Monthly Archives: May 2014

Roundup Reshapes the World

Glyphosate, the active chemical in Roundup–the blockbuster Monsanto herbicide used on crops, gardens and lawns– is found in breast milk.

Not a surprise, really. The toxic chemical is liberally dumped on corn, soy and most fields across the planet now that GMO seeds—also made and licensed in perpetuity by Monsanto—ensure survival against Roundup.

How convenient. Genetically modified seeds grow into tough plants, impervious to Roundup’s toxicity. But scrappy weeds are no match for withering blasts of Roundup. More seeds sold, more Roundup withstood. A win-win for Monsanto.

But for the world?

More food, of course, feeds more people which is welcome relief. But all too quickly, the problem has transitioned into obesity and all the chronic disease it ignites. Poor countries such as Egypt where 75% of women are overweight can ill-afford such health costs.

Glyphosate is a known endocrine disruptor. Its ubiquity makes that a problem.

One recent study on male rats showed glyphosate to damage or kill testicular cells at high exposures and to decrease testosterone by 35% at low exposure levels.

Does glyphosate also contribute to globesity?

Maybe. Appetite systems and energy metabolism depend on endocrine systems. Glyphosate is likely to harm in many ways: This review appears in Entropy, April 2103:

“Glyphosate’s inhibition of cytochrome P450 (CYP) enzymes is an overlooked component of its toxicity to mammals. CYP enzymes play crucial roles in biology, one of which is to detoxify xenobiotics. Thus, glyphosate enhances the damaging effects of other food borne chemical residues and environmental toxins. Negative impact on the body is insidious and manifests slowly over time as inflammation damages cellular systems throughout the body. Here, we show how interference with CYP enzymes acts synergistically with disruption of the biosynthesis of aromatic amino acids by gut bacteria, as well as impairment in serum sulfate transport. Consequences are most of the diseases and conditions associated with a Western diet, which include gastrointestinal disorders, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, depression, autism, infertility, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease…”

For an interesting look into a look at how science intersects with the leviathan forces of profit, read this discussion of research into both GMO seeds and glyphosate, in Food and Chemical Toxicology.

How to undo this? Demand organic food, use natural weed killing methods on lawns, replace lawns with attractive stones or ground cover or march on Washington as a group called Moms across America are doing today as they demand the EPA pay attention to their concerns about Roundup.



Too Many C-Sections

Cesarean sections are overused in the United States, often for the convenience of the mother or more likely the obstetrician. One in three babies are delivered this way. Some countries including Mexico and Italy do even more.

Besides being riskier for the mother (anesthesia, infection), C-sections deprive the newborn of a mother’s special mix of microbes. Evidence from Harvard in 2012 found that delivery by C-section doubled the odds of later obesity in the child.

Tina Rosenberg for the New York Times compared rates and possible contributors in several locations.

In the May 7 story, she reported that Los Angeles Community Hospital did C-sections in nearly 63 percent of the lowest-risk births in 2012 while the rate for San Francisco General Hospital was 10 percent. Clearly, hospital procedure was driving such huge differences. Using salaried doctors instead of fee-per-service personnel was one factor that seemed to limit the numbers, she found.

Rosenberg goes on to discuss motivations and implications for the overuse. Read In Delivery Rooms, Reducing Births of Convenience.

Antibiotics Cause Weight gain

New research from Aix-Marseille University in Marseille, France revealed that long-term antibiotic therapy caused weight gain along with changes in gut microbes. Forty-eight patients being treated with doxycycline and hydroxychloroquine for Q fever were compared to 34 control subjects.

Nearly one in four of the treated patients gained from two to 13 kg (five to 30 lbs). None of the patients without antibiotics gained weight. The study which appears in the journal Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy adds to the case that antibiotics contribute to obesity.

Treated patients had lower concentrations of beneficial bacteria, Bacteroidetes, Firmicutes, and Lactobacilli. Gut microbes prior to treatment predicted who would gain.

According to the abstract here, Q fever causes endocarditis, an infectious inflammation of the inner lining of the heart. Endocarditis can damage the heart valves, and has a high mortality rate. And hydroxychloroquine is an antimalarial drug that is also used to treat rheumatoid arthritis and lupus erythematosus.

Probiotics along with a low-calorie diet may prevent some of this significant weight gain during the lengthy—18 months—antibiotic treatment.