American Groan

I’m back! After the intensity of the trial and the excitement of the verdict, I went sightseeing to clear my brain and find new inspiration. While in Chicago, I had the chance to visit the painting masterpiece American Gothic, by modernist artist Grant Wood, at the Art Institute of Chicago. The work felt strangely symbolic given the verdict a few days prior. So much for clearing my brain – the Monsanto glyphosate issue has taken up permanent residence.

As I read innumerable articles and reports discussing the epic Monsanto verdict, I have a hunch that the use of glyphosate may cease more quickly than I ever expected. We must keep momentum running so that this issue stays in the minds of consumers.

Last February, I attended the Columbia Celiac Center International Symposium. I find conferences that serve to train clinicians and explore the latest research from the medical academic community to be an excellent scope into the latest thinking in medicine and, ultimately, public health. I have severe gluten intolerance, and forcibly live the boring life of your annoying friend who eats a fresh fruit plate while you savor a double-decker Belgian waffle. At this symposium, Columbia served entirely gluten-free meals, so I could be indulgently and equally gluttonous.

Among a boatload of excellent presenters on that wintry weekend was a specialist in NCGS (non-celiac gluten sensitivity). I excitedly took a front row seat next to an elderly scientist from Sweden, who seemed comfortable manspreading well beyond his chair.

At the front of the room, the NCGS specialist walked through some recent studies that documented elevated blood antibodies to gluten in those who report gluten sensitivity. In other words, the reaction to gluten is a physiological, immunological response, not psychological or trendy. The study further showed that when gluten is isolated and purified, those blood markers do not increase in the NCGS patient. He showed a picture of a wheat grain, and vaguely hypothesized that there must be something on the outside of the grain causing this immune reaction in patients. He concluded that maybe one day scientists will figure out what that instigator may be.

I went up to the microphone for questions after the presentation, and gently asked whether he had considered Roundup as the source of problem on the outside of the grain. Several members of the audience turned around and one asked: “There is ROUNDUP on our food?” Glyphosate seems to be nowhere on the average gastroenterologist’s radar as a potential problem. 

If these intestinal specialists do not yet know about the practice of spraying grains with glyphosate just prior to harvest, they hopefully will soon. Am I crazy to hypothesize that Roundup creates NCGS and autoimmune conditions? It just seems so overwhelmingly logical and sensible, given the timeline of the growth of Roundup use and the rising incidence of new health conditions like NCGS.

Another panel included two scientists from General Mills and one larger-than-life, huge cowboy-hatted farmer from a gluten-free oat farm. The hat was wonderfully out of place in the otherwise entirely New York scene. After the presentation, I again inquired about the use of glyphosate, this time on oats. One senior member of the GM science team told me that buyers of the grains have responsibility to put pressure on farmers in order to get the best product to customers. He also said that it would take at least a decade or two for farmers to adjust their farming techniques to work without the use of glyphosate.

I hope that is a gross overestimate. If that is indeed the case, we’ll all be closer to the grave by then, so it would be nice to see results sooner.

I feel terrible for the farmers. They have not only exposed themselves and their employees to the toxic health effects of Roundup, but also adapted their cultivation and harvesting techniques to be dependent upon its use. Like many of us, they drank the Kool-Aid that Roundup is healthy because Monsanto and the EPA said so. Now, that use has left them financially, biologically and ethically screwed.

I wonder if Bayer will ultimately be responsible for paying damages to these well-intentioned farmers as well, particularly as it becomes more widely accepted that Monsanto knew Roundup and glyphosate to be harmful.  Farmers are among the thousands who have filed lawsuits against Monsanto over their cancer and other health claims. If glyphosate use is ultimately banned, these farmers will need to make significant capital expenditures to revamp their farming practices. Making a shift to organic farming is time consuming, risky and challenging. Agritech innovations are promising, but not cheap.

There is no clear answer to this weighty predicament. While I celebrate the verdict, I know that the news was far from fabulous for those farmers whose livelihood depends upon the use of glyphosate.

American Groan.

Gothic

© 2018 Kelly Ryerson ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

10 Comments

  1. Thanks so much GG, for posting this follow-up. I have been fearful of monoculture farming since its inception, not realizing it was based on resistance to glyphosate instead of manipulating genes for increased production and genetic hardiness, which seemed less harmful but still dangerous to the diversity of the food system. You’ve given me my ah ha moment. Keep up the good work!

  2. I am thrilled, that you were able to go the Columbia Celiac conference, GG. I am a member of the Celiac society too. Thank you for informing them of Roundup as an issue on GF foods.

    I do so much better with organic everything. That could be suggested to the conference also as a possible route to improved health.

    As a science teacher, I have been concerned with the lack of diversity in the modern diet, as a factor in celiac disease. I am a Celiac. I have a dozen copyrights in rotation diet wheels which I made with a simple grommet in the middle and sorted on layers by all of the food families, to unmask my own food allergies/addictions. The Clinical Ecologists/functional doctors/integrative doctors prescribe a variety, rotating foods, to maintain a healthy food system and prevent addiction/allergies. Our ancestral food was unique to every village. The probiotics in the soil was different. For instance, cheeses and wines were named after the village or area, and could be distinguished in the flavor and texture of the food.

    Our immune systems are ‘bored to death,’ of the monoculture agriculture. Imagine a field of wheat when I was born in the 40’s…. millions of genetic variations in the kernels… then imagine the same field after planting with hybrid wheat.. The treasure chest of billions of variations presenting to our immune system is gone, and our immune system is hammered day after day after day with one wheat genome.

    Similarly, genetic engineered has created clones for corn, soy, canola, yeast, sugar beets, alfalfa, apples, potatoes, experimental wheat which has ‘escaped, and anything else our Industrial Agriculture Mafia can adulterate our food with, with the collusion of the FDA, USDA and EPA (Any Poison Allowed).

    In many ways, these GMO monoculture Frankencrops are even more boring than ever, for our immune system.

    GMOs do have promoter genes, however, which can continue to mutate and find their way into vulnerable places in our immune system, with genetic mimicry. This area of GMO diversity – future mutations with other plants in the wild, and with our own immune systems within, presents possible chilling possible outcomes for the future of food.

    One sure way to move the food system is to buy organic, and support organic farming and farmers in that way. We vote with our dollar, and with our fork, every meal.

    1. Jessica – I am SO with you. Our bodies simply weren’t designed for this nutritional situation. I wish they were, because everything would be much easier. Magnesium depletion, B depletions, and other essential nutrient depletions are another component of modern illness. I love the way you think! The hopeful news is that, eventually, more physicians will catch on. Have you looked at any of the education programs at the Institution of Functional Medicine? That’s another conference that I attended, and the research was cutting edge and very promising. There was a lot of discussion of molecular mimicry. That information needs to go more mainstream, so people don’t have to needlessly suffer.

  3. Nice post! I’m happy to see that you are bringing glyphosate to the attention of these scientists, but I am shocked that they aren’t even aware that glyphosate is sprayed on wheat. You’d think someone who is an expert in gluten intolerance would know this! I suspect that glyphosate is getting embedded in the gluten protein through its insidious ability to substitute for glycine during protein synthesis. I believe the evidence that it does this is very strong, yet there is enormous push back to this idea. If it can be proven, it’s game over for glyphosate.

  4. Glyphosate is the largest threat to our collective health. People need to get informed and fight for our food sovereignty!

  5. I have heard from more than one gluten-sensitive friend that products made from wheat grown in Europe give them no problems whatsoever. Naturally they don’t use Roundup —

GG loves comments!! Let me know your thoughts!