by Joseph M. Mercola
July 05, 2015
Glyphosate, the active ingredient in
herbicide Roundup, is one of the most
commonly used herbicides in the world.
An estimated one billion pounds a year is sprayed on our food crops,1,2
resulting in the average American eating several hundred pounds of
glyphosate-contaminated food every year.
How might that affect your health?
Dr. Anthony Samsel is an expert
in this area, and in this interview, he reveals a number of
glyphosate's adverse effects.
Armed with this understanding, you'll likely be far more motivated
to eliminate this pernicious toxin from your diet - and to take
action to get it out of our food supply so that everyone can be
Dr. Samsel is a research scientist who is passionate about farming,
gardening, and agriculture, making him particularly suitable for
"I was with the 'think tank,' Arthur
D. Little (ADL) in Cambridge, Massachusetts for many years
working as a research scientist on many types of projects, from
product development to environmental sciences to later switching
to health sciences," he says.
He's also done contract work for the
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and as a hazardous materials
expert, he's worked for the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE),
the United States Navy (USN), and the United States Coast Guard (USCG).
For example, Dr. Samsel was one of the authors of the Chemical
Hazard Response Information System (CHRIS) manual for the U.S.
Coast Guard. He is also a valuable contributor to our article
comments section (Vital Votes).
Besides his career in science, he also owned and operated several
farms in New England, and it was this first-hand experience that led
him to begin investigating the effects of glyphosate in the first
"I started using glyphosate myself
commercially around the farm and my properties back in the late
'70s or early '80s, when it first came on the market," he says.
"I believed the hype like all the other farmers and people
around the world do, that glyphosate is as safe as salt and that
it broke down into harmless chemicals that did no harm. I
believed all that stuff until I started studying the chemical.
Being a research scientist, a chemist, I knew what to look for.
Having worked in public health, I was familiar with how
chemicals had effects on the human body and on animals. So I
started approaching it from that aspect.
As far as my own health, it started to suffer. That's what put
me on the road to take a look at this chemical because I was
Turning into Herbicide...
One interesting experience that got him thinking was when he tried
to deter deer from eating his crops.
He'd run out of coyote urine, which is
an effective deterrent, so he used his own urine. Curiously, he
noticed the weeds where he'd sprayed his urine were dying, despite
the fact he'd not sprayed any Roundup there.
He then realized his own urine was
acting like an herbicide!
"I did some controlled experiments
in the greenhouse with some plants and the same thing happened.
Those plants died. Then, I started looking at my diet," he says.
"The only organic food I was eating was out of my own garden and
the stuff that I would can and preserve. But for everything
else, I'd go to the supermarket and I ate boxed food and
what-not. I started to put two and two together; that maybe this
was the reason why I wasn't feeling good.
Then I started looking into glyphosate because I was using it.
That was my primary chemical exposure other than my food.
Then I realized they were using [glyphosate] on genetically
engineered crops, and I started looking at the U.S. Department
of Agriculture (USDA) to see what food would have glyphosate or
glufosinate in them.
[Glufosinate] is similar to glyphosate and used in genetically
engineered crops. It's not as widely used as glyphosate, but
that's still a problem to public health. All herbicides are 'a'
problem to public health.
There should be no herbicides in our
food supply. None."
90 Percent of
Soybeans Found to Contain Glyphosate Residues
Unfortunately, testing for glyphosate and glufosinate is expensive
and is the excuse the USDA uses for not testing for it, and no
contamination data was available for Dr. Samsel to review.
Eventually, he convinced the USDA to release the results of a series
of tests in 2011. In all, they tested 400 samples of soybeans, and
they found more than 90 percent of the soybeans had glyphosate
residues in them.
However, when the agency sent him a pre-publication copy of the
report, he noticed they were only reporting on 300 out of the 400
"I started looking at the data. I
noticed that the amount of aminomethylphosphonic acid (AMPA),
which is the metabolite of glyphosate, was greater than that of
the glyphosate itself.
If you analyze the glyphosate, you're going to get glyphosate if
the residue is in the crop, but you're also going to get the
metabolite AMPA. But looking at the numbers, they just didn't
I believed they've cherry-picked the
data so that the data didn't exceed the EPA residue limits," he
Unfortunately, when he tried to get an
explanation for the discrepancy in the data, his USDA contact was no
longer working there, and he hasn't been able to find him since.
Now Offers Testing for Glyphosate in U.S.
While the USDA does not test food for glyphosate residues, this may
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
(EPA) recently announced U.S. regulators may start testing for glyphosate residues in the near future 3,4,5 due
to rising consumer concerns about the health impact of this
Meanwhile, the Organic Consumers Association (OCA) has joined forces
with the Feed the World Project, launching the world's first glyphosate testing for the general public. 6,7,8,9
As reported by the OCA:
"The project, with specific focus on
women and children in the U.S., is offering the first-ever
validated public LC/MS/MS glyphosate testing for urine, water
and soon breast milk...
The testing OCA, Feed the World and
many other organizations will begin offering [on April 22] will
allow everyone who wants to know whether or not, and to what
extent, they personally have been exposed to glyphosate.
We expect that once the public learns how widespread the
exposure has been - in the context of the recent report from the
World Health Organization that glyphosate is a probable human
carcinogen - public pressure will eventually force governments
worldwide to finally ban Roundup."
of Bacteria for Optimal Health
Dr. Samsel understood that his gut problems were related to bacteria
and that just as healthy soil needs beneficial microbes, so does
This was something instilled in him by
his grandfather, who taught him that healthy bacteria in the soil
help grow healthy crops. Not surprisingly, when he cleaned up his
diet, his gut dysbiosis cleared up, as did a number of neurological
problems he'd started experiencing.
At that point, he began delving deeper into the science of the human
Many are unaware of the fact that
glyphosate is patented as an antibiotic. It's designed to kill
bacteria, which is one of the primary ways it harms both soils and
Recent research has even concluded that Roundup (and
other pesticides) promotes antibiotic resistance.
Dr. Samsel was actually the person who
dug up the patents showing glyphosate is a biocide and an
"Some of the pathogens, like
Salmonella and Pseudomonas, are resistant to glyphosate.
When we ingest residues of
glyphosate, glyphosate in the acidic environment dissociates.
The acid glyphosate then is able to do a number on the bacteria,
the same as it does in plants. It kills plants and bacteria in
Our gut has a beautiful 'lawn' of upwards of a thousand various
species. Each species of bacteria has a specific function. We
might liken the bacteria of our microbiome to mining and
You might visualize the bacteria
with mining helmets and pick axes. They mine the minerals in
your biology that your body needs as co-factors for various
biochemical processes. Your bacteria also manufacture vitamins
and other biomolecules that are essential.
Even some of your fatty acids, which serve as signaling
molecules, are manufactured by your bacteria. Our bacteria
manufacture most of our B vitamins - B6, B9, and B12, which is
cobalamin - essential to our neurology.
Bacteria also manufacture vitamin K
and some of your vitamin C. We have a symbiotic relationship
with these bacteria. We help them and they help us. They take
the food and they don't just break it down and obliterate it to
They dismantle the food, and they
utilize everything that's in the food."
Produce Essential Amino Acids and More
Bacteria are also responsible for producing essential amino acids
such as tryptophan, phenylalanine, and tyrosine.
So in addition to chelating out various
vitamins and other important elements, glyphosate also disrupts
bacteria manufacturing aromatic amino acids. It also disrupts
methionine, a sulfur amino acid crucial for detoxification, and
All of this can have a profound
influence on your biology.
For example, as Dr. Samsel explains:
"Glyphosate disrupts the aromatic
amino acid tryptophan, and tryptophan is necessary for the
production of serotonin.
Of course, from serotonin, we make
melatonin and from melatonin, we make melanin. There are several
biomolecules that are very important to your health and biology.
Serotonin regulates and controls
blood sugar. It also regulates IGF-1, which is insulin-like
growth factor. IGF-1 is necessary for neurogenesis, for your
ability to produce new neurons throughout life, and also for
regulation of your physiology.
Serotonin also activates the enzyme
endothelial-derived nitric oxide synthases (eNOS), which is
responsible for insulin secretion."
Serotonin also catalyzes nitric oxide
(NO) production in the vasculature providing airway tone and smooth
muscle relaxation, and 90 percent of your serotonin - which is known
as a neurotransmitter - is actually produced in your gut by certain
bacteria, not in your brain.
Today, millions of prescriptions are being written for selective
serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), which are designed to
increase serotonin in your brain. Yet 90 percent of it is
manufactured in our gut!
Dr. Samsel gave another excellent
interview with Zen Honeycutt 10 in 2013, in which
he describes the impact glyphosate has on your gut bacteria, so for
more information, please listen to the following helpful interview
Known for Nearly 35 Years That GMOs Promote Cancer
Dr. Samsel eventually asked the EPA for Monsanto's trade secret
documentation, as most of the approval process for glyphosate was
based on studies Monsanto had done by outside contractors.
That process began in the late 1970s and
concluded around 1983 with the registration of the chemical. Since
then, it's gone through a couple of re-reviews.
But Dr. Samsel wanted access to those
documents to investigate what the EPA and Monsanto really knew about
glyphosate from the very beginning.
"I asked EPA, as a research
scientist, to be able to access those documents in my research.
I was denied by the Environmental Protection Agency, initially,"
"It finally took Senator Shaheen's
office, here in New Hampshire, to move the EPA... They sent [the
documents] to me on a disc. I had to sign for them. I was also
told that I could not share them with foreign nationals under a
penalty of law...
However, I've been going through 12 to 14 of these documents in
the file. They represent thousands and thousands of pages of
data on studies that were done on laboratory animals. What
amazed me was that Monsanto knew in 1981 that glyphosate caused
adenomas and carcinomas in the rats that they've studied...
The highest incidence of tumorigenic
growth occurred in the pituitary gland... the second highest
levels were in the breasts of the female rats, in the mammary
glands... Thirdly, the next highest tumorigenic growth was found
in the testicles of male rats."
In essence, Monsanto's research of
glyphosate showed similar findings as Dr. Gilles-Éric Séralini,
whose damning lifetime
GMO feeding study 11 was wrongfully retracted
12,13,14,15 largely due to Monsanto's influence.
paper was later re-published with open access in the Springer Group
journal Environmental Sciences Europe.) 16
Monsanto's own research also supports the WHO's International Agency
for Research on Cancer (IARC) determination that glyphosate is a
Class 2 A "probable human carcinogen." 17,18,19 -
a determination Monsanto is now trying to get retracted.
What's more, the research shows that
lower doses of glyphosate tend to have a greater effect than higher
doses, and the doses at which damage was found to occur are
comparable to the glyphosate levels found in wheat, sugar, corn and
soy in the American diet.
Published These Negative Findings
So how did Monsanto and Biodynamics - the company doing the research
- hide these inconvenient facts?
According to Dr. Samsel, they cancelled
out the controls and the damning findings by using historical
control data from unrelated studies. It's also worth noting that
these negative findings were never published in the peer-reviewed
literature or submitted to the EPA or the Food and Drug
Cancer was clearly shown in their
26-month long feeding study, but the only studies Monsanto has
published are studies done in less than three months, which hides
the consequences of eating glyphosate and genetically engineered
foods over the course of a lifetime.
"I'm looking at a Biodynamics report
here as Project number 77-2062, 'A Lifetime Feeding Study of
Glyphosate in Rats,' and every page of this document says,
'Contains trade secret or otherwise confidential information of
I have a letter here from Monsanto's
health and safety officer. He was the head guy at Monsanto at
the time, back in 1981. In his letter, he asked the U.S. EPA to
seal the documents and to treat them as trade secret. I
personally feel that this is a violation of the public review
Now that I've looked at Monsanto's trade secret documents that
the public doesn't have access to, I'm in the process of writing
the Environmental Protection Agency and I'm asking them to
They have no right to withhold that
information from the public. Because what I've seen in those
documents, it clearly shows that Monsanto knew in 1981 that
glyphosate caused tumorigenic growth and carcinomas in multiple
organs and tissues...
At the rate we're going, we're going
to kill billions of people," Dr. Samsel says.
Glyphosate Is Imperative to Protect Human Health and Future
According to Dr. Samsel, we're seeing the effects of glyphosate in
human disease statistics now.
His work with Dr. Stephanie Seneff
and Dr. Nancy Swanson show that chronic disease rates are at
an all-time high, including the specific tumors found in Monsanto's
26-month feeding study, as well as the Séralini study and others -
specifically pituitary, kidney, breast, testicular, thyroid tumors,
and thymic hyperplasia.
"There was some work that was
recently done where they looked at the CT scans of patients who
had thyroid disease and also found that they had thymic
Well, guess what? In the rat study,
they found high incidence of thymic hyperplasia as well as
thyroid adenomas and carcinomas," Dr. Samsel says.
"If we don't take this chemical out
of the food supply, everybody will be affected. Everybody that
is eating the Western diet. Everybody..."
Now, for some diseases, the incidence
rate among rats were slightly less than 50 percent - some were as
high as 80 percent of the treated group.
Obviously, we're not seeing 80 percent
of people in Western populations coming down with tumors. But we
might eventually... Rats have an average lifespan of two to two and
a half years, whereas the human lifespan is around 80. We've only
been eating GMOs for about 15 years, but already disease statistics
are clearly rising, and rising dramatically.
Dr. Samsel believes there's no doubt
genetically engineered (GE) foods will shorten the human lifespan.
"In the 20th month, the rats had an
80 to 90 percent survival rate. But when we got to around 24
months, more than 50 percent of the rats had died. When we got
to month 26, I think they only had 30 percent left."
While correlation is not causation, were
we to extrapolate, it would suggest that unless we stop eating
glyphosate and genetically engineered foods, the vast majority of us
will contract a life-threatening disease in our late senior years,
and few will die from plain old age.
Other non-life threatening diseases are
also cropping up at a furious rate - neurological disorders such as
autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and a wide
variety of behavioral problems.
When I began practicing medicine in the early '80s, the autism rate
was one in 10,000. Now it's as low as one in 30, according to some
According to Drs. Samsel and Seneff's
estimations, in the next decade, half of all people born will have
some form of autism!
"That's correct, if we continue on
the same trajectory, it will be one in two, which is
frightening," Dr. Samsel says.
Studies May Be
Using Contaminated Controls...
On a side note, it's important to realize that when studies are
done, they do not test the control diet for the presence of
glyphosate, which may dramatically skew results and effectively hide
According to Dr. Samsel:
"They are continuing to do that.
As I look deeper into the studies,
they didn't analyze the water. They did not analyze the feed for
other contaminants. I contacted Purina and asked them for a
comment about their animal chows and their laboratory feed.
They do analyze for some of the
basic pesticides and fungicides, like malathion, some of the
other organophosphates, and some of the fungicides.
But they don't analyze for glyphosate in those feeds. Going back
to when they did these studies back in 1978 and 1980, they
didn't analyze the feed, but the most popular pesticides used at
the time in growing corn and soy for those animal feeds, were
Some of the organophosphates were
carbaryl and lannate.
What's interesting is that I also turfed up many synergy
patents. I've read all of Monsanto's patents, plus patents from
other companies that have also done work with glyphosate.
Glyphosate is a synergist with other antibiotics, with
fungicides, and with most of the chemicals that I've seen it
used in combination.
I even wrote about it being synergistic with imidacloprid, the
systemic pesticide that's been implicated in harming the bees.
The effects they saw in the
Biodynamics studies in the controls, they were feeding
contaminated feed to these animals...which are known to induce
some of the tumorigenic growths.
But the fact that the glyphosate-dosed
animals had higher incidences... shows that there was a synergy
with whatever was in that feed."
Clearly, this is something the EPA and
FDA must address.
When laboratory tests with animals are
done, they really need to look at the residue levels of glyphosate
and other chemicals in the animal chow because it's skewing all the
laboratory results, and making the risks appear non-existent.
with Genetically Engineered Plants
According to Dr. Samsel, glyphosate is only one-half of a two-part
The other half is the genetically
engineered plants. For the past two years, he's been conducting
field experiments and laboratory analysis of 33 varieties of
genetically engineered corn. This year, he's branching into soy.
Not only are there Roundup-resistant GE
crops, there are also Bt crops, which produce their own internal
Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt).
But there are also glyphosate and
glufosinate toxins involved, because in many GM crops, the genes are
"I'm looking at the untreated
[genetically engineered corn], and then I'm spraying it with the
herbicide [glyphosate]. I'm analyzing the fatty acids and the
I'm also looking at the isomers of
the vitamins. What I'm finding is that there's a difference
between those treated with the herbicide and those that are not
The herbicide influences the mineral
content of even the genetically engineered resistant varieties,
making them particularly more deficient in manganese, cobalt,
and copper, but particularly manganese.
I'm also finding that the fatty
acids are being skewed slightly but also the vitamins,
particularly the isomers of vitamin E, tocopherol."
He's found that GE varieties of soy,
canola, and corn oil contain mostly gamma-tocopherol opposed to
alpha-tocopherol (types of vitamin E).
Alpha-tocopherol is really beneficial to
our biology whereas gamma-tocopherol induces inflammation,
particularly in your lungs. Hence Dr. Samsel believes these GE oils
may influence rates of asthma and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary
On the whole, it seems clear that
hundreds of millions of people could improve their health simply by
avoiding glyphosate and genetically engineered foods.
The Good News
- You Can Get Glyphosate Out of Your System Fairly Quickly
One important question many are likely to have is, once you decide
to avoid glyphosate-contaminated foods, how do you detoxify?
Here, there's good news because
glyphosate is fairly quickly eliminated via urine and feces -
provided you're not continuously putting more in.
And if you need any more reasons to stop
eating glyphosate contaminated food, consider this:
one secret study Dr. Samsel reviewed
found that glyphosate quickly went into the bone marrow, which
is where the formation of blood cells takes place. The
glyphosate remained stable in the bone marrow for at least 10
The white blood cells produced during
that time go to the thymus and tonsils, where they mature.
So glyphosate really works on the
molecular level, affecting not only your bacteria, but also your
blood cells. Importantly, glyphosate also both up and down regulates
For example, in E.coli bacteria,
glyphosate up and down regulates about 1,040 genes, many of which
are involved with cytochrome P450 enzymes, as well as glutathione S
transferase, which is another first line of defense your cells
employ to detoxify.
How to Reduce
Your Family's Exposure to Pesticides
Your toxic load is closely linked to your diet, as so many of the
chemicals you're exposed to on a daily basis are contaminants in
foods and/or its packaging.
Non-organic processed foods will expose
you to the greatest amounts of chemicals and potential toxins,
including pesticides and genetically engineered organisms (GMOs),
but virtually all non-GMO whole foods will tend to be contaminated
with pesticides to some degree as well.
To reduce your family's exposure to
glyphosate and other toxic chemicals, please consider the following
Buy organic fruits and
vegetables. Non-organic fruits and vegetables most likely to
be grown using pesticides include apples, peaches, celery,
and potatoes. For a full list of the most and least
contaminated produce, please see the Environmental Working
Group's shopper's Guide to Pesticides.20
Add fermented foods to your
diet. The lactic acid bacteria formed during the
fermentation of kimchi may help your body break down
pesticides, so including fermented foods can be a wise
strategy to help your body's natural detoxification
processes. Also make sure you're getting enough fiber in
your diet, as it too plays an important role in
Choose seafood wisely. Opt for
low-mercury fish varieties, such as wild caught Alaskan
salmon, anchovies, and sardines, and avoid farm-raised fish,
which are often heavily contaminated with PCBs and mercury.
To optimize your omega-3, you may also consider taking a
krill oil supplement.
Filter your tap water.
Municipal water supplies can be contaminated with any number
of potential toxins, so filtering your water is always a
wise idea. Be particularly mindful of avoiding
water when preparing infant formula.
Replace your non-stick pots and
pans with ceramic or glass cookware.
Avoid plastic food containers,
bottles, and mugs. Instead, opt for glass, ceramic, or
stainless steel varieties.
Avoid using dangerous chemicals
on your lawn. If you have a lawn care service, make sure
they're not using organophosphate pesticides.
Check your school's/employer's
pest control policy. If they have not already done so,
encourage your school district/employer to move to
Integrated Pest Management, which uses less toxic
Switch to organic personal care
products, and avoid using artificial air fresheners, dryer
sheets, fabric softeners, or other synthetic fragrances. Any
product containing "fragrance" will typically contain high
levels of endocrine-disrupting phthalates.
What Are GMOs?
GMOs are a product of genetic engineering, meaning their genetic
makeup has been altered to induce a variety of "unique" traits to
crops, such as making them drought-resistant or giving them "more
GMO proponents claim that genetic engineering is
and beneficial," and that it advances the agricultural industry.
They also say that GMOs help ensure the global food supply and
sustainability. But is there any truth to these claims? I believe
For years, I've stated the belief that GMOs pose one of the
greatest threats to life on the planet.
Genetic engineering is NOT
the safe and beneficial technology that it is touted to be.
The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA)
Monsanto's Evil Twin - is
pulling out all the stops to keep you in the dark about what's in
For nearly two decades, Monsanto and corporate
agribusiness have exercised near-dictatorial control over American
agriculture. For example, Monsanto has made many claims that glyphosate in Roundup is harmless to animals and humans.
recently the World Health Organization (WHO) had their research team
test glyphosate and have labeled it a probable carcinogen.
Public opinion around the biotech industry's contamination of our
food supply and destruction of our environment has reached the
tipping point. We're fighting back. That's why I push for GMO
labeling. I donated a significant sum to the first ballot initiative
in California in 2012, which inspired others to donate to the
campaign as well.
We technically "lost the vote, but we are winning
the war," as these labeling initiatives have raised a considerable
amount of public awareness.
The insanity has gone far enough, which is why I encourage you to
boycott every single product owned by members of the GMA, including
natural and organic brands. More than 80 percent of our support
comes from individual consumers like you, who understand that real
change comes from the grassroots.
Recently, Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan) has reintroduced a bill (HR 1599)
that would preempt states' rights to enact GMO labeling laws. This
bill would create a federal government program to oversee guidelines
for voluntary labeling of products that do not contain GMOs.
would specifically prohibit Congress or individual states from
requiring mandatory labeling of GMO foods or ingredients. It would
also allow food manufacturers to use the word "natural" on products
that contain GMOs.
Thankfully, we have organizations like the Organic Consumers
Association (OCA) to fight back against these junk food
manufacturers, pesticide producers, and corporate giants.
Dr. Mercola Interviews Dr. Samsel on...
The Dangers of Glyphosate