Becketwood Cooperative
An Active, Independent 55+ Community of Owners in Minneapolis

Four Headlines and a Funeral

By Carol Spearman, Becketwood Member

Within one week, I read four disturbing headlines that led me to some distressing conclusions. Two of the headlines were recent and the second and third ones were from prior years, but re-posted because of their current relevancy.

Headline # 1 – Unique Hair Testing Project Reveals High Levels of Glyphosate in Members of the Japanese Parliament – Posted on August 29, 2019 by Sustainable Pulse

The majority of the 23 politicians from the Japanese parliament had long-term exposure to a variety of pesticides, including the world’s most used herbicide, glyphosate. The testing was carried out by the Detox Project. The project’s Director, Henry Rowlands, said that the development of new hair testing methods that identify long-term exposure to pesticides made this unique project possible.

The results have shocked the Japanese population and leaders intend to take action. A member of the Japanese House of Councilors, Mizuho Fukushima, called out foreign wheat imports from the US and Canada as a major problem, owing to the practice of pre-harvest spraying using glyphosate. He is quoted: “We need to promote organic and free school meals using organic rice and local wheat bread.” As another part of the project, the Pediatric Food Analysis Center tested bread, imported wine, cup noodles and wheat.  Most tested positive for glyphosate residues.

Headline # 2 – GM Crops Now Banned in 39 Countries Worldwide – Posted on October 22, 2015 by Sustainable Pulse Research

Sustainable Pulse, a global news outlet covering sustainable agriculture, GMOs and pesticides, researched which countries have decided to ban the cultivation of GM crops. Twenty-eight European countries, including Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland had the ban in place. Other European countries included France, Germany, Russia, Greece, Italy, Denmark, The Netherlands, Norway and Switzerland. England is not listed. Four countries in Asia, four in the Americas, and two in Africa are included in the ban. The picture in Africa is not clear because of the pressure of the biotech industry and the Gates Foundation on African governments to lift long-standing bans on the import of unmilled GMO seeds and food. Note: Canada and the US continue to grow GM (genetically modified) crops, including soy and corn, and spray wheat and other grains directly with glyphosate at the time of harvest.

Headline # 3 –Huge Increase in US Chronic Diseases Linked to Glyphosate Herbicides – Posted on November 7, 2014 by Sustainable Pulse

The Journal of Organic Systems published a correlation study in November of 2015 linking glyphosate, the world’s number one herbicide, to a huge increase in the incidence of chronic diseases in the US. The following is from the study’s abstract:

A huge increase in the incidence and prevalence of chronic diseases has been reported in the US over the last 20 years. The herbicide glyphosate was introduced in 1974 and its use is accelerating with the advent of herbicide-tolerant genetically engineered (GE/GM) crops. Evidence is mounting that glyphosate interferes with many metabolic processes in plants and animals and glyphosate residues have been detected in both. Glyphosate disrupts the endocrine system and the balance of gut bacteria, it damages DNA, and is a driver of mutations that lead to cancer. In the present study, US government databases were searched for GE/GM crop data, glyphosate application data, and disease epidemiological data. Correlation analyses were then performed on a total of 22 diseases in these time-series data sets.

The article then goes on to say that correlation coefficients are highly significant between glyphosate applications and hypertension, stroke, diabetes prevalence and incidence, obesity, lipoprotein metabolism disorder, Alzheimer’s, senile dementia, Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, autism, inflammatory bowel disease, intestinal infections, end stage renal disease, acute kidney failure, cancers of the thyroid, liver, bladder, pancreas and kidney, and myeloid leukemia. They also found that the correlation coefficients are highly significant between the percentage of GE/GM corn and soy planted in the US and hypertension, stroke, diabetes prevalence and incidence, obesity, lipoprotein metabolism disorder, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, hepatitis C, end stage renal disease, acute kidney failure, cancer of the thyroid, liver, bladder, pancreas and kidney, and myeloid leukemia. Their conclusion in 2014 was “The significance and strength of the correlations show that the effects of glyphosate and GE/GM crops on human health should be further investigated.”

This study was done because of the alarming increase in serious illnesses and a marked decrease in life expectancy in the last 20 years. The Centers for Disease Control estimated the high costs of these increases, with an expenditure on health care of 2.2 trillion dollars in 2007. In spite of this information, the US continues to support the planting of GE/GM crops and the spraying of glyphosate at the time of harvest of grains, which is affecting all non-organic bread and cereal products.

Headline # 4  Our Food Is Killing Too Many of Us.

Improving American nutrition would make the biggest impact on our health care. By Dariush Mozaffarian, Dean of the Tufts Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, and Dan Glickman, Secretary of Agriculture from 1995 to 2001 The New York Times, August 26, 2019

Mozaffarian and Glickman point out that the health care debate focuses on who should be covered and who should pay. They pose an alternative way of looking at the issue – health care is expensive and Americans are sick. They go on to state that “more than 100 million adults – almost half of the entire adult population – have pre-diabetes or diabetes. Cardiovascular disease afflicts about 122 million people and causes roughly 840,000 deaths each year, or about 2,300 deaths each day. Three in four adults are overweight or obese. More Americans are sick than are healthy.” They maintain that the focus should be on what is making Americans sick and how this prevalence could be reversed. Noting that poor diet is the leading cause of mortality in the US, they cite advances in nutrition science and policy, as a way of addressing the issue. Food Is Medicine solutions are win-win; the authors recommend specific changes, emphasizing nutrition in medical practices, updated medical training on nutrition, and prescriptions for healthy produce and delivery of healthy food. They also recommend changes in policies to protect healthy food and tax unhealthy choices, nutrition standards in schools, and encouragement for businesses tackling diet-related illnesses. Another idea is a new National Institute of Nutrition to look at food processing, gut microbiome, allergies and autoimmune disorders, cancer, brain health and the effects of nonnutritive sweeteners.

They believe that every candidate should have a food platform and be able to answer questions on their position. “The significant impacts of the food system on well-being, health care spending, the economy and the environment – together with mounting public and industry awareness of these issues – have created an opportunity for government leaders to champion real solutions.”

I now write to every candidate who asks me to fill out a survey (a way of asking for donations), but see no evidence that the candidates understand that the corporate food system is contributing to the climate crisis, skyrocketing health care and educational costs, food insecurity and a failing economy as our farm products are rejected across the world. 

The Funeral: Many headlines have followed the case of Dewayne Johnson, the first person to take Monsanto to trial and win a large settlement.

His trial exposed internal emails from Monsanto executives that his lawyers said demonstrated how the corporation repeatedly ignored experts’ warnings, sought favorable scientific analyses and helped to “ghostwrite” research that encouraged continued usage. Glyphosate, the world’s most widely used herbicide, is registered in 130 countries and approved for use on more than 100 crops. In 2015, the World Health Organization's international agency for research on cancer classified glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic to humans.” (The Guardian, May 2018) Although Mr. Johnson was awarded a large settlement (later lowered substantially), he will not live to see his children grow up. Many court cases are following, and there will be more deaths and funerals of victims. Hopefully, at some point in the future, Roundup, and products like it, will be banned.

CONCLUSION: The article about the Japanese parliament states that new testing capabilities prove that glyphosate is found in significant amounts in the human body. Since the Japanese don’t use glyphosate, the conclusion is that the toxin accumulates because they consume imported wheat and bread products. By October of 2015, 39 countries had banned the cultivation of GM crops, including most of Europe, but not England, Canada or the US. The third article outlines the results of research linking the huge increase in US chronic disease to the application of glyphosate (spraying of grains at the time of harvest) and to the planting of GM corn and soy (which we find in most of our processed food). Government and business leaders, who have a responsibility to protect the public, have ignored this information. The fourth article recommends that candidates for office ask the right questions about why Americans are sick and address the problem in a number of ways, including examining the food system.

Countries other than the US, Canada, and England have found a way to deal with the issue by banning the cultivation of GM crops and some countries, like Japan, will stop importing US wheat. Somehow, the finding of glyphosate in oatmeal and cereals our children eat has not caused a sufficient outcry in the US. More testing will certainly show that most processed food, drinks, bread, meat and poultry contains glyphosate. Our government leaders have failed to put safe food above the interests of biotech companies and the corporate food industry.  Only a massive change in consumer behavior can force the legal action needed to protect all of us, but particularly our children and grandchildren.

The corporate food system is a large factor in the Climate Crisis and is linked to the increase in chronic disease and the high cost of health care. Many countries will reject the crops produced under this system, thus endangering our economy.  If you care about the health of those you love, the health of the planet, food justice, and the survival of the US security and economy, you can learn more about the issues and take appropriate action.

Healthy Plate Healthy Planet Series

Leave a Reply

  • ruthgaylord October 24, 2019, 2:05 pm

    Carol, Thank you for your persistent communication on this topic!! I was so sad to miss your last Becketwood event but heard that it was well-received. I hope to be able to support the message in some way here in the future. Happy Wintering to you and Rolland!!

  • Helen Gilbert January 1, 2020, 6:07 pm

    Carol, thanks for your extensive research and your clarity in reporting it. I want to comment on the last line “appropriate action” but it’s too long so I’ll write a blog myself pretty soon. And send it to candidates like you do – a great idea!