Hidden and Sub-lethal Poisoning

By now, you may have heard the news that the Environmental Working Group (EWG) tested 21 oat-based foods and they all tested positive for the Roundup/glyphosate pesticide. The real tragedy of this is that many of these foods are fed to children whose detoxification systems are not yet fully developed so the health effects are much worse for them than adults.

The EPA responded a day later to the EWG’s findings, but they left out some important parts of the story. I wrote what they aren’t telling the public in brackets. Here is their statement:

EPA has established a tolerance (maximum legal residue level) for residues of glyphosate in oats at 30 parts per million (ppm) or 30,000 parts per billion (ppb). The EWG samples listed in the linked article are all well below the EPA tolerance. Residues of glyphosate on any food or feed item are safe for consumers if they are below the established tolerances. The presence of a detectable pesticide residue does not mean the residue is at an unsafe level.” [Never mind that the EPA has raised the glyphosate tolerance level allowed on oats to now be 300 times higher than it was in 1993.]

“Due to its widespread use, trace amounts of glyphosate residues may be found in various fresh fruits, vegetables, cereals, and other food and beverage commodities. However, these trace amounts are not of concern for the consumer.” [New scientific studies show that even trace amounts of glyphosate can disrupt the endocrine system and gut microbiome, and is strongly linked to fatty liver disease and diabetes, just to name a few.]

“If residues are found above the established tolerance level, the commodity will be subject to seizure by the government.” [But they only test four foods! The USDA and the FDA are the regulatory agencies responsible for monitoring the pesticide residues in our food. The FDA conducts tests for the residues of hundreds of pesticides via its Pesticide Residue Monitoring Program. But prior to 2016, the FDA didn’t test for glyphosate residues (and only then due to enormous public pressure).[1] In the most current report (2016) only corn, soy, milk and eggs were tested. The USDA annually tests hundreds of foods for pesticide residues through their Pesticide Data Program. But as of 2017, they do not test foods for glyphosate residues, a notable omission.[2] That’s why organizations in the private and non-profit sectors are now testing foods for glyphosate residues, to fill in the gap. Here is the link to the FDA’s explanation about why they did not test for glyphosate prior to 2016: https://www.fda.gov/food/pesticides/questions-and-answers-glyphosate]

“EPA has concluded that glyphosate is not likely to be carcinogenic to humans. EPA considered a significantly more extensive and relevant data set than the International Agency on the Research for Cancer (IARC). EPA’s database includes studies submitted to support registration of glyphosate and studies EPA identified in the open literature.” [Most of those additional studies were funded by the chemical companies and were not available to the public. Studies paid for by the agricultural chemical companies are fundamentally biased. The IARC used only publicly available, peer-reviewed studies conducted by independent experts who are free from vested interests.[3]]

“EPA’s cancer classification is consistent with other international expert panels and regulatory authorities, including the Canadian Pest Management Regulatory Agency, Australian Pesticide and Veterinary Medicines Authority, European Food Safety Authority, European Chemicals Agency, German Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, New Zealand Environmental Protection Authority, and the Food Safety Commission of Japan.” [Regulatory agencies are often infiltrated by high level executives who were once employed by the agricultural chemical companies. These executives can then make the rules, such as 1) not monitoring Roundup/glyphosate residues in food and 2) raising the allowable limits. These rules allow the chemical companies to declare that the public is safe from health impacts even in the face of increasing evidence that public’s health is at risk.]

If you doubt the truth of what I am saying here, please read the paper, “Supercide Me”, free and downloadable on our website: https://thejoyofplenty.org/books/supercide-me/. My physician, Steven Rotter, MD and I explain the untold part of the Roundup/glyphosate story and include links to credible primary source documents. And I highly suggest you open and scan the links to the FDA and USDA reports included here, to get a general idea of the huge number of pesticides applied to our food. These will make for good reading in the morning while you eat your oat-based breakfast cereal. Just suggestin’.

The EPA raises the amount of Roundup/glyphosate allowed on our food as the amounts farmer’s use rises. The vertical red lines denote the rise in the allowable amounts since 1993 and the yellow background shows the rise in the amount of glyphosate that farmers use. Chart created by Politico Pro.

[1] Monitoring Program, Fiscal Year 2016 Pesticide Report,” US Food and Drug Administration, page 26, accessed at: https://www.fda.gov/media/117088/download

[2] “Pesticide Data Program, Annual Summary, Calendar Year 2017,” Appendix B, page 53, US Department of Agriculture, accessed at https://www.ams.usda.gov/sites/default/files/media/2017PDPAnnualSummary.pdf

[3] https://www.iarc.fr/featured-news/media-centre-iarc-news-glyphosate/

Half the Truth is a Lie, Part One

A couple of weeks ago when I was thumbing through The New York Times, I couldn’t help but notice the blue and white full-page advertisement placed by Bayer/Monsanto in defense of Roundup/glyphosate. The heading reads “Let’s talk about Roundup® herbicides”. Oh no!

The company is launching a campaign to convince the public that the pesticide won’t harm our health. When big corporations see their profits are threatened, (please see previous two posts for explanation of this) they launch massive campaigns designed to manipulate the public’s opinion. These campaigns will be filled with propaganda and disinformation, including paid ads disguised as news meant to create doubt. An unsuspecting reader might read these ads and be convinced the stuff is safe enough to drink in a martini every night. And the corporation certainly doesn’t want you to know that most GMO food has been modified to withstand increasingly strong applications of the stuff, and that the pesticide is showing up in our food, soil, water and air with increasing frequency.

But here’s the thing: a lie can be told via a “half-truth”. It’s lying by omission. It’s lying by presenting only part of the story and omitting the full context.

So knowing that, let’s read the ad between the lines:

“Glyphosate-based herbicides, which include most Roundup® products, are among the most rigorously studied products of their kind”. What they don’t want you to know:

That the chemical companies hire scientists to do the research necessary to get pesticides approved by regulators,[1] so the scientists are bought and paid for by the chemical companies. This naturally creates a conflict of interest dynamic, because the scientists will feel duty, obligation and loyalty to the authorizing power over them. The scientist might feel pressure to conform to the company’s objectives and standards. Under this pressure, the researchers often skew the findings, fail to question fundamental premises, and suppress awareness of contradictions so that the results favor industry profits over the public’s health. Then when agribusiness companies answer questions about pesticide safety, they can claim with authority that decades of scientific studies have shown the chemicals to be safe for human use and that no credible scientific evidence exists otherwise.

As you can see, it’s all in the family – at least in the feudalistic one, where the corporations are the overlords. So now you’ve read between the lines and you know more of the truth than you did before.

Advertisement in The New York Times, Wednesday, March 27, 2019

[1] Danny Hakim, “Scientists Loved and Loathed by an  Agrochemical Giant,” New York Times, December 31, 2016, accessed at  https://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/31/business/scientists-loved-and-loathed-by-syngenta-an-agrochemical-giant.html

A Glimmer of Hope

My faith in the American government has been somewhat restored. And it feels invigorating, like a breath of fresh, floral spring air filling up my senses. I haven’t felt such a glimmer of hope about our government in years. Oh my, did I ever need that!

Why am I feeling optimistic? Because of the Bayer/Monsanto/Roundup trials (please see previous post). Apparently there are 11,200 other similar cases waiting to go to trial. So, we can expect this topic to be circulating in the news for quite sometime.

But this is more than just a news story. The stories reveal a deeper truth: that the United States’ judicial system is inadvertently taking on the role of protecting the public’s health, because the appropriate regulatory agencies have failed to do so. Everyone plays a role in this current situation. The regulatory system holds regulators in a vice-like grip of science versus politics, and economics versus health. The public’s demand for inexpensive food and the government’s desire to decrease hunger by making cheap food available contributes to the problem. Ethical considerations prohibit testing pesticides on humans. Regulatory agencies around the world are infiltrated with executives from the agribusiness industry so there are conflicts of interest. All this results in an ineffective and fundamentally flawed regulatory system.

The primary regulatory bodies that oversee the public’s health – the Environmental Protection Agency, the Food and Drug Administration, and the United States Department of Agriculture – have all been emasculated to one degree or another because the corporations greatly influence government functions at every level. The fact that 11,200 cases are now working their way through the courts reflects the failure of our regulatory agencies.

The cases are also a testament to the brilliance of our founding fathers. Their genius created a checks and balances system that preserves the integrity of our government. The trials demonstrate the moderation of power in action between the judicial, legislative and executive branches of government. Unfortunately, the regulatory agencies are under the jurisdiction of the executive branch so they can, and have become, highly politicized.

The downside of the judicial system acting as regulator is that they can respond only after the fact, after the damage has already occurred. Judiciary is reactionary, not proactive.

But who was it that said “better late than never“? I’ll take that breath of fresh air and hopefulness over nothing at all.