In November, a very concerning report — Glyphosate: UFood Democracy Now!, raising the alarm of the high levels of glyphosate in the US food supply and the (deliberate?) low levels of awareness of its associated health risks.
Dave Murphy, executive director of Food Democracy Now!, joins us this week to explain the finding of this new report on the world’s most-used herbicide (more commonly known by its retail brand: Roundup). As happened in past decades with the alcohol and tobacco industries, there’s compelling evidence that profits have taken a priority over consumer safety — and as public health concerns are being raised, Big Ag is circling its wagons and attacking the questioners rather than embracing open scrutiny.
Are we being poisoned in the pursuit of profit?
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Look at the chemical and what actually it does. Monsanto has three patents for glyphosate and the first one is from 1964 from the Sulfur Chemical Company in Westport, Connecticut. It was originally used to clean pipes. It’s like Drano: it basically strips minerals out of and heavy metals out of a pipe. Scientists have found that it actually chelates those same minerals in soil and makes them unavailable into the plant. At some point in the 1960s a Monsanto chemist discovered that it would also kill weeds. Monsanto applied for a patent in ’68 or ’69, was awarded that patent in ’74, and that is when Roundup first went on the market.
It was used you know in forests and to kill weeds on road sides and that kind of thing. It was used in forest management for a long time and in public parks.
Today, 300 million pounds of glyphosate-based herbicides are used here in the United States each year. In our report ,we have one graph showing how from 1992 (four years prior to Roundup Ready crops being introduced) to 2014 — I mean — the states of Minnesota becomes three quarters covered in all black. Iowa is fully blotted out. Illinois is fully blotted out. North Dakota is mostly blotted out and so is South Dakota, Nebraska and Kansas. And this is just showing you how widespread glyphosate use is.
The US geological survey did tests in 2007 and again in 2011, showing that 75% of the rain water and river and stream samples in the Midwest contained glyphosate, which is pretty alarming. This chemical is being sprayed on our food and then is evaporating into the air and going downwind and being taken up into clouds. It can fall hundreds of miles away from where it is originally applied.
The reason we took our time with this report and why we made it so detailed is because the highest level of glyphosate found today is in Cheerios, which is often the first solid food that a mother will feed her child as they are transitioning from breast milk or formula. Cheerios is an iconic brand, and all the mothers I talk to explain how their babies love to grab onto them. They are a perfect finger food because they have that hole in the center. And so it is a common food for a mother to automatically give her child. The only problem is a single serving of Cheerios to a one year old child would subject them to a harmful dose of glyphosate.
Click the play button below to listen to Chris’ interview with Dave Murphy (81m:26s).