A recent Monsanto trial in California is important for those of us who want to do our best to stay healthy. The plaintiff in the trial was Dewayne Johnson, who never imagined he would be known as “dying man” in news headlines1. He is a former groundskeeper for a Solano county school district in California and was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2014. Mr. Johnson took Monsanto to court this year claiming that his cancer was caused by glyphosate, the active ingredient in the company’s weed killers Ranger Pro and Roundup. Glyphosate has garnered the headlines because it is the most commonly used herbicide in the world.
Mr. Johnson spent a couple of years spraying Monsanto’s weed killer Ranger Pro, a more concentrated formulation of Roundup, from a 50-gallon tank. While he did wear protective gear, his exposure included drift that would cover his face in a fine mist, as well as an instance when the truck’s hose broke and soaked him with pesticide. The jury sided with Johnson in what is being called a landmark verdict and awarded him $289.25 million in compensatory and punitive damages. The judge let the compensatory verdict stand and reduced the punitive damages from $250 million to $39 million, which means the total award was $78 million. Monsanto plans to appeal. More than 8,000 lawsuits are now pending against Monsanto; the next trial is scheduled to begin February 5, 2019.
How concerned should we be? While Mr. Johnson had a job that exposed him to high levels of the pesticide, glyphosate is increasingly showing up in people’s bodies. This assessment comes from a study by Paul Mills, PhD, a San Diego School of Medicine professor at the University of California.2 His study tracked people in Southern California over the age of 50 from 1993 – 1996 and 2014 – 2016. The number of people who tested positive for glyphosate increased by 500% and the levels of glyphosate increased by 1208% over that time. The increase in levels corresponds to the introduction of genetically modified (GMO) crops tolerant to Roundup.
Roundup Ready crops were introduced in 1996. Since the goal of agriculture is to protect harvests to obtain the highest yields, one might easily assume that genetically engineered crops would be bred to be intrinsically healthier and more resistant to pests. This was not the direction taken. Roundup Ready crops, also known as glyphosate-tolerant crops, were engineered to be immune to glyphosate.
Glyphosate deactivates a vital enzyme in a susceptible plant, causing the plant to stop growing and eventually die. Roundup Ready crops receive the genetic code from a bacterium that allows them to make a form of the enzyme immune to glyphosate; therefore, they can be sprayed with no adverse effect. Since the introduction of Roundup Ready crops, the use of glyphosate globally has risen more than 15-fold. Two-thirds of the volume of glyphosate used in the US between 1970 and 2014 was sprayed in the last ten years of that period.
The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer has determined that glyphosate is a probable carcinogen. Monsanto’s claim to the contrary, that glyphosate is a time-tested, established, safe chemical, was muddied during the trial. Internal company documents revealed that Monsanto colluded with an EPA agent to suppress a glyphosate review by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, used ghostwritten research papers signed by prominent scientists, and otherwise manipulated and suppressed unfavorable research. The EPA and other regulatory agencies still consider glyphosate safe. While the trial focused on glyphosate as a carcinogen, one ongoing study found that the chemical disrupts the sexual development and microbiome of rats.3 This is one of several studies linking glyphosate to changes in the microbiome of animals.
Glyphosate is just one example of our daily and increasing exposure to chemicals, many of them untested for safety. Do we even know what to test for? This exposure makes it imperative to detoxify; along with diet and nutrition, detoxification is the third pillar of health. It is up to us as individuals to evaluate the positions and act on our own behalf to stay healthy.
We at AMD are excited about a study that shows significant excretion of glyphosate after use of our IonCleanse detox foot bath. You can access the results of this study here.
2. Mills, Paul J., Phd; Karia-Korvel, Izabela, PhD; Fagan, John, PhD; McEvoy, Linda K, PhD; Laughlin, Gail A, PhD; Barret-Conner, Elizabeth, MD, 2017. “Excretion of the Herbicide Glyphosate in Older Adults Between 1993 and 2016.” JAMA. 2017;318(16):1610-1611. Web 06 Nov. 2018.
3. Mao, Qixin; Manservisi, Fabiana; Panzacchi, Simona; Mandrioli, Daniele; Menghetti, Ilaria; Vornoli, Andrea; Bua, Luciano; Falcioni, Laura; Lesseur, Corina; Chen, Jia; Belpoggi, Fiorella; Hu, Jianzhong. “The Ramazzini Institute 13-week pilot study on glyphosate and Roundup administered at human-equivalent dose to Sprague Dawley rats: effects on the microbiome.” Environmental Health. 2018; 17: 50. Web 06 Nov. 2018.