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Genetically Modified Organisms and the deterioration of health in the United States by Nancy L. Swanson.  Research Assistant – Jon Abrahamson

This document was first published as a series of articles on Seattle examiner.com

Reproduced with permission from author Dr. Nancy L. Swanson.

Washington state residents likely to vote on GMO food labels

Hearings have been held in both the Washington state Senate (Feb. 14) and the House (March 5) on the initiative to label GMOs in our food. It is highly unusual for the legislature to take action on an initiative so it is likely that I-522 will show up on our ballots next November. It behooves us to educate ourselves about this important issue.

A majority of Americans favor labeling GMOs
According to a poll taken two weeks ago by the Huffington Post, 82% of Americans think that GMOs should be labeled, 9% believe they don’t need to be labeled and 8% aren’t sure. The poll also showed that, while most people think that GMOs should be labeled, many people don’t really know too much about GMOs.

What is a GMO?
A genetically modified organism, or GMO is the term commonly used for crops that have been genetically engineered (GE) to produce some desired trait. The first GE crops were tobacco plants modified in 1986 to be resistant to direct application of herbicides. The following year, tobacco plants were engineered to resist insects. There followed a host of field trials to also develop plants resistant to viral and fungal diseases and to modify traits such as ripening, starch content and so on. In 1995 the FDA approved GE corn, soy, cotton, canola, potato, squash and tomato for commercialization and the amount of GE crops since then has been steadily increasing. Most often the genes are altered to render
the plant resistant to either insects or herbicides.

How are plants engineered to be insect resistant (IR)?
Sections of the DNA from the bacteria known as Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt)are isolated and inserted into the plant cells by a process known as genetic transformation. The entire plant is then regenerated from the transgenic plant cells. There are thousands of different Bt strains that produce protein crystals toxic to insect pests. Particular strains are chosen to target specific plant pests. The resulting plant contains the Bt toxin in its cells. When the plant is eaten by the target insect the toxin binds to receptors in the insect’s gut, causing the gut wall to break down and allowing toxin spores and normal gut bacteria to enter the body. As spores and bacteria proliferate in the body, the insect dies.

How are plants engineered to be herbicide tolerant (HT)?
Micro-organisms are identified that are tolerant of the active chemical in the herbicide. In the case of glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, glyphosate-resistant enzymes are isolated from a strain of Agrobacterium. These are inserted into the genes of the plant via a multi-step process resulting in a plant that can withstand direct application of the herbicide.

The stance taken by Monsanto, Dow and the other peddlers of both chemicals and genetically engineered seeds is that GMO food is “identical to non-GMO products.” They claim that genetic engineering is no different than plant hybridization, which has been practiced for centuries. It is the reason they gave, and the EPA accepted, for not having to submit GMO food to rigorous testing to obtain EPA approval. It’s up to the companies that manufacture GMOs to research and determine thesafety of their products. Not only are the bacteria genes themselves potentially toxic, but the plants can be sprayed directly with herbicides, the herbicide-resistant plants absorb the poisons and we eat them. It’s difficult to understand how this can be considered “essentially” the same as plant hybridization.

GMOs are prevalent in the U.S. food supply

Chances are that corn chip you are eating has been genetically engineered. Even more so if it has been fried in canola, corn, cottonseed, or soy oil. Most residents of the U.S. are consuming large quantities of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) in their food. GMOs were first approved by the FDA for food crops in 1994. Since then the number of FDA approvals for GMO crops has steadily increased.

How are transgenic or genetically engineered (GE) crops approved?
The USDA/Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) issues permits for field trials, and later for general environmental release of GE crops. If the GE crop contains a pesticide, as is the case for Bt crops, approval is also required by the Environmental Protection Agency. If the product from a transgenic crop is for food or feed use, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) must give final approval before the crops can be grown commercially.

How many and what kind of GE crops have been approved?
As of August, 2012, there have been a total of 144 crops approved by the FDA. The most widely and rapidly adopted transgenic crops in the United States are those with herbicide-tolerant traits. Of the 144 crops approved by the FDA, 75% have been genetically engineered to either withstand direct applications of herbicides or they contain an insecticide Bt toxin, or both. In the mid-’90s, scientists figured out how to combine more than one trait in the same plant. These were first released in 1997 and are called “stacked gene traits.” The crops that have been approved are summarized in the table below, along with a partial list of food products and other uses for each type of crop. Any or all of these products can be found in packaged foods and drinks: cereals, energy bars, chips, juices etc.


How prevalent are these transgenic crops in the food supply?
The USDA estimates that in 2012, 93% of all soy, 88% of the corn and 94% of the cotton grown in the U.S. was genetically engineered. The USDA only collects GE data on these three crops. The figure below shows the percent change of GE crops planted since 1996:


1996-1999 data: USDA Agricultural Economic Report No. (AER-810) 67 pp, May 2002
2000-2012 data: USDA:NASS National Agricultural Statistics Service

It could be argued that not all of these crops are grown for human consumption. Some are grown for animal feed. But the percentage of the crops grown for animal feed are still in the food supply in the form of meat, eggs, milk and milk products. Some of these crops are grown for bio-fuels and textiles. But as long as the amount used for non-food products are taken randomly from the supply, the percentage does not change. Only if most or all of the GE corn and soy are used for bio-fuels, for example, would the overall percentage change. The same is true for the cotton. Are you eating GMOs? You have been eating GMOs in steadily increasing amounts since 1996. If your diet consists of a lot of corn, soy, potato, sugar, or packaged foods, you are eating a great deal of GMOs.

GMO crops increase pesticide use
Contrary to claims made by the chemical industries, glyphosate use increased 6,504% from 1991 to 2010 according to data from the USDA: National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). States participating in the USDA surveys reported applying a whopping 91,200 tons (1 rail car holds approximately100 tons) of glyphosate on corn, cotton and soy crops alone in 2010 (see graph). Glyphosate is the active ingredient in Roundup™, the herbicide used on Roundup Ready™ crops genetically engineered (GE) to withstand glyphosate. Glyphosate residues of up to 4.4 mg/kg have been detected in stems, leaves and beans of glyphosate-resistant soy, indicating metabolism of the herbicide. This means that the Roundup Ready™ plants are absorbing the herbicide and you cannot simply wash it off.


Glyphosate is showing up everywhere
In a 2011 study by the U.S. Geological Survey, glyphosate was frequently detected in water, rain and air in the Mississippi River basin. Also in 2011, Chang et al. reported concentrations of glyphosate in air and rain as high as 2.5 μg/L in agricultural areas in Mississippi and Iowa. The presence of two insecticides and 27 herbicides were detected in reservoir water in the Northern Great Plains in 2007, according to Donald et al. The total concentration of herbicides in drinking water was 2.4 μg/L. Because glysophate is in our air, water and food, we are likely accumulating low doses over time.

Overall pesticide use on GMO crops is increasing
“Pesticide” is a broad term encompassing both herbicides and insecticides. The graph showing the percentage of the combined total acreage of corn, cotton and soy treated with herbicides shows an overall increase of 6% from 1990 to 2010. There was also a 1,722% increase in the percentage of acres treated with glyphosate, primarily used to treat GE glyphosate-resistant crops. This leads to the conclusion that the overall increase in herbicide use is due to the increase in glyphosates. Thepercentage of acreage treated with insecticides oscillates a bit but remains steady.


While the percentage of crops treated with herbicides is increasing, the application rate in lbs/acre of active ingredient has also increased for glyphosate, meaning that more of the product has been applied more often over time. This is probably due to the increase in glyphosate-resistant weeds, or “superweeds,” shown in the first graph. The chemical industry’s solution is to engineer varieties resistant to stronger herbicides, 2,4-D and dicamba. Indeed, the FDA has already approved three two for soy and one for corn. The total herbicide application rate did decline from 1997-2000, but then rose steadily until it again reached pre-GMO crop rates.


The insecticide application rates have oscillated but have shown a steady decline. As previously reported, GE corn was slower to be integrated and the insecticide rates for corn (not shown) show a steady decrease. But the insecticide rates for soy and cotton oscillate. The percentage of acres treated for insecticides is shown in the final graph. There was a sharp rise in the application rate of insecticide applied to cotton around 2000, corresponding to the peak in the percentage of acres treated for cotton. There are increasing reports of bollworm resistance to the Bt toxin in GE cotton. The industry
solution? Genetically engineer cotton with two or more stacked Bt traits. Why there are increasing insecticide applications to soybeans is a mystery.


One of the main selling points for GE crops was that they would decrease pesticide use. This has not been realized.

Note: Data for all three crops, corn, cotton and soy, were not available for every year from 1990-2010. Data for some of these years for some crops were interpolated before being combined.

Acknowledgment: Jon Abrahamson helped with data mining for this article.
Data sources:
Glyphosate: USDA:NASS National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS)
GE crop data:
1996-1999 data: USDA Agricultural Economic Report No. (AER-810) 67 pp, May 2002
2000-2012 data: USDA:NASS National Agricultural Statistics Service

Data trends show correlations between increases in organ diseases and GMOs
Prevalence and incidence data show correlations between diseases of the organs and the increase in Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) in the food supply, along with the increase in glyphosatebased herbicide applications (see slide show). More and more studies have revealed carcinogenic and endocrine disrupting effects of Roundup at lower doses than those authorized for residues found in Genetically Modified Organisms (see notes below).

What is an endocrine disruptor?
The endocrine system controls the body’s chemical messages through hormones. Hormones are secreted directly into the blood by the endocrine glands: pineal, hypothalmus, pituitary, adrenal, thyroid, thymus, pancreas, ovaries and testes. The glands release carefully measured amounts of chemicals into the bloodstream to regulate important functions including growth and development, reproduction, healthy weight, mood and organ performance. An endocrine disruptor is a chemical that either mimics or blocks hormones and disrupts the body’s normal functions. This disruption can happen through altering normal hormone levels, halting or stimulating the production of hormones, or
interacting directly with the organ the hormone was meant to regulate. Because hormones work at very small doses, endocrine disruption can occur from low-dose exposure to hormonally active chemicals. Low doses over long periods of time may lead to very serious illnesses.

What are the effects of endocrine disruption?
Endocrine disruptors can lead to failure in all systems in the body that are controlled by hormones. Imbalances and malfunctions of the endocrine system can lead to diabetes, kidney disease, hypertension, obesity, osteoporosis, Cushing’s syndrome, hypo- and hyperthyroidism, infertility, birth defects, erectile dysfunction, cancer (breast, prostate, liver, brain, thyroid, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma), sexual development problems, neurological disorders (learning disabilities, attention deficit disorder, autism, dementia, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, schizophrenia) among others. Endocrine disruptors are especially damaging to growth in fetuses, babies and children.

Correlations between the increase in glyphosate use on crops and organ disease
It was shown in previous articles that there has been a huge increase in the amount of glyphosates applied to corn and soy crops grown in the U.S. corresponding to the rise in the percentage of corn and soy planted with genetically engineered (GE) varieties. Those data represent only a portion of the total GE crops and amount of glyphosates applied. The USDA only collects data on GE crops for corn, cotton and soy. Since most of the corn (88%) and soy (94%) planted now is GE, these data give a representation of the rising trends in both GE crops and herbicide use. Glyphosate was first marketed for weed control under the trade name Roundup™ in 1976 but data are not available before 1990.

If GE crops and associated glyphosate use are causing diseases of the organs, one would expect to see a correlation in the data. The data for corn and soy crops have been plotted against the incidence rates (new cases reported per year) of cancers of the thyroid, kidney and liver. Cancers of the thyroid and liver especially seem to track with the advent of GE crops and associated glyphosate applications. Thyroid cancer seems to affect women more often, while males are more susceptible to liver cancer. This is in agreement with data in rats reported by Séralini et al. “… the sex hormonal balance was modified by GMO and Roundup treatments. In treated males, liver congestions and necrosis were 2.5–5.5 times higher.”


Kidney & Renal Pelvis Cancer Incidence  06-14-2013

Liver & Bile Duct Cancer Incidence Rates  06-11-2013

The data for corn and soy crops have also been plotted against: % of U.S. population who are obese,
who have high blood pressure, and hospitalizations for acute kidney injury (a sudden, temporary, and
sometimes fatal loss of kidney function). While these data aren’t available before 1995, the trends are
remarkably coincident.

Obesity in U.S. Population  06-11-2013

Percent of U.S. Adults with High Blood Pressure  06-11-2013

Number of Hospitalizations for Acute Kidney Injury  06-11-2013

Finally the corn and soy crop data are plotted against the incidence and prevalence (number of people
who have the disease) of diabetes and end stage renal disease (ESRD — kidney failure). The
correlation is clear for diabetes. This is also in agreement with the Séralini study, “.. data confirmed
very significant kidney chronic deficiencies; for all treatments and both sexes, 76% of the altered
parameters were kidney related.” The correlation is not as clear for ESRD which seems to have been
steadily increasing before 1996, however the trends are in the same direction indicating that GE crops
may be a contributing factor.

Number of U.S. Citizens Diagnosed with Diabetes  06-11-2013

Number of Annual New Cases of Diabetes  06-11-2013

Incidence of End Stage Renal Disease  06-11-2013

Prevalence of End Stage Renal Disease  06-11-2013

Correlation does not necessarily imply cause and there may be other factors. Other known endocrine
disruptors are: BPA (bisphenol-A) & phthalates (both in plastics), dioxins (byproduct of smelting,
paper bleaching, manufacture of herbicides and pesticides), and atrazine polychlorinated biphenyls
(PCBs — used in electrical equipment, coatings, inks, adhesives, flame-retardants, and paints). Indeed,
we are bombarded with a veritable cocktail of chemicals daily in addition to GMOs and their associated
herbicides. These include food preservatives (BHA & BHT), water contaminants (chlorine & fluoride),
food additives (aspartame, monosodium glutamate, carrageenan), and food coloring to name a few. We
have been exposed to an increasing background level of chemicals for over 40 years. The body burden
becomes overwhelming. GMOs may be pushing us off the cliff. Certainly more research should be
done to firmly establish causality.

Acknowledgment: Jon Abrahamson helped with data mining for this article.


There are many scientific studies showing that glyphosate and the additives in Roundup are toxic to
human cells. Below is a list of those most pertinent to this discussion.

In 2004, Marc et al. reported that glyphosate-based pesticides cause cell-cycle dysfunction that leads to
development of cancer.

In 2009 Gasnier et al. published an article in the journal Toxicology citing evidence that glyphosatebased
(G-based) herbicides are endocrine disruptors in human cells. They reported toxic effects to liver
cells “at 5 ppm [parts per million], and the first endocrine disrupting actions at 0.5 ppm, which is 800
times lower than the level authorized in some food or feed (400 ppm, USEPA, 1998). … In conclusion,
according to these data and the literature, G-based herbicides present DNA damages … on human

In 2012 Koller et al. reported that glyphosate and its formulation (Roundup) is toxic to cells,
particularly organ cells, and exhibits DNA-damaging properties “after short exposure to concentrations
that correspond to a 450-fold dilution of spraying used in agriculture.”

What is often overlooked is the role of “inert” ingredients in glyphosate formulations like Roundup,
which have been found to amplify glyphosate toxicity.
In 2005, Richard et al. reported that “glyphosate is toxic to human placental JEG3 cells within 18 hr
with concentrations lower than those found with agricultural use, and this effect increases with
concentration and time or in the presence of Roundup adjuvants. Surprisingly, Roundup is always more
toxic than its active ingredient. … We conclude that endocrine and toxic effects of Roundup, not just
glyphosate, can be observed in mammals.”

In 2012, Mesnage et al. reported, “This study demonstrates that all the glyphosate-based herbicides
tested are more toxic than glyphosate alone … The formulated herbicides (including Roundup) can
affect all living cells, especially human cells. Among them, POE-15 clearly appears to be the most
toxic principle against human cells, … We demonstrate in addition that POE-15 induces necrosis when
its first micellization process occurs, by contrast to glyphosate which is known to promote endocrine
disrupting effects after entering cells.”

Data Sources:
Diabetes incidence data: CDC
Diabetes prevalence data: CDC
ESRD data: U.S. Renal Data System
Blood pressure data: CDC
Obesity data: CDC
Acute Kidney Injury: National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NKUDIC) a
service of NIH (public domain).
Cancer data: National Cancer Institute-Surveillance Epidemiology and End Results (SEER)
SEER 9 areas (San Francisco, Connecticut, Detroit, Hawaii, Iowa, New Mexico, Seattle, Utah, and
Rates are per 100,000 and are age-adjusted to the 2000 US Std Population (19 age groups – Census
Glyphosate: USDA:NASS National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS)
Percent GE corn & soy data:
1996-1999 data: USDA Agricultural Economic Report No. (AER-810) 67 pp, May 2002
2000-2012 data: USDA:NASS National Agricultural Statistics Service

Mounting evidence that GMO crops can cause infertility and birth defects

The endocrine disrupting properties of glyphosate can lead to reproductive problems: infertility,
miscarriage, birth defects, and sexual development (see notes). Fetuses, infants and children are
especially susceptible because they are continually experiencing growth and hormonal changes. For
optimal growth and development, it is crucial that their hormonal system is functioning properly.
There are increasing reports of glyphosates and glyphosate formulations causing sexual dysfunction,
low birth weight, fewer births and sterility in laboratory animals, farm animals and humans (see notes).
A Russian study found that feeding hamsters GMO soy resulted in complete sterility after two or three
Glyphosate was first marketed in 1976 and its use has exploded since the advent of glyphosateresistant,
genetically engineered (GE) crops in 1995. The herbicide-resistant GE crops absorb
glyphosate through direct application and from the soil and it cannot be washed off. It is in the food.


According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the number of women ages 15-44 with impaired
ability to have children is 6.7 million (10.9%). The number of women ages 15-44 who have ever used
infertility services is 7.4 million. According to the graph showing results for Assisted Reproductive
Technologies (ART), the number of live births resulting from ART increased 113% from 1999 to 2008.
Since ART is expensive and not generally covered by medical insurance, infertility issues affect many
more people than this graph shows:

Assisted Reproductive Technology  06-11-2013

Birth Statistics

In the U.S., both the percentage of preterm births and babies born with low birth weight have been
slowly increasing since 1990, more steeply increasing from 1995 to 2006 and declining slightly since
then (see slide show). The percentage of preterm births (less than 37 weeks of gestation) rose 21%
from 1990 through 2006 (16% from 1995-2006) and has since declined but is still 10% higher than in
1990. The percentage of babies born with low birth weight (LBW, less than 5lb 8oz.) rose 19% from
1990-2006 (14% from 1995-2006) and have also declined slightly since then but are still 17% higher
than in 1990.

Interestingly, a report by Hamilton et al. for the Center for Disease Control (CDC) shows a drop in both
the fertility and birth rates in the U.S. since 2007. Perhaps the women at highest risk are no longer able
to become pregnant.

The infant mortality rate in the U.S. has been steadily dropping for decades, until 2000. According to
the CDC, the infant mortality rate dropped 40% from 1980 to 1995 and 19% from 1995-2010 with no
drop in the period from 2000-2005. It has dropped less than half as much in the last 15 years as in the
previous 15 years.

The second highest cause of infant mortality is complications due to preterm birth or low birth weight.
This, along with maternal complications of pregnancy were both increasing, along with the increase in
preterm births and LBW in live births. There has been conjecture that LBW and preterm births may be
due to the increase in ART births, since multiple births are more likely to result and these problems are
more common in multiple births. This cannot be the case because the ART graph shows that the
number of multiple births did not change from 2002 to 2006, during the period of steepest increase.

The slight drop in these statistics since 2006 may be because of growing awareness at that time of
endocrine disrupting BPA (bisphenol-A) & phthalates in plastics. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety
Improvement Act, passed in 2008, banned the use of phthalates in children’s products.

Only one generation has passed since the introduction of GE crops so it may be a bit early for the full
effects to become apparent but the data trends are showing that strange things are happening.

Birth Statistics  06-11-2013

Birth defects

The leading cause of infant mortality in the U.S. is congenital birth defects. There have been reports
that glyphosate is toxic to placental, umbilical and embryonic cells (see notes). The placenta, via the
umbilical chord, is responsible for delivering vital nutrients and eliminating waste products to and from
the fetus. Once the placenta and/or umbilical has been damaged or destroyed, the result can be
miscarriage or birth defects. Birth defects due to exposure to glyphosate and glyphosate formulations
have been reported for amphibians and for humans (see notes).

Research at Johns Hopkins University shows that women with thyroid disease are at a high risk of
delivering infants with birth defects. Strong correlation was shown between cancer of the thyroid and
glyphosate use on corn and soy crops and that thyroid cancer affects women more than men.

Birth defects have not been increasing in the U.S., but in the soy-producing regions of Argentina, they
have been skyrocketing. In 2010 the University of Cordoba released a report showing that the
incidence rate of birth defects in South America has increased by 347% from 1997 to 2008, which they
claim is linked to areal spraying of glyphosate on soy crops. People in Argentina began reporting
problems in 2002, two years after the first big harvests of GM Roundup Ready soy. “San Jorge in
Santa Fe, San Nicolás in Buenos Aires, Ituzaingó neighborhood in Córdoba, and La Leonesa in Chaco,
are only some of the places where the increased number of cancer cases, birth defects, reproductive and
endocrine disorders, have been suffered and detected ever since systematic pesticide spraying has
become commonplace.”

There are many endocrine disrupting chemicals in our environment and in our food. The huge increase
in the amount of glyphosate applied to GE food and feed crops has significantly increased our exposure
to endocrine disrupting chemicals. Much more research is needed to study the effects.

Acknowledgement: Jon Abrahamson helped with data mining for this article.

Infertility and low birth rates:
Laboratory animals:
In 1995 Yousef et al. reported on toxic effects of glyphosate on semen characteristics in rabbits,
“Pesticide treatment resulted in a decline in body weight, libido, ejaculate volume, sperm
concentration, semen initial fructose and semen osmolality. This was accompanied with increases in
the abnormal and dead sperm.”

In 2002 Markaverich et al. found that, “Housing adult rats on ground corncob bedding impedes male
and female mating behavior and causes acyclicity in females.”

In 2008, Austrian researchers found that mice fed GM corn produced fewer and smaller babies than
those fed a non-GM diet.

In April 2010, a Russian study found that after feeding hamsters GM soy for two years over three
generations, most were sterile by the third generation.

2011 Siepmann et al. reported, “Hypogonadism and erectile dysfunction associated with soy product
consumption,” in a 19-year old male (who was also diabetic). Unfortunately, they didn’t make the
connection that the soy was almost certainly GE.

In 2012 Antoniou et al. published a review of the evidence of the reproductive toxicity of glyphosate
herbicides and concluded that a new and transparent risk assessment needs to be conducted.

In 2012 Irina Ermakova reported low birth weight and a 55.6% mortality rate in the babies of rats fed
GMO soy compared to 6.8% in the control group.

Farm animals:
An Iowa pig farmer reports sterility and false pregnancies in pigs fed GMO corn.
ADanish pig farmer reports birth defects, infertility and low birth rate in pigs fed GMO corn. (English

In 2001 Arbuckle et al, reported on the effect of pesticide exposure on the risk of spontaneous abortion
in Ontario. “For late abortions, preconception exposure to glyphosate … was associated with elevated
risks. Postconception exposures were generally associated with late spontaneous abortions. Older
maternal age (> 34 years of age) was the strongest risk factor for spontaneous abortions, and we
observed several interactions between pesticides in the older age group.”

Birth defects:
In 2005, Richard et al. reported that “glyphosate is toxic to human placental JEG3 cells within 18 hr
with concentrations lower than those found with agricultural use, and this effect increases with
concentration and time or in the presence of Roundup adjuvants.”

In 2009, Benachour et al. evaluated the toxicity of four glyphosate (G)-based herbicides in Roundup
formulations on three different human cell types using a dilution far below agricultural
recommendations and corresponds to low levels of residues in food or feed. They reported that
glyphosate formulations induce apoptosis and necrosis in human umbilical, embryonic, and placental

In 2010, Paganelli et al. injected low doses (lower than levels used in fumigating) of glyphosate into
amphibian embryos and recorded brain, intestinal and heart defects in the fetuses. Effects included
reduced head size, genetic alterations in the central nervous system, increased death of cells that help
form the skull, deformed cartilage, eye defects, and undeveloped kidneys. In addition, the glyphosate
was not breaking down in the cells, but was accumulating. According to the authors these results are
“completely comparable to what would happen in the development of the human embryo.”

In 2009, Mesnage et al. reported two cases of birth defects in the same family in France after multiple
pesticide exposure. “Many pesticides were used by this family around pregnancies. The father sprayed,
without protection, more than 1.3 tons of pesticides per year including 300 liters of glyphosate based

In 2009, Winchester et al., reported, “Elevated concentrations of agrichemicals in surface water in
April–July coincided with higher risk of birth defects in live births with LMPs [last menstrual periods]

Data sources:

ART data: CDC
Infant mortality data: CDC
LBW and preterm birth data: CDC and CDC Interactive tables

Data show correlations between increase in neurological diseases and GMOs

The endocrine disrupting properties of glyphosate can lead to neurological disorders (learning
disabilities (LD), attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD), autism, dementia, Alzheimer’s,
schizophrenia and bipolar disorder). Those most susceptible are children and the elderly.

Glyphosate was first marketed in 1976 and its use has exploded since the advent of glyphosateresistant,
genetically engineered (GE) crops in 1995. The herbicide-resistant GE crops absorb
glyphosate through direct application and from the soil and it cannot be washed off. It is in the food .
Glyphosate has also been found in rivers, streams, air and rain.

The thyroid is an endocrine organ that secretes the thyroid hormone. Thyroid dysfunction has been
identified with mood disorders. Depression is frequently associated with low levels of thyroid
hormone (hypothyroidism), while mood elevation is often associated with high levels of thyroid
hormone (hyperthyroidism). An endocrine disrupting chemical (EDC) can cause erratic behavior.
Recent studies have shown links between food additives and neurotoxicity in cells and hyperactive
behavior in children. Incidents have been reported of laboratory rats and farm animals exhibiting
uncharacteristic aggressive and anti-social behavior on being fed a diet consisting of GMO soy or corn.

Many scientific studies have shown links between thyroid disruption and neurological diseases.
“Thyroid hormones are critical for development of the fetal and neonatal brain, as well as for many
other aspects of pregnancy and fetal growth. Hypothyroidism in either the mother or fetus frequently
results in fetal disease; in humans, this includes a high incidence of mental retardation. … numerous
studies with rats, sheep and humans have reinforced this concept…” According to de Cock et al,
“Perinatal exposure to EDCs appears to be associated with the occurrence of ASD [autism spectrum
disorder] as well as ADHD. Disruption of thyroid hormone function … may offer an explanation for
the observed relations….” MacSweeney et al. report, “that the mothers of 104 schizophrenic patients
had: (1) a significantly higher incidence of thyroid disease than a carefully matched control group; (2)
significantly more abortions, still-births and greater infant mortality. The findings and possible
relevance of thyroid disease to schizophrenia are discussed.” Strong correlation was shown between
cancer of the thyroid and glyphosate use on corn and soy crops and that thyroid cancer affects women
more than men. It seems that women are more sensitive to thyroid disruption.

The incidence and prevalence for neurological disorders have been skyrocketing. Data trends over
time for neurological disorders are not readily available for two reasons: they are not as well-studied as
other diseases (cancer, diabetes etc.), and the diagnostic methods keep changing. The experts argue
over whether the increases are real, or a by-product of changes in diagnostics along with greater
attention given to these disorders in recent times. For example, a former diagnosis of mental
retardation might now result in a diagnosis of autism. Furthermore there is a large degree of overlap in
symptoms. Typical manifestations of ADHD, such as distractibility or hyperactivity are also present in
pediatric bipolar disorder, for example.

ADHD According to the New York Times, “an estimated 6.4 million children ages 4 through 17 had
received an A.D.H.D. diagnosis at some point in their lives, a 16 percent increase since 2007 and a 41
percent rise in the past decade.” From the Center for Disease Control (CDC), “rates of ADHD
diagnosis increased an average of 3% per year from 1997 to 2006 and an average of 5.5% per year
from 2003 to 2007. … It is not possible to tell whether this increase represents a change in the number
of children who have ADHD, or a change in the number of children who were diagnosed.” It also
makes a great deal of difference who is doing the reporting: parents or doctors. The disorder affects
boys more than girls. Whatever the numbers, there seems to be an increasing behavioral problem with
our youth. Our solution is to give them more chemicals in the form of mood-altering drugs.

Bipolar According to a 2007 report by Moreno et al., “the annual number of office-based visits with a
diagnosis of bipolar disorder was estimated to increase in youth from 25 (1994-1995) to 1003 (2002-
2003) per 100,000 population, whereas in adults it increased from 905 (1994-1995) to 1679 (2002-
2003) per 100,000 population. … most youth bipolar disorder visits were by males (66.5%), whereas
most adult bipolar disorder visits were by females (67.6%).”

Autism The number of autistic children has exploded during the last decade, and some are calling it an
epidemic. There is great controversy over what is causing this and whether all of it is real. “But many
researchers now say that at least part of the rise in autism is real and caused by something in the
environment. Rather than quibbling over recounts they are focusing on finding the causes.”

It was shown in previous articles that there has been a huge increase in the amount of glyphosates
applied to corn and soy crops grown in the U.S. corresponding to the rise in the percentage of corn and
soy planted with genetically engineered (GE) varieties. Those data represent only a portion of the total
GE crops and amount of glyphosates applied. The USDA only collects data on GE crops for corn,
cotton and soy. Since most of the corn (88%) and soy (94%) planted now is GE, these data give a
representation of the rising trends in both GE crops and herbicide use.

The amount of glyphosate applied to U.S. corn and soy crops is plotted against the prevalence of
autism in the graph below. The prevalence of autism was difficult to find and the values shown on this
graph came from many sources using different methods and different age groups. A better estimate
was obtained from the U.S. Department of Education, which keeps track of school age children
receiving services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). A second plot is
shown using data from USDE for the number of autistic children receiving services. The correlation is
quite strong which may indicate that glyphosate is a contributing factor in the rise of autism.

Autism Prevalence  06-11-2013

Number of Children 6-21 Years Old with Autism  06-11-2013

The elderly are susceptible because they may already have a great body burden of chemical exposure
over their lifetime and because some of their body processes are shutting down and hormonal
disruptions can have a much greater effect on them.
According to the University of Washington Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, Alzheimer’s
disease went from number 32 in 1990 to number nine in 2010 in the ranking of leading causes of death
in the U.S. Senile Dementia and it’s care costs have also skyrocketed in the last two decades.
Prevalence and incidence data were sparse, but data on death rates were available from 1979. Graphs
of the death rates for Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease and Senile Dementia have been plotted against
glyphosate applications to U.S. corn and soy crops. Again, the correlations are quite strong. Deaths
due to Alzheimer’s have been rising since 1980, but there is a sharp spike in 1999.

Correlation does not necessarily imply causation and there are now a host of chemicals in our food and
our environment. The huge increase in the amount of glyphosate applied to GE food and feed crops
has significantly increased our exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals. In a previous article,
correlations were shown between glyphosate use, GMO crop increase and: thyroid cancer, liver cancer,
obesity, high blood pressure, acute kidney injury, incidence and prevalence of diabetes and end stage
renal disease. All of these diseases and disorders were carefully chosen based on:
1 Glyphosate is a known endocrine disruptor.
2. Endocrine disruptors can cause organ and neurological damage.
3. Roundup™ and GMOs have shown liver and kidney damage and abnormal behavior in rat studies.
4. Use of glyphosate on herbicide-resistant crops has skyrocketed since 1995.
5. Incidence, prevalence and deaths due to these diseases has also skyrocketed since 1995.

It seems improbable that the correlations in the nine graphs of glyphosates and organ disease, and the
three presented here (for a total of 12), can all be coincidence. There has been a trend among the
agricultural and food industries and their regulators to engage in practices that place the consumers at
risk, emerging in the mid-1990s and growing. It involves not just GMOs but many other things as well
and those factors may may be correlated with each other. That may make it impossible to separate out
which one caused a particular effect. Much more research needs to be done. Our children are
disturbed and our elders are dying horribly.

Deaths from Alzheimer's  06-11-2013

Deaths from Parkinson's disease  06-14-2013

Deaths from Senile Dementia  06-14-2013

Acknowledgment: Jon Abrahamson helped with data mining for this article.

In 2006 Irena Ermakova reported to the European Congress of Psychiatry that, “As in previous series
the behavior of males from GM group was compared with the behavior of control rats. Obtained data
showed a high level of anxiety and aggression in males, females and young pups from GM groups.
Aggression was more expressed in females and rat pups: they attacked and bite each other and the
worker.” 14th European Congress of Psychiatry, Nice, France, Sunday, March 5 2006, Poster #048.

Numerous anecdotal reports of animals on GMO diets behaving aggressively and anti-socially have
been reported by farmers and veterinarians.

In 2010 Shelton et al. published a paper describing potential mechanisms linking pesticides and

In 2006, Grandjean and Landrigan reported on developmental neurotoxicity of industrial chemicals.
“Neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism, attention deficit disorder, mental retardation, and
cerebral palsy are common, costly, and can cause lifelong disability. … Exposure to these chemicals
during early fetal development can cause brain injury at doses much lower than those affecting adult
brain function.”

Data sources:
Alzheimer’s & Senile Dementia death data : CDC compressed mortality files

Autism prevalence: CDC:
1975* & 1995* from NAT U R E | VO L 4 7 9 | 3 NOV E M B E R 2 0 1 1
Autism IDEA data: 1992-1998
1999-2010 http://nces.ed.gov/FastFacts/display.asp?id=64
U.S. Dept. of Education, National Center for Education Statistics (2012). Digest of Education
Statistics, 2011 (NCES 2012-001), Chapter 2.
Glyphosate: USDA:NASS National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS)
Percent GE corn & soy data:
1996-1999 data: USDA Agricultural Economic Report No. (AER-810) 67 pp, May 2002
2000-2012 data: USDA:NASS National Agricultural Statistics Service

Intestinal disease, immune disease and GMOs

Could crops that are genetically engineered as pesticide producers be a factor in the explosion of
intestinal and immune disorders in the U.S.?

GE engineering for insect resistant (IR) crops
Sections of the DNA from the bacteria known as Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) are isolated and inserted
into the plant cells by a process known as genetic transformation. The entire plant is then regenerated
from the transgenic plant cells. There are thousands of different Bt strains that produce proteins toxic
to insect pests. Particular strains are chosen to target specific plant pests. The resulting plant contains
the Bt toxin in its cells. When the plant is eaten by the target insect the toxin binds to receptors in the
insect’s gut, causing the gut wall to break down and allowing toxins and normal gut bacteria to enter the
body. As the toxins and bacteria proliferate in the body, the insect dies.
Could it be coincidence that this is the exact description of “Leaky Gut syndrome”?

Leaky Gut syndrome
According to Dr. Andrew Weil, “Leaky gut syndrome is not generally recognized by conventional
physicians, but evidence is accumulating that it is a real condition that affects the lining of the
intestines. The theory is that leaky gut syndrome (also called increased intestinal permeability), is the
result of damage to the intestinal lining, making it less able to protect the internal environment as well
as to filter needed nutrients and other biological substances. As a consequence, some bacteria and their
toxins, incompletely digested proteins and fats, and waste not normally absorbed may “leak” out of the
intestines into the blood stream. This triggers an autoimmune reaction, which can lead to
gastrointestinal problems such as abdominal bloating, excessive gas and cramps, fatigue, food
sensitivities, joint pain, skin rashes, and autoimmunity.”

Can Leaky Gut be caused by the Bt crops?
According to the producers of the Bt insecticide crops, the portion of the Bt DNA that is used does not
survive the digestive process in humans. This may be true for the bare DNA strands, but the Bt
proteins do survive. Aris et al. found these Bt toxins in the blood of pregnant women and their fetuses
which they reported in the journal of Reproductive Toxicology (2011). Even so, say the manufacturers,
there is no cause to worry because the toxins are selective and only bind to receptors in the insect gut.
Humans don’t have these receptors.

According to Dr. Arpad Pusztai, who was involved in the pioneering research on the Bt potato, “There
is no [such thing as] absolute selectivity!” Furthermore, he says that the very process of genetic
modification causes unknown and uncontrollable mutations in the plant. There is “no means of
directing the gene transfer … You are shooting blindfold … genetic insertion causes mutations … You
can’t say where it [the genetic bit] landed … you don’t know how things were reshuffled.” The plant’s
own genes are affected and we don’t really know how. Pusztai calls this, “insertional mutagenesis,”
mutation of an organism caused by the insertion of DNA into the organism’s preexisting DNA.

Pusztai did an experiment with rats where he fed one group a food mixture that contained the Bt toxin
alone and the other group were fed the the same mixture except it contained the Bt potato. The potato
mixture contained 800 times less of the Bt toxin. The rats who were fed the Bt toxin alone were fine,
as advertised. But the rats who were fed the Bt potato were not. They were smaller, their livers were
smaller, but their stomachs and small intestines were larger. The toxin in the potato was different than
the toxin alone. Pusztai published his work (Lancet, 1999) and when his employment contract expired
it was not renewed.

The intestinal lining of livestock in the U.S. is so poor these days that meat processors import sausage
casings from New Zealand. According to Dr. Huber, “When you look at the intestine of those pigs fed
the GMO feed, the lining is deteriorated and the critical microbial balance is drastically changed.”

Intestinal disease and Bt corn
The first Bt corn, cotton and potato were approved by the FDA as food crops in 1995. The corn was
genetically engineered to be resistant to the European Corn Borer (ECB). Since then there have been
numerous approvals for Bt corn, cotton, potato and, in 2010 for soy. In 2002 the FDA approved
another Bt corn variety engineered as an insecticide against the corn rootworm. The Bt potato never
really took hold, apparently because the fast-food producers refused to buy it.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) maintains the National Hospital Discharge Survey. Records
were accessed for discharges with any diagnosis listed for a variety of intestinal ailments from 1990-
2010. Dr. Charles Benbrook of the Washington State University published a report showing that
pesticide use has increased since the advent of GMOs. He obtained data from the USDA and
Monsanto reports to estimate percentages of GE corn and cotton that were planted in Bt varieties.

These data are plotted in the graphs below. The first graph is a plot of hospital discharge diagnoses of
inflammatory bowel disease (IBD — Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis) against the number of acres of Bt
corn planted (ECB-targeted). The diagnoses for IBD begins rising in 1995 and rises and drops along
with the availability of Bt corn with a one year delay (two years around 2007-8). The incidence of IBD
also showed a high peak around 1978. In an analysis similar to this one, Qin showed that it was
strongly correlated with saccharine consumption at that time.

Hospital Discharge Diagnoses of IBD-Crohn's & Ulcerative Colitis  06-11-2013

The second graph depicts the number of hospital discharges listing peritonitis diagnoses plotted against
the number of acres of Bt corn planted (ECB). The correlation in time in this graph is not as clear as in
the previous, but they are marching along in the same direction at approximately the same time.
Perforation of part of the gastrointestinal tract is the most common cause of peritonitis.

Hospital Discharge Diagnosis of Peritonitis  06-14-2013

The third graph shows the the number of diagnoses for chronic constipation plotted against Bt corn
planted (ECB and rootworm targeted). Chronic constipation jumped 90% from 2009 to 2010.

Hospital Discharge Diagnosis of Chronic Constipation  06-11-2013

The fourth graph is a plot of hospital diagnoses of functional bowel disorder (chronic constipation,
irritable bowel and undetermined) against the number of acres of all Bt corn. This graph also seems to
track well.

Hospital Diagnosis for Functional Bowel Disorders-IBS & Constipation  06-11-2013

The fifth graph shows the number of deaths due to intestinal infections plotted against the number of
acres of all Bt corn planted.

Deaths Due to Intestinal Infection  06-11-2013

Leaky gut and immune response

If toxins and bacteria are leaking into the abdominal cavity, the body will respond as if it is under
attack. In addition, according to Dr. Pusztai, “The body will regard any genetically modified substance
coming into the digestive system as foreign [because of its mutated DNA].” The body responds to
foreign substances by triggering an immune response. This can be instant, as in an allergic reaction, or
it can be a slower, cell-mediated response. Food allergies and immune diseases of all kinds are also
soaring. Incidence and prevalence data trends are unavailable because many were rare until recently
(fibromyalgia, celiacs disease). Other immune diseases that are on the rise are: asthma, eczema, lupus,
Addison’s disease, Grave’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, psoriasis, and psoriatic
arthritis. The final graph is a plot of the hospital discharge diagnoses of rheumatoid arthritis along
with the number of acres of Bt corn planted. Rheumatoid arthritis is rising slowly, while the number of
Bt crops is rising rapidly, but there is a large increase from 2007 to 2010 of rheumatoid arthritis
diagnoses. Chronic immune disorders take a long time to develop and there are likely other factors.

Hospital Discharge Diagnosis of Rheumatoid Arthritis  06-14-2013

Acknowledgment: Jon Abrahamson helped with data mining for this article.

Data sources:
Death data: CDC compressed mortality files
Hospital discharge data: CDC; 1991-2001 2006-2010
Bt corn data: Charles Benbrook spreadsheet

GMOs and multiple chronic diseases

A paper published 18 April 2013 in the scientific journal Entropy explains the connection between
glyphosate and gastrointestinal disorders, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, depression, autism,
infertility, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.

According to the authors, “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. We explain the
documented effects of glyphosate and its ability to induce disease, and we show that glyphosate is the
‘textbook example’ of exogenous semiotic entropy: the disruption of homeostasis by environmental

Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) were first introduced into the food supply in the 1995. One
of the primary genetically engineered (GE) traits is resistance to direct herbicide applications. As a
result, there has been a huge increase in the amount of glyphosate applied to cotton, corn, canola, sugar
beet, and soy crops grown in the U.S. corresponding to the rise in the percentage of these GE varieties

Since GMOs were introduced into the food supply the rate of chronic health conditions among children
in the United States increased from 12.8% in 1994 to 26.6% in 2006, particularly for asthma, obesity,
and behavior and learning problems. The rate of chronic disease in the entire U.S. population has been
dramatically increasing with an estimated 25% of the U.S. population suffering from multiple chronic

According to a recent article in the Seattle Times, “Drug overdose deaths rose for the 11th straight year
[in 2010 according to a CDC report] … Medicines, mostly prescription drugs, were involved in nearly
60 percent of overdose deaths that year, overshadowing deaths from illicit narcotics. … Among the
medication-related deaths, 17 percent were suicides. The report’s data came from death certificates,
which aren’t always clear on whether a death was a suicide or a tragic attempt at getting high.”

It seems that people are so miserable, they are knocking themselves off with their painkillers.

The Academy of Environmental Medicine has issued a position statement on GMO food stating,
“…several animal studies indicate serious health risks associated with GM food consumption including
infertility, immune dysregulation, accelerated aging, dysregulation of genes associated with cholesterol
synthesis, insulin regulation, cell signaling, and protein formation, and changes in the liver, kidney,
spleen and gastrointestinal system.
“There is more than a casual association between GM foods and adverse health effects. There is
causation as defined by Hill’s Criteria in the areas of strength of association, consistency, specificity,
biological gradient, and biological plausibility. The strength of association and consistency between
GM foods and disease is confirmed in several animal studies.” They further state that “because GM
foods have not been properly tested for human consumption, and because there is ample evidence of
probable harm,” they call on physicians to educate the public and warn their patients to avoid GM

People are ill and they are not waiting for scientists to tell them that GMOs are making them ill.
Rachel Linden said in an interview on Weekly Women’s GMO Free News, “I don’t know why science
has replaced common sense. I don’t need to check with my doctor to know how I feel when I eat
GMOs and how I feel when I don’t eat GMOs. I don’t need a scientist to tell me forty years from now
that they were wrong about GMOs. I’m going to decide for myself right now.” Case studies are piling
up of patients who have shown dramatic improvement after taking their doctor’s advice and eliminating
GMO food. Wouldn’t that be so much easier if they had labels?

Original Online Source:  http://www.examiner.com/gmo-in-seattle/nancy-swanson

PDF to online editing:  John Loeffler