Right now a blog about a study linking the active ingredient in Roundup (glyphosate) and illness is circulating widely on the internet. (http://www.thehealthyhomeeconomist.com/real-reason-for-toxic-wheat-its-not-gluten/”). It is great that this information is spreading. However, I think the author of the blog presents an oversimplified solution to the problems our glyphosate exposure really create.
Unfortunately, the pre-harvest drying of crops with glyphosate is done to crops most Americans eat too much of, such as sugar. Unfortunately, Italians (and other Europeans) also eat foods sprayed with glyphosate — and are in the process of raising their allowable residue limits as well.
This means that the blog’s advice to eat non-organic in Europe and switch to organic Einkorn wheat at home is at most a good beginning.
If you continue to eat GM sugar beets or pre-harvest sprayed sugar cane sugar in your gluten-free foods, mustards, coffee, desserts, etc. you will NOT have solved your problem. And given that the European Market (EU) allows more glyphosate residue on wine grapes and olives than the US does, you most likely will get a hefty dose of the toxin on your trips abroad as well.
The Samsel & Seneff review of glyphosate is an important study. It relies heavily on the fact that certain illnesses are rising at the same growth rate as glyphosate exposure. This, of course, does not prove causation. As someone pointed out, the quantity of organic food purchased also shows a similar growth rate but no one is claiming (as far as I know) that organic food is causing diabetes or Parkinson’s Disease. Fortunately, for the most part, the review cites other studies that firm up the link between glyphosate and a variety of illnesses.
Because I think this review presents important data, the toxin discussion in class notes that glyphosate is associated with a variety of illnesses, that its use has increased thanks in part to GM herbicide resistant plants (like sugar beets) and in part to the fact that some crops (e.g., wheat, sugar cane, sweet potatoes) are sprayed with it pre-harvest. As a result, glyphosate residue on our food has increased. In response the FDA recently raised allowable residue on our food. But again this is not only happening here; the rest of the world is following suit
Currently, the allowable US residue on wheat is 30 parts per million (ppm), European wheat is limited to 10 ppm. Sugar cane can have 2 ppm (EU 0.01 ppm), sugar beet root 10 ppm (EU 15), sweet potato 3 ppm (EU 0.01), wine grapes 0.2 (EU 0.5), olives 0.2 (EU 1). So while the US definitely allows higher amounts on wheat than say Italy does, Italian wheat still has a fairly high allowable residue — and one that is in the process of being raised. Italy allows more on wine grapes, and olives so if you went to Italy and ate a lot of pasta with olives and drank a lot of wine you might end up with a glyphosate exposure similar to someone in the US who ate wheat sparingly. And someone in the US eating only organic Einkorn wheat but still eating a lot of sugary foods might still be getting a lot of glyphosate. (I mention Italy because the blog spoke of people being able to enjoy Italian pasta in Europe.)
I strongly advise avoiding glyphosate. However, simply switching to organic Einkorn, while eating non-organic wheat freely while traveling Europe and merrily eating non-organic sugars, sweet potatoes, etc. and other glyphosate-sprayed foods at home and abroad is not going to eliminate your exposure to glyphosate. It might not even put much of a dent in your exposure if you do not consume much wheat or eat a lot foods containing added sugar.
I do believe that glyphosate plays a role in wheat sensitivities. But so do the simple sugars in the diet. I have students who only eat organically grown food but still have sensitivities. Gluten can trigger reactions all on its own. Most likely glyphosate has a very negative effect on our intestinal flora and predisposes us to food sensitivities. Once a person develops a wheat sensitivity, however, switching to organic Einkorn will not solve their inflammatory woes.
I mention organic Einkorn wheat because the blog author sees that as a solution to wheat sensitivities. In fact, if you are not wheat intolerant, you can eat any variety of organic wheat. Einkorn is simply one of several old varieties of wheat that are lower in gluten. If you are gluten sensitive, the lower amount of gluten in Einkorn will still trouble your body. And, of course, if the organic Einkorn bread you end up eating, or the jam you put on it, is made with either GM sugar beet or sprayed sugar cane, you’ll get a dose of glyphosate regardless!
CONCLUSION: Our GM soy, corn, and sugar beets, our pre-harvest dried wheat, sugar cane, sweet potatoes and as well our conventional sprayed foods ranging from wine grapes to rice come with glyphosate residue. The ultimate issue is the herbicide glyphosate, it is not about the wheat. And given the high sugar content in most American’s diet, this is at least as much about sugar as it is about wheat. So going gluten-free or only eating organic Einkorn or Spelt forms of wheat is not the solution. The real solution is to go glyphosate-free and that means avoiding everything from conventional soy bean oil to non-organic sugary desserts.
Photograph “Glyphosate” public domain by Benja-Bmm27
Photograph “Monsanto’s Mobile Technology Unit at UIUC” Ryan Griffis
Photograph “Sugar cane” Cliff
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