Glyphosate 101

Learning about ‘Satan’s molecule’

Glyphosate by any other name…
I was reading my hubby’s copy of Mother Earth News the other night, taking particular interest in an article called “GMOs: The Controversy Builds,” by Shelley Stonebrook. In it, Stonebrook focuses considerable attention on the chemical glyphosate.

Glyphosate, for the unfamiliar, is what is known as a broad-spectrum systemic herbicide, meaning that it can kill a wide variety of plants, including perennial plants, by permeating the entire plant from roots to leaves.

Glyphosate is also, as Stonebrook points out, “the main ingredient in Roundup.” And Roundup, as many folks know, is what is freely used on the genetically altered “Roundup-Ready crops” produced by agrichemical giant Monsanto.

Stonebrook raises a red flag when it comes to food safety and the use of glyphosate/Roundup, which can “be sprayed on crops just a few days before harvest to promote faster combining and lower drying costs. … This herbicide does stay on crops post-harvest, and it does end up in our food.”

She points to a study released by Friends of the Earth Europe in June citing “a series of urine tests on random people in 18 countries across Europe to find out whether any glyphosate … would show up in their urine. On average, 44 percent of people had the herbicide in their bodies.”

As was pointed out in a June 13 article at, “The findings raise concerns about increasing levels of exposure to glyphosate-based weedkillers, commonly used by farmers, public authorities and gardeners across Europe. The use of glyphosate is predicted to rise further if more genetically modified (GM) crops are grown in Europe.

“Despite its widespread use, there is currently little monitoring of glyphosate in food, water or the wider environment. This is the first time monitoring has been carried out across Europe for the presence of the weedkiller in human bodies.”

As far as the United States goes, Stonebrook pointed out that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency increased allowable glyphosate-residue limits just this past May, keeping pace with the rise in glyphosate use. A chart accompanying her article presents USDA data showing that the use of glyphosate on corn crops has increased markedly: In 1995, 1,385,000 pounds of glyphosate-sprayed GM corn was produced, a number which increased to 63,212,000 pounds by 2010.

As Russia-based news site put it in a July article, “Biotech giant Monsanto has been awarded yet another victory by the federal government thanks to a recent Environmental Protection Agency decision to allow larger traces of the herbicide glyphosate in farm-grown foods.”

“So what?” a person might say.

Well, does not refer to the chemical as “Satan’s molecule” and a “life-destroying poison” for nothing.

The piece referenced a June Cornucopia Institute study that found glyphosate “exerted proliferative effects in human hormone-dependent breast cancer.”

The article also mentioned a study released in April by MIT senior research scientist Stephanie Seneff and independent researcher Anthony Samsel, which concludes that the negative impact of glyphosate “on the body is insidious and manifests slowly over time as inflammation damages cellular systems throughout the body.” Consequences of this damage “are most of the diseases and conditions associated with a Western diet, which include gastrointestinal disorders, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, depression, autism, infertility, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.”

The same study noted that “glyphosate enhances the damaging effects of other foodborne chemical residues and environmental toxins.”

Quote of the week:
Developed in 1974, Roundup® brand agricultural herbicides continue to be a perfect fit with the vision of sustainable agriculture and environmental protection. –from, the website of agrichemical corporation Monsanto.