Oh, No! GMOs Are Going To Make Everyone Autistic!


I’m reluctant to throw out accusations, but given some of the rabidly anti-GMO propaganda I have seen, I am suspicious that their biases have gotten the better of them.

Are you suggesting that we should reject their findings merely because they suggest that glyphosate is safe and that they try to spin it to say the opposite?

What I'm saying is that if we ARE going to give them the benefit of the doubt, then we should assume that their findings do somehow support their conclusions in a way that we don't fully understand.

If we are NOT going to give them the benefit of the doubt that their conclusions make sense- albeit in a way we don't presently understand- then, yes, we should also question whether the data itself is reliable to begin with.

Which studies show that glyphosate is left on foods in sufficient quantities to affect probiotic bacteria?

Unfortunately, I don't have access to the full text of this study, but here is one:

The effect of glyphosate on potential pathogens and beneficial members of poultry microbiota in vitro.

"The use of glyphosate modifies the environment which stresses the living microorganisms. The aim of the present study was to determine the real impact of glyphosate on potential pathogens and beneficial members of poultry microbiota in vitro. The presented results evidence that the highly pathogenic bacteria as Salmonella Entritidis, Salmonella Gallinarum, Salmonella Typhimurium, Clostridium perfringens and Clostridium botulinum are highly resistant to glyphosate. However, most of beneficial bacteria as Enterococcus faecalis, Enterococcus faecium, Bacillus badius, Bifidobacterium adolescentis and Lactobacillus spp. were found to be moderate to highly susceptible. Also Campylobacter spp. were found to be susceptible to glyphosate. A reduction of beneficial bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract microbiota by ingestion of glyphosate could disturb the normal gut bacterial community. Also, the toxicity of glyphosate to the most prevalent Enterococcus spp. could be a significant predisposing factor that is associated with the increase in C. botulinum-mediated diseases by suppressing the antagonistic effect of these bacteria on clostridia."

This is a case of the dose making the poison, isn’t it? There are many things we consume that kill bacteria, but not in sufficient quantities to adversely affect probiotic gut bacteria to any significant degree.

Of course- the dose always makes the poison. In this case- the dose is apparently enough to kill weeds, therefore I think it is reasonable to speculate that it would also kill bacteria.

I'm not saying I know of any evidence that PROVES this. What I am saying is that it sounds reasonable to me. I suppose the underlying concern here is that nobody will take the question seriously because it is being put forth by the "wrong" people in the "wrong" way. Whether or not Seneff is a nutter publishing bad studies in questionable journals doesn't mean that there ISN'T a valid question to investigate here.

Up until a few years ago, people were snarking at the idea that food affected the microbiome AT ALL. The same line was given then: "Show us the evidence!" OK fair enough. But in the meantime... why get all snarky at the question? Sounds like a fair question to me.

Incidentally- there are still many gastroenterologists out there telling their patients to "eat whatever they want" because it will have no effect on their digestive health one way or another.

Incidentally- there are still many GPs and family docs prescribing antibiotics for what is most likely a viral infection because "well it can't hurt."

I mean- if this is the case then it is NO WONDER that anti-science "nutters" can gain such a foothold in the public mind. If physicians don't change their attitudes and practices when science contradicts them, why should anybody else?

Many herbs and spices contain potent antibacterial chemicals, like thymol, carvacrol and eugenol. We don’t worry about these affecting our gut bacteria, do we?

Maybe we should! Just because they're natural doesn't mean they're safe. Or maybe it's the case that beneficial flora are tolerant to those agents, while pathogens are susceptible..?

Too bad we don't really know, eh? Unfortunately, there's just not a lot of money available to conduct high-quality studies of naturally-occurring agents. Plus- wouldn't it be kind of embarrassing for science if we eventually learned that we could have avoided this superbug crisis if we would have realized sooner that the solution was right under our noses the whole time? Imagine... all the billions of dollars spent on antibiotics when oregano and thyme oil would have done a better job all along...

I think the study we are discussing goes a long way. Since you are the one suggesting that glyphosate does affect gut bacteria, how about you providing some evidence to show that gut concentrations in humans can reach high enough concentrations to do so?

I can't find any evidence to support the idea. What I'm saying is that I think it is a reasonable question, and that we shouldn't overlook it out of concern for being labeled anti-GMO nutters.

You are comparing glyphosate, which is extraordinarily safe, so safe that the detergents used in the Roundup formula are more toxic than glyphosate itself, to human rights abuses? Seriously?

No, of course not! I was making argumentum ad absurdum to your suggestion that, since glyphosate is "safer" than anything that came before it, we should just thank our lucky stars and not question our benevolent biotech guardian angels who graced us with this wonder of modern science. ;-) (I know you didn't really say that BTW, just a little attempt at humor there.)

Where is the evidence that glyphosate is doing any harm at all anywhere?

Nah you have it backwards, methinks. The burden of evidence is/was on Monsanto to show that it DOESN'T harm gut bacteria. Especially since we know that many gut bacteria do- in fact- utilize the biochemical pathway that is targeted by glyphosate.

Perhaps a more important question is... why wasn't anybody asking this question 40 years ago? We knew about gut bacteria back then, right?

The only problem I can see it causing is herbicide resistant weeds, which are a problem with any herbicide.

Well of course that IS the main problem! Herbicide resistant weeds = more glyphosate = higher residues on foods. It's the underlying THINKING that is the problem... it's the strategy itself. It's the same line of THINKING that has resulted in the superbug crisis.

We need an entirely different approach to the problem. Just trying to frantically develop stronger and stronger herbicides/fungicides/pesticides/antimicrobials is just going to make the problem worse. It is pure insanity.

After all- isn't that the reason we have the majority of GMO crops in the first place? So that we can spray even MORE glyphosate on them, because it doesn't work like it used to?

If you ask me- I think we need to go back to the drawing board and consider entirely new ways to tackle this issue that is more in alignment with nature. For example, rather than simply killing weeds, why not grow something ELSE that crowds out the weeds?

Same idea with pathogenic microbes... rather than trying to kill them with stronger and stronger drugs... why not crowd them out with friendly bugs? Oh wait.. I know why... because that method isn't nearly as profitable due to intellectual property laws that hail from the distant past.

Isn’t replacing horribly toxic herbicides like paraquat a good thing?

Sure it is good relative to what we had before. But that doesn't mean it is good unto itself. Look... where is this all leading? That is the true question here. And why are we so resistant to acknowledging that our strategy (KILL, KILL, KILL the "bad guys") is actually just creating more of the problem that we are ostensibly trying to solve?

I'm resisting the urge to draw parallels to other "plagues" of the modern age, because I don't want to go off topic...

Do you have some examples of this egregious behavior? Which Monsanto products have proven to be dangerous?

Agent Orange...? Just for starters.

Both are sprayed all over food crops. Does it matter why? Would you prefer to compare glyphosate and limonene, which is used as an organic herbicide? We know a great deal about glyphosate and its safety, but we don’t even know if limonene is carcinogenic in humans.

I don't think we should give a whit whether it is "natural" or not, except to the degree that intellectual property laws fuel a strong bias against doing any serious research on substances which cannot be patented.

The question is... is it safe? Hey, maybe glyphosate is really just getting bad rap and being scapegoated here. But it seems like every month or so there is another thing that we were told was safe that isn't.

What was it last week? Emulsifiers? And the week before that? Caramel color? Why should the public feel assured about the safety of ANYTHING put in our food? It seems to me like something is going horribly wrong with our safety testing.

Moreover- to my knowledge- NONE of these food additives or agricultural chemicals were EVER shown to be harmless to gut bacteria. Amirite?

I agree about monoculture in general, though if we are going to feed 9 billion people it seems inevitable to some degree,

Maybe to some degree, but I don't think we are taking the problem seriously enough. Too much money behind doing what we are already doing. We have to stop putting profits ahead of sustainability. We are running out of time. Whether it's 10 years or 100 years doesn't really matter... we are running out of time and very few people are taking this problem seriously. And the ones that are are demonized as "nutters" and "anti-science" simply because they commit logical fallacies in their reasoning. Meanwhile we're too busy scoffling and snarking at these "idiots" to come up with real solutions on our own.

but I don’t see what GMOs necessarily have to do with monoculture.

Well, GMOs don't necessarily have to do with monoculture. That's just the way things have gone down. There are probably a thousand different ways we could genetically engineer organisms such that we actually INCREASE diversity, adaptability, and resilience in the biome.

We could just as well use biotech to support and enhance nature. But we choose not to. Instead, we have chosen to use biotech in order to create unsustainable conditions... to try to dominate and force nature to do things which it would never do on its own. Like grow endless fields of corn and soy. And when things start to go south the solution is always.... more biotech! It's insane, and I think deep down you know that, and so does everybody else.

It's kind of like trying to "stimulate" a failing economy by printing more and more and more money. It doesn't really work for more than a few months, but since the alternative would be to actually question our fundamental premises of how to run an economy, most people would rather stick their heads in the sand and "hope" that continued misapplication of a failed solution will somehow "magically" work out in our favor in the end. (Sorry, off topic.)

Monsanto does seem to be making efforts to support sustainable agriculture. I think this should be encouraged and supported. We are going to need biotechnology to feed our planet, and I think we need better regulation and oversight of large corporations generally. I don’t think demonizing them is very helpful.

I wholeheartedly agree. But let's be honest... if anybody is out there "demonizing" Monsanto it is reactionary to them (and companies like them) being hailed as "saviors" for so long.

What practice? Using glyphosate? Or monoculture? If the former, since it has been so extensively tested and there is no convincing evidence of harm, I don’t see the problem. If the latter, I don’t see why the use of GMOs and glyphosate is incompatible with sustainable farming.

Monoculture. Glyphosate is incompatible with sustainable farming because it's long term use results in stronger weeds, which in turn results in needing to use more glyphosate, which in turn results in genetically engineering crops to be able to tolerate more glyphosate.

That is the antithesis of sustainability. Sure... perhaps there is a place for glyphosate as one of many agents that are systematically rotated in a fashion such that weeds do not become resistant. *shrug* Sure, why not? But that's not how we're using it.

It sees to me that there are too many otherwise intelligent people making nonsensical claims about GMOs when there is no evidence at all that they have harmed a single person ever, despite billions of meals containing them having been consumed. What have I missed about GMOs while my head has been in the sand?

Well, then we have just come full circle. I don't believe it is nonsensical to ask the question if glyphosate (or any other agent entering our food supply) is harmful to gut bacteria. I believe the burden of proof is on the manufacturer to show that it IS safe, and not the other way around. And, I believe that the fact that nobody demanded they do this in the first place is, at best, a really unfortunate oversight, and at worst amounting to criminal negligence.

I don't know what you- specifically- have missed. Perhaps nothing for all I know. But as a society, I think we have missed a lot by falling for the notion that all of the world's ills not only can be magically solved by oil, and its various derivatives.

What problems, specifically? A few years ago I accepted the demonization of ‘Big Ag’ uncritically; it’s widely accepted by many people and I didn’t think about it much. However, after reading some comments here and doing a bit of research I discovered I had been deceived. Lots of things that many people believe about Monsanto, for example, are simply not true.

I agree that spreading disinformation is not an appropriate tactic. But I sure hope you haven't decided that you are going to just as uncritically believe whatever the Monsanto spin doctors put up on their PR page.

Hey... maybe Monsanto has been unfairly maligned. But what I do know for sure is that every single company that has been caught red-handed doing some shady shenanigans swears up and down that they are innocent until the evidence becomes insurmountable.

It's the same playbook over and over again. Big Tobacco did it. Big Banking did it. Why not Big Ag? Why should we assume they are any different?

Anyway... really the whole point I am trying to make is that I think we need to be careful not to commit the genetic fallacy and/or the fallacy fallacy here by focusing on Seneff's shoddy "research" instead of considering if there is a valid question to be investigated about impact of glyphosate on gut bacteria in the first place.

You say: "Show me the proof it is harmful to gut bacteria."

I say: "Show me the proof it is NOT harmful to gut bacteria."

We are at an impasse.

Source : https://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2014/12/31/oh-no-gmos-are-going-to-make-everyone-autistic

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