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Toxic Food 1 - introduction

Health effects of glyphosate weedkiller residues

I've suffered from arthritis for a number of years now. Although it's curtailed the amount of walking I can do, it's not prevented me from doing the main things I need to get done, and I naively hoped that working on The Sanctuary, with all the physical work that involves, would help me to get fitter and reduce the problem.

The prevailing medical wisdom, which I've now heard from three different doctors, is that osteoarthritis is an inevitable process of wear and tear that's irreversible, and which will ultimately lead me to having to have joint replacement surgery. None of this makes sense to me - as a therapist I have had one of the most sedentary jobs there is for the past 17 years, and compared to marathon runners or building site labourers, my joints must suffer as little wear and tear as it's possible to get. I also find it hard to accept that the body can't repair itself in the joint department.

On returning to Cheshire from The Sanctuary recently I found myself completely crippled, the arthritis having spread to more joints in the space of a few weeks, and accompanied by severe muscular pain which was much worse than the pain in the joints. I was confronted with accepting a high level of disability or finding a solution.

The great thing about working with other therapists is that they tend to be well informed about alternative remedies, so I've been listening to their suggestions and putting them into practice.  This mainly consists of nutritional supplements such as cod liver oil, MSM, glucosamine, turmeric, zinc, vitamin C and magnesium. These are helping, but it's a slow process and I still need a walking stick to get around.

In the meantime I had to go to Crewe to deliver a document, which was a big struggle just to get from the parking place to the building. It made me realise how this sort of pain tends to narrow your world down, as every moment is focussed on making the next step. I managed it by pausing from time to time to look around, and when I did I got a shock. It wasn't just me with a walking stick, it was every second person I could see. It became obvious in that moment that there's an epidemic of joint problems occurring, with very little being done about it. The explosion of chronic illnesses is something I first wrote about over a year ago when I started exploring juicing.

Then in one of those strange coincidences that I've got used to experiencing, I spotted a facebook posting by a friend in Ullapool, sharing an article about the use of glyphosate (a weedkiller commonly sold as Roundup) in the wheat harvesting process. Now I'm no farmer, but I understand the basic principles - wheat needs to be fully ripened and dried out before it can be harvested, and if a lack of sun means that the crop isn't properly ready to be gathered in, that can lead to costly losses. It seems to me that glyphosate dries out the wheat crop by killing it - a few days later it's "ready" for harvesting.  If this seems like science fiction, I've attached an information sheet from the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) which shows that the practice has been going on since 1980. The same document shows a graph of the percentage of bread samples tested that were contaminated by glyphosate residues, a percentage that ranged from 5-17%. If that sounds like a lot of contaminated bread, I've seen another study showing that 60% of loaves tested had glyphosate residues in them.

Could it be that all this chronic illness that I've been observing is a result of the deliberate use of weedkillers on our food, just a few days before harvesting? Note that it's not just wheat that is treated in this way, I've seen it mentioned as being used on oats, barley and oilseed rape too. And we have to wonder what happens to the residues in the straw that is harvested at the same time.

So far I've only come across one scientific paper dealing with this issue, and I've put a link to it below. It's highly technical, but the conclusions are pretty clear - I've quoted them in full here:

This paper presents an exhaustive review of the toxic effects of the herbicide, glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup®, in humans, and demonstrates how glyphosate’s adverse effects on the gut microbiota, in conjunction with its established ability to inhibit the activity of cytochrome P450 enzymes, and its likely impairment of sulfate transport, can remarkably explain a great number of the diseases and conditions that are prevalent in the modern industrialized world. Its effects are insidious, because the long-term effects are often not immediately apparent. The pathologies to which glyphosate could plausibly contribute, through its known biosemiotic effects, include inflammatory bowel disease obesity, depression, ADHD, autism, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, ALS, multiple sclerosis, cancer, cachexia, infertility, and developmental malformations. Glyphosate works synergistically with other factors, such as insufficient sun exposure, dietary deficiencies in critical nutrients such as sulfur and zinc, and synergistic exposure to other xenobiotics whose detoxification is impaired by glyphosate.

Given the known toxic effects of glyphosate reviewed here and the plausibility that they are negatively impacting health worldwide, it is imperative for more independent research to take place to validate the ideas presented here, and to take immediate action, if they are verified, to drastically curtail the use of glyphosate in agriculture. Glyphosate is likely to be pervasive in our food supply, and, contrary to being essentially nontoxic, it may in fact be the most biologically disruptive chemical in our environment.

I plan to research this more fully over the coming weeks and months, so watch this space for more articles on this subject. In the meantime, if you are suffering from a chronic illness it would be worth getting your bread and other grain-based products from an organic supplier who can guarantee that the food is free from toxic residues, and to help your body to repair by taking supplements such as the ones I've listed above. I'm pleased to report that the pain is slowly abating for me from doing this.

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