glyphosate is indeed toxic but given the enormous use of this product, it is prepared to set aside a large amount of money to keep it on the shelves?

What is happening here?

Unpacking The Glyphosate Story

Debate and research continue on the mechanisms by which Glyphosate may be harmful. However, the World Health Organisation classified Glyphosate as probably cancer-causing in humans. It is now known that break-down products of Glyphosate, as well as additives, contribute to Roundup’s toxicity. For simplicity, I will refer to these collectively as Glyphosate.

The spraying of Glyphosate can result in exposure to this chemical through the skin, respiratory tract, and gut. Glyphosate is also ingested when eating sprayed foods. While for most people, exposure to Glyphosate is unlikely to reach official toxic levels, ongoing exposure at low concentrations can result in risks to human health. With the widespread use of Glyphosate, most of us are continually exposed to this chemical.

Glyphosate exposure has been associated with a string of chronic diseases including obesity, fatty liver disease, chronic fatigue syndrome, sudden infant death, autism, type 1 diabetes, cancer, kidney disease, multiple sclerosis, high blood pressure, dementia, thyroid disease, infertility, joint pain, and auto-immune disease. How is it possible that this chemical, which ostensibly does not have a target in mammals can be associated with almost every disease of modern humans?

Just a little biochemistry. It will open your eyes. The chemical name for Glyphosate is N-(phosphonomethyl) glycine. The bit to take note of is glycine.

Glycine is a major amino acid in humans. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. Glycine is incorporated into many proteins in the body. It makes up around one-third of collagen and is involved in the synthesis of glutathione (a major anti-oxidant), creatine (involved in muscle and nerve energy), DNA, protein, and heme (crucial for oxygen transport and mitochondrial energy). It is also required for digestion (via bile acids), immune function, and antioxidant production. Glycine is involved in a little-known energy pathway called the PEPCK pathway that allows humans to make optimal ATP (energy). More interestingly, Glycine is a neurotransmitter in the brain regulating behavior and food intake.

Glycine is thus central to human life.

If Glycine is central to human life, Glyphosate may be central to the diseases of modern life.

Glyphosate, also known as N-(phosphonomethyl) glycine, is a Glycine molecule with an extra bit. The extra bit is phosphonomethyl.

Molecular structure of Glyphosate (left) and Glycine (right).Diagrams released into the public domain by Yikrazuul and Benjah-bmm27.

This is important as if Glyphosate sneaks into our protein instead of Glycine, it can lead to dysfunctional and structurally abnormal proteins. DNA instructs cells to make proteins using a specific sequence of amino acids. Our DNA will tell our protein-building-machine (ribosomes) to add Glycine at a certain point in the protein structure.

It is common for amino acid substitutions to occur in protein synthesis. These may be fatal or may not have a noticeable effect. It is hypothesized that when Glyphosate, being very similar to the amino acid Glycine, is floating around in our cells, it is incorporated into our proteins. While not deadly, our protein structure and function are compromised making us weak and sick. Wherever Glycine is used, there may be disruption by Glyphosate. The Glycine list above indicates that this is pretty much everywhere in the body.

If Glycine is central to human life, Glyphosate may be central to the diseases of modern life.

Do you miss your bread? You can blame Roundup.

It has been argued that Glyphosate is central to the sudden rise in celiac disease and gluten sensitivity. Glyphosate is routinely administered to crops such as wheat, oats, barley, and rye before harvest. This hastens ripening and makes the crops easier to harvest. Residues of Glyphosate remain in these grains, as well as in legumes, and seeds.

It seems Glyphosate acts in multiple ways to make us react to gluten. It kills off our “good” gut bugs. It grabs essential minerals including iron, cobalt, and selenium, making them inaccessible to us. It interferes with the activation of Vitamin D in the liver. Most compellingly, Glyphosate may interfere with the breakdown of gluten, leaving larger fragments in the gut that then trigger the immune system.

In a nutshell, the Shikimate pathway is required by plants to produce the compounds which are healthy for us, the secondary plant metabolites. When Glyphosate is applied, inhibiting the Shikimate pathway, plants no longer produce these compounds, decreasing their health benefits to us and other animals when eaten.

Glyphosate is now known to accumulate in soils in and around treated areas, especially in soils with high clay content. It makes its way into surface water, sediment, groundwater, and the sea where it persists. This run-off has been detected from urban as well as agricultural land. Glyphosate has been detected in air and rain during crop growing season and in water from snowmelt. It has even been found in bottled water.

Glyphosate was registered as an anti-microbial meaning it kills microbes such as bacteria and fungi. This includes microbes that live in the soil and water. These microbes are now being studied for their importance in sustaining the life of the planet. Glyphosate application results in reduced plant growth and changes in grassland cover. It is changing the Earth.

Animals from fish to birds, to bees are negatively affected by Glyphosate. Pets are not immune.

Your gut microbiome is central to health and it is affected by Glyphosate in the food and water you ingest. Early research indicates that Glyphosate appears to kill off the “good” bugs, allow the “bad” bugs in the gut to become prominent. This may be part of the picture in diseases such as ulcerative colitis and irritable bowel syndrome.

Glyphosate may not kill us immediately but it is slowly draining our ability to make energy, absorb nutrients from our food, ward off infections, and live a strong and healthy life. It is draining life from the soil and waterways. It is damaging plants, animals, and the Earth.

Glyphosate is not a way to feed the world. It is the exact opposite.

Gardens, Public Spaces, Crops, and Billionaires

We do not need to give our money to the billionaires who keep us weak and then sell us gimmicks and potions to keep us distracted.

Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash

We can bend down and pick weeds out of our gardens. We can turn our lawns into bio-diverse meadows that support microbes, insects, and plants that go on to support the soil and thus us. We can buy or grow organic food.

We can let our councils know that we do not consent. We do not consent to the use of our rates for the payment of workers to ride around spraying weeds while they could be engaging in the health-giving activities of actual gardening. We do not consent to perfect pathways.

Reaching out we can support those farmers and growers who are engaging in regenerative farming practices. We can take this globally.

Practicing Functional MD developing a diagnostic and treatment online platform, incorporating wearables and AI. Always questioning.

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