Simple explanations for complex problems are always very tempting but they rarely prove to be the answer. This is especially true in our modern medical world where diverse, debilitating and ever more common conditions such as allergy, coeliac disease, Parkinsons, MS, ME and autism continue to baffle experts and defy all attempts to explain them.
Which is why the scary parallel between the increasing use of glyphosate and the incidence of autism over the last 20 years has been creating more than ripples in the scientific world. (Glyphosate is the main ingredient in Monsanto’s very widely used Roundup weedkiller, the one that all GMO crops have been bred to resist. It is used on most corn, wheat and soya grown in the US.)
The link has been tracked and the correlations suggested by Stephanie Seneff, a researcher at MIT. She is currently touring the US with a presentation suggesting that not only is the rise in autism (from one in 5,000 children in 1975 to one in 68 children in the US today) but the equally massive rise in digestive system disorders (Crohn’s, coeliac disease etc) all correlate eerily accurately with the rise in the use of glyphosate.
Her claim is that glyphosate is basically toxic in that it:
• kills beneficial gut bacteria allowing pathogens to take over
• interferes with function of cytochrome P450 (CYP) enzymes (These enzymes are vital to allow us to degrade and eliminate drugs from our systems.)
• chelates (pulls out of our systems) important minerals such as iron, cobalt, manganese etc
• interferes with the synthesis of ‘aromatic amino acids and methionine’ – which can affect vital neurotransmitters and our folate levels
• disrupts sulfate synthesis and sulfate transport (sulfate is vital to the efficient functioning of the body)
• and that adjuvants used in Roundup (adjuvants are extra ingredients added to amplify the effect of the active ingredient) can amplify its toxic effects up to 1000 times.
(She also maintains that this is not ‘new news’ and that although glyphosate has long been recognised as one of the most toxic of pesticides, ‘huge economic interests’ were deemed to outweigh public safety so that health risk assessments have been falsified and health policy decisions delayed.)
In relation specifically to autism she then lists some of the biomarkers for autism, all of which could be attributed to the effect of glyphosate on biological systems – as could the alarming increase in gut related disorders in the US.
Of course, correlations are not causation but when those correlations are as close as those that Stephanie Seneff has plotted, you do have to wonder. In the US where GMO, and therefore RoundUp treated, corn, soya and now wheat are ubiquitous in the food chain, her listeners are not only wondering but getting seriously worried. Don’t blame ’em!
18th July. You might also want to read this article by Jajma Sadeque in The Nation.