When it comes to GM crops, concern has focused on the health effects of eating them and their environmental effects such as contamination of non-GM crops and impacts on wildlife. Less attention has been given to the chemicals such as glyphosate used to grow them. For example, Monsanto uses glyphosate in its Roundup Ready herbicide. The GM crop is resistant to the herbicide, but the weeds aren’t, so farmers can spray the whole field without worrying about the crop. Glyphosate has been touted as a relatively environmentally friendly chemical, so it’s the world’s number one herbicide and widely used in GM crop production in the US and elsewhere.
But not everyone is happy about it. Concerns have been expressed about its effect on the environment, and there are clear signs that weeds are becoming resistant to the continued application of glyphosate (so called super weeds). A similar process is occurring with GM crops resistant to insecticides.
But until now, no evidence has been found to demonstrate that glyphosate accumulates in the human body. Alarmingly, this has just changed. In the first ever testing for glyphosate in the breast milk of American women, a pilot study by civil society groups has found ‘high’ levels in 3 out of the 10 samples tested – suggesting that glyphosate does bioaccumulate. The tests also show glyphosate levels in urine over 10 times higher than in Europe, where GM crops and thus glyphosate are not so widespread.
Jessica M. from Virginia, one of the mothers who tested positive for glyphosate in her breast milk, said, “It is frightening to see any glyphosate in my body, especially in my breast milk that will then contaminate my son’s growing body. It’s particularly upsetting to test positive for glyphosate because I go to great lengths to eat organic and GMO free. I do not consume any meats or seafood and only very rarely eat dairy. This really shows me, and should show others, just how pervasive this toxin is in our food system.”
So basically the effect of glyphosate in the US is so pervasive that whether you eat GMOs or not, your body will still accumulate the chemical. Not good news, and yet another wake up call about the long term adverse effects of GM crops.