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what is the relationship between glyphosate and autism?


Glyphosate Autism

“Glyphosate has become the most commonly used herbicide worldwide, with a reputation of being environmentally benign, non-toxic and safe to wildlife and humans. However, studies have indicated its toxicity has been underestimated, and that its persistence in the environment is greater than once thought. Its actions as a neurotoxin and endocrine disruptor indicate its potential to act in similar ways to persistent organic pollutants.

Exposure to glyphosate and glyphosate-based herbicides for both wildlife and people is likely to be chronic and at sub-lethal levels, with multiple and ongoing exposure events in both urban and agricultural landscapes.” From this month’s issue of Conservation Biology (The Rise of Glyphosate and New Opportunities for Biosentinel Early-Warning Studies)

“Use of glyphosate-based herbicides (GBHs) increased over 100-fold from 1974 to 2014. Additional increases are expected due to widespread emergence of glyphosate-resistant weeds, increased application of GBHs, and preharvest uses of GBHs as desiccants. Current safety assessments rely heavily on studies conducted over 30 years ago.  Human exposures to glyphosate are rising, and a number of in vitro and in vivo studies challenge the basis for the current safety assessment of glyphosate and GBHs.

We conclude that current safety standards for GBHs are outdated and may fail to protect public health or the environment.”  From next month’s issue of the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health (Is it Time to Reassess Current Safety Standards for Glyphosate-Based Herbicides?)

“Glyphosate is now the world’s most heavily applied herbicide.  Evidence has accumulated over the past two decades, especially, that several vertebrate pathways are likely targets of action, including hepatorenal damage, effects on nutrient balance through glyphosate chelating action and endocrine disruption.

Other early assumptions about glyphosate, for example that it is not persistent in the environment, have also been called into question. In addition, the prediction that glyphosate would never be present widely in surface water, rainfall, or groundwater has also been shown to be inaccurate.”   From the February 2016 issue of Environmental Health (Concerns Over Use of Glyphosate-Based Herbicides and Risks Associated with Exposures: A Consensus Statement)

Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup®, is the most popular herbicide used worldwide. The industry asserts it is minimally toxic to humans, but here we argue otherwise. Residues are found in the main foods of the Western diet, comprised primarily of sugar, corn, soy and wheat.  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.  The foodstuffs of the Western diet, primarily grown by industrial agriculture, are increasingly being produced using a two-part system of engineered plant seeds and toxic chemical application. Novel bacterial genes are incorporated through genetic engineering, and toxic chemical residues are readily taken up by the engineered plants. 

Our systematic search of the literature has led us to the realization that many of the health problems that appear to be associated with a Western diet could be explained by biological disruptions that have already been attributed to glyphosate. These include digestive issues, obesity, autism, Alzheimer’s disease, depression, Parkinson’s disease, liver diseases, and cancer, among others.”  From a 2013 issue of Entropy (Glyphosate’s Suppression of Cytochrome P450 Enzymes and Amino Acid Biosynthesis by the Gut Microbiome: Pathways to Modern Diseases).  PART III of this paper can be found by clicking the link.

I’ve talked about DR. STEPHANIE SENEFF before in relationship to her work on STATIN DRUGS. While it’s easy to discount people like myself (a small-town Missouri chiropractor with a special interest in FUNCTIONAL MEDICINE), it’s not so easy to blow off someone with Seneff’s credentials (she co-authored the study in the bullet above).  Her Massachusetts Institute of Technology bio states, “She received the B.S. degree in Biophysics in 1968, the M.S. and E.E. degrees in Electrical Engineering in 1980, and the Ph.D degree in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science in 1985, all from MIT.” 

Furthermore, her CV reads like an encyclopedia.  And to top it all off, she has been studying and warning people about Glyphosate for a very long time (HERE).  Hang with me because we will eventually make our way back to Dr. Seneff’s work, which you can check out on video below.


When it comes to man-made toxins, few are better known and more widely used than BPA and glyphosate.  Glyphosate is a broad leaf herbicide, meaning it kills weeds with large leafs (as opposed to grasses), and was originally manufactured by Monsanto under the trade name Roundup.  The aspect that has brought it the most attention however (fame or infamy, depending on which side of the debate you are on) is the fact that numerous companies (Monsanto being the biggest by far), have produced genetically modified grains which, despite being broad leaf (corn and soy are great examples) can withstand being doused in the stuff. 

Because of this, it is by far the most widely used herbicide on the planet for many years running.  Unfortunately, glyphosate also happens to be a potent ENDOCRINE DISRUPTOR which, as we saw in Dr. Seneff’s earlier study, also fouls the P-450 Cytochrome System (the body’s chief DETOX SYSTEM), making it that much tougher to clear from your system.

Before we delve specifically into the relationship between glyphosate and AUTISM, let’s take just a moment to look at a smattering of the most recent studies showing the various ways this stuff affects fish, animals, and people.  Bear in mind that the number of studies on this compound is mind-boggling (nearly 2,500). Thus, when I tell you that I am barely scratching the surface of this topic, what that really means is that I am barely scratching the surface of the surface.  Also note that since I dealt with endocrine disruptors the other day (see earlier link), I am not going to do so today even though there are hundreds of such glyphosate studies out there.

  • WHAT DOES LONG TERM EXPOSURE TO GLYPHOSATE GENERALLY DO TO THE BODY?  Although you should have noticed from the studies mentioned previously, here are a couple more to show you just how bad this stuff is for overall health.   Because so many of these studies have to do with animals and fish, I’ll go ahead and include this one — on goldfish. This month’s issue of Aquatic Ecology (Metabolic Profiling of Goldfish after Long-term Glyphosate-Based Herbicide Exposure) determined that, “Long-term glyphosate exposure caused disorders of blood biochemical indexes and renal tissue injury. Metabolomics analysis combined with correlation network analysis uncovered significant perturbations in oxidative stress, energy metabolism, amino acids metabolism and nucleosides metabolism in glyphosate dosed fish, which provide new clues to the toxicity of glyphosate.”  And if you are not sure what the field of METABOLOMICS is, just click the link.
  • HOW VISIBLY SEVERE ARE THE AFFECTS OF GLYPHOSATE?  A group of ten researchers published a study in last month’s copy of The Science of the Total Environment called Agricultural Expansion as Risk to Endangered Wildlife: Pesticide Exposure in Wild Chimpanzees and Baboons Displaying Facial Dysplasia.  The authors, scientists from both Africa and around the world, said that, “Prenatal exposure to environmental endocrine disruptors can affect development and induce irreversible abnormalities in both humans and wildlife.”  Because the game refuge in this study (Kibale National Park) is surrounded by industrial tea plantations that use lots of chemicals, including glyphosate, the authors concluded that, “Sixteen young individuals of the 66 chimpanzees monitored (25%) exhibit abnormalities including reduced nostrils, cleft lip, limb deformities, reproductive problems and hypopigmentation.  Chemical analysis of samples collected from 2014 to 2016 showed that mean levels of pesticides in fresh maize stems and seeds, soils, and river sediments in the vicinity of the chimpanzee territory exceed recommended limits.  Since some of these pesticides are thyroid hormone disruptors, we postulate that excessive pesticide use in the Sebitoli area may contribute to facial dysplasia in chimpanzees and baboons through this endocrine pathway.”  This, folks, is not slow and subtle toxicity, but overt and in your face — literally.
  • WHAT IS GLYPHOSATE RESISTANCE? A common theme with virtually every drug is that the more of it you take, the less effective it becomes.  A great example is Insulin Resistance. When there is a large amount of insulin in the bloodstream on a perpetual basis, it “clogs” the receptors leaving the body “resistant” to it’s effects.  Last month’s issue of Pest Management Science stated that, “The first case of glyphosate-resistant weeds in the United States was documented in 1998, two years after the commercialization of genetically-engineered herbicide-resistant (HR) corn and soybeans. Currently, over 15 glyphosate-resistant weed species affect U.S. crop production areas. These weeds have the potential to reduce yields, increase costs, and lower farm profitability.”    How widespread is the problem?  It’s everywhere, but particularly problematic in the deep South.  This month’s copy of Nature Plants (Glyphosate Resistance: Of Superweeds and Survivors) concluded, “Glyphosate resistant weeds not only harm agriculture and human health, but divide the scientific community in regard to who is to blame for the weeds, and what they should even be called.”  There are scores of studies on this topic.
  • NON-GLYPHOSATE FARMERS WILL ALWAYS BE AFFECTED BY GLYPHOSATE USERS:  Last month’s copy of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry ran a study on “Herbicide Drift“.  They determined that when just a little of your neighbor’s Roundup or other glyphosate-containing spray drifts into your fields, it has significant effects on your crops. “Herbicide effects differed with species, year, and, to a lesser extent, farm. Generally, 10% to 20% of the herbicides were required to affect reproduction in Camassia leichtlinii, Elymus glaucus, Eriophyllum lanatum, Festuca idahoensis, Iris tenax, and Prunella vulgaris.”  In other words, it did not take much glyphosate to adversely affect these six grasses.
  • WHY ARE PEOPLE REACTING TO GMO GRAINS: Roundup ready seeds are genetically engineered to tolerate being doused with glyposate.  What do people “react” to immunologically if they are going to react?  Proteins — either by themselves or attached to some sort of toxin, metal, chemical, etc.    Less than a year ago, the Colombian journal Revista Salud Publica showed that when flour being sold in Bogota was checked for “transgenic proteins,” they found seven of them.  Transgenic proteins are proteins that are transferred via GMO techniques from plants or animals into completely unrelated plants or animals.  For instance, cold-resistant tomatoes have been created using genetic material from cold-water fish.  If the body’s immune system recognizes these proteins as foreign invaders (which it does in GM products with increasing frequency), it will begin to mount immune system attacks of varying magnitudes.  It’s one reason that today’s GRAINS are so much more likely to be problematic to health than they used to be, and why a good ELIMINATION DIET can help sort this issue out for you.  It’s another reason to grow your own food using heirloom seeds.
  • GLYPHOSATE DAMAGES DNA AND CAUSES CANCER:  Despite a number of recent studies from industry saying that glyphosate does not cause CANCER, there is ample proof that it causes a number of DNA mutations. The March issue  of Food and Chemical Toxicology (DNA Damage and Methylation Induced by Glyphosate in Human Peripheral Blood Mononuclear Cells) revealed that,  “Human peripheral blood mononuclear cells were unable to repair completely DNA damage induced by glyphosate.  To sum up, we have shown for the first time that glyphosate may induce DNA damage in leucocytes such as peripheral blood mononuclear cells and cause DNA methylation in human cells.”   Leukocytes — white blood cells — area critical part of the immune system.  Mutations there lead to “LEUKEMIA“. Another study, this one from last month’s issue of Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology (Evaluation of Various Glyphosate Concentrations on DNA Damage in Human Raji Cells and its Impact on Cytotoxicity), concluded that, “Glyphosate is a highly used active compound in agriculturally based pesticides. The literature regarding the toxicity of glyphosate to human cells has been highly inconsistent. We studied the resulting DNA damage and cytotoxicity of various glyphosate concentrations on human cells to evaluate DNA damaging potential.  We found that glyphosate treatment is lethal to Raji cells at concentrations above 10 mM. Treatment concentrations of 1 mM and 5 mM induce statistically significant DNA damage to Raji cells following 30-60 min of treatment, however, cells show a slow recovery from initial damage and cell viability is unaffected after 2hrs. At these same concentrations, cells treated with additional compound did not recover and maintained high levels of DNA damage.” In other words, while most of us may be degrading toxic chemicals and fixing mutations, the damage is, as is the case with most chemicals, accumulative.  BTW, Raji Cells are “research” cells whose lineage is from an 11 year old Nigerian boy with Burkitt’s Lymphoma (a cancer of the lymphatic system) —- from back in 1963.

As a side note to this issue, last September, the journal Critical Reviews in Toxicology published a series of five studies about the cancer-causing potential of glyphosate.  These reviews essentially concluded that glyphosate is safe and that it’s potential for being mutagenic has been overblown and not supported by EVIDENCE-BASED MEDICINE.  While that’s all well and good, the paper also revealed that the journal’s publisher — one Roger O. McClellan….

serves as an independent advisor to private… entities on environmental and occupational health issues.   From 1988 to 1999, he was the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Chemical Industry Institute of Toxicology (CIIT), a not-for-profit research institute whose extensive research program, focusing on mechanisms of action of chemicals, was supported by dues payments from member companies.

The Monsanto Company was a founding member of the CIIT.  This article is part of a supplement, sponsored and supported by Intertek Scientific & Regulatory Consultancy. Funding for the sponsorship of this supplement was provided to Intertek by the Monsanto Company, which is a primary producer of glyphosate and products containing this active ingredient.” 

I can just visualize Dana Carvey’s “church lady” character cocking her head just so and looking through her cat glasses while saying, ‘isn’t that special.’  This is why many experts (HERE for example) are saying that we cannot trust the biggest portion of the research coming from peer-review.  In other words, there is no mystery as to what the conclusions will be when Monsanto funds the studies. 

  • EARLY LIFE EXPOSURE TO GLYPHOSATE LEADS TO METABOLIC SYNDROME AND OBESITY: Interestingly enough, most Endocrine Disruptors tend to be “Obesigens” as well (by mimicking hormones they make you fat).  Two months ago, the journal Diabetes, Metabolic Syndrome, and Obesity: Targets and Therapy published a study called Early-Life Chemical Exposures and Risk of Metabolic Syndrome.  The authors concluded that, “The global prevalence of obesity has been increasing at a staggering pace, with few indications of any decline, and is now one of the major public health challenges worldwide. While obesity and metabolic syndrome (MetS) have historically thought to be largely driven by increased caloric intake and lack of exercise, this is insufficient to account for the observed changes in disease trends. There is now increasing evidence to suggest that exposure to synthetic chemicals in our environment may also play a key role in the etiology and pathophysiology of metabolic diseases. Importantly, exposures occurring in early life (in utero and early childhood) may have a more profound effect on life-long risk of obesity and MetS.  The number of new chemicals that are synthesized and marketed increases exponentially each year; from 2005 to 2015, the number of chemicals registered by the Chemical Abstract Service increased from 25 to 100 million substances.  There is now compelling evidence in mammals that exposure to environmental pollutants can alter endogenous hormonal axes. These chemicals have been termed endocrine disruptors. Historically, research attention has focused largely on the ability of these xenobiotic compounds to alter estrogenic and/or androgenic pathways by acting as agonists/antagonists at hormone receptors, altering the number of hormone receptors in a cell-specific manner or causing perturbations in circulating concentrations of the endogenous hormones. More recently, however, there has been an increased awareness that these same chemicals can also disrupt metabolic homeostasis.”  You should read this free (and very scary) study in its entirety.  BTW, at least in America, their stats on the number of adults with metabolic syndrome have been underestimated by 100% (HERE) — it is now estimated that 50% of adults have the Metabolic Syndrome.   I hate to break it to you, but if you have metabolic syndrome, you are at best a “functional” DIABETIC.  There were dozens of similar studies.
  • GLYPHOSATE IS FOUND IN SOY-BASED BABY FORMULAS:  In January of this year, Frontiers in Nutrition published a study on the pros and cons of soy baby formula called Soy-Based Therapeutic Baby Formulas.  As far as the benefits of soy formula — a known endocrine disruptor (PHYTOESTROGEN) — the main selling points were economics (it’s both cheap to produce and to deliver therapeutics with) and safety (minimal adverse health events over the past century — it was even touted as a “health food” for part of that time).  On the other side of the coin, however, “The major argument opposing the use of SIF (soy infant formula) and therapeutic SIF is that safety has not been rigorously tested, particularly potential health effects associated with phytoestrogens, agrochemicals, and GM components.”  And while the peer-review concerning these ADVERSE EVENTS is indeed lengthy, I will only deal with a small part of what they said about glyphosate.  “93% of soybean crops in the United States are GM. Glyphosate-tolerant soybeans were genetically engineered, which infers resistance to the Roundup® herbicide glyphosate. Since the mid-1990s, there has been a steady increase in the use of GM soybeans in agriculture along with the concomitant use of glyphosate. Glyphosate is sprayed on GM crops where is acts as both a pesticide and herbicide as well as on other crops (for example, wheat) where it serves as a drying agent. This chemical accumulates in the soil, is not easily degraded, and is a known antibiotic and endocrine disruptor. Moms Across America found high levels of glyphosate in breast milk samples from lactating mothers.  The increased use of glyphosate has been linked with numerous modern diseases.  Glyphosate is absorbed by soybean plants with higher concentrations….”  Look folks, I could have gone one and on, or I could have included many many similar studies.  Hopefully you get the point.
  • GLYPHOSATE AND SOY MILK:  In a study from February’s issue of Food and Chemical Toxicology (Prepubertal Subchronic Exposure to Soy Milk and Glyphosate Leads to Endocrine Disruption) we learn that, “Soy contains phytoestrogens, substances with known estrogenic activity, besides, glyphosate-based herbicides are extensively used in soy crops, being frequently a residue in soy beans, bringing to a concern regarding the consumption of soy-based products, especially for children in breastfeeding period.  Endocrine disruption was observed through decrease in testosterone levels, decrease in Sertoli cell number and increase in the percentage of degenerated Sertoli and Leydig cells [the cells that make both sex hormones and sperm / eggs] in animals receiving soy milk supplemented with glyphosate and in animals treated only with soy milk. Animals treated with soy milk with glyphosate showed decrease spermatids number and increase of epididymal tail mass compared to control, and decrease in the diameter of seminiferous tubules compared to soy milk control group. Animals receiving soy milk supplemented with glyphosate showed decrease in round spermatids and increase in abnormal sperm morphology, compared to control.”  Bottom line, soy is bad enough, but add glyphosate to it and you have a hormonal nightmare on your hands.
  • GLYPHOSATE ASSOCIATED WITH AUTOIMMUNITY:  Although there are a myriad of INFLAMMATORY DISEASES associated with glyphosate, it has been linked to AUTOIMMUNITY as well — in this case RHEUMATOID ARTHRITIS. This fascinating study from November’s issue of Environmental Health Perspectives starts out with the words, “Farming has been associated with rheumatoid arthritis (RA)…”  Having grown up on a Kansas farm, I am interested in knowing why.  Well, here it is.  “Overall, women with RA were somewhat more likely to have reported lifetime use of any specific pesticide versus no pesticides. Of the 15 pesticides examined, maneb/mancozeb and glyphosate were associated with incident RA compared with no pesticide use. Incident RA was also associated with the application of chemical fertilizers and cleaning with solvents, but inversely associated with lifetime livestock exposure as a child and adult compared with no livestock exposure.”  Be aware that technically speaking, glyphosate is an herbicide and not a pesticide.  Also note that exposure to livestock (ANIMALS) is protective due to its effects on the MICROBIOME.  Speaking of microbiome……

There are so many studies linking various forms of DYSBIOSIS and fouled up GUT HEALTH to Autism, it would be simple to write a book (HERE is a post I did a few years ago, or you can cruise on over to PubMed to see any of the hundreds of studies).  The real question is whether or not glyphosate destroys bacteria and normal flora; whether in the soil, the water, or the body.  Although there are any number of studies saying this is not the case, most of these, not surprisingly, happen to be funded by (ahem) industry.

A few months ago, the journal Integrative Medicine discussed this link in a study that was essentially a CASE HISTORY of triplets, two of which had autism and one with seizure disorders.  Dr. William Shaw who not only happens to be the Director of Great Plains Labs in the KC area, but a board certified clinical chemist and toxicologist, had this to say on the topic of glyphosate and Autism as related to microbiome. 

The pattern of metabolites in the urine samples of the males with autism are consistent with a recent theory of autism that connects widespread glyphosate use with alteration of animal and human gastrointestinal flora. That theory is that the normally beneficial bacteria species that are sensitive to glyphosate are diminished and harmful bacteria species, such as Clostridia, that are insensitive to glyphosate, are increased following exposure to glyphosate.

Excessive dopamine, caused by inhibition of dopamine-beta-hydroxylase by Clostridia metabolites, in turn, produces oxidative species [FREE RADICALS] that damage neuronal Krebs cycle enzymes, neuronal mitochondria, and neuronal structural elements such as the neurofibrils.

Every once and awhile you see courageous scientists going out on a limb.  What do I mean?  Only that when it comes to BIG PHARMA or corporate America, bucking the system is not going to get you promoted or given a raise.  In fact, odds are it will first earn you a pink slip and then get you blackballed to the point that you will be lucky to ever work again at a mainstream research institution or major university. 

The best example I can think of off the top of my head is DR. HUGH FUDENBERG — the renowned immunogeneticist who connected the dots between FLU SHOTS and ALZHEIMER’S back in the early 70’s and was promptly excommunicated.  This despite his authoring well over 750 studies since the 1950’s.  The Boulevard of Broken Dreams is lined with many others (HERE and HERE are a couple).  Still the message continues to get out.

In March of 2016, the journal Environmental International carried a study (Environmental Factors in the Development of Autism Spectrum Disorders) which concluded,

Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are developmental conditions characterized by deficits in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication, and obsessive/stereotyped patterns of behavior and repetitive movements. Social interaction impairments are the most characteristic deficits in ASD. There is also evidence of impoverished language and empathy, a profound inability to use standard nonverbal behaviors (eye contact, affective expression) to regulate social interactions with others, difficulties in showing empathy, failure to share enjoyment, interests and achievements with others, and a lack of social and emotional reciprocity.

Genetic research involving twins and family studies strongly supports a significant contribution of environmental factors in addition to genetic factors in ASD etiology. A comprehensive literature search has implicated several environmental factors associated with the development of ASD. These include pesticides, phthalates, polychlorinated biphenyls, solvents, air pollutants, fragrances, glyphosate and heavy metals, especially aluminum used in vaccines as adjuvant.

Importantly, the majority of these toxicants are some of the most common ingredients in cosmetics and herbicides to which almost all of us are regularly exposed to in the form of fragrances, face makeup, cologne, air fresheners, food flavors, detergents, insecticides and herbicides.” 

If you are not sure what an “ADJUVANT” is, get up to speed if you value the health and mental acuity of your unborn children or grandchildren. 

Remember when I told you I would get back to Dr. S?  As crazy as it may have sounded before you read today’s post, Dr. Seneff’s STATEMENT FROM JUST TWO DAYS AGO — that she believes that half of all children born after 2025 will develop Autism — is scarier than it seems on the surface.  While I’m not convinced we will hit that mark (1 in 2) — at least not by 2025 — the current trends are shocking, with the most recent stats saying that just over 1 in 30 American children have Autism right now (HERE).  When I started practice the numbers were something like one in a thousand.  Just a few years before that they were 1 in 10,000 (HERE). 

Whatever you believe to be true about Autism, make sure to READ THIS to see why a Paleo Diet (or similar) has the potential to be the cornerstone of your recovery.  And for those that might already have other types of neurological or inflammatory diseases, you might find THIS interesting.


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