Gut bacteria is gaining increasing attention for the role it plays in our overall health. Given its influence on everything from immune function to digestion to brain function, research has been consistently showing the power of healthy gut bacteria – and the dangers of getting it wrong. Unfortunately, one very common chemical that has made its way to our food supply has now been shown to decimate gut microbes: glyphosate.
This chemical is already at the center of class action lawsuits filed by cancer patients, and the news keeps getting worse. As the main ingredient in the world’s most widely used herbicide, Monsanto’s Roundup, the ramifications for human health are huge.
Some of the medical problems linked to an imbalance of gut bacteria include colorectal cancer, diabetes, liver disease, cardiovascular disease, asthma, inflammatory bowel disease, autism and obesity.
The latest study was carried out by a team led by Professor Gilles-Eric Seralini of the University of Caen. The study looked at fecal samples taken from rats and assessed their gut microbiomes. They found that female rats experienced significant changes in the presence of Roundup regardless of the dose to which they were exposed. It also damages the microbial activity of soil.
The researchers suggest that glyphosate use could be behind the recent spike in gut disease noted in industrialized nations that genetic reasons alone have failed to explain.
Of course, Roundup is not 100 percent glyphosate, so experts believe it could be worthwhile to repeat the study using a bigger group of animals to compare the effects of exposure to glyphosate alone as well as Roundup. It’s possible that other ingredients in Roundup like adjuvants could be making this effect even more pronounced.
In fact, in regulatory evaluations of pesticides, it is only glyphosate in its isolated form that is tested for long-term safety, which means that calculations of safe levels are inherently inaccurate.
Professor Seralini said:
“The acceptable levels of glyphosate residues in food and drinks should be divided immediately by a factor of at least 1,000 because of these hidden poisons.”
Dangerous levels of heavy metals found in pesticides
On top of that, glyphosate-based herbicides like Roundup have been found to contain toxic levels of arsenic and other heavy metals. In the study, 22 pesticides – including 11 that were glyphosate-based – were found to have levels of toxic heavy metals that exceeded those allowed in drinking water.
In Sri Lanka, for example, where glyphosate herbicides have now been banned in the wake of an outbreak of chronic kidney disease among the rural population, large amounts of arsenic were found in glyphosate-based herbicides.
Some of the other toxic heavy metals found in the study include lead, nickel, and chromium. These findings were published in the Toxicology Reports journal.
In addition, glyphosate is known to form chemical bonds that can transport these toxic metals into people’s bloodstreams more easily so they can circulate throughout the body, a problem that agricultural workers are particularly susceptible to.
It’s no wonder, then, that this dangerous chemical has been banned in some countries. Documents that recently went public as part of lawsuits against Monsanto show that the firm knew for decades that its products threatened people’s health but opted to sell it anyway.
Moreover, they have done their best over the years to influence researchers and journalists to support their products, whether it’s through threats or payoffs. They’ve also embarked on a campaign to smear those who speak out against their products and discredit social media commenters who dare to criticize them.
Therefore, it will not be surprising when Monsanto tries to discredit this study as well. As the researcher who has uncovered some of the most damning evidence of glyphosate dangers, Seralini has famously been a target of Monsanto in the past. An undeterred Seralini is calling for an outright ban on glyphosate-based herbicides.