Better Off Well


Round Up Sound Off

If you've been following me on Facebook, you know that two weeks ago I posted a photo with two teen boys at a field spraying the popular Round Up weed killer without protection. I've seen this happen many times with grown men, but this time Mama Bear flew into action. I spoke to the boys and I posted my frustration on Facebook. In the few days following, I discussed with friends. The general consensus was this:

"Donna, I think people just don't know."


I flew into a tizzy and blamed those in charge, but why? Who in the media is sharing what scientists have published in past years about the dangers of Roundup? Aren't there warning labels on almost everything we use today? There comes a point where saturation inevitably leads to complacency. If it didn't, we'd drive ourselves nuts.

So I'm coming down off my high horse. It's not a good place to be. But allow me to explain my tizzy.

What do we know about Roundup?

We know that numerous studies have found the active ingredient in Roundup- glyphosate- to be a hormone disruptor. Our hormones control a whole slew of functions like metabolism, digestion, sleep, muscle control, brain development, bone maintenance, and fertility. This interference with biochemical reactions within our bodies is linked to obesity, Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, and other chronic diseases.

Glyphosate has also been found to have estrogenic properties, which can lead to proliferation of breast cancer cells.

In the past decade, we've also come to learn that the chemical makeup of Roundup itself has its own potential danger. There is a particular surfactant (polyethoxylated tallowamine) with the job of breaking down a plant's cellular walls so the glyphosate can enter and do more effective damage. If a chemical can do that to a plant's cell walls, it can do that to human cells. Our DNA is not much different.

What happens then? All of us are exposed to carcinogens every day. These are potentially cancer-causing elements in the environment and in our food. Our bodies' defense systems usually take care of most early cancers right away, but once damage is done to DNA (like the kind done by Roundup) we've created prime real estate for carcinogens to do their work.

So why is this stuff legal?

Now that's the 20 million dollar question.

The answers, for now, lie in these reasons...

1) Our economy is highly political. The biotech companies that make these products have lots of money. When you have lots of money, you can have lots of political influence with those who make the laws and determine what is safe for public consumption.

2) At this time, colleges and universities that train our scientists are not required to offer toxicology courses. These would provide students a better understanding of how chemical properties work once they are combined, particularly within the human body.

3) There is no safer alternative at this time, and that puts the government in a difficult position when it comes to a ban.

4) It is nearly impossible to directly link a particular chemical to morbidity (sickness) or fatality (death). We do not live in bubbles and are exposed to a number of environmental factors every day. It is ethically impossible to ask human volunteers to be injected with these chemicals, so scientists must rely on rat studies or correlation studies. When studies using rats are offered as proof of potential danger in humans, the industry argues back that rats are not the same as humans and therefore the experiments are invalid.

5) Cancers can take up to 40 years before they are detected, so tracing origins becomes even more difficult.

So what can we do?

First step is to cover up! If you absolutely HAVE to use Roundup, be sure you are protected. Those in the ag industry use hazmat suits when they apply Roundup. Biotechs will argue that the skin serves as a barrier and therefore danger to exposure is very small. Our skin has pores; it's not that much of a barrier. Do you want to take that chance?

AVOID using Roundup. Pull your weeds, learn to love them, or use a homemade weed killer like this one or this one.

Buy organic whenever possible. Industrial Roundup is the most widely-used pesticide in agriculture.

Become aware. Years ago, I rolled my eyes when my brother told me to not put my infant son down on a lawn that had been treated with pesticides. Now I understand why he did. You don't have to believe what I write here but do your own research. When you find a study, look to see how the study was funded and to which companies the scientists are affiliated. Always question.

So what's the GOOD news?

I am all about the good news.

Because the public IS becoming more aware and demanding better and safer products for themselves and their children, manufacturers are working to find ways to do just that. Companies like Dow, Pfizer, and DuPont have hired "green chemists" to develop products with harmless chemical and natural compounds.

Academic institutions are creating green chemistry programs, like the FIRST Ph.D. program founded by Warner Babcock at the University of Massachusetts in Boston (Go Beacons!) and the graduate-level course at UC Berkeley.

So while change is happening, and it's because of our demands, we need to remain vigilant about our present situation. Our bodies are AMAZING and strive always to keep us in good health, but we have to do what we can to help that process. Every time we remove a toxin from our lives, we help our bodies to be strong enough to handle the ones we can't avoid. Eat clean, stay active, and never assume that just because something is sold legally that it's totally safe.

Click on the links below to learn more about the dangers of Roundup.

Weed-Whacking Herbicide Proves Deadly to Humans- Scientific American, June 2009

Roundup Revelation: Weed Killer Adjuvants May Boost Toxicity, U.S. National Library of Medicine, June 2005

Cyto-toxic and DNA-damaging properties of glyphosate and Roundup in human-derived buccal and epithelial cells, Archives of Toxicology

Roundup and Glyphosate Toxicity Have Been Grossly Underestimated, Dr. Joseph Mercola, July 2013

Gut-Wrenching: New Studies Reveal the Insidious Effects of Glyphosate, The Cornucopia Institute, March 2014