by Leah Zerbe
You probably wouldn’t knowingly eat a substance known to induce death in human cells. But that’s what millions of people are doing every day, even when they’re enjoying foods with “natural” on the label.
Norwegian scientists just published a new study that will appear in the June issue of Food Technology showing high levels of glyphosate—the active weed-killing chemical in Roundup—are turning up in genetically engineered (GE) soy. That herbicide-laced soy winds up in thousands of nonorganic packaged foods and in animal feed for livestock like pigs, cows, chickens, and turkeys.
Why is this happening? Genetically engineered crops are manipulated in a way that could never occur in nature so plants like corn, soy, canola, cotton, and sugar beets can withstand high doses of glyphosate-containing herbicides that would normally kill them. The result? Roundup in food that people and farm animals eat.
As more and more weeds become resistant to glyphosate and GE technology fails, farmers spray heavier glyphosate applications—and more often. Glypshoate is systemic, meaning it’s take up inside of the plant. As nonorganic farmers crank up glyphosate use, the Environmental Protection Agency has been slowly increasing allowable levels of glyphosate in food.
The Norwegian study detected a whopping 9 milligrams of Roundup per kilogram, on average. That’s nearly double what Monsanto—the maker of Roundup—deemed “extreme” in 1999, according to an article in The Ecologist. But with the emergence of hard-or-impossible-to-kill superweeds, the EPA has quietly raised allowable residue limits in soy by 200 percent.
For the new Norwegian study, researchers looked at GE soy, conventional (but not GE) soy, and organic soy. All GE soy contained glyphosate residues, and in amounts that were often higher than the content of certain vitamins found in the soy!
Organic soy and conventional, non-GE soy did not contain glypshosate residues. Aside from that obvious perk, organic soy also had a more beneficial nutritional profile featuring more protein and lower saturated fat levels compared to GE soy.
There’s mounting evidence linking glyphosate to infertility, Parkinson’s disease, certain cancer, and birth defects. While the United States doesn’t even require the labeling of foods containing GE ingredients on a federal level, states are starting to take action. The Vermont legislature just passed mandatory GE labeling and 26 other states are in various stages of introducing bills or ballot initiatives that would require labeling of foods containing these GE ingredients.
Other countries are taking steps to keep glyphosate out of lawn-owners’ hands, too. The Dutch government recently decided to ban the sale of glyphosate—including the popular weed killer Roundup—to private citizens starting in 2015.
And get this. A January 2014 study published in the Journal of Environmental & Analytical Toxicology found glyphosate was significantly higher in the urine of chronically-ill people compared to healthy people. German researchers leading the University of Leipzig study concluded “the presence of glyphosate residues in both humans and animals could haul the entire population towards numerous health hazards.”
The best way to avoid GE ingredients is to choose organic and to avoid nonorganic packaged foods. Be sure to watch out for these 9 sneaky sources of GMOs, too!