A new correlation study published on Friday in the Journal of Organic Systems has linked the world’s number one herbicide, glyphosate, to a huge increase in the incidence of chronic diseases across the United States.
In the most detailed analysis yet performed on the correlation between the use of glyphosate-based pesticides and rates of chronic diseases, a team including Dr. Nancy Swanson and the President of the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM), Andre Leu, identified a serious link between the increase in the use of glyphosate in the U.S. and diseases such as diabetes, obesity, lipoprotein metabolism disorder, Alzheimer’s, senile dementia, Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis and autism.
What is Glyphosate?
PCBs, DDT and Agent Orange all had very harmful effects on women, men and children across the Globe in the 20th Century. Glyphosate-based herbicides have been identified as the next dangerous widely used chemical on this list. It is time for some real action to be taken to find out the full extent of the harm being caused to the environment and human health by glyphosate the world’s number one weed killer.
Glyphosate, or N-(phosphonomethyl)glycine, is a broad-spectrum herbicide, meaning it kills all plant life. Glyphosate was developed by John E. Franz of Monsanto Company. It was first introduced in 1974.
Glyphosate-containing herbicides are now the top-selling herbicides in the world and are sold under trademarks such as Monsanto’s ‘Roundup’.
Numerous glyphosate-based herbicide formulations (e.g. Roundup, Clearout 41) are now produced by at least 100 manufacturers worldwide.
Glyphosate herbicides are used by farmers to kill weeds in crop fields. But their use is not restricted to farming. Public authorities spray them along roads, on pavements, and in public parks to control weeds. Even home gardeners use them. They are sold in supermarkets and garden centres.
The new study states:
“Within the last 20 years there has been an alarming increase in serious illnesses in the US, along with a marked decrease in life expectancy (Bezruchka, 2012). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that the cost of diabetes and diabetes-related treatment was approximately $116 billion dollars in 2007. Estimated costs related to obesity were $147 billion in 2008 and cardiovascular diseases and stroke were $475.3 billion in 2009. Health care expenditures in the US totaled 2.2 trillion dollars in 2007 (CDC, 2013a). The onset of serious illness is appearing in increasingly younger cohorts. The US leads the world in the increase in deaths due to neurological diseases between 1979-81 and 2004-06 for the 55-65 age group (Pritchard et al., 2013).
“These mental disorder deaths are more typical of the over 65 age group. There have been similar findings for obesity, asthma, behavior and learning problems, and chronic disease in children and young adults (Van Cleave et al., 2010). Type II diabetes in youth is being called an epidemic (Rosenbloom et al., 1999). The rate of chronic disease in the entire US population has been dramatically increasing with an estimated 25% of the US population suffering from multiple chronic diseases (Autoimmunity Research Foundation, 2012). These findings suggest environmental triggers rather than genetic or age-related causes.
“During this same time period, there has been an exponential increase in the amount of glyphosate applied to food crops and in the percentage of GE food crops planted (Benbrook, 2012). We undertook a study to see if correlations existed between the rise of GE crops, the associated glyphosate use and the rise in chronic disease in the US.”
A huge increase in the incidence and prevalence of chronic diseases has been reported in the United States (US) over the last 20 years. Similar increases have been seen globally. The herbicide glyphosate was introduced in 1974 and its use is accelerating with the advent of herbicide-tolerant genetically engineered (GE) crops. Evidence is mounting that glyphosate interferes with many metabolic processes in plants and animals and glyphosate residues have been detected in both. Glyphosate disrupts the endocrine system and the balance of gut bacteria, it damages DNA and is a driver of mutations that lead to cancer. In the present study, US government databases were searched for GE crop data, glyphosate application data and disease epidemiological data. Correlation analyses were then performed on a total of 22 diseases in these time-series data sets. The Pearson correlation coefficients are highly significant (< 10-5) between glyphosate applications and hypertension (R = 0.923), stroke (R = 0.925), diabetes prevalence (R = 0.971), diabetes incidence (R = 0.935), obesity (R = 0.962), lipoprotein metabolism disorder (R = 0.973), Alzheimer’s (R = 0.917), senile dementia (R = 0.994), Parkinson’s (R = 0.875), multiple sclerosis (R = 0.828), autism (R = 0.989), inflammatory bowel disease (R = 0.938), intestinal infections (R = 0.974), end stage renal disease (R = 0.975), acute kidney failure (R = 0.978), cancers of the thyroid (R = 0.988), liver (R = 0.960), bladder (R = 0.981), pancreas (R = 0.918), kidney (R = 0.973) and myeloid leukaemia (R = 0.878). The Pearson correlation coefficients are highly significant (< 10-4) between the percentage of GE corn and soy planted in the US and hypertension (R = 0.961), stroke (R = 0.983), diabetes prevalence (R = 0.983), diabetes incidence (R = 0.955), obesity (R = 0.962), lipoprotein metabolism disorder (R = 0.955), Alzheimer’s (R = 0.937), Parkinson’s (R = 0.952), multiple sclerosis (R = 0.876), hepatitis C (R = 0.946), end stage renal disease (R = 0.958), acute kidney failure (R = 0.967), cancers of the thyroid (R = 0.938), liver (R = 0.911), bladder (R = 0.945), pancreas (R = 0.841), kidney (R = 0.940) and myeloid leukaemia (R = 0.889).
The significance and strength of the correlations show that the effects of glyphosate and GE crops on human health should be further investigated.