Ep. 151: Glyphosate (Roundup): What You’ve Got to Know — For You, Your Kids, and the Planet with Stephanie Seneff, PhD
Glyphosate is “Roundup,” but it’s also the chemical in hundreds of other pesticides and herbicides. MIT’s Dr. Stephanie Seneff, PhD, reviews her research on the specific health concerns related to our now having dumped hundreds of millions of tons of glyphosate all over the world–and she gives us ideas about what exactly we can do about it.
LINKS AND RESOURCES:
Sign up for the 26 Day Detox Masterclass
Get the Ultimate Minerals
Read Dr. Seneff’s recent publication on Gyphosate
EPISODE HIGHLIGHTS WITH DR. STEPHANIE SENEFF:
- [03:21] Does Glyphosate cause Autism? The ways in which the chemical Glyphosate, also known as Roundup, disrupts the body’s systems fit with what Dr. Seneff has seen in her studies of autism. And their frequency – in use of the chemical and diagnosis of autism – have gone up at the same time.
- [06:30] Who else knows about Glyphosate? France and Austria have both banned the use of glyphosate, and Costco will no longer carry Roundup. Buy organic food to reduce your intake!
- [10:09] Let’s look into how Glyphosate functions: It’s a tiny amino acid, and those make up your proteins. Dr. Sereff believes it substitutes for one of the good ones, and causes the protein to misfold. This causes a whole lot of problems for your body.
- [15:04] What else could Glyphosate be causing? Besides environmental harm? Possibly Alzheimers, and other neurodegenerative diseases. Even depression and violence! (It takes away your feel-good chemical, serotonin).
- [18:04] How do I protect myself and my family? Eat only organic food – those haven’t been sprayed by Roundup. Drink apple cider vinegar for the good bacteria that might metabolize glyphosate, and get those important acids: Fulvic and Humic.
- [21:22] There are some mechanisms that may cause autism. Sulfur is an essential nutrient, and a disruption of the sulfur system might cause the deficiency we see in people with autism. Mercury is another likely culprit. Glyphosate interacts with both of these.
- [25:39] Animal products might have more Glyphosate than plant. Because their proteins are closer to ours, the glyphosate found in animal proteins might be causing our immune system to attack our own that contain glyphosate. This could lead to autoimmune disorders. (But make sure your legumes are organic, not just GMO-free!)
- [31:06] Even more possible diseases linked to Glyphosate: There’s a whole laundry list of possible linked diseases. Cancers, chronic fatigue syndrome, ALS, Lou Gehrig’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease are just some of them.
- [43:27] High-impact lifestyle choices to decrease your Glyphosate risk: Organic everything. It cannot be mentioned enough. Tampons, cotton clothing, diapers, food… protect yourself by not buying products that have been sprayed with Roundup.
- [47:00] A Bonus Help: GreenSmoothieGirl is giving you $5 off our Ultimate Minerals supplement (containing fulvic and humic acid!) with the code FIVEOFF at greensmoothiegirl.com/ultimateminerals. Stay safe!
This transcript has been edited for clarity
Robyn: Hey everyone, and welcome back to the Vibe show. I’m your host Robyn Openshaw, author of the bestselling book Vibe.
Today I’m very excited to be introducing you to Dr. Stephanie Seneff. She’s a senior research scientist at MIT’s computer science and artificial intelligence lab in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
She has degrees in biology and electrical engineering and computer science. And she’s been studying for many years now the role of toxic chemicals and corresponding micro nutrient deficiencies in human health and disease. And she’s really been going deep in recent years.
I’ve heard her on some outstanding interviews where she’s studying the pervasive herbicide that hundreds of millions of tons have been dumped all over the world. We’re talking about Roundup, we’re talking about glyphosate, and the connection to what happens in our body with the mineral sulfur and other mechanisms going on.
Dr. Seneff has authored over 30 peer-reviewed journal papers over the last few years on these topics, and I think you’re going to find this topic very interesting.
Dr. Seneff, welcome to the Vibe show.
Dr. Seneff: I’m so delighted to be here. Thank you for having me.
Robyn: Let’s talk about — with your background — it’s pretty interesting that you’ve become such a world-renowned expert on toxic environmental chemicals.
What got you interested in this and how long have you been studying that? Tell us more.
Dr. Seneff: Well, it actually goes back, way back when my children were very young. My best friend at the time had a son, a young son, who got a vaccine — a DPT shot — and ran a high fever. And a week later he had seizures, and then he was later diagnosed with autism. It kind of planted a seed in my mind back in the early 1980s (that was before 1986, when the vaccines got a reprieve).
I was interested in autism, paying attention to it, notice the rates going up in the two thousands. Between 2000 and 2010 rates were steadily climbing. People were saying, “Oh, we’re just diagnosing it more.”
But I didn’t think so. I thought something was going on.
I got interested in looking at the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System that the FDA puts out, which is a very interesting database of various reactions to vaccines. And I was trying to see if I could figure out a link between vaccines and autism.
I worked on that for about five years, looking at other toxic chemicals in the environment meant as well.
At that point I knew a lot about autism, and I knew that the things I had found were not the right answer. They certainly weren’t the whole story. I was looking for something else. It was in I think 2012 that I attended a two hour presentation by Professor Don Huber. He’s an expert on glyphosate.
What is “Glyphosate?”
Glyphosate was a word I didn’t know when I walked into the room and by the end of the lecture, I was convinced I had found the answer. It was that clear. He talked about ways in which glyphosate disrupts, and they fit very well with the things I was seeing in autism.
I could recognize that [the symptoms] matched, and I understood then that glyphosate’s usage had been going up dramatically over the same time period as autism rates were climbing. So it fits in terms of the statistics of epidemiology. And anything that fits is certainly a candidate to look at.
We have many chemicals like lead that have actually gone down. We don’t use lead in the gasoline so much anymore. So we have less exposure. You would expect that lead could cause autism, but it’s not the reason for the epidemic, in my opinion.
I really got excited about that. I hadn’t of course thought of Roundup; I knew of Roundup, but I hadn’t thought of it as being a [candidate]. It wasn’t on my candidate list of toxic chemicals because like everybody else, I believed it was completely safe.
Once he opened my eyes, I started studying everything I could about glyphosate.
Dr. Mercola introduced me to Anthony Samsel, and he and I have had a long collaboration, with six papers published. I’m looking into glyphosate and disease and finding all kinds of answers. So I feel very confident at this point that glyphosate’s causing not only autism, but a huge list of other diseases that are going up dramatically exactly in step with glyphosate.
I think [glyphosate] is a primary cause of all the health issues that we’re having today, with healthcare costs [increasing] and so many Americans getting bizarre diseases like chronic fatigue syndrome and a rapid increase in Alzheimer’s. All of these things I think, a primary cause of the epidemic is glyphosate.
Robyn: Glyphosate is also known as Roundup. Well, it’s the brand name Roundup and it’s in what, 700 of the “ides?” Ides being insecticides, pesticides…
Dr. Seneff: Yes, yes. There’s many different brands that have glyphosate in them, with various formulations that have other toxic chemicals there as well.
People have studied those other toxic chemicals which have not been evaluated for safety. They mix them in with the glyphosate and they make the glyphosate much more toxic and are also toxic in and of themselves. And Professor Seralini in France has written a lot of papers with collaborators focusing on not only glyphosate but also the other chemicals in the in the formulations that are also causing trouble.
Robyn: Professor Seralini in France. I’m not aware of that work, that body of work, but that probably is why France has pledged to ban glyphosate in the next three years, which I think is super inspiring and it shows that we can do that.
Dr. Seneff: Yes, I agree.
I think the French are much more aware of the toxicity because of Seralini and his work. He’s quite famous there. And Austria also has decided to ban glyphosate. They have officially banned it, which is really awesome because to have a European country band glyphosate, to me, is very, very exciting. That’s going to set the stage for other countries to think about doing that as well.
Robyn: I believe that Costco has also stated that it will ban all products that are sprayed with glyphosate in the next– I want to say — three years. Have you heard that too?
Dr. Seneff: I think it’s that they will not sell the formulations that contain glyphosate. I don’t think they’re going to ban all the products. If they ban all the products, they won’t have anything to sell because almost everything contains glyphosate. It is so pervasive in our food supply.
I think it’s just banning the [chemical], you can’t buy the roundup to spray on your dandelions, basically, from Costco.
Robyn: Okay. Well that’s not as good as what I was hoping a Costco was going to do. But at, at a minimum, they should refuse to sell it. That’s,
Dr. Seneff: And they’re fantastic with respect to organic. We buy a lot of our organic food at Costco. They’ve outdone Whole Foods at this point, in terms of their volume of sales of organic foods.
Robyn: Oh, I agree. When I put greensmoothiegirl.com up 13 years ago, I had to teach people how to go around town and find organics. And now, thanks to Costco, there’s literally hundreds and hundreds of organic brands.
I’m a huge fan of just buying organics so that we send a message with our dollars to the supply chain, that that’s what we want. We have to do that.
Dr. Seneff: Absolutely. I think even if you don’t believe glyphosate is toxic, buy organic in order to force the farmers to grow organic. Because glyphosate is certainly harming the environment.
Just to protect the environment — you don’t care about protecting yourself, fine — protect the environment as well.
Spend the extra money. I think you get back the money in spades because you don’t get sick. You can burn a lot of dollars once you’ve got something like diabetes or Alzheimer’s disease. You’re going to have a very costly disease that’s going to be debilitating as well if you don’t eat organic.
To me, that’s a no-brainer to buy organic. Whenever we shop, we always look for the certified organic label. Even for our spices, in our beer and our wine, everything is organic in our household.
Robyn: Yeah. And you have options now. That’s another thing that’s different than 13 years ago; besides the options, it’s also not much more expensive.
When I was a young mother on a budget I would be like, “Well, I’ll spend 50% more on organic, that’s what I can afford.” And now, the more we buy organic, the lower the cost gets. And in fact, in some cases the organic isn’t any more expensive. And when we’ve done that in a decade. I think that’s exciting.
Let’s back up. You’ve studied all these toxic environmental environmental chemicals in our air, food, water, environment, products, and you’ve zeroed in on this one particular chemical. You’ve been one of the world’s leaders in waving the flag and saying, “Hey, we have to reduce our glyphosate use.”
Why glyphosate? Is it because we’re using it so much? Or is it because it’s literally that much more toxic than everything else? Tell us more about that.
Dr. Seneff: It’s kind of both. And the thing is, it’s insidiously toxic and it’s subtle. So its toxicity doesn’t hit you over the head, which is why they’ve been able to get by with pretending that it’s not toxic.
I think the Monsanto people know that it’s toxic, and it’s toxic in a unique and insidious way that is devastating over time. But it takes time for the disease to develop.
I will get into this much more later because I’m very confident, now, that I’m right that glyphosate is an amino acid. It’s an amino acid analog of glycine. And glycine is the smallest amino acid, it has no side chains.
Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins; I believe glyphosate is getting inserted into the proteins by mistake in place of the amino acid glycine.
And since it has a bulky methyl group attached to its nitrogen atom, it messes things up.
Certain proteins at certain spots… If you put a bulky methyl plus vinyl group in place in the protein, you’ll make the protein unable to function. And you may even make it misfold into something like amyloid beta plaque.
It’s disrupting our proteins throughout our body. It’s accumulating in our tissues. And it’s a slow kill.
This is what makes it so insidious, because people don’t realize they’re being poisoned. You eat food containing glyphosate. Most people don’t really notice anything, so they think they’re fine, but it’s happening slowly.
This is what I think makes it so dangerous. And of course it’s also gone up exponentially. It’s been going up dramatically over the past 20 years. Exactly in step with the dramatic rise in a whole bunch of diseases.
I’m a computer scientist; I’ve looked at statistics on diseases and there’s a huge list. Autism matches absolutely perfectly, with a 0.997 correlation coefficient between the two plots of the rise in autism in first grade and the rise in the use of glyphosate integrated over the previous four years. Perfect match.
This gives you very strong evidence. Of course, correlation doesn’t always mean causation. Everyone’s reminding us of that all the time. But if you see that kind of correlation, immediately you should think there may be a relationship. And with my studies I have shown incredible numbers of some features of autism, very specific features, that I can explain with glyphosate toxicity. It’s really a beautiful match.
Robyn: I’m going to go back; you’ve said a lot there. I’m going to ask you for more detail on a few things.
The first one I’ll ask you about is this idea that with glycine being the smallest amino acid: it sounds like you’re saying that glyphosate mimics the amino acid, and this causes the protein to be unable to function. And even to misfold.
Do you want to say more about that in lay person’s terms?
Dr. Seneff: Some proteins get affected in different ways depending upon which glycine residue gets substituted. And that’s one thing I’m digging into the research literature to find.
You can find various proteins where you can see that somebody has a genetic mutation where a glycine got swapped out for something else, particularly glycine for glutamate or glycine for aspartate because glutamate and aspartate are very similar to glyphosate in terms of their physical properties. So that’s a good model for what would happen if like glycine was substituted by glyphosate
Robyn: You’re talking about another neurotoxic chemical.
Dr. Seneff: No, I’m talking about a genetic mutation which can be caused by a neurotoxic chemical.
When a child has a mutated gene, they don’t have the common form of that gene.
Each protein has a code for it. It has a specific sequence of amino acids that change together to make that protein. It’s fascinating how biology works. And when a person has a mutation in some gene, then that protein may be dysfunctional, and that can cause horrendous diseases in some cases depending upon which amino acid got swapped out.
I can find proteins where glycines get substituted by specific amino acids that I know are very similar to glyphosate. And if that is causing some major disease, then I can assume that glyphosate is going to cause some much more benign version of that same disease.
Glyphosate is not going to substitute for all the proteins that are produced. It’s going to be random hits over your body. But there are many, many different proteins that are affected.
It’s a very complex effect of glyphosate because you basically are putting bullets in the proteins throughout your body. And some of the proteins get severely disabled by those bullets.
For example, with Alzheimer’s, amyloid Beta. Amyloid Beta has been studied — that’s the amyloid Beta plaque that is associated with Alzheimer’s that builds up in the brain — it’s a misfolded protein. That protein normally folds into something called alpha helices, which can go into the membrane of the cell. It has a sequence within it that they’ve identified as the toxic component of the protein.
If you substitute the glycine within that sequence with another amino acid, the protein misfolds into something called Beta sheets, which are soluble.
The Beta sheets collect in the cytoplasm rather than going into the membrane. And if too many of them collect, they glom together and formed these fibrils that precipitate out. So if you substitute glyphosate for the glycine in that stretch of that protein, you’re going to make it misfold; you’re going to cause amyloid Beta plaque. You’re going to cause Alzheimer’s. It’s very straightforward.
Glyphosate’s Role in Neurodegenerative Diseases
Talk a little bit about the evidence of the connection between the meteoric rise in glyphosate in the environment and Alzheimer’s since you’ve touched on that; not just Alzheimer’s, but I would imagine probably there’s a link to the meteoric rise in a lot of neurodegenerative diseases. Am I right?
Dr. Seneff: You are. I think so. In fact, I think depression as well, and even violent behavior. I think all these shootouts that we’re having lately, I suspect that glyphosate’s a major player in that because it disrupts serotonin supply. Serotonin is a feel-good hormone and it’s deficient. It’s been shown to be deficient in people who commit violent behavior, including suicide, by the way. We have high suicide rates as well.
I think serotonin deficiency is caused by glyphosate: first of all because it disrupts a pathway in the microbes and in the plants called the shikimate pathway.
That pathway produces the aromatic amino acids tryptophan, tyrosine, and phenylalanine. Tryptophan is a direct precursor to serotonin, and serotonin is mostly manufactured in the gut, and it’s then sent to the brain — shipped to the brain — to supply the brain serotonin. The brain also makes serotonin; most of it is made in the gut. And the gut depends upon the gut microbes to supply the tryptophan.
Worse than that, glyphosate disrupts the balance of the gut microbes to encourage the growth of pathogens. Pathogens induce an immune response, which sort of activates macrophages, which are the immune cells. And the immune cells suck up the tryptophan, turn it into something called kynurenine in storage.
So, you not only have depleted tryptophan supply, you also have loss of tryptophan into those macrophages. You end up with a severe deficiency in serotonin. That’s linked to depression as well, and also to obesity. So depression, obesity, violent behavior, suicide can all be linked to serotonin deficiency, which can be directly linked to glyphosate.
Robyn: You know, since this can get pretty depressing, we should pause and talk about something kind of hopeful.
Jeffrey Smith, who I’m sure is a friend of yours as well, we’ve interviewed him here. It’s been quite some time, but he quotes some research. I wonder if you are aware of it, where you can clear the body of glyphosate fairly quickly. Can you help us with that a little bit?
Dr. Seneff: I don’t believe that by the way, because the glyphosate that’s embedded in the proteins all over your body is extremely difficult to clear, I believe. Again, the research hasn’t been done, but I can imagine that proteins are getting substituted by glyphosate and then they’re becoming resistant to proteolysis.
The body recognizes that this protein is broken, and it wants to clear it, but it can’t because the glyphosate is disrupting the enzyme that breaks apart the protein into individual amino acids. I think that’s really, really bad because I don’t know how to get rid of the glyphosate that’s embedded in those proteins.
Protect Your Gut: Organic Food, Probiotics, Acids, and Good Bacteria
In terms of the glyphosate that you’re consuming on a daily basis, I think there is hope. Of course, eating organic is number one, right, to just avoid getting it in the first place.
But there is some research. People are promoting certain products that they claim help to remove the glyphosate and I hope they’re right. I think there’s probiotics involved. There’s fulvic acid and humic acid, which are organic matter from the soil. Sometimes it’s spores, bacterial spores, which can get past the stomach. When you take probiotics, you waste a lot of them because stomach acid kills them. It’s hard to get them past the stomach. But they can certainly play a role in the oral cavity before they hit the stomach.
I suspect, actually, perhaps some kinds of bacteria that can metabolize glyphosate. That’s one that I’m very interested in, the idea of consuming a bacteria that can metabolize glyphosate. I’ve heard that there are only a few, by the way, they can break it down.
One of them is species of acetobacter.
Acetobacter is commonly found in apple cider vinegar, Sauerkraut, these kinds of fermented foods. I am suspecting that if you eat those foods, the acetobacter can help to metabolize glyphosate. I definitely like to have apple cider vinegar every day if I can, just sort of hope that I’ll be clearing whatever glyphosate I’m exposed to.
Another thing is non-enzymatic breakdown of glyphosate, which is interesting. Studies have shown that chlorine ozone and chlorine dioxide are able to break down glyphosate.
It’s actually really fortunate that chlorine breaks it down because chlorine is commonly used in water treatment plants. I think that we’re much less poisoned by glyphosate through the water supply than we would otherwise be because of our routine use of chlorine in the water treatment plants. We’re using it to kill the bacteria, but we’re also hopefully killing the glyphosate as well.
Robyn: Okay, so you’re not saying drink chlorine, you’re saying —
Dr. Seneff: No, God, chlorine is very poisonous. You don’t want to go near it. You totally don’t, definitely don’t, want to drink it, but at least they’re using it in the water purification system.
Robyn: So, they’re using it. It’s having an effect on the glyphosate, so it’s neutralizing that. But then of course, you want to put your water through filtration so that you’re not drinking the chlorine. Yes?
Dr. Seneff: Right. I mean, you’ve got to really to treat your water these days. It’s too bad that there are so many toxic chemicals out there that we depend on. We have a pretty good system in this country, there’s a lot of effort that goes into making sure the water [is clean].
Of course, we don’t always succeed. We have this big problem with lead right now in New Jersey, right? I just heard about this last night, that we had the lead in the — what was it? I forgot the name of the town in the Midwest that had a really big problem with the lead in the water.
So, we’re not always succeeding, but we’re certainly conscious of the need to clean the water, and we have water treatment plants that are fairly sophisticated. Most of the water supply in this country is a lot better than it would be otherwise.
Robyn: Well, the biggest thing I wanted to go into is, can you give us an overview of the ways that glyphosate, according to your research, leads to autism? What are all the different mechanisms? What have you learned?
Dr. Seneff: That’s a very, very complicated question. I’ve learned so many, it’s hard to even know where to start.
When I started looking at autism, one of the things I picked up on early was a sulfate deficiency problem, and some kind of a disruption of the sulfur system in the body.
Sulfur is an essential nutrient. It’s deficient in the modern diet. And one of the things that Don Huber showed is that glyphosate severely disrupts the uptake of sulfur into the plants. This means that the plants that we eat that are exposed to glyphosate are deficient in sulfur to start with. Sulfur is an actual atom in the periodic table, it’s an element, one of the basic elements, Sulfur.
Sulfur combines with oxygen to form sulfate, SO42. It’s four oxygens, one sulfur and a negative two charge. Sulfate is super, super important in the body for many, many things. One of them is to detoxify many toxic chemicals; in particular, for example, to detoxify mercury.
Mercury has been linked to autism in the vaccines. And mercury of course in the teeth — if the mother has a lot of cavities that are filled with mercury — the mercury can get into her system and can get into the fetus.
Mercury depends on sulfation for exports — it gets sulfated by the liver and then it gets removed — if the sulfation system isn’t working, then the mercury gets converted to methylmercury by the gut microbes. And that is a very toxic form of mercury. So glyphosate is working synergistically with mercury to cause harm, for example.
I believe glyphosate disrupts sulfate at many, many stages. It disrupts sulfate synthesis, it disrupts sulfate transport, it disrupts sulfate transfer from one molecule to another. And it probably disrupts sulfate uptake as well. I’m not as sure about that. But basically it really, really messes up sulfate.
One of the key features of autism that was identified early on… Rosemary Waring wrote out some papers, back in the 1990s even, where she was talking about clear disruption of the sulfate system. In particular, the autistic kids that she looked at had a 50-fold — 50 times as much — sulfite in their urine as the control kids. 50-fold. She was suspecting there sulfite oxidase was messed up in the gut.
Sulfite oxidase is super, super important for converting sulfite to sulfate, and if it’s not working, then you get sulfite toxicity because sulfite is very reactive and very toxic.
What will typically happen is that you will develop microbes in the gut that convert sulfide into hydrogen sulfide gas. Because the sulfide oxidase is busted, sulfide builds up; the microbes that can convert it to hydrogen sulfide gas overgrow (this is microbes like desulfovibrio and [unknown]. These microbes have been shown to be overexpressed in the autistic gut and the hydrogen sulfide gas becomes toxic as well.
That’s how you get the bloating and the discomfort that these autistic kids experience. One of the reasons is because of the hydrogen sulfide gas, and they become sensitive to sulfur containing foods. So often there will be an elimination diet that tries to minimize their exposure to sulfur, which is going to drive them into an increasing problem of sulfur deficiency systemically.
Robyn: I’ve been reading about the link between folks suffering with autism and gut dysbiosis, but maybe just talk about the fact that if you’ve got this exposure to glyphosate due to eating conventional sprayed produce (and p.s. animal products have even higher levels of glyphosate in it, processed food have even higher levels of glyphosate in it, don’t think that just because it’s a weird franken-food that it doesn’t have glyphosate in it) —
Dr. Seneff: I worry about the animal-based products because they’re going to have glyphosate embedded in their proteins, and their proteins are much more similar to our proteins than the plant-based products are.
People can end up with autoimmune disease because they have glyphosate-contaminated proteins that they ate, for example, in a hamburger. And then their body reacts to that and develops antibodies to this strange protein that has glyphosate in it, and then that causes autoimmune attack on your own tissues. All because our proteins are much more similar to the proteins of an animal than they are to the proteins of a plant. There’s much more likelihood of a problem with a molecular mimicry.
Robyn: Talk a little bit about that molecular mimicry, and clarify for us: did you just say that eating animal products would be more potentially more harmful than sprayed conventional produce?
Dr. Seneff: Yes, but the produce is contaminated for sure. In fact, it’s interesting which produce.
I just want to give a little aside here because lentils and peas and chickpeas, these kinds of products, are extremely high [in glyphosate]. The Canadian government has tested a lot of foods for glyphosate, and they found extremely high levels in these legumes. Which I was surprised by. And then I realized that they’re spraying them right before harvest with glyphosate.
They’re spraying legumes, they’re spraying wheat, spraying barley right before harvest. And oats. All of these things are coming up with very high levels of glyphosate. Oat-based products such as Cheerios, oatmeal, oatmeal cookies, these things are coming up with very high levels of glyphosate.
You have to really watch out. If you’re buying oats, you really need to buy organic. And that’s a popular food with children.
The meats I think probably have on average less glyphosate, but I’m not sure. Lots of times it’s hard to measure in protein, because glyphosate embedded in proteins can be missed. And this is something that Monsanto researchers figured out a long time ago.
In 1989 [Monsanto] produced a document which was not published, but Anthony Samsel got ahold of it through the Freedom of Information Act. And we wrote about it in our six paper together. This document was very, very interesting; it was Monsanto researchers who were looking at the question of whether glyphosate accumulates in the tissues.
What they did is they used bluegill sunfish. It’s a fish, and they exposed them to radio-labeled glyphosate. And then they took samples of tissue and detected whether there was radio labels. So, they found radio labels in multiple tissues, which means that it is accumulating in the tissues.
Although, the Monsanto executives deny this; they say glyphosate goes straight through, doesn’t accumulate. They know it does from this experiment.
Then they had this radio label and they said, “Well, let’s measure for glyphosate.” You can use a regular technology that measures for glyphosate. And they came up short. They only came up with 20% of the radio label that could be accounted for.
Robyn: Back up and tell us what this radio label is
Dr. Seneff: You can actually change the glyphosate molecule — or any molecules — you can put a carbon 14 in there that will be able to be traced. So you change it in a slight way if you use one of these radioactive versions of a particular element, you can put carbon 14 in there.
This is very common, a technique that they use to be able to trace something because you can see the radio label very, very easily. And that can guarantee that that carbon atom got to that spot and is there, because you see that carbon 14 label. It’s a way to be able to trace things very clearly.
Measuring for glyphosate, it’s a different thing and you can see the glyphosate even if it’s not radio-labeled, but you have to use a technique that can fail. Because if the glyphosate is tied up in the protein, you won’t see it. It has to be an individual molecule. You have to shake it loose from its protein chain in order to be able to see it.
That’s what these researchers discovered because they added proteolysis enzymes to this tissue. The proteolysis enzymes would break the protein down back into individual amino acids, which is what they needed to do in order to free up the glyphosate so you could see it with the standard technique.
Once they did that, they were able to recover 70% of the radio label as glyphosate. Still missing 30% which is probably still bound in the proteins and unable to be broken down because glyphosate disrupts the ability to break the proteins down. That’s what I would hypothesize.
Robyn: And there are other diseases that you feel are highly correlated to the rise in glyphosate use.
Before we go to that though, how much glyphosate have we actually dumped on the planet, measured in tons. Do you know?
Dr. Seneff: Oh my, I really should have that number at the tip of my tongue, but I don’t; it is humongously big. Every time I see it, I’m blown away. But I haven’t managed to remember exactly what it is.
The U.S. uses more per person than any other country in the world. We love glyphosate. We’re very heavy consumers of glyphosate. And Canada is a close second. And in fact, the Canadian government, when they did their tests on contaminations in food, they found that the U.S. and Canada were superstars. They were the ones who had the highest levels of glyphosate very consistently.
They looked at imports from Europe, imports from Mexico. They were much, much lower, consistently much, much lower. Mexico was right in line with Europe, which was quite interesting. So I would say if you can’t afford organic, buy something that’s imported from Mexico and you’re probably going to have less glyphosate in it.
Robyn: Oh, and that’s a terrifying thought since Mexico has so few environmental controls so you’re going to be exposed to their crappy air. But if that’s better than a conventionally grown U.S. produce, that’s a terrible statement about what we’ve allowed.
Dr. Seneff: Isn’t that awful? I know. Of course, we don’t consider glyphosate to be a problem, so we don’t worry about it. We don’t even test it. The EPA hasn’t even bothered to test for glyphosate, except for, as far as I know, only one time; I think it was in 2012 maybe, and it was due to Samsel’s efforts that they tested soy.
[The EPA] tested like 300 samples of soy for glyphosate. They found glyphosate in over 90% of them, and 96% of the soy had either glyphosate or AMPA, which is a toxic breakdown product of glyphosate. So basically it’s all over the soil. They did that and then they haven’t bothered to test anything else because they think it’s safe, so they don’t worry about it.
Robyn: Let’s go to the original question, which is, what other diseases are in your opinion, very clearly linked to massive amounts of glyphosate the U.S. is allowing on our crops?
A Brief List of Diseases Possibly Caused by Glyphosate
Dr. Seneff: It’s a huge list.
Let me start with Alzheimer’s and autism for sure. And then there are certain cancers that are going up dramatically, exactly in step. Pancreatic cancer, bladder cancer, thyroid cancer. I think breast cancer is connected. It’s more complicated as far as the epidemiology because we’ve had a problem with the hormones.
Hormone replacement therapy has kind of messed up the numbers on breast cancer, but I believe glyphosate is causing breast cancer. It was shown to cause breast cancer cells grown in-vitro to proliferate at tiny, tiny amounts. It was parts per trillion concentration of glyphosate exposure to these in-vitro breast cancer cells. And it caused them to proliferate.
A more recent study has found two different proteins that were upregulated in response to glyphosate in breast cancer cells, both of which are indicators of a more toxic form of breast cancer.
In other words, it’s causing them to produce proteins that are indicators of more aggressive cancer. There’s an indicator that it’s causing the cancer to be more aggressive. So breast cancer.
There are also some strange diseases like chronic fatigue syndrome. And there’s Eosinophilic Esophagitis, which was not a disease until after glyphosate was on the market. I think it’s causing that.
Acid reflux — GERD — fatty liver disease, diabetes (diabetes matches extremely well). Obesity is another one that matches extremely well. I think it’s causing both of those.
I think it’s causing high serum LDL and increasing your risk to cardiovascular problems. ALS, Lou Gehrig’s disease, Parkinson’s disease. Cancers like Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, which has been successful in a lot of lawsuits. I think there are probably other cancers that are also being caused. Colon cancer is another one that’s going up dramatically. I think glyphosate’s causing that.
Metabolic syndrome, which is sort of a catchall phrase for a whole bunch of different issues. High blood pressure, high blood sugar obesity. They’ve named this thing metabolic syndrome, which is a risk factor for diabetes and heart disease. I think glyphosate is the explanation for why we have an epidemic in metabolic syndrome.
It’s basically causing, I think, pretty much everything.
Also sleep disorder. There’s also congenital defects, like heart defects, in the baby.
We did a study; I published a paper together with Nancy Swanson and Judy Hoy. It was a fun project. Judy is an expert on animals, wild animals out west, and she has collected a lot of data on their health issues and showing a lot of liver disease and heart problems, lots of different issues with these wild animals. And we correlated them with conditions in human babies that are going up dramatically.
There’s a hypospadias problem, which is something to do with the penis not being produced correctly. That’s also going up in step with glyphosate usage. I think reproductive issues — both female and male — reproductive problems and infertility. PCOS, polycystic ovary syndrome, I’ve got a very good explanation for how it would cause that. Also sudden infant death syndrome. It’s basically a huge list.
Robyn: Wow. If it’s SIDS then it has to be related to the glyphosate coming through the mother, through the umbilical cord.
Dr. Seneff: Yes. Right.
Robyn: Because you don’t have a whole lot of time living on the planet to eat any foods that would be even be particularly contaminated with glyphosate. So that just goes to show you that a young mother should really be preparing for gestation by eating an organic diet.
Dr. Seneff: Absolutely. In fact, there’s some really interesting papers that have come out very recently, just within the last year, where people are exposing pregnant rats or pregnant mice to glyphosate in small doses through their pregnancy. And then sometimes including their lactation period when the pups are nursing.
They don’t expose the pups directly ever to glyphosate, and in low doses. So there isn’t any obvious problem with the pups. But once they grow up and have pups and even the third generation, you start to see issues, that it has actually affected the germ cells of the fetus, which is going to then show up in the next generation.
These pups had trouble with pregnancy. They had inflamed placenta, they had shortened gestation, they had small pups, and they had more defects, an increased number of genetic mutations that were causing severe deformities in the offspring.
Robyn: What is the smoking gun that is causing these huge judgements against Monsanto? I mean, I think that’s going to change everything. I wouldn’t be surprised if Monsanto goes bankrupt. Of course it’s been acquired by Bayer, and I don’t know if they can absorb that, but now there’s people lining up to sue Monsanto after these two huge judgements.
I even see Facebook ads of law firms advertising for people who maybe had a lot of exposure to the stuff they spray on the grass, like people who work in landscaping or whatever. What caused that, that in a courtroom it was so obvious that — I think you mentioned Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is the one — why is it so clear that it was caused by glyphosate that these people won gangster money?
Dr. Seneff: That is an excellent question. And I was actually surprised. I was sort of skeptical that they were going to be able to win those because they’ve done a good job of suppressing the information about the link between glyphosate and Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
I was really delightfully surprised that they were winning these lawsuits. I think the evidence was really overwhelming in the specific cases because these were people who had had accidents. They were people who sprayed Roundup routinely, and then had accidents where it was spilled on them.
For example, the first one, he actually sprayed Roundup in school yards, which is quite frightening, in California. That was his job. And his sprayer misbehaved, so he sometimes got sprayed, directly hit, with the glyphosate on his skin.
It was very clear, [because] that was the only chemical he was using. He wasn’t using anything else.
Often with the farmers you can say, “Well, they’re exposed to all kinds of chemicals so who knows which one.” You can sort of get glyphosate off the hook that way. Because the farmers are getting Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and I think it’s probably a contributor. But they have these other chemicals as well. So it’s more complicated there.
But these lawsuits were all basically individuals who were using glyphosate only and no other chemicals. And so that became very compelling.
One was a couple, where both of them got the Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. So you think about the probability of both of them getting it; it’s so low in the abstract. I think the jury was just persuaded by that kind of evidence. And there have been papers that have linked glyphosate to Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, with statistically significant links. So they do have that as part of the evidence.
Robyn: What’s so crazy is that many years ago the U.S. finally became aware of how deadly, I think it’s malathion, was.
Somewhere on this show a hundred episodes ago, I mentioned that my father grew up spraying, here in Utah, spraying the family’s cherry orchards. My great-grandfather had cherry orchards. And in the summertime — they didn’t know anything about the effect that these chemicals would have — he and my uncle would spray the cherry orchards.
My father said that countless times he would turn and get sprayed full in the face, and literally swallow mouthfuls of malathion. And here my dad is (I’m not saying that this proves anything) my father is, I want to say 76; he still runs six miles a day, six days a week.
And so here we are, we’ve banned malathion, but then we just have — until now with these judgements — we’ve turned the other way on glyphosate, which probably is even far more deadly than malathion ever, ever was.
One more question for you. And then we’re going to bring you back for another chat about vaccines, which is this an incendiary topic that I haven’t touched until now, but I’m excited to talk to you about vaccines as well.
I just moved, and I was looking for carpet. I went in to buy wool carpet and the salesperson didn’t want to sell me the wool carpet. She wanted to sell me this carpet made of corn. She said, “It’s made of corn, and it’s not made of the petrochemicals.”
Because I was saying, “I don’t want petrochemical carpet that off-gasses, and is going to kill my cat, and it’s going to off-gas for years.” And she’s like, “No, this is made of corn. And it’s really great.”
So she goes over and shows it to me, and I messaged Andy Pace (he’s an environmental toxins expert as well, I believe I’ve interviewed him on this show before) and I said to him, “Hey Andy, what do you think of this line of carpets supposedly made of corn? I mean, I’m sure it’s genetically modified corn or whatever.” And he said, “Robyn, that is made by DuPont.” I’m like, “Got it. Got It. Never mind.”
Because if there’s a number two most-evil company on the planet to Monsanto, it’s got to be DuPont.
Dr. Seneff: Absolutely. Oh my. Yeah, that’s scary.
And I should say, by the way, I suspect there’s glyphosate in the gasoline, because the gasoline is now 10% ethanol. And Trump has just passed a ruling: it needs to go up to 15% ethanol. And ethanol is derived from a GMO Roundup-ready corn.
So, I suspect there’s glyphosate in the gasoline, which is a pretty horrendous thought because glyphosate does not break down at high temperature. Not at the level of the combustion engine. So the glyphosate, I think, is going to be vaporized into the air on the highway.
A paper from California recently came out and showed a correlation between living near a highway and autism, and also a correlation between living near agricultural fields and autism. Both of those have been demonstrated in California.
Robyn: We probably also have the emissions from airplanes and chem trails to be concerned about too.
Dr. Seneff: The gasoline has a lot of other toxic things in it as well. All those nano-particles are very toxic, so it’s not just the glyphosate
Robyn: Before Facebook started shutting down pages — they’ve shut down well over a thousand public figures and business pages who dare to speak up about vaccine safety issues — before that happened, a couple of years ago I posted a story about how certain wines, and another time vaccines, that have 25 times what’s considered to be a safe level of glyphosate. I don’t know that there’s a safe level of glyphosate. But anyways, I posted it and people were just rampantly unfollowing and calling me a baby killer.
Dr. Seneff: Amazing isn’t it? I don’t understand how people get so upset about being told about glyphosate. They need to be aware and they need you to act quickly to protect their family with the organic diet, and paying attention to the environment, making sure their neighbors aren’t using it on their lawn.
You really have to be aggressive about trying to protect your family from glyphosate.
Robyn: I have gone out and asked my neighbor if he knows, when he’s sitting there squirting Roundup on the perimeter right next to my property. I asked about that.
I’ve sold my house and moved — sold the house that I raised my four children in — because at the top of the street they leased four acres to a tomato farmer who started spraying it with glyphosate. Sold my home that I had designed and built and raised my children in, and up and moved rather than have to breathe that in and have that in our groundwater.
I’m sure that I’m not getting entirely away from it by any means, but I wasn’t going to stay there and put up with that. And sadly it was a person whose husband had died of Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Dr. Seneff: Oh, that’s so ironic, isn’t it? That’s just really sad. I wish people would wake up. People need to. We’ve got to wake up everybody if we have any hope for the future, I think.
Robyn: I agree.
In addition to buying organic (I just mentioned the carpet story too, to sort of tee up this question): what other products? If you just could mention three or four things that would be very high impact that people could do in their lifestyle to decrease their exposure to glyphosate, what would those things be?
Dr. Seneff: A big one for women, young women: tampons. Tampons are contaminated with glyphosate and you really have to buy organic tampons.
Robyn: Wow. So just as long as it’s organic, you’re solid.
Dr. Seneff: I don’t know. I can’t guarantee that organic wouldn’t have it too, but obviously it should have a lot less. And that is a really scary thing, and I think that may be contributing both to PCOS (I mentioned that earlier, polycystic ovary syndrome, which is associated with the infertility and reproductive issues; the tampons are likely to be a causal factor) and breast cancer in young women.
Younger women are getting breast cancer, much more than they used to, pre-menopausal. Breast cancer is going up. And that could be connected as well. I think.
Robyn: A couple more products or things to avoid that you think are high impact
Dr. Seneff: The clothing too. If you think about cotton clothing — and I always bought cotton for my children because it was a natural product — cotton is very toxic. It’s not only got glyphosate, it’s got the BT gene insecticide built into it. And they use a lot of toxic chemicals on cotton. So I really wonder about cotton clothing.
I would encourage people to buy, especially for the infant, organic cotton tee-shirts and whatnot for their children, for their infants. You think about diapers, they are cotton. So organic diapers. I haven’t even looked into that, but you have to think about what the skin of your children is being exposed to.
We have an epidemic in eczema. That’s another one that I think is connected to glyphosate, from the cotton clothing. So, we have not just the food — and of course it’s in the vaccines, we’ll mention that in the next section — lots of foods.
You really have to watch out for those foods that are sprayed right before harvest. I think they’re even higher levels there than in the ones that are GMO Roundup-ready.
Robyn: We’ve sort of touched on that, but just to put a fine point on it, what Dr. Seneff is talking about is the fact that you spray with insecticide at some point earlier in the plant’s growth.
But she’s saying with oats, wheat and these legumes she mentioned (lentils, peas, chickpeas) there’s a second spraying, to use it as a desiccant to dry it out, and that’s become very popular. Those are crops that are extra important to buy organic, I believe you said. Yes?
Dr. Seneff: That’s right. Absolutely. Even though they’re not GMO. If you see non-gmo on an oat based product, that’s not good enough. It’s probably loaded with glyphosate.
Robyn: Well, this has been such an interesting conversation.
If you’re wanting to learn more about Dr. Stephanie Seneff’s work, there are lots of people who have also interviewed her very well. Just Google her at Stephanie Seneff, S-E-N-E-F-F, and you’ll learn more about her work at MIT and many other interviews that she’s done.
And one more question for you, Dr. Seneff, what are you working on that you’re excited about these days?
Dr. Seneff: I’m working very hard lately on a book on glyphosate, and I have a contract with Chelsea Green. I’m looking forward to getting that book out.
It’s going to be awhile, probably sometime next year. Hopefully it will show up on the market, and I hope that people will be encouraged to read it. I’m trying to make it accessible to the general public, but there’s a lot of science in it. So that’s a difficult task. But I’m doing the best I can with that.
Robyn: Well, very exciting. Let me know when it publishes. I can help you get the word out. And thanks so much for being with us today.
Dr. Seneff: Thank you so much for having me.
Robyn: I hope that you found this conversation with Dr. Seneff about the issues of glyphosate in the environment, but also just the buildup in human tissues and what the risks are to us, I hope you found it as interesting as I did.
I want to call attention to the fact that she mentioned that fulvic and humic acids are known to be great detoxifiers, helping increase the permeability of cell membranes, helping detoxify the body on a cellular level and on an organ level. And the GreenSmoothieGirl product Ultimate Minerals is concentrated fulvic and humic acid.
If you haven’t tried it yet, it is our most purchased and most repurchased product. It’s the one supplement I would take if I could only take one.
It’s the supplement I never travel without. And you can get it at greensmoothiegirl.com/ultimateminerals.
It’s far more than just all of the minerals and trace minerals. When I started using it, my hair started growing faster and thicker. It has remained that way for almost 10 years now. It is absolutely amazing and it supplies the neurological system. It helps me sleep better and helps me have more energy during the day.
I use it in water before bed, and when I wake up in the morning, a dropper-full. It is black like the earth where it came from, but it is organic and it is as concentrated as you can get it.
Go ahead and use the coupon code FIVEOFF, all in caps, FIVEOFF to get $5 off an Ultimate Minerals.
Also (because it’s so important to address the amount of glyphosate that we all have in our bodies), Dr. Seneff mentioned that she’s not as optimistic as Jeffrey Smith is, based on some research that you can bring levels way down in the body. Because she says there’s damage, there’s folded proteins and misfiring proteins in the body which causes all kinds of problems.
While that’s true, there’s also some really hopeful evidence that by eating very, very clean and optimizing your detoxification pathways, you can bring the measurable amount of glyphosate in your body way down.
I want to invite you into my very special video, a masterclass on human detoxification. How to do it safely and quickly and in a guided way. It’s free for you, right now, to jump into the video masterclass at greensmoothiegirl.com/detox.
So again, get five off with a coupon that says FIVEOFF in all caps on ultimate minerals at greensmoothiegirl.com/ultimateminerals. And these links will be in the show notes. And jump in on the video masterclass about detoxing to bring the levels of glyphosate in your own body way down, you and your family, at greensmoothiegirl.com/detox.
See you next time.
A recent published BioMed journal study on glyphosate:
Peterson, John, et al. “Concerns over Use of Glyphosate-Based Herbicides and Risks Associated with Exposures: a Consensus Statement.” Environmental Health, BioMed Central, 17 Feb. 2016, ehjournal.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12940-016-0117-0?mbid=synd_yahoofood.
[Related Article: Drink Wine, Drink Roundup—Why “Safe Levels” Aren’t]