If you spend enough time researching GMO’s you will undoubtedly come across the oft used claim that farmers spray drastically less herbicides since the introduction of roundup ready seeds — Genetically Modified seeds that can withstand being spread with roundup. Spraying less chemical herbicides or pesticides  would go in the pro column for using GMO seeds because of the toxic nature of most the chemicals spread on crops.

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But is there any truth to these claims?

Personally, when I come across statements like this, my first instinct is to think if it makes logical sense. 

So I ask you; does it make logical sense for Monsanto, a chemical corporation that joined the seed game in the 1990’s, to make a seed that would crush their chemical sales?

I think we can all agree that is not logical.

Remember, Roundup was so powerful it would kill weeds and crop alike. So, the logical thing to think would actually be that Monsanto is creating a seed that can resist its herbicide so they can spray more of that chemical on crops.

The statistics clearly show that the latter is true here.

According to a study published on February 2nd by Environmental Sciences Europe, since the introduction of Roundup ready crops, the amount of glyphopate (the main ingredient in roundup) skyrocketed:

Since 1974 in the U.S., over 1.6 billion kilograms of glyphosate active ingredient have been applied, or 19 % of estimated global use of glyphosate (8.6 billion kilograms). Globally, glyphosate use has risen almost 15-fold since so-called “Roundup Ready,” genetically engineered glyphosate-tolerant crops were introduced in 1996. Two-thirds of the total volume of glyphosate applied in the U.S. from 1974 to 2014 has been sprayed in just the last 10 years.

The study explains one of the major causes for the increase in its background section, stating:

Growing reliance on the broad-spectrum herbicide glyphosate has triggered the spread of tolerant and resistant weeds in the U.S. and globally. To combat weeds less sensitive to glyphosate, farmers typically increase glyphosate application rates and spray more often. In addition, next-generation herbicide-tolerant crops are, or will soon be on the market genetically engineered to withstand the application of additional herbicides (up to over a dozen), including herbicides posing greater ecological, crop damage, and human health risks (e.g., 2,4-D and dicamba) .

In summery, the use of roundup caused weeds to evolve and become resistant to the main component in Roundup, leading to farmers using more Roundup to kill these weeds.

But don’t worry about the “super-weeds” caused by the overuse of Roundup,  the biotech industry wants to replace Roundup-ready seeds with seeds that resist being sprayed with stronger herbicide that will theoretically kill the “super-weeds”, that the overuse of roundup caused.

Of course, the damage to the environment and human health will likely be even greater and this will most likely also cause weeds that evolve to handle this newier more deadly herbicide, just like they did with Roundup.

But that is not Monsanto’s problem, they have their bottom line to think about, after all.

The most shocking part of this study is the amount of glyphosate that is spread.  The chart on table 5 shows the stats for the amount of glyphosate used worldwide since 1974, showing over 500 kg of glyphosate being spread worldwide from 1974 to 1994. However, that number jumped to a staggering 6,133 million kg from 2004 to 2015! Moreover, throughout the review, the scientist repeatedly mention that the stats on the amount of roundup sprayed on many of the crops is incomplete, making the actual numbers even higher.

In total 9.4 million tons of glyphosate has been sprayed worldwide since 1974, with the vast majority coming after the introduction of roundup ready seeds. This makes glyphosate the the most sprayed agricultural chemical ever sprayed!

Health issues related to Glyphosate

The major concern with the use of chemical pesticides/herbicides is that they have been historically very toxic to humans and destructive to the environment.  Sadly, the world regulatory agencies do not require advanced independent safety studies before they allow these chemicals to be sprayed. So most of the time, it takes decades before enough evidence is collected to force these agencies  to ban these chemicals. We are not at the point were they are banning glyphosate yet, however last year the World Health Organizations put glyphosate on the probable carcinogenic to humans list.

Now I ask you, if they have connected enough data to suggest it probably causes cancer, then why are they just putting it on a list instead of banning it?

Let’s look at some of the studies linking glyphosate to various diseases.

  • A meta-analysis of 44 studies since 1980 found that people exposed to glyphosate double the risk of developing non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
  • A study focusing on the effects of pure glyphosate on estrogen receptors found that “low [parts per trillion concentration] and environmentally relevant concentrations of glyphosate possessed estrogenic activity.” This induced the growth of breast cancer cells.
  • Another study found that underlying mechanisms remain unclear but it causes cell death “main environmental factor associated with neurodegenerative disorders,” like Parkinson’s.
  • It was linked to a chronic kidney disease epidemic that has hit Central America, India and Sri Lanka according to this study. The epidemics involved poor farmers that spent all day working the field spread with glyphosate.
  • Another review finds that it causes birth defects. Even more troubling they found that Monsanto and regulatory agencies knew and covered this up.

I could go on, but I think we get the point. glyphosate, the main ingredient in the most sprayed agricultural chemical ever, is toxic and causes a wide array of health problems in humans. Additionally, the world regulatory agencies know about the health concerns but allow the chemical to be sprayed. Furthermore, the claim that roundup ready seeds have led to using less chemical herbicides is another example of industry propaganda that masquerades as truth.

So what do we do to fight this?

Well, the first step is to forget about getting the government to do anything about this themselves. At this point, it is pretty clear the regulatory agencies are in bed with the industry and protecting them . So we must inform as many people as possible about the insanely high amounts of toxic chemical herbicides that are being sprayed.

We simply must counter the propaganda with facts.

We must “unveil the knowledge” if you will.