David and Goliath: Taking on Glyphosates and Monsanto




There are many David and Goliath stories these days, stories it seems we love to hear. Perhaps we are comforted to think our actions count, that we can really do something. Even the Dali Lama gets into it with the famous quote, If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito.

I do not mean to discredit this. I believe it is true. But while what we do individually is important, but it is also critical that on some issues we act politically. Which brings me to the use of glyphosate (as in Monsanto’s Roundup) in weed suppression.

A new peer-reviewed report, published in Entropy, April 1913, by M.I.T. researcher Dr. Stephanie Seneff and retired science consultant Anthony Samsel, shows that glyphosate may be much more dangerous to humans, other mammals, and plants, than was previously believed. Glyphosate was understood to act only on plants, but what was overlooked is the fact that the chemical does affect the gut bacteria in animals. Glyphosate residues in foods commonly eaten by most of us everyday “enhance the damaging effects of other food-borne chemical residues and toxins in the environment to disrupt normal body functions and induce disease,” thereby leaving us (and all mammals) vulnerable to autoimmune diseases such as diabetes, cancer, gastrointestinal disorders, as well as obesity, heart disease, autism, infertility, and neurological disorders, including Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease. The study states, “Negative impact on the body is insidious and manifests slowly over time as inflammation damages cellular systems throughout the body.”

The report recommendation: more studies need to be done immediately and should these findings be upheld, glyphosate’s use needs to be drastically curtailed.

Of course, this is not music to Monsanto’s ears! Monsanto, the developer of Roundup, has sought to discredit any study questioning the use of its products. Jerry Steiner, Monsanto’s executive vice president of sustainability, states, “We are very confident in the long track record that glyphosate has. It has been very, very extensively studied (Huffington Post).”

What is true in this statement is that glyphosate has a long track record of making a lot of money for Monsanto, its use having increased eightfold from 1992 to 2007. As we know, Monsanto is a powerful corporation, even trying insert its interests into the current 2013 Farm Bill in limiting states’ rights to require GMO labeling. 

In the face of these studies questioning the health risks of the use of glyphosate, one would think that the EPA would limit or prohibit its use. But no! Instead, the E.P.A. is actually considering increasing the limit. A deadline of 2015 has been set for review. This study is one of many that has been submitted.

What can we do?

Individually we can vote with our dollars, not purchasing conventionally grown, unlabeled GMO food that almost certainly was sprayed and has glyphosate residue in it. This includes corn and any corn product, soy, canola oil, cottonseed oil, sugar beets, tomatoes, squash, potatoes, Golden rice, any meat fed non-organic grain (soy and corn), and GM salmon. If it is not certified organic or if you do not know your farmer’s practices, don’t buy it. Children and the elderly are particularly vulnerable to GMO foods and the residues of glyphosate in them.

Stop using all glyphosate products such as Roundup in your yard, driveway, or in farming. (Paradoxically, when we stopped using Roundup in our vineyard, we stopped getting as many weeds.) Weeding and mowing are work, but they are honest and healthy occupations.

But it is also time to act politically. Consider contacting your congresspeople and the EPA, and donate money to organizations such as Organic Consumers Association which work politically to make sure these studies are taken into account. We cannot let ourselves be bullied by multinational corporations.

It is one thing to find out a product that we thought would make life easier actually is harmful. It is quite another to have corporate interests override research that questions their product at the cost of the health of so many of us, lobbying our legislators for their own interests. Glyphosate enters the waterways and our food chain, reminding us that we are one.  What impacts any one of us may well impact us all. To continue pushing products shown to be harmful, to suppress our right to know that these harmful products may well be in the food we ingest, all in the name of corporate profit, becomes something very big. Then it can even be called a crime against humanity.