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Roundup - What does it do to Your Liver?

If you started your day with a bowl of oatmeal, Cheerios or even organic cage-free eggs, there's a good chance you consumed a small amount of glyphosate residue along with it. Likewise, if you've recently snacked on popular brands of crackers, tortilla chips and pita chips, or consumed beer or wine.

As the results of increasing numbers of independent tests come in, it's becoming increasingly clear that glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto's Roundup herbicide, is showing up virtually everywhere — in our food, water and even in baby food and women's breastmilk.

It's not altogether surprising — glyphosate is the most heavily-used agricultural chemical in history — but it is incredibly concerning. The health risks of glyphosate, though downplayed by the chemical's makers, are accumulating daily.

Roundup Causes Liver Disease at 'Ultra-Low' Doses

What happens when you expose rats to an extremely low dose of Roundup for two years? It's a question researchers from King's College London recently set out to answer, following previous research that suggested it may lead to liver injury.

The current study, published in the journal Scientific Reports, unfortunately appears to confirm this. The study involved glyphosate exposures of 4 nanograms per kilogram of body weight per day, which is 75,000 and 437,500 times below EU and U.S. permitted levels, respectively.

After a two-year period, female rats showed signs of liver damage, specifically non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and progression to non-alcoholic steatohepatosis (NASH). Study author Michael Antoniou, Ph.D., told Sustainable Pulse:

"The findings of our study are very worrying as they demonstrate for the first time a causative link between an environmentally relevant level of Roundup consumption over the long-term and a serious disease — namely non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

Our results also suggest that regulators should reconsider the safety evaluation of glyphosate-based herbicides."

How Glyphosate May Cause Liver Disease

The researchers noted that glyphosate may bring about toxic effects via different mechanisms, depending on the level of exposure, including possibly mimicking estrogen and interfering with mitochondrial and enzyme function.

"Glyphosate is also a patented antibiotic (Patent No.: US 7771736)," the researchers said, "and can inhibit the growth of susceptible bacteria by inhibition of the shikimate pathway and could cause dysbiosis in the gastrointestinal tract."

Anthony Samsel, Ph.D., research scientist and environmental consultant, and Stephanie Seneff, Ph.D., a research scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), have also suggested that NASH, which is often linked to excess dietary fructose, is actually due primarily to the disruption in gut metabolism of fructose due to glyphosate blocking the shikimate pathway.

People with NASH may go on to develop cirrhosis of the liver, which in turn is linked to an increased risk of liver cancer (rates of liver cancer have been increasing over the last two decades).6 Samsel and Seneff wrote in Glyphosate: Pathways to Modern Diseases:

"Exposure of Wistar rats to the herbicide Glyphosate-Biocarb over a period of 75 days resulted in liver damage, including elevated serum alanine aminotransferase (ALT) and aspartate aminotransferase (AST)

This suggests irreversible hepatocyte damage, as well as large deposition of reticulin fibers containing collagen type III, suggesting liver fibrosis, which is a major risk factor for hepatocarcinogenesis [liver cancer]."

How Much Glyphosate Are You Consuming?

Just how much glyphosate is the average individual getting, if they're eating a primarily processed non-organic food diet every single day of the week? No one knows at this point, but the evidence suggesting liver disease may occur from very low doses should have public officials scrambling to find out.

Instead, in July 2013, right in the midst of mounting questions about glyphosate's safety, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) raised the allowable limits of glyphosate in both food and feed crops.

Allowable levels in oilseed crops such as flax, soybean and canola were doubled, from 20 parts per million (ppm) to 40 ppm — just 10 ppm below the level at which Roundup may cause cell death, according to research published in 2011.

Permissible glyphosate levels in many other foods were raised to 15 to 25 times previous levels. Root and tuber vegetables, with the exception of sugar, got one of the largest boosts, with allowable residue limits being raised from 0.2 ppm to 6.0 ppm. The level for sweet potatoes was raised to 3 ppm.

Genetically Engineered Corn Is Significantly Different

From a regulatory perspective, GE crops are considered "substantially equivalent" to their non-GE counterparts. This means, in essence, that they are essentially the same, with no meaningful differences for your health or the environment.

The "fact" that GE corn was found to be "substantially equivalent" by an analysis conducted by Monsanto was a major reason why it was granted market approval for human and animal consumption in the U.S., Brazil, European Union and several other nations.

Yet, the problem, and it's a major one, is that other research has shown GE crops are not substantially equivalent to their conventionally grown counterparts, and they're already being unleashed into the environment.

The latest study to do so was published online in the journal Scientific Reports in December 2016.

Scientists used in-depth molecular profiling methods to reassess the substantial equivalence status of Monsanto's GE Roundup Ready corn, which is engineered to survive being doused with Roundup herbicide (samples both sprayed or unsprayed with Roundup were assessed).

A number of differences were revealed between the GE and non-GE corn. The former had alterations in levels of enzymes that reflected an imbalance in energy metabolism.

Changes in proteins and metabolites of glutathione metabolism, indicative if increased oxidative stress, were also noted, along with "pronounced" increases in various polyamines, of which the researchers noted "depending on context can be either protective or a cause of toxicity." They concluded:

"Although NK603 [Roundup Ready corn] had comparable nutritional and compositional profiles when originally accessed by the developer company [Monsanto] upon registration of their product, our analysis at a detailed, in-depth molecular profiling level shows that NK603 grains, with or without Roundup spraying during cultivation, are not equivalent to isogenic non-transgenic control samples."

Gene-Edited Foods Are Here

CRISPR gene-editing technology has been taking the medical world by storm, but lesser known is that CRISPR and other gene-editing tools are also being used in the food industry. Gene-edited crops, in which DNA is tweaked or snipped out at a precise location, have already been created — and eaten.

The New York Times reported on the first dinner on Earth with gene-edited foods, including soybeans and potato produced by a pharmaceutical company called Cellectis. Unlike GE foods, which may have genes from other species inserted:

"There is nothing taken out or added to the plant," André Choulika, chief executive of Cellectis, told the Times. "It's what nature would have produced."

It's too soon to say what gene editing may do to food and the environment, for better or for worse, but the technology is already forging ahead, so we'll inevitably find out, sooner or later.

Foods produced via gene-editing are not subject to regulation by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (although an advisory board recommended gene-edited foods could not be labeled organic) or other regulatory agencies. "They, at least for now, largely fall outside of current regulations," the Times reported.

To date, the technology has been used to produce soybeans with altered fatty acid profiles, potatoes that take longer to turn brown and potatoes that remain fresher longer and do not produce carcinogens when fried. The latter could be sold as early as 2019.

Major Pests Developing Resistance to GE Corn

Farmers plant Monsanto's genetically engineered Bt corn because it contains a built-in pesticide that kills certain insects when they eat it. As of 2015, more than 80 percent of U.S. corn crops carried at least one Bt trait, but research suggests insects are developing widespread resistance.

Regions across the U.S. Midwest have experienced severe damage from the resistant corn rootworm in Bt corn crops. New research published in PLOS One also highlighted growing resistance among another major corn crop pest, corn earworm (known as bollworm in cotton), to Bt corn.

Corn crops in North Carolina and Georgia have already reported increasing damages due to corn earworn in Bt cornfields, and the researchers expect the corn earworm resistance to increase and spread throughout the U.S. Likewise, glyphosate-resistant superweeds have also been spreading across the U.S., prompting pesticide makers to suggest farmers use an increasingly varied mix of chemicals to keep the weeds under control.

" … [P]iling on more pesticides will just result in superweeds resistant to more pesticides. We can't fight evolution — it's a losing strategy," Nathan Donley, Ph.D., a scientist with the Center for Biological Diversity, told EcoWatch. The Huffington Post likewise reported:

"Time-tested agricultural practices such as crop rotation and a mix of other strategies are essential to combating resistance issues. Relying on one type of genetically engineered technology season after season is bound to fail eventually, according to agricultural experts."

Source:, January 24, 2017 

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