Roundup and Gut Bacteria

Note: I recently became a contributor over at The Skeptical LibertarianThere will be some cross-posting and similar topics covered. This is a benefit, however, as it has already brought to my attention new material which I might not have otherwise noticed. There is also other great material over there, so if you are looking to add to your reading – please check it out. Thanks to Daniel Bier for a whole new stack of material to use in my writing!

Daniel Bier, publisher and executive editor of The Skeptical Libertarian, brought to my attention a news story regarding a new published report on the active ingredient in Roundup® called Glyphosate. As he rightly points out, the conclusions and the mode of publications immediately raised some skeptical red-flags. So I started reading the study, and all I can do is shake my head at how poor the “science” really is in this paper.

The first red-flag comes right away in the article’s title: Glyphosate’s Suppression of Cytochrome P450 Enzymes and Amino Acid Biosynthesis by the Gut Microbiome: Pathways to Modern Diseases. The terms “modern disease” and “gut bacteria/microbes/flora/etc” have been used and abused by pseudoscientific practitioners that promote fad diets (paleo and such), anti-vaccination people, anti-genetically modified food people, and other groups which employ the naturalistic fallacy. The term “modern disease” is a loaded term, with the claim that all diseases and conditions (cancer, autism, MS, Parkinson’s, etc) are all caused by our modern lifestyle and modern medicine. It is also very popular to connect all things disease to the intestine. While there is a kernel of truth in a few of the claims, too often the terms get pseudoscientific treatment. Now my skeptical senses are tingling.

The next set of red-flags come from the abstract. I will post the entire thing here. I think those familiar with skepticism can find several overly bold statements here. I will highlight a few below.

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. 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 toxins.

The last two sentences stand out the most. The human body is a very complex system. The implication that any one chemical is the cause of all disease all alone is intellectual dishonest, cognitively dissonant, or both. A similar tactic is used in opposite way for marijuana. Proponents claim it will cure all disease, but the research would indicate it is much more complex: perhaps treating certain diseases while exacerbating others. While it is technically plausible glyphosate plays a role in all of the diseases listed, it is highly unlikely. To also implicate glyphosate as the number one example of an “environmental toxin” indicates a misunderstanding of the complexity of biology.

Glyphosate and Cancer

One of the first claims in the paper is as follows:

Thus, while short-term studies in rodents have shown no apparent toxicity, studies involving life-long exposure in rodents have demonstrated liver and kidney dysfunction and a greatly increased risk of cancer, with shortened lifespan.

The study cited regarding the long-term effects is rife with inadequacies. If you look at the link, several follow-ups are posted regarding these inadequacies of methodology. There is also a failure of a review not to acknowledge these follow-ups, and a failure not to point out that one study with rats bred to have a predisposition to tumors is not enough to make a strong conclusion. As David Gorski at Science-Based Medicine points out:

The investigators measured numerous parameters in each group, some of them at multiple different time points. An experiment with this many groups and this many parameters measured this many times is virtually guaranteed to generate multiple “positive” results. How did they control for all these multiple comparisons? I’ve read the study a few times now, and I still can’t figure it out. An experiment with this many groups in which this many parameters are measured is guaranteed to produce “statistically significant” differences in a number of variables by random chance alone. Heck, in Figure 5, I counted 47 different parameters measured, and in some tables thirteen different parameters recorded curiously as percentage changes. Even worse, for the mortality data (arguably the most critical data), no confidence intervals are reported, and there appears to be no discussion of how the mortality data were analyzed…

I am skeptical that rats in a control group bred to develop tumors 72% of the time are the best method for finding a substance to be a strong contributor to their cancer.

Glyphosate and Gut Bacteria

Their next conclusion is as follows:

The incidence of inflammatory bowel diseases such as juvenile onset Crohn’s disease has increased substantially in the last decade in Western Europe and the United States. It is reasonable to suspect that glyphosate’s impact on gut bacteria may be contributing to these diseases and conditions.

This is a common correlation/causation error, which is an error demonstrated in this viral post from a couple months back:

While research on gut bacteria and the role it plays on human biology, and there is intriguing research on gut flora and fecal transplants in treating specific digestive diseases, it hasn’t shown effects outside of that to this point. As Mark Crislip concludes in his article on fecal transplants:

The practice of medicine is always in flux* and off the wall ideas today are tomorrows standard of care.  For fecal transplant and some colonic diseases, it is an intervention that, outside of C. difficile, is still unproven, although a promising idea.   For diseases outside the colon, biologic plausibility makes stool transplant unlikely to have any benefit with real potential downsides.  Stool transplants are unlikely to be of widespread to benefit,  but when all you have to offer is crap, everything is a toilet.

Glyphosate and Autism

The authors try connecting glyphosate to autism, but do so through the gastrointestinal hypothesis. Their statement is as follows:

It is now well established that autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is associated with dysbiosis in the gut, and, indeed, this is viewed by many as an important contributor to ASD.

The study cited is by Karoly Horvath, who has pushed the connection between “leaky gut” and autism, similar to Andrew Wakefield. Karoly Horvath is listed among “Autism’s False Prophets” in Paul Offit’s book of the same title. The leaky gut hypothesis is centered around the idea that something triggers the intestine to become inflamed (vaccines, foods, “modern” foods, etc) and allows “macronutrients” in the blood and damages the brain. While it is true that autistic kids have a higher incidence of gastrointestinal issues, it has been hard to find a single cause. There are errors in reporting, since many studies relied on parental reporting of issues. There are other possible causes, such as one recent study that showed those with autism that reported gastrointestinal issues also reported higher rates of anxiety and sensory over-responsivity. The possible pathways of inflammation cited by Wakefield and Horvath have all since been discredited in follow-up studies. SInce the original study by Horvath was published in 2003, I would have to assume Anthony Samsel and Stephanie Seneff willfully ignored the followup in order to prove their point.

As a side note, it is important to note the genetic component of autism. Families with an autistic child have an increased chance of another child having ASD. Other brain disorders share a genetic link with autism. A small study showed the brains of autistic boys were dramatically different in their structure than a control group. Because of a genetic link, it is possible the intestines of autistic kids are more susceptible to inflammation, but it is much less likely the inflammation is what causes autism.

Glyphosate and Obesity

The authors of the paper also make an auspicious connection to obesity. They state:

The obesity epidemic began in the United States in 1975, simultaneous with the introduction of glyphosate into the food chain, and it has steadily escalated in step with increased usage of glyphosate in agriculture.

What’s interesting is the studies they link to all have to do with dietary changes, and not with glyphosate. The studies correlate sugar consumption, portion size, and similar issues as leading to obesity, not glyphosate. It is also of note that obesity started rising the year glyphosate was introduced, yet elsewhere the authors claim it is chronic exposure over the long-term that causes problems in the body. If it indeed is long-term exposure, then there should be a lag in the rise of obesity, not an immediate correlation.

Other Opposing Views to the Claims of the Paper

Kevin Kloor writes about the poor reporting done on this study (and poor science reporting as a whole). For example, Reuters called the paper a “study,” which it clearly is not – it is a review – but really should be treated more as an editorial commentary since the literature review is very biased and incomplete. Hank Campbell at Science 2.0 talks a little about this paper and the dangers of an open-access journal such as Entropy. Even though it carries a label of “peer-review,” it is merely a small editorial board looking for certain gross errors, but not truly peers in the field looking at the science itself. Hank Campbell does offer hope that some science reporters did actually look at the study, and showed it to be nonsense…but the fact the Reuters article still exists without so much as an update is concerning.

Monsanto makes a few valid points within its response on its blog. Similar to Hank Campbell’s response, they state:

Publication in a physics journal would not have subjected the paper to appropriate peer review by experts in relevant fields of biology and medicine.

A few of the other points in the blog, such as the affiliations of the authors, are not proof by themselves that the study is flawed. But taken as a whole, along with the content (and missing content) of the paper, it is apparent the authors of the review were biased in their conclusions. Glyphosate has been the source of controversy for quite some time. While concern over Monsanto’s influence on agriculture is a valid discussion, it doesn’t invalidate the science behind it (what I nickname the Capitalistic Fallacy).

Dave Mance III takes a bit more of a common sense, middle-ground approach to glyphosate in an article for Northern Woodlands magazine. While pointing out that the precautionary principle would dictate finding alternatives to any herbicide, there are certain good uses for them. Mr. Mance also looks at how science is misreported, because good scientists are honest in their assessment that there is no 100% certainty. The article further points out the importance of looking at the source of studies and their funding sources. When looking at independently funded studies (such as by universities), he found:

Researchers at Cornell, among other major universities, analyzed toxicology tests in 1996 and concluded that glyphosate is “practically nontoxic” by ingestion, and it’s unlikely that the chemical would produce reproductive, teratogenic (birth defects), mutagenic, or carcinogenic effects in humans (read the results yourself). But because science is never 100 percent certain about anything, you can see where phrases like “practically nontoxic” leave an opening for attack. The web is awash with antiglyphosate stories with headlines like: 50 percent of rats given this died – Why is it on your dinner plate? And, indeed, if you fed rats more than 5,600 mg/kg of the chemical they would probably die. (To put this number into perspective, a proportional dose for a 150-pound human would be 840 g, almost two pounds; table salt would kill you at 350 g.) But by making an extreme example the rule, and overlooking the fact that rats fed 400 mg/kg a day for most of their lives showed no adverse effects, such stories give readers a skewed picture of the real-world health risks.

This is a nice summary of how scientific conclusions can be misinterpreted, and how dose is an important factor in many things biological and chemical.


The bold conclusions reached by the review are not supported by the evidence. The authors did include many citations, but did not look at followup to many of the citations or willfully ignored them. There are many leaps of correlation to causation that do not fit their own hypothesis, but they force fit them anyway. The connections to a popular topic among pseudoscientists, gut bacteria, are very shaky at best. The review is easily dismissed, and already has been by science writers with expertise and good science sense.

Reuters would be well served to update their article to point out these errors. In fact, this should be the policy of any science writer – to welcome discussion and a willingness to provide updates as new information comes to light. While I feel I do sufficient research in my own writing, if solid evidence comes to light which is in opposition to my conclusion, I am comfortable with changing any of my conclusions. I believe that is the mark of a good scientist, a good science writer, and a good skeptic.

About Eric Hall

My day job is teaching physics at the University of Minnesota, Rochester. I write about physics, other sciences, politics, education, and whatever else interests or concerns me. I am always working to be rational and reasonable, and I am always willing to improve my knowledge and change my mind when presented with new evidence.
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215 Responses to Roundup and Gut Bacteria

  1. mud says:

    I notice the letters to the editor were flying! I’d say this paper gets retracted fairly soon.

    That, and I will have to watch my drinking habits…

    • Simon Allen says:

      Poor Eric, having a life criticising others who question the adding of toxic poisons to our children’s bodies. Maybe it’s sour grapes that nobody publishes your beliefs except you. The Shikimate pathway that Roundup uses to kill plants IS present in human gut bacteria and nothing you can do will change that. Stop splitting hairs to try and make yourself look smart. Your life is being wasted.

      • Eric Hall says:

        In the theme of splitting hairs, let me just point out I am not criticizing anyone for asking questions. It is the conclusions i am criticizing.

        Also note: you cannot question something by starting with the conclusion – meaning you are saying it is poison and then call it questioning.

        If you will also notice, on this blog we allow comments which disagree with our conclusions. Go to any anti-GMO or other similar website and you will see the comments which do not agree with the author never appear or are deleted. Shouldn’t that raise any concern on their position?

        • Sage says:

          I would like to see an actual research report that addresses whether or not glyphosate affects the microbiota of the human gut. Wouldn’t this be an obvious study that Monsanto ought to have done before considering this product, this chemical, this small molecule that blocks a huge enzyme, safe for the world’s human population to eat on a daily basis? Considering that it is a very potent competitive inhibitor that acts upon the 100 trillion organisms who live in our gut and form part of each of our bodies, and perform vital services for our total organism, don’t you think it would be rather obvious to test for this? Don’t you think it’s negligent not do have done so? If an ordinary person who inquires and reads scientific research on glyphosate, and puts two and two together, with a basic knowledge of metabolism, microbial ecology, and basic science can figure out that this is a very likely danger of this particular “wonder chemical” then don’t you think a world-renowned chemical company should have thought of this?

          (And as to research, i am not speaking of Seneff, who has simply written a few literature review papers with some hypotheses. I am speaking of actual research reports on endophytic bacterial populations in Glycine max (soybean plant) with and without glyphosate in the soil. I’m speaking of differences in rumen microbial population of cows with differential exposure to glyphosate. And so much more. Basic science on glyphosate from the 1980s points to the likelihood of this danger, and yet Monsanto didn’t test this when they released Roundup Ready soybeans in 1996? Seems like a case of deciding not to turn over stones for fear of a spoiler to their wonder product that was going to make them billions. That would be criminal negligence.

          • You can certainly demand only gold level protection and research when and if you want that because it is same thing as saying I want it proven to the nth degree. Nothing is taken to that level of proof, nothing.
            It bears watching but it is by no means concerning and it doesn’t change the growing amounts of data that says there is little danger at all. As awareness of the gut microbiota issue spreads through the general public, it’s been hypothesized to be a factor in the genesis of a range of health conditions, and consequently anti-GMO groups have targeted this as well. They make the case that while the agent is not toxic to crops engineered to be herbicide resistant, it can impact other types of life, including bacteria. Although many articles cite individual studies and the data are presented out of context, some of the articles cite multiple sources supporting the idea that under certain conditions the glyphosate can affect bacteria and even animals, negatively.
            But the problem is that their concern rests on the levels of glyphosate in the food, and they disagree with the US Environmental Protection Agency regarding what the permitted levels should be. Glyphosate is considered by the mainstream science community to be comparatively harmless at typical levels of exposure. Its toxicity level, known as LD 50, is less than that of salt and of many natural herbicides commonly used in organic agriculture. It is not carcinogenic, does not bioaccumulate and is biodegradable in the environment. Glyphosate, sold in hardware stores as RoundUp, has been used safety for more than 30 years.

            The EPA website points out that the permitted levels are based on a broad international scientific consensus involving a wide range of animal studies. While this should mean that there’s no reason for any serious concern, the EPA also notes that it monitors ongoing studies and that the study of the chemical should continue. A European Union commissioned group just re-reviewed glyphosate’s safety profile earlier this year and concluded that it poses even less potential harm than previously thought, and recommended significantly relaxing tolerance levels.

            So what’s the take home message? Concern about subtle effects of GMO products on gut microorganisms is appropriate to pursue, which is why microbiology investigators are studying the issue. But like every other health issue, results from in vitro studies, do not constitute a reason for a sea change. What they do provide is a basis for expanded study. All farming is unnatural it all has consequences on the environment and you could make exactly the same objections about organic pesticides like Beauveria Bassiana. It has been used for a lot less time and has caused a devastating loss in grasshoppers where used. Insects have become resistant to it upsetting the natural balance of insects in the environment. It is a fungus that could mutate into a form that starts killing bees and butterflies, how do we know this won’t happen? Isn’t it logical that the organic food industrial machine should have proven this cannot happen before it is used widely…..

            See… these types of questions are impossible to answer and if you have an issue with something asking the question is an effective tool to scare someone, but that doesn’t mean it is a concern that should be answered to the nth degree before use. Because there is no end answer just a current consensus.

          • Sage says:

            Hi Stephen,

            I don’t think i’m demanding “gold level protection” but rather, good and true precaution. What is this, and airplane on which some people get to sit in first class and have less risk to their health, and the rest of us sit in coach? I don’t think so. There is a common standard to which we should hold anyone who proposes to put a new chemical into the foodstream.

            There no “growing amounts of data” that shows that there is little danger from glyphosate. There is simply a hole in the research that’s been done on it, and there are many reasons to do this research.

            Come on, man. It’s simple. It’s inexpensive to test. The only reason not to, is to protect Monsanto’s profit stream in *case* there is something to worry about in terms of health effects, and if that is so, then i frankly don’t give a damn about Monsanto’s profit stream because the right of people to know what’s happening in their bodies trumps Monsanto’s profits 1,000 times over.

            You seem to be an apologist.

            I know the LD50 of glyphosate, but acute toxicity is not the issue here. We are talking about potential cumulative effects of ingestion of lower levels of glyphosate for years. We are speaking about potential effects of years of exposure to, say 10 micrograms per day. I’ve given the molar calculation already, right? That’s 350 molecules per gut microbe per day. That’s the level that paralyzes plant cells in vitro.

            It does probably bioaccumulate. It gets taken up by cells and then locked into the EPSP synthase molecule. How can you claim that you *know* that it does not bioaccumulate when you haven’t the data on whether it’s accumulated in the microbes of the gut microbiome?

            Glyphosate bioaccumulates within plant cells. You know that, right? What’s the real difference then in comparison to our gut microbe cells in that regard?

            I do not bow to authorities like the EPA or the German BfR. I look to the science to know reality. I know that all agencies are human agencies and there is a history of human agencies being corrupted by industry, as the EPA and DEP of various states are captured by the fossil fuel industry, making life really hard for anyone who wants to stop fracking from happening 500 feet from their backyard.

            These questions are NOT impossible to answer. Show me the very simple studies on the effects of glyphosate on the mammalian gut microbiome. Mouse, rat, rabbit, human.

            This is NO “Nth degree proof” … this is basic safety checking.

            It’s a simple study and Monsanto failed to do it. I wonder why.

            Basic safety. It’s basic. We need to do the studies.

          • Again if that is the standard how come such study’s don’t exist for organic pesticides??? which your not objecting too. What the heck does fracking have to do with herbicide? Ask an impossible question and you know you don’t want the answer. Truth is we know that gut biomes differ person to person never mind species to species. There is no way you can prove the negative demand of prove every custom biome safe before you can answer. I’m simply saying that it has been in the feed supply for 30 years the mammalians exposed are regularly looked at and even though there are a wide variety of different animals involved the is no problem.
            From a science stand point I have no problem saying we need to look at this. A rush to judgement because an invitro study is the type of stuff alt med do to “prove” that crank idea works. Science is a process to get an answer. At this stage there is just very little convincing evidence to overturn the long term tracking of the animals their health and this hypothesis, although interesting and worthy of study, is still a tiny piece of evidence.
            I find it far more concerning that roundup has cause a precipitous decline in monarch butterfly population due to destruction of milkweed habitat. Far more concerning than its effect on gut bacteria.
            That is real that is a problem. This is interesting but not concerning. Just the butterfly thing is less terror inducing than this drek.
            Ominous” I wonder why….” fear mongering nonsense. It is not basic safety to prove a negative. That is something that cannot be done.

          • Sage says:

            Wow. Really, Stephen? I am on my mobile phone so I cannot write at length but I simply must point out that your reply to my comment makes absolutely no logical sense.

            First, glyphosate is the question here. Organically approved pesticides are other questions entirely, valid but other questions.

            Second, I am not fear mongering. I am seeking the true reality of what’s happening due to glyphosate ubiquity in food.

            Thirdly, studies have NOT been done and must be done. This is not a pointless exercise.

            Fourth, I am NOT asking to prove a negative. I am seeking to study directly a serious hypothesis with important ramifications.

            Your answer is completely dodgy and illogical.


          • Larry says:

            I asked the authors at skeptiod the same question. I had not seen any independent scientific studies by anyone on the effects of glyphosate or BT toxin or the gene splicing let alone the bio accumulation of glyphosate in humans. I am told countless numbers of times that rat and mouse studies which can be enlightening don’t necessarily indicate exact effects on humans. However in the case of GMO studies these short duration studies on rats by the manufacturer who has no conflict of interest is good enough to make the great scientists here satisfied. The answer to my query was that we can’t control what people eat so therefore it was not practical to conduct the studies. Perhaps that is true to some extent, but I would reckon that if Monsanto would take 1/10th of the money that they spend on advertising against the labeling initiatives, that they could easily amass several hundreds of individuals that would gladly ingest their GMO products and be blood tested. Yet we are told we are asking the impossible here, we are asking for gold standard and what not. The fact still remains I refuse to eat GMO food until I see the studies that you are requesting. The good thing is that there are still alternative food sources. At least there are for now.

          • Eric Hall says:


            • Researchers collected urine samples over 8 months from workers at two forestry nurseries where glyphosate was used for
            weed control. No glyphosate was detected in any of the 355 urine samples. The researchers attributed the lack of detected
            glyphosate in worker urine samples to the poor absorption of glyphosate through the skin.29 See the text box on Exposure.
            • Five forestry workers sprayed glyphosate for 6 hours a day over the course of a week. No statistically significant differences
            were found in medical examinations and laboratory testing performed on the workers following pesticide application.30
            • Researchers collected urine samples from farm families in South Carolina and Minnesota as part of the Farm Family Exposure
            Study. On the day of application, 60% of farmers had a detectable level of glyphosate in their urine of at least 1 ppb.
            The geometric mean of glyphosate detected was 3 ppb, with a maximum value of 233 ppb. Mean urinary concentrations
            of glyphosate were higher in farmers who did not use rubber gloves during application.31″

          • Eric Hall says:

            In other words, the studies have been done, but you simply don’t want to believe them.

          • Sage says:

            Not at all. Where do you hear that? On mobile device, will reply later. Glyphosate is in our food at real levels, and studies to test gut microbiome effects have not been done. Show me one such study.

      • Erin says:

        Thankyou very well said Simon.
        I was reading through wondering …at any point is this man going to acknowledge the shikimate pathway??? I work for a leading hardware chain who are currently trying to convince us that roundup is safe despire rumours. It infuriates me to the core!!!

        • Eric Hall says:

          His personal attacks and a claim with no evidence is considered well said?

          If I pour a cup of pure glyphosate on a petri dish of bacteria, is it going to kill most of the bacteria? Probably. How does that lead us to conclude it causes autism or cancer?

          Vinegar also kills bacteria and is actually toxic at lower amounts in animals than glyphosate. Since it kills bacteria, should we assume eating pickles will give kids autism?

          I notice your art includes the use of charcoal, which some science suggests can be an effective anti-bacterial. Does that mean you are causing autism by doing art with charcoal?

          Finally, rumors as “proof” it is unsafe is about the worst evidence level imaginable.

          There is a plausibility problem in every aspect of the paper. Could a large dose of roundup cause health problems? Maybe. The tiny amounts in our food? Plausible, but the science is showing it to be less and less likely as the amounts are too small to have a measurable effect.

          • Jon although that sounds reasonable to a person that doesn’t understand human anatomy, bacterial metabolism, or the digestive tract environment it isn’t reasonable. Your large intestine is the largest collection of gut bacteria. It is not acidic. Heavy metals would have long been absorbed in the small intestine well before reaching there. Chelation is not a function of your gut biomes bacteria. Gut bacteria provides no protection from heavy metal poisoning. Vinegar like the rest of your stomach acids are neutralized by the small intestine as they are slowly released into the small intestine. What you may have read about sounds reasonable but it shows that the person writing that description you are repeating here has a very poor understanding of what the gut biome is or does.

  2. Julee K says:

    Nicely done. I am a new convert to science and rational thinking. Used to believe all the anti-GMO hype but science won me over in the end!

    • Obviously that’s a straw man description — Nearly all laws in all countries are the result of voter/consumer demand. Gay marriage is illegal in Muslim countries.

  3. Dr Peter Andrews says:

    It’s gratifying to see that you haven’t found any *science* which contradicts the conclusions of the review – just your usual childish sneering at anything which doesn’t support your existing dogmas.

    • Eric Hall says:

      Dr Andrews –

      I am not sure what you mean by childish sneering. If you could provide examples, I’d be happy to address them.

      Also, science is not a process of contradiction. I am simply saying the conclusions of the review are not actually conclusions; rather, they are hypotheses. If I make a claim, I need to follow the proper scientific methods for evidence and determine if that evidence validates the hypothesis. If it doesn’t, the null hypothesis holds. For example, if I said having the last name Andrews increases the chance of getting ear infections, the null hypothesis would be the last name Andrews is not an indicator for increased ear infections. If my evidence is I monitored 4 people with the last name Andrews for 6 months and 2 of the 4 subjects got an ear infection, it might be interesting, but it doesn’t yet validate the theory because of the small size of the study, lack of other controls, and lack of plausibility. If additional studies are done with better controls, then the hypothesis would have an increased chance of being true. However, if follow up studies do not show any correlation, the null hypothesis remains.

      My point on this review is they cherry-picked studies which have since been repeated, but did not produce the same results (or in the case of Wakefield, fraud). If an experiment is repeated and does not produce the same/similar results, then the null hypothesis holds.

      It is up to the scientist to produce evidence to prove their hypothesis correct. It is not the job of science to “disprove” a hypothesis. The authors here did not provide proper evidence for their hypotheses, thus they are not valid ones. Future experiments could change that, but to this point there is no evidence for that.

    • Mike in Virginia says:

      I didn’t think Eric was being childish at all, but simply pointing out the flaws in the conclusions and the lack of proper scientific methods applied. As a matter of fact, mere moments after Reuters began reporting on this paper, the scientific community responded negatively.

      Childish would have been if he had replied to ask you where you got your PhD from, because surely you were taught the scientific method at some point.

      • drmattnd says:

        Sorry, but that the scientific community responded negatively doesn’t mean anything. There is always resistance when dogma is challenged… which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but often is.

        The problem with the scientific method isn’t the method itself- it is the fact that is is applied by people who, in the end, are no less emotional, ego-driven, politically-driven, and downright catty, than anybody else.

        Semmelweis was onto something with his theory of “cadaverous particles” but his contemporaries either couldn’t bring themselves to admit their bias against basic hygiene was causing so many deaths, or were too freaked out that his theory was a throwback to some kind of anti-vitalistic “death force.”

        Pasteur proved Semmelweis essentially correct, with the addition that the “particles” were actually living beings that were causing disease. But then again, he and most bacteriologists shunned Metchnikoff’s theory that white blood cells destroyed bacteria. Most of them thought that the WBC’s were responsible for spreading pathogens.

        Also- at the time the scientific community was so enthralled with the revolutionary Germ Theory, that they largely overlooked other research into symbiotic gut bacteria in ruminants.

        Later on, in America, Dubos and colleagues laid the groundwork for drug-based treatment of infection- giving rise to the monolithic pharmaceutical industry we see today. Yet his later theories- now some 40-ish years old- into viewing the human+microbiome as an ecosystem were considered to fluffy for “real” medicine, and sounded too similar to the much loathed “Gaia Hypothesis” for many scientists to consider investigating more closely.

        It’s all just a big circus, you see?

        • Eric Hall says:

          If you get bitten by a rabid animal – what is it that will save your life?

          If you get cancer, what is it that will save your life?

          Science isn’t always neat and tidy – but the progress is pretty amazing.

    • Mark Scott says:

      Keep up the great work Eric Hall. Thousands of young children in 3rd world countries die from vitamin A deficieny. Genetic engineered rice with vitamin A would solve this but has been demonized by science deniers. The fearmonering generated by this has caused leaders in these countries to ban introduction of Golden Rice. It saddens me to the core to see these chidren die. I beg you and others to open your hearts and eyes and read all the good GMO’s can and have done, Sincerely Mark Scott

      • SageThinker says:

        The “we need GMOs to save the children” is such a red herring, dishonest argument. Please. Stop this craziness. Evaluate GMOs on their merit or risks, and do the same for glyphosate, and stop trying to score political points with “it’s for the kids!” or “We can’t feed the world without GMOs!”

  4. Mud says:

    Have you read the articles Peter? Notice the letters to the Ed ? I’d be holding back those phrases that indicate your unwillingness to look things up.

    Its not hard to read a cited article and spend just a short time reading a few related articles to remove a lot of doubt.

    The “science” definitely appears in the criticism of the journals. The dogma may be your own.

  5. Dr. Matt says:

    While I would much prefer to see the global implementation of agricultural systems which do not require chemical sprays and are not economically dominated by a handful of transnational behemoths, the author’s skeptical criticisms here are all valid, yet in my opinion, a bit misapplied.

    Firstly, he is correct in pointing to widespread employment of the naturalistic fallacy among certain groups which are promoting this information. However that, in and of itself, does not invalidate the questions being raised in this paper, or by the groups promoting it.

    Secondly, he is correct in drawing attention to the fact that singling one specific chemical- glyphosate- out from a whole host of others (thousands?) which are being ingested through are food supply could be solely responsible for all disease. A perhaps more salient question along these lines is: What sort of safety data do we have to support the concurrent use of all these different chemicals together?

    However, I am not convinced that is the actual implication being put forth by the study authors.
    In the hypotheses put forth in the paper under question, the paper authors did a fairly reasonable job of summarizing various complex biochemical interactions within the body. Therefore, to contend that the study authors “misunderstand the complexity of biology” is a somewhat vacuous allegation.

    Thirdly, he is also correct in drawing attention to the common causation/correlation error which is being flirted with in thepaper. However, as the quote indicates, the authors say, “It is reasonable to suspect that glyphosate’s impact on gut bacteria may be contributing to these diseases and conditions.”

    That it is “reasonable to suspect” that glyphosate “may be contributing” to these diseases and conditions indicates that the paper authors are hardly making a claim of causation here. They are asserting that a suspicion of glyphosate being a risk factor for certain diseases and conditions is reasonable.

    Indeed, it is reasonable.

    My personal take on this paper is that the authors put forth a number of hypotheses that are only tenuously backed by the current research. However, I didn’t get the impression that they were asserting any more than this.

    Based on my read of this paper, and other recent studies suggesting a harmful effect of glyphosate on gut microbiota in livestock, there is an urgent need for further investigation into this line of research. Especially in consideration of the EPA’s recent move to expand the kinds of crops to which glyphosate can be applied, and to raise the limits of total exposure in our food supply.

    • Eric Hall says:

      Thanks for your comments –

      If you look at the citations that go along with the suspicions the authors of the paper try to state as reasonable, they cite published studies that have long been refuted. Any publication which cites bad science shows either a bias or an ignorance of more recent data – thus their own conclusions are much more likely to be invalid because they are based on bad science.

      I like my idea of the capitalistic fallacy because it is a subtle but important distinction in separating problems with the current system of capitalism in science and science itself. I certainly have concerns both scientifically and ethically with Monsanto. My concerns include those of biodiversity – which history shows a lack of biodiversity can have devastating effects as other biology evolves. A lack of biodiversity also shows some signs of being less efficient with both resources and growing yield. Certainly more study should be put there. I also have a concern that the US is allowing Monsanto to monopolize the market – which goes against the idea of capitalism. It should foster a discussion of how we classify monopolies as well as a look at the entire patent system. It does not invalidate data. Data both from Monsanto – as well as independent sources show glyphosate to be incredibly safe.

      It is very suspect when someone tries to conclude all disease is caused by one source. Skin cancer (melanoma) is known to be caused by excessive sun/UV exposure. It is on the rise in young people due to tanning bed use. It would be silly to conclude it is caused by glyphosate for there is no plausible way to connect them. It would be just as silly to conclude the increased exposure to UV is causing autism, MS, etc.

      Most of their conclusions lead back to the “leaky gut” hypothesis to which no connection can be made. While I don’t dispute that it is interesting the correlation of some diseases and conditions to inflammatory bowel disease, we already know in some cases it is not the cause. Autism for example can be found early in development, long before the bowel disease develops. Again, to bring all diseases down to one cause (IBD) is as silly as saying increased UV exposure causes all disease.

      There are too many errors in the paper to consider it valid in any way. It is possible a few of the conclusions will someday be proven correct, but it will be because the data shows a connection, not on a biased conjecture.

      • Dr. Matt says:

        What is your take on these:

        Kruger M, Shehata AA, Schrodl W, Rodloff A. Glyphosate suppresses the antagonistic effect of Enterococcus spp. on Clostridium botulinum. Anaerobe. 2013 Apr;20:74-8.

        Shehata AA, Schrodl W, Aldin AA, Hafez HM, Kruger M. The effect of glyphosate on potential pathogens and beneficial members of poultry microbiota in vitro. Curr Microbiol. 2013 Apr;66(4):350-8. d

        Seems like a fairly straightforward hypothesis to me: Glyphosate inhibits a natural competitor of Clostridium.

      • SageThinker says:


        Overall i am not a fan of Seneff, either, and i am aware of various issues with many studies on glyphosate. One of the main issues is that some studies use the full Roundup formulation and then portray the results as if it is glyphosate killing cells, or causing some other nasty-sounding effect, whereas the surfactants in the formulation are actually doing that, especially POEA.

        On the other hand, when you speak of studies that have been “refuted” i am not precisely sure which studies you mean, but i think that certain studies have actually been rightly critiqued, but not so much “refuted”. In other words, sample sizes too small for statistical significance, and the aforementioned conflation of the formulation with the chemical glyphosate alone. So there is useful information but the framing was off.

        On the other hand, it *is* true that glyphosate monkey wrenches the shikimic acid pathway, and we *do* have this pathway in our gut microbiome. So for all the critique of Seneff’s paper, that core concept is sound. And the dosage that we do receive in a typical U.S. diet is in the micrograms of glyphosate per day, and this is enough to theoretically affect the gut microbiome. So is it affecting it? We really do not know but there are adjacent indications that it is likely, such as a study on cow rumen relative to glyphosate concentration, and also differential effects on soil microbiota.

        But now i am trying to get my head around what you are calling the “capitalist fallacy”. So by naming this “fallacy” does this discredit *any* concern about vested interests bending science or hiding evidence or falsifying data? Motivations of people who stand to make or lose a profit? Is *all* of that concern out the window because you named a “fallacy”?

        Yes, some people take it too far. But it is real.

        Do you know about the conduct of Monsanto in the 60s in Anniston, Alabama, relating to production and sales of PCBs, which have devastated the area and also poisoned the Housatonic and Hudson rivers? If you look into it, you will see the profit motive causing ecocide. Deaths of rivers, deaths of people. Dumping and pollution while evidence was hidden from the public.

        Now, if you look at the “science” done by Monsanto in showing the safety of glyphosate, *they* look like the ones with the mostly foregone conclusion, and their studies examined the minimum required to *say* that it is safe and to jump through regulatory hurdles. It is not comprehensive and did not examine the human gut microbiome, or the microbiomes of the rats in feeding studies, in terms of effect on species diversity or function of the gut.

        So, i wish to call you out on this. There are too many biases apparent in the process, in Monsanto’s relation to the regulatory bodies that govern the use of glyphosate, Monsanto’s relation to the journal _Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology_, as well as allegations of data tampering from two labs contracted to do research on the chemical.

        You also repeat the untrue characterization of the Seneff paper, “It is very suspect when someone tries to conclude all disease is caused by one source.” Notice that Dr Matt very carefully made the point that Seneff did *not* say this but rather qualified the statement as “it is reasonable to suspect that” glyphosate *may* *contribute to* *many* modern conditions.

        Therefore, i must call you out on strawman type argumentation, and also a few logical fallacies of your own. I would be curious to receive your response.

      • Kelly says:

        I’m curious what your interpretation of this paper suggesting a link between leaky gut and Parkinson’s:

        • Eric Hall says:

          How deep would you like me to go into the errors?

          I will point out a few of the most obvious flags. First, the open-access publishing. While this alone does not discredit the study, it does make it suspect since it wouldn’t be reviewed by experts in the field before publication.

          Next is the study size and patient makeup. They only looked at 9 patients, with 7 patients for controls. They said they looked at newly diagnosed patients, but one was diagnosed 8 years prior. The study group was a mixture of men and women, but the control group was men only. The ages were a very wide variety. In other words, the groups were not well selected to control for other factors.

          A quick look at the statistics tells me they really tortured the data to see any difference.

          It seems the “leaky gut” crowd always get the results they want, no matter what they are looking for. While I don’t discount the intestines’ role in our health, it doesn’t automatically make it responsible for every problem either.

  6. Dave R. says:

    I thought you did a good job overturning this one. Up until now I have only heard people being dismissive of this study out of hand, without thorough analysis.
    I don’t agree however that glyphosate is safe. Are you aware of this work? (link below) I think you may find it more substantial and would be intrigued to get your take on it:

    • Eric Hall says:

      A quick glance at it and I see many statistics that are not properly cited. If I can’t follow every stat back to its original study, I worry. I also noticed a reference to BPA in the study – for which they get their statistics wrong and also refer to doses as “low” without specifying what that means. I would say the paper was written with the conclusion already in mind.

  7. realisticatavistic says:

    Brilliant dissection. Thank you.

  8. BrendaL says:

    You fail to make the connection between dysbiosis, gut inflammation and neurological inflammation due to the enteric nervous systems, the immune system and neurotoxins released through the “leaky gut”. They are not exclusive of one another. The “many causes” of autism may be exacerbated by glyphosate and its disruption of healthy gut bacteria to children who are genetically predisposed. These children have difficulty detoxifying their bodies due to polymorphism and when our environment overwhelms their system and glyphosate disrupts the P450 detox pathway and decreases beneficial bacteria that also aid in detoxification then the canary in the mine dies.
    When these children are put on organic foods to avoid GMO’s and they are given nutrients that assist in detoxification and they are put on an elimination diet to avoid food sensitivities that excite their immune systems, they improve. Some improve dramatically. You can have all of the skepticism as you want but we should not ignore these potential factors, especially if the health and life of people with autism or Alzheimer’s improves by taking measures due to these potential culprits.

    • Eric Hall says:

      Brenda –

      I didn’t fail to not make the connection – the studies fail TO make the connection. Your word soup does not constitute proof. The claim that there are many causes of autism is invalid without some extraordinary evidence – when most evidence points to the genetic cause.

      If you then notice – your proof is an anecdote. I will provide one of my own. My autistic stepson does much better when we provide him with opportunities to improve. The school works with him on social and life skills. We provide him with opportunities to learn and explore the world. His improvement is based on intervention. So perhaps it isn’t the food, but the attention being paid that is the cause of the improvement.

      I’m sorry, but the science does not support your claims.

      • Dr. Matt says:

        “To bring all diseases down to one cause (IBD) is as silly as saying increased UV exposure causes all disease.” I would concur, but add that in a time where we know about epigenetics, and that diet is certainly a factor in epigenetic changes, to bring a disease down to “the genetic cause” is committing the same error of reasoning.

        Here is a link to a pubmed search for “microbiome autism” which yields 12 results.

        Now, I have not gone ahead and read or evaluated all these studies, so I cannot comment on the strength of the evidence they present. However, that they present any evidence at all refutes your claim that “the studies fail to make the connection.”

        As for anecdotal evidence, I have an autistic patient who experienced some moderate improvement in cognitive skills concomitant with improvement in gut functions. Of course, other interventions were being made (as they should) and so we cannot know for sure as to the cause of the improvements.

        What we do know is that the other interventions were already in place before we began working with digestive function. And no, I didn’t present to his mother that impaired digestive function was the “cause” of his autism. However, I did state that there was some reason to believe that improvements in digestive function would yield improvements in cognition, and that I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw some moderate progress- which we indeed did see.

        • Eric Hall says:

          If you read them – there is interesting research in intestinal problems and autism – but the connection is in reverse. It appears those with autism have a higher incidence of intestinal problems – not the other way around. It is like connecting high cholesterol and a heart attack. They may correlate – but which way? I don’t think a heart attack is the cause of high blood cholesterol.

          • drmattnd says:

            I don’t think that is a valid comparison.

            There is evidence for bidirectional communication between the brain and gut via the vagus nerve.

            Another factor might be an issue with membrane permeability allowing gut-derived neurotransmitters to enter the CNS.

            Or maybe even some factor that is affecting both brain and gut permeability.

            Clearly- we don’t know- but these are all plausible explanations. I’m actually kind of surprised none of these occurred to you.

          • Eric Hall says:

            Again – it isn’t that there isn’t some plausibility that certain conditions could cause neurological issues through the intestinal membrane – but again the idea that is the pathway for all disease that raises an immediate question as to the validity of the study. If that was the case, couldn’t we theoretically get central lines put in and have all of our nutrients delivered via the blood stream and avoid all disease forever?

          • drmattnd says:

            Again- The authors did not actually conclude that this was the pathway for *all* disease. Of course- if they did- that would be ridiculous.

          • Eric Hall says:

            From the abstract

            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

            So why is it these diseases were all around before the introduction of Roundup?

          • drmattnd says:

            What they actually offered in the conclusion was that the mechanisms described could “plausibly contribute” to those diseases, along with other factors, such as dietary deficiencies and xenobiotic exposure.

          • Eric Hall says:

            So in other words – it is conjecture or a hypothesis – not a conclusion. It should then be framed as such.

            There are over 200 kinds of cancer – I find it hard to believe one ingredient is the cause of all of them.

          • drmattnd says:

            Yes, it is a hypothesis. Again, from the conclusion:

            “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.”

            See? … to validate the ideas presented here.

            Again, they never actually SAID there is one single cause of all disease, and it is glyphosate. That is a strawman argument.

            I agree, the quote you provide from the abstract is dubiously worded. But it is no more than that. In the case of an apparent contradiction between the abstract and the actual study, the study controls.

          • Eric Hall says:

            And again – my problem lies with how they then went to the press and how the press reported it. I also have a problem with some of their “hypotheses.” They have been well studied and proven to be invalid. Why would we study the things which already have several studies with good data? Sounds similar to those who are against vaccines – the constant call to study a link between vaccines and autism when dozens of studies are already available which show no link. So their call to action in many ways is also invalid which is what I showed here.

            Overall – this paper is not how science should operate.

          • Eric Hall says:

            They pushed so hard and cherry-picked to get the result they wanted – then hedged at the end with a statement that sounds like “But, we’re just asking questions.” That’s really a terrible way to communicate science.

          • drmattnd says:

            But we DON’T have good data to substantiate that glyphosate is NOT harmful to gut bacteria.

            I do agree with your other criticisms in terms of how the paper was written and reported on. But none of that means that all of the hypotheses presented are false.

            Yes, some of them are more tenable than others. But that there are any tenable hypotheses present is enough to raise a question which should be studied further, rather than summarily dismissed.

            All of the nose-snubbing that is going on in the scientific community is just as deleterious to science as uncritical media reporting. Two sides of the same coin.

            Gosh- if we were to eliminate all studies which were poorly communicated or reported on, there wouldn’t be very much left.

          • bacteria use shikimate pathway the same as plants. so – roundup kills them.

          • Eric Hall says:

            Salmonella alone kills over 300 people in the US every year. The killing of bacteria alone isn’t proof of harm.

          • Eric Hall says:

            Many of the hypotheses in the paper have been proven invalid. As my post says – they cited many papers as evidence that have many followup studies that couldn’t duplicate the results – which the authors chose to ignore. One study does not constitute proof – and if several studies cannot replicate the results the original study is invalid.

            We don’t test every hypothesis – especially if they are ridiculous or absurd. I could say there is a giant teapot on the far side of the moon – you can’t easily disprove it – but it is a bit absurd to think it is a valid hypothesis.

            Also remember – it is up to the one making the hypothesis to prove it valid – or else the null hypothesis stands.

          • Eric! You make me laugh! Didn’t You really see the difference between reasonable and unreasonable things?
            I think that the fact that glyphosate kills bacteria is important and must be very seriously taken because of massive government allowed use of it and subsequent leaking into food, water, air. But You speak about salmonella. May be tell me, when salmonella is approved by FDA as herbicide or for some other human use?

          • drmattnd says:

            There’s no such way to conduct a calculation, and besides, the idea is flawed. It assumes there isn’t some other way to maintain current production levels with using glyphosate.

            Please show me the studies- ANY study- which demonstrated that the impact of glyphosate on gut bacteria is within acceptable limits. As I indicated elsewhere, I searched on PubMed and could not find any studies looking into effects on gut bacteria, other than the two I previously cited, which suggested harm to Enterococcus.

          • Dear friend! Looking for such studies is rough and treacherous thought crime! The Truth ministry already sent Mr. Hall from Sceptic division to save You from Your dangerous ideas. Keep calm and do not show resistance!

          • Eric Hall says:

            Is there a way to maintain current levels another way?

            As for the gut bacteria – much like the cited paper, the concentrations required for what they called “minimal inhibitory concentration” is many orders above typical exposure in the environment. Salt at that concentration would also inhibit bacteria.

        • drmattnd says:

          “Also remember – it is up to the one making the hypothesis to prove it valid – or else the null hypothesis stands.”

          Normally, yes. But this isn’t a normal situation.

          We are talking about a substance for which about 200 million pounds a year are released into the environment- just in the United States alone!

          We are also talking about a substance for which an entire industry has been built around, and which is intimately intertwined with national and global food policy.

          We are also talking about a substance developed by a company which- frankly- doesn’t have all that great of a track record in terms of what they have told us is “safe” and how they go about silencing any claims to the contrary.

          This is not theoretical physics we are talking about here.

          The bottom line is: burden of proof rests upon the agricultural industry to demonstrate that glyphosate is safe. The claims are that the burden of proof has been met- but the study models used to evaluate the safety did not account for gut bacteria.

          The first point of fact is that we have NO EVIDENCE to believe that there is an acceptable level of impact to beneficial gut bacteria.

          The second point of fact is that we DO have reason to believe there is a negative impact, because some of those bacteria share the same chemical pathway targeted by glyphosate.

          The third point of fact is that we DO have real research suggesting a negative impact on Enterococcus, as referenced above.

          Skepticism is both fine and appropriate here. But the above three facts stand for themselves- with or without the article we are discussing.

          • Eric Hall says:

            I would suggest a calculation. How many people would starve if glyphosate were to stop being used immediately? Compare that to the unproven harm you are claiming. Which one is worse?

            The industry has proven it is safe. See the hundreds of papers published as such which this review ignored – including the follow-up studies which could not replicate the harm scenarios.

          • I agree, there will be some very poor people in some corporations and some more in banks and corrupt regulatory institutions, who will extremely suffer, if we stop to use toxic pesticides! It is a call of duty for all nations to save their income! Rot front! Long term and eco farming no pasaran!

          • Eric don’t know nothing about skyrocketing increase of numerous, so called “modern” diseases in last 25 years. And how would he know? He just yesterday arrived from Monsanto base on Moon where he was on secret mission from 1972. Meantime, while he was on the cosmic travel and defended Earth from anti-gmo invaders from Black Star the incidence of type 1 diabetes is rising among children in Philadelphia. The incidence rate has increased by 29% since the 1985–1989 cohort.


    • My response will be purely anecdotal, but hopefully still relevant. My daughter was diagnosed with ASD at 3.5 years. We did not change anything in her diet, but her symptoms improved starting at age 5 due to appropriate levels of speech therapy, occupationaly therapy, and consistent behavior training at home and at school. By age 6 she was performing at an average level in a regular general education classroom with no additional in class supports (though she is still pulled out for speech and social skills.) What is interesting about this to me is that just recently we found out in dramatic fashion that she has severe gastrointestinal issues, but her behavior and other ASD effects remain at the level they were before. The only changes in diet are dictated by her GI doctor’s recommendations and do not involve going “organic” or grain-free, gluten-free, GMO-free, etc. My point is that simply because ASD and IBD co-exist in my daughter, they are not necessarily linked/causative of one another. Her ASD improved way before we even knew the IBD was present, and the food we provide her has not changed since she started eating regular table food.

      • Jo says:

        I have lived with ibd for 30 years, and through several surgeries. Doctors have prescribed medication after medication and all I experienced were side effects. Then one GI came along and along with the same old medication, recommend adding strong pro biotics and turmeric. A doctor. Gastroenterologist. He also supported eliminating sugar and processed foods as well as wheat. Poor Monsanto, doesn’t get much of my money. I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you my gut health improved and medication is being reduced. For the sake of your child, it is wise to consider that “table food” has been a factor in her health.

        • Noah Dillon says:

          But by your own description it doesn’t sound like Monsanto is a factor at all. Sugar, excess fat and salt (as in processed food), and insufficient gut flora have nothing to do with Monsanto. Did you doctor say anything about RoundUp or genetically modified food, or did he say that you should eat fresh fruits and vegetables? That seems like common sense for GI health. I’m surprised no one mentioned that to you sooner. I’ve got a friend who has IBS and has also avoided excess sugar, processed foods, and genetically modified foods for years. She still has IBS, so RoundUp isn’t the cause and diet isn’t a cure. But common sense good dietary habits help.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Why not use better agriculture design as in Permaculture. This debate needs to get back to the basics. By using herbicides and pesticides we are shaming science by not using it. It’s just a quick fix instead of actually studying something to find a better solution for humanity.

    • Eric Hall says:

      I agree with this in a couple of ways –

      First – putting extra chemicals on the crops requires more energy input. The less things we need to apply to the crops, the less energy used, the lower the cost of the product and the less energy likely derived from carbon sources is needed.

      Second – Being lazy with how we treat plants is hurting biodiversity. There is some preliminary studies showing the lack of diversity is actually lowering output and also carries the risk of losing other beneficial genetics.

      However, I wouldn’t say using herbicides is “shaming science.” Certainly the science of farming has increased output and saved millions from starvation.

      • drmattnd says:

        I would say the “shame” is in continuing to go down a particular path simply because of inertia and/or the financial incentive to do so.

        Agriculture and medicine share in a common approach of “kill the invader” which is clearly incomplete and short-sighted, according to contemporary scientific knowledge. We should be looking to support natural competitors of invasive species.

        Where glyphosate is concerned, apparently nobody thought to investigate effects on the soil microbiome, or in livestock, or in humans. I’m not quite sure what a good excuse for that is, but I’m willing to write it off as a simple oversight.

        However, preserving biodiversity should be a no-brainer… and should have been from the very start. No excuses there.

        • Eric Hall says:

          I’m not sure what you mean by having been studied – but each example (soil microbiome, or in livestock, or in humans) there are dozens and dozens of studies. The negative effects claimed by some are only apparent at extremely large doses.

          Similarly – medicine doesn’t always take a “kill the invader” approach. For example – vaccines are used to stimulate our body to fight off infection. HIV is now managed with anti-virals to the point where the viruses aren’t “killed” but are prevented from reproducing.

          Agriculture is an area where there is plenty of room for improvement – but I don’t think it as bad as some would make it seem either.

          • drmattnd says:

            What I mean by having been studied is looking at the effects of glyphosate on symbiotic organisms in the gut of humans and livestock, and similar organisms in the soil.

            For example, a PubMed search for “glyphosate bacteria” yields 299 results. But most of the research is focused on potentially pathological bacteria, like Pseudomonas, Klebsiella, Escherichia, etc.

            By contrast, a search for “glyphosate enterococcus” yields only two results, both published this year. These are the studied I referenced elsewhere in the comments, and for which I am still awaiting your response.

            “Glyphosate lactobacillus” also yields two results, one of which is the same study previously mentioned. “Glyphosate bifidobacterium” yields one result. Again the same study.

            So, to clarify this point, I find it surprising, and bordering on negligence, that the potential toxicity of glyphosate on known symbiotic bacteria was not really investigated, one way or another, until very recently. Seems to me like somebody should have thought of that. But I wasn’t there, and don’t really know.

            To the second point, I did make the claim that the medical approach is ALWAYS “kill the invader.” However, it is the dominant paradigm, and vaccination is still within that paradigm via an indirect route.

            Please allow me to illustrate this second point more clearly.

            In a 1945 speech delivered to the Rockefeller Society entitles, “The Mode of Action of Chemotherapeutic Agents,” Rene Dubos opens:

            “There are, theoretically, several independent avenues of approach to the problem of the chemotherapy of infectious diseases. One may conceive, for example, of the chemical substances endowed with such physiological activity that they hasten recovery by stimulating the normal defense mechanisms of the body. There may be, on the other hand, other types of chemical agents capable of exerting a beneficial effect on the course of disease by decreasing its toxic manifestations, either by combining with and neutralizing the toxic constituents and products of the parasite, or by rendering the host cells resistant to these poisons. In practice, however, the only significant results of chemotherapy to date have been obtained with substances which are capable of killing, or of inhibiting the growth of, the infectious agent in the invaded tissues of the host. The present discussion will be limited to an analysis of the mechanisms by which antiseptics and chemotherapeutic agents interfere with the living processes of bacterial cells.”

            With the notable exception of vaccination, the scientific “discussion,” as it were, has pretty much been limited to this for nearly 70 years.

          • drmattnd says:

            Bah! In the fifth paragraph of the above reply, I intended to write “didn’t” rather than “did.”

          • Eric Hall says:

            The studies on soil microbes that I have had time to look at don’t seem to address the biodiversity issue. It is very possible because there is less biodiversity in the crops planted – that some microbes are not getting the nutrients they need. In the lab, the microbes are only affected by very large doses – much larger than they would ever get in the field.

            While I do think this should be studied further – it isn’t necessarily the fault of RoundUp – at least it hasn’t been connected clearly.

  10. Dear Eric! It is quite obvious that You already had Your opinion or better say – belief (gliphosate is harmless and everybody opposing this is an heretic deserving a stake) before reading the abstract of article You wrote about. Your “debunking” here reminds me something like an advert on TV where an actor mascaraed as a scientist pronounces magical words “clinically proved”. Please read this open access article about Tromso university’s Biosafety centre biologists recent research on gliphosate toxicity for D. magna and You will see who really is fallacy driven.

    Sorry, i have feeling that You are not a skeptic, but very ordinary corporations’ lobbyist.

    • Eric Hall says:

      While it is true that based on other studies I have reached the conclusion that at the levels being used that Glyphosate is safe. So if I carry any bias, it is that previous conclusion based on data. But I will always look at new data to see if perhaps something was missed. This however was not new data, but a review of data. In fact, as I point out it is cherry-picked where the few studies that come to the opposite conclusion are refuted by several follow-ups (and ignoring those). It would be a little like me using published material on light ether and claiming that is how light is transmitted and ignoring all of the work done since. The buzz words of “modern disease” and “gut bacteria” also raise red flags. I don’t think there is a substance known that isn’t harmful at a high enough dose – but usually in one to a few specific ways. To make the claim all disease is caused by one thing is absurd on any level.

      I am certainly willing to look at your publication, but the link is not working at this point. I will try again some other time.

      I wish I got a lobbyist paycheck – I’d take more vacations.

      • Strange, but i am trying to add this another link for Norwegian research already 3-rd time:

        • Eric Hall says:

          I see a couple of problems with the study on first read –

          First is its lack of peer review (again an open-access journal – so we can’t be sure of the quality of the review).

          Second is the lack of mention of the algae used to feed the Daphnia magna. It would seem to me to be important to know if the food source was actually available to the Daphnia magna. I could have missed it in my first glance at this – but is it possible the roundup killed the algae and the Daphnia magna starved? I believe this is the reason the warning label says not to use near waterways, because of the possible harm to aquatic food sources.

          • I see, Eric, that You have no time to read all those articles. Instead You draw Your own conclusions based on Your beliefs about evil and absolutely stupid independent scientists (100% nobody of them ever had had a practicum in laboratory under the supervision of real professor, nobody is ever introduced to basic standards of toxicity research in vivo and all their diplomas are given by corrupt universities) willing to destroy world saving and angelically honest corporations and their owned researchers.

            Would You scroll it down to materials and methods, You would found mentioned species of algae, which were daily fed to daphnids.

          • Eric Hall says:

            I saw the species. I didn’t see a citation anywhere where the effects of roundup on said species is mentioned.

            I’m not saying they are evil. I am saying that scientists can make mistakes – which is why it is important to have a solid review process. Remember the FTL neutrinos? They carefully looked over their data and couldn’t find what was wrong. So they put it out to other scientists – and it turned out it was a loose optical cable. Thereby the data could be corrected and the speed of light was still safe for now.

            And right now I am prepping for class – so I don’t have time to read every weakly reviewed journal article in detail.

  11. and yes, for You it is not a problem to repeat Monsanto’s red herring about “physics” journal and not to mention that this article was published is a Special Issue “Biosemiotic Entropy: Disorder, Disease, and Mortality”.

    Surely, this is such an “unimportant” moment, not worth to include is Your so “skeptical” article…

    • Eric Hall says:

      That doesn’t change its status as non-peer reviewed. I again could publish something on light ether and it would be accepted with a check to go with it.

      • i guess You missed this: “Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are refereed through a peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Entropy is an international peer-reviewed Open Access monthly journal published by MDPI.”

        So, where is Your proof that article (review) wasn’t peer reviewed?

        • Eric Hall says:

          See the difference –

          American Journal of Physics – 50 full-time PhDs in physics on staff.

          Entropy – pick 5 possible referees and they pick one to OK it.

          Entropy is a pay-to-play journal with low standards for review. It is not a well-respected journal. See here for more on open-access journals –

          • It is not an argument. It’s like i would look to somebody’s photo and say – he is not trustworthy because he is similar to my classmate who often cheated and therefore everything he wrote/edited/reviewed is flawed.

          • Eric Hall says:

            That is not a valid analogy. Entropy itself has a history of publishing papers which are total bunk and not retracting them. The process for review is weak and practically non-existent. A better analogy is to say Entropy is like going to a chiropractor for your cancer treatment while something like AJP is like an oncologist.

          • No, Eric, the only way for correct criticism is to point to exact empiric (methodological, statistic, etc.) flaws in review and those articles it is based on. Criticizing magazine instead of article in general is simply false attribution.

          • Eric Hall says:

            Criticizing a journal with a history of publishing bad science without retraction is not false attribution. It is a red flag. Does it invalidate every publication in it? No. But it adds a level of scrutiny. Digging into the article itself – I found many errors (you did read the post, right?).

            If I were publishing an article – I wouldn’t put it in Entropy.

      • Sure? You really believe Yourself in that that You are speaking? May be write something on ether and publish in Entropy. If You will succeed, i will pay You back cost of publication twice.

        • Eric Hall says:

          I certainly would not – for I do not want to publish bad science.

          See another thing MDPI published recently –

          For all of your personal attacks on me – you seem to want to get away from the science. I will continue to support the science – which says glyphosate is safe.

          As a physicist – the use of pesticides and the reduced biodiversity does interest me. There is some evidence (using energy calculations) that we actually get less food per input using pesticides and herbicides along with the reduced genetic diversity of the seeds being used. So I do read about these things quite a bit. While I think we would agree that farming practices need to be changed – it is for vastly different reasons. Those reasons are important – because it determines the path on which we should be for the change. I prefer to use good science and find change that is scientifically sound – not paranoid reaction.

          • Eric! I am opposing Your way of argumenting (lack of empiric arguments and demagogic used instead), not making ad hominem attacks. For example You try to blacken authors of article because of usage of “modern diseases” wording. It is flawed argumentation however. “Modern diseases” are not a penny worst than “global warming” for example.

            If it was Ok for Nature publishers to accept paper with “modern diseases” mentioned in the title, then how can You reproach that to “Entropy”?


            And not only reproach wording used in the title, but to make conclusions from that about the validity of article in general.

            I am still waiting when You will point to exact experiments, which authors referenced and which were not reproducable as You stated. Name at least 3 and give references to corresponding publications. I will be happy to read those. – This is what i understand with “science” not sophistic equilibristics.

          • Eric Hall says:

            It isn’t being used in the same way – as a claim that the diseases are exclusive to recent decades. I suggest you read my post to see what the issue is with the term in the paper in question.

  12. mabewa68 says:

    ‘very ordinary corporations’ lobbyist.’

    The tactic of accusing anybody who doesn’t agree with everything that the anti-GMO movement believes of working for Monsanto or other corporations is incredibly cowardly. Grow up, please. I have low knowledge about these issues, so I’m trying to learn more, but when I hear these kinds of childless insults, it doesn’t impress me. If you really do have science on your side, then show us. Otherwise, you just sound desperate and fanatical.

    • valtersgrivins says:

      It’s not a matter if a person making himself blind to hundreds or more researches showing that poison is poisonous is an paid lobbyist or “useful idiot” (as Bolshevik Lenin called that kind of people), who has been brainwashed by propaganda and follows needed path without direct guidance.

      In opposite, i think that it is childish to decline evidence again and again and refuse to see the beast behind camouflage (or you haven’t enough examples about corporations doing crimes against humanity in the name of their higher god – PROFIT?).

      This case, when one from main points of “unmasking” is an attack to title of review not to design and analysis of researches used there is very characteristic.

      Especially i would like to point to one from the main objections to so called Seralini study, e.g. to usage in it the certain (SD) breed of rats. The fact mr. Hall and all other “sceptics” doesn’t want to see, that it is exactly the same breed used before by Monsanto short term safety study Seralini is rejecting conclusions from. If somebody doesn’t understand that is was even obligatory for Seralini to use SD rats, then such person is much far away from science than it is possible to imagine.

      • Eric Hall says:

        Yes, you use rats with the likelihood to get tumors in short-term studies, but not in long-term studies. You answered your own question there.

        I acknowledged more than once I do not like Monsanto for many economic and a few scientific reasons. But that is not the point here. In fact, Monsanto only bought RoundUp – they didn’t invent the stuff. It’s a little like saying because a person robbed 50 houses he must also be guilty of murder. Just because Monsanto and other corporations have done things that are bad, doesn’t make them automatically guilty in this case.

  13. Bio Expert says:

    If you don’t understand molecular biology (obviously you don’t) Eric you should probably keep your mouth shut. Just a thought…..

    • Eric Hall says:

      Hi Bio Expert –

      If you have evidence of anywhere where I erred – please feel to discuss and cite your sources. Until that point, your comment has no meaning.

      Also, while I may not be an expert on molecular biology, I believe David Gorski, Mark Crislip, and Paul Offit are all experts – all of whom are cited in the blog.

  14. Moral Dolphin says:

    I still love that graph…Its hilarious..I’ll send it to my kids (again)..

    By the way “Bio Expert”, technically Eric is writing the article not running a podcast. Have a thought wrt this.

  15. Pj says:

    Loving the discussion. Matt, could you provide links to your publications in peer reviewed journals? Think it’s only fair for us to see your credentials.

  16. Gary Smith says:

    Eric, I applaud not only your article, but your ability to keep a cool head in the face valtersgriven’s nastiness, ignorance, and poor spelling and grammar.

    valtersgrivens, do not reproduce.

    I, too, would like to see links to Dr. Matt’s stuff and his credentials

  17. Larry G says:

    John Yudkin was absolutely dismissed as an absolute quack and was lambasted by the scientific community for his Pure White and Deadly book in the 1970’s. The Ancel Keys high and mighty research was bought instead, hook, line and sinker. Of course anything can be attacked for a myriad of reasons. I think one has to read the studies and decide what path they choose. Correlation and causation are very difficult to prove. Didn’t it take until the mid to late 1960’s for the surgeon general to put out the warning on cigarettes stating “Cigarettes smoking may be hazardous to your health”. I am just choosing to steer clear of this stuff so that in 40 years or more to see how the experiment plays out. If ingesting a herbicide is not harmful then I would have expected to see those chemical components in natural food.

    • Eric Hall says:

      Glyphosate has been around since the early 1970s. So it has had a 40+ year run already. We also have much more sophisticated tools for doing scientific research than we did decades ago.

      Interesting that the cigarette example always comes up…tobacco being a “natural” plant and all…

    • Gary Smith says:

      I agree with Eric on this. Scientific research has come leaps and bounds from what it was even a decade ago. To hold modern science up to the candle of the past is to poorly illuminate the issues and achievements of the present and to all but blind our vision of the future.

      Many people wrongly assume that by ingesting a food that has been treated with a pesticide means they are ingesting that food as though it was sprayed the day before they ate it. All pesticides break down in the environment over time. “Pre-harvest interval” is a term for the time that must be observed between when a crop can be treated and when it can be harvested and is related to how quickly the pesticide in question breaks down or is cleansed through irrigation to acceptable levels as established through rigorous study by, in Canada, the Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA), or the USDA in the States. (No one is taking it on Monsanto’s word, or Dow’s, or any of the many chemical manufacturing companies in the world, that anything is safe…everything is independently tested by non-commercial facilities and scientists to strict standards).

      In my own opinion, what is missing in most of the anti-pesticide, anti-GMO/GE is critical thinking. The “Capitalistic Fallacy”, as Eric coins it, is so common and universally employed in the “anti” camps as to be the event horizon of a mental “black hole” where reason cannot escape.

      • if pesticides are “breaking down” a week or 2 after sprying (“Pre-harvest interval”) as hocus-pocus men are telling, then how those can be found in human blood? Even in people living in big towns, far away from farms and eating only processed food bought in supermarkets? And is so great quantities?

        See also this: All 197 children in an Arkansas community had detectable residues of pentachlorophenol in their urine at levels as high as 240 ppb. A metabolite of p-dichlorobenzene was also detected in 97 percent of the children. The herbicide 2,4-D was found in the urine of 20 percent of the children, even though it is extremely short lived in the body, implying that one out of five children was exposed to this pesticide shortly before their urine was collected for analysis.[9] This community was seen as fairly representative and not disproportionately exposed, implying that pesticide exposures are ubiquitous among children in the United States today.

        • Eric Hall says:

          Let’s assume for a second that these results can be repeated and are legitimate. (Note: first quick glance tells me there is some methodological concerns, but I will ignore that for this thought). Parts per billion is an awfully small amount. After most has been excreted or metabolized, that little bit left might take a little while to get out. Think homeostasis.

          So then the question becomes what dose is harmful. That we do know pretty well from repeated studies. It takes alot more than ppb levels before any risk even shows up.

          So you might ask – why use it at all? Well, weed control allows higher yields. Higher yields means cheaper food. Cheaper food means more kids can get fed. What do you think is more dangerous? Kids that are malnourished, or nearly undetectable levels of a chemical known not to cause harm at low levels?

          The risk benefit would say to keep controlling weeds.

          • parts per billion are toxic for many substances, especially for those that are created for killing. You should know that. If not, search pubmed. In mere seconds you will get tenths or even hundreds of articles for consideration…
            Hungry kids? Stop that cheap propaganda. We both know well that there are not legions of malnourished kids in many countries where are strict rules of pesticide use. The same is true for GMO and food additives.

          • Eric Hall says:

            How many kids go hungry in the US every day? 16 million. Thats not propaganda. It’s real.

            I dont know of too many things toxic at ppb. In fact, we haven’t been able to measure that low until not too long ago.

            And what I am saying here is we have literally dozens of tests showing it takes a much much much higher dose of glyphosate before any effect is seen in animal testing.

          • USA is one from the most “relaxed” countries regarding pesticide and GMO use. So, there must be another reason for “hungry kids”.

            What about Roundup, here are only few sources pointing to it’s toxicity in very small concentration:

            Charles M Benbrook. Impacts of genetically engineered crops on pesticide use in the U.S. — the first sixteen years. Environmental Sciences Europe, 2012, 24:24 DOI:10.1186/2190-4715-24-24

            Thongprakaisang S, Thiantanawat A, Rangkadilok N, Suriyo T, Satayavivad J. Glyphosate induces human breast cancer cells growth via estrogen receptors. Food Chem Toxicol. 2013 Jun 10;59C:129-136. doi: 10.1016/j.fct.2013.05.057. [Epub ahead of print]

            Cuhra M, Traavik T, Bøhn T. Clone- and age-dependent toxicity of a glyphosate commercial formulation and its active ingredient in Daphnia magna. Ecotoxicology. 2013 Mar;22(2):251-62. doi: 10.1007/s10646-012-1021-1. Epub 2012 Dec 6.

            Mesnage R, Bernay B, Séralini GE. Ethoxylated adjuvants of glyphosate-based herbicides are active principles of human cell toxicity. Toxicology. 2012 Sep 21. pii: S0300-483X(12)00345-9. doi: 10.1016/j.tox.2012.09.006. [Epub ahead of print]

      • David Ogawa says:

        Glyphosate is also applied to some food sources *after* harvesting. Presumeably, the residual levels are tested for being within regulations.

  18. Larry G says:

    I would like to share the back and forth of this subject on another thread if the moderators on this thread will so allow it. I think it may be interesting reading through it for all that are interested in this topic. I think there are two considerations here. One deals with science and reporting of science and its peer review etc. in general and 2).Is there really any issues regarding toxicology with the use of glyphosate. Both are discussed here as well. Fascinating subjects!

  19. Kristy says:

    Your chart is misleading
    You are not factoring in population growth or inflation into your chart of “organic food sales in the millions”
    And you are useing “individuals diadnosed” which is our population as a whole not children
    Instead of 1in 10,000 to 1 in 88 or 50 children
    Elderly suffering from leaky gut syndrome are going to be suffering from alzhimers not autism

    • Eric Hall says:

      Thats the point Kristy – correlation doesn’t mean causation. It is intended to demonstrate that idea – which is what anti-vaccine people do in order to provide “evidence.”

    • Eric Hall says:

      Do you have science showing the rate of leaky gut syndrome? The connection to Alzheimer’s? Autism and Alzheimer’s are very different conditions – so I am not sure how you connect them other than they both happen in the brain

  20. rstsummers says:

    I am also a skeptic, especially when someone tells me that a substance previously used as a chelating agent which also shuts down the shikimate pathway in bacteria is safe enough to drink. I hope you will accept the notion that the health of our gut biome has a significant impact on all aspects of our health due to our dependence on those bacteria to synthesize so many precursor chemicals that the body uses. Not only are we dependent on them for general immune function but for manufacturing the vitamin D precursor, aromatic amino acids, and even brain health. Their science may not be conclusive and is probably flawed, but the precautionary principle says we should at least pay attention and look much more closely at the issue, not make fun of it because it does not meet the highest standards of scientific inquiry. And while I certainly agree that correlation is not causation, when a correlation as close as the use of glyphosate and the rise of chronic diseases exists (it does), and there is a known and explainable pathway for causation (there is), perhaps we should be more skeptical of the old arguments that it DOESN’T pose a threat and start trying to find out just how much of a threat it might pose.

    • Eric Hall says:

      While I am all for taking precautions, we do have to be very careful in evaluating connections. You also state that, but then use that very error in defending your position that RoundUp is a threat. vinegar is also anti-bacterial in concentrations as little as 0.5% – pickles are usually packed in a 3-5% solution. Should I stop eating pickles because the vinegar kills bacteria? HCl is used as a toilet cleaner because it kills bacteria, yet it is present in my stomach. Should I take proton pump inhibitors forever to keep the HCl from killing my gut flora?

      Is there really a rise in chronic disease, or is it simple we understand more about it? It is pretty clear that is a big part of the rise in autism – and I am starting to see science being done which would say similar for other chronic diseases.

      • rstsummers says:

        My position, as I stated fairly clearly, is that we do not know the truth about RoundUp. We know only that glyphosate is a chelating agent that interferes with the shikimate pathway in bacteria. We know that we rely on our gut biome for virtually every aspect of our health; and IF the shikimate pathway is blocked, we COULD become quite ill. We know that the combination of chemicals in RoundUp is more toxic to bacteria than any of its components alone. We know it stays in the soil, water, air, and food long past the time we were assured it would break down. We know that it’s by-products, when it does break down, might also be problematic when they interact in the environment or our bodies. We know that it shows up in tests of human urine and mother’s milk. We do not know how much we are consuming, how much it bio-accumulates, how it interacts with all the other chemicals we are consuming, etc, etc.

        Your suggestion that we should not be concerned with it’s effect on the shikimate pathway because pickles and stomach acid also have bactericidal effects is a non sequitur. We have a gut biome that is mostly immune to both stomach acid and the acids we consume. We have no idea how these chemicals impact our gut biome because no one has bothered to study how the chemicals we are consuming impact those bacteria, even when those chemicals are known to impact bacterial function on which we depend. We do know that the effects of glyphosate on bacteria are in no way related to effects of acids on those same bacteria.

        Oh, and, yes, there is a rise in the incidence of many chronic diseases. Interestingly, the rise in at least a couple of them exactly tracks the increase in the use of glyphosate in our food supply. Which, again, isn’t proof of causation, but since there IS a known link, we should investigate that potential rather than just buy into the assurances of Monsanto, which also are unsupported by real evidence (or even disproven by new evidence). There is substantial evidence that glyphosate persists in the soil, water, air, even in the ocean for months (sometimes many months). Its excretion in breast milk is evidence of bio-accumulation, which we were guaranteed would not happen, though again, it was never adequately studied.

        Maybe you could put your skepticism and analytical ability to better use by analyzing the work supporting the corporate position for scientific weakness (there is plenty of fodder there) or would that be against your personal interest?

    • Gary Smith says:

      There just isn’t any good science to support the arguments that glyphosate can be attributed to the plethora of diseases some people would have us believe.

      This is the “Precautionary Principle” as I was able to find it.

      “When an activity raises threats of harm to human health or the environment, precautionary measures should be taken even if some cause and effect relationships are not fully established scientifically. In this context the proponent of an activity, rather than the public, should bear the burden of proof. The process of applying the precautionary principle must be open, informed and democratic and must include potentially affected parties. It must also involve an examination of the full range of alternatives, including no action.” – Wingspread Statement on the Precautionary Principle, Jan. 1998

      There are so many ambiguities in the above statement as to render it nonsense. Who decides what activities pose a threat to human health to engage the principle? Who decides at what point the proponent has borne the burden of proof? Who decides how long is long enough to decide an activity is safe?

      We have regulatory agencies that test, monitor, approve, and disapprove of “activities”. The proponents are already legislated to bear the burden of proof for safety of an “activity” and the costs associated with doing so. Glyphosate has been studied for 40 years!

      The argument, of course, is that the USDA, the PMRA, WHO, and any other regulatory agency out there has been bought out by big business and are all corrupt. Right…let’s form another police agency to enforce the “precautionary principle”. Naturally, they will be above corruption, highly principled, and smarter than all the scientists and researchers who now endorse the things they spend their lives at; the latter of whom should really be ashamed for the corruption, detrimental environmental impact, and the human suffering their careers currently support.

      Eric Hall…I applaud your efforts at managing a discussion on this topic with those whose critical thinking skills evaporated along with their mother’s milk, essentially at the same time as those who support the existence of ghosts, “Big Foot”, chemtrails, ufo’s, alien abduction, magic, astrology, creationism, and god…etc…

      • John Smith says:

        Such science-killing corporative trolls, as this bad smelling “gary smith”, had defended very similarly also DDT, cigarette smoking, Ritalin, etc.

      • rstsummers says:

        I’m impressed by your ability to cut and paste from the dictionary, but I would be more impressed if you could articulate, using your critical thinking skills, how the precautionary principal might be applied to this particular scientific problem. Of course it would help if you could actually articulate the scientific problem of how the relevant chemicals interact with each other in the environment as well as in our bodies, how glyphosate impacts bacterial function in our gut biome, what evidence does or does not exist as to the safety of glyphosate in our food, the actual levels in our food, water and bodies, etc., first. But that is not possible, because none of that has actually been conclusively studied.

        Perhaps you could become MORE skeptical about the unsupported claims of multi-national corporations making billions from their products, such as: glyphosate is safe enough to drink, it breaks down within a few days in the environment, and it does not bio-accumulate, regardless of how much we consume. Since we now know that it is found IN our food, IN our bodies, IN our children’s urine and IN mother’s milk, as well as in the soil, water, air and the ocean, months after application, MY critical thinking skills suggest there is a disconnect in the evidence somewhere and that the precautionary principal applies as to who is responsible for PROVING just how safe it is.
        BTW, shame on you for employing insults instead of valid argument. There is nothing wrong with my critical thinking skills, I believe only what can, and has been, proven; and on this issue that is pretty much NOTHING. That said, what I know of HOW we test and regulate chemicals in this country (basically, we don’t bother, that’s from first hand knowledge of the EPA’s chemical safely program) causes me to err on the side of caution when it comes to what I eat, especially when that chemical is known to negatively impact the bacteria that keep me alive and healthy. But, hey, go ahead and eat it, if you’re so sure it’s safe.

        • Gary Smith says:

          This will be my only direct engagement with you.

          If I say you are a hypocrite for doing what you accused me of, am I insulting you or just stating a fact?

          Like I said, there isn’t any good science to support your position, and using the same tired and discredited references as support indicates that your critical thinking skills could use some improvement. I’m trying to be encouraging here.

          You have yourself provided no valid arguments. Regulatory agencies HAVE proven glyphosate safe. Every claim you have made is false and you offer no support for your “first hand knowledge of the EPA’s chemical safety program”.

          When you stop buying gas, stop shopping at Wal-Mart, stop drinking coffee, stop buying “Made in China” products, and stop making 9/10ths of the purchases you make, then you may proceed with your tirade on the multi-nationals making billions. Until then your position is, in my opinion, hypocritical.

          The function, as I understand it, of Skeptoid is to foster critical thinking, research, fact-checking and awareness of the creators, purveyors and supporters of pseudoscience, mythinformation and fear mongering. If you can not be open to the subject matter in this site then you should consider joining a blog that supports you ideas. Here, you are like a Jehovah’s Witness at and Atheist convention. And quite frankly, sir or madam, the evidence is on our side.

  21. Larry says:

    You raise a good point, “Who should bear the burden of proof”? That is at the heart of the issue. I believe it is the producer or manufacturer. The fact is if we have been studying glyphosate for 40 years answer, “Why has there been no human studies”? I would think that human studies should be done on food products that humans will consume over long periods of time. They are performed with drugs or other things that are ingested and prescribed for chronic use. 2. Why did Michael Taylor’s FDA scientists recommend that human studies be performed in the 1990’s when this extensive and exhaustive research that showed this to be absolutely safe was transpiring? and 4. Why were they ignored? 5. Does anything that has a two month study duration involving rats satisfy you as to the efficacy of it’s long term safety? 6. Is there any precedent where there has been FDA and USDA approval of food or drugs where there was proven safety that more chronic effects became known? 7. Would you gladly and openly ingest a few ounces or so of glyphosate in a cup on occasion and not give it a second thought? 8. Why are so many other nations quick to ban it, if it is so safe and efficacious? I guess they are all fools and hate science.

    And one thing to note, the FDA and regulatory agencies “do not test it”. The chemical companies test it and submit their findings for review and approval. There is absolutely no conflict of interest in that. None of this of course shows or proves anything scientifically. I know that. But given the lack of human testing, the track record of this chemical company and the very nature of the chemicals I simply choose to not consume it. Oh but wait, it isn’t a choice, it isn’t labelled. I think at the very least it should be. If it is so safe and the answer to feeding the world the company should be proud to own it.

  22. ConcernedParent says:

    Excuse me, do you know about all the different colonies of bacteria in our guts and how they all work together and with our body? No one does. It is becoming more apparent that there is a brain-gut connection when it comes to Autism. Skeptics like you can no longer deny that. And when something comes out you immediately say, ‘There’s no way that causes ALL of this increase.’ No one said this one chemical caused all diseases of all of one very broad disorder. The corporations you’re standing up for are the biggest cherry pickers of all. This is just a waste of my time. Seriously, if you think it’s ok to eat food with altered DNA that has 15 times more pesticides sprayed on it because it’s cheaper, go for it.

    • Eric Hall says:

      Do you have studies showing this clear connection to the gut and autism? Because it turns out it is the opposite relationship – the brain affecting the gut.

      You are also confusing (as many do) the plant being treated with RoundUp and the product itself. The GMO food is designed to resist being killed by roundup so that it can be applied to those crops without harming them. While we can have that separate discussion here or elsewhere, this isn’t about the plants. And my conclusion is RoundUp itself is pretty darn safe.

      • Larry says:

        It isn’t only the glyphosate but the surfactants. But judging from the link below it is “pretty darn safe”, wouldn’t you say, Eric? Would you have your family drink this stuff? But what do these guys know? I could Skeptiod them and find out that their conclusions are all false! As a matter of fact, every study that concludes anything other than pure safety is false! We did our test on a few mice in the early 90’s for a couple months, nothing happened, we submitted to Michael Taylor at the FDA, (Michael never had any previous ties to us) we got our approval and and we are all good! That’s the end of it!

        I am not here to attack glyphosate because I don’t know the long-term effects of this stuff on humans nor do I know what concentrations it is in what food is ingested and also how they may effect the 450 CYP or whatever. Neither do you Eric! I am just staying on the side of caution because I don’t know and apparently I don’t have the “right to know” what is in my food. Ask the food industry and Monsanto. They decide for us.

        • Eric Hall says:

          You are making an error in both judging what I am saying as far as safety and a logical fallacy.

          I am saying it is safe if used as it is intended. Any substance can be harmful depending on the dose. A cup of coffee is safe and possibly beneficial for me, but given enough the caffeine can cause health problems and even death if enough is ingested – though the water toxicity would probably get me first. Green Tea – long touted as beneficial to health by people employing the naturalistic fallacy, can be toxic to the liver if taken in supplement form. Our body is able to remove or metabolize all kinds of things – but if given too much at once it cannot do it fast enough to overcome the toxic effects. So the amount we might ingest from unwashed vegetables is safe. Drinking the concentrated form when mixed with other chemicals might not be safe – the dose is always the poison.

          You are employing what I call the capitalistic fallacy in regards to Monsanto. For one, Monsanto’s patent expired over a decade ago, thus it is not their sole responsibility in regards to safety. Second, we obviously know it is used, because of people crying foul over its use. Independent lab tests have shown its safety. It breaks down pretty quickly by bacteria and is neutralized by other chemistry in the soil.

          You can dislike Monsanto because of their business practices. The science that concerns me is the loss of biodiversity among crops – some studies suggest it may actually hurt overall yields. I might also suggest the energy input into applying herbicides is an issue. But to try to make false claims on the science behind a product they no longer even exclusively own is unreasonable.

          • Larry says:


            Agreed on the dosage and certainly on the business practices which are really not a part of this discussion. But the French have found that glyphosate is not as biodegradable as was first thought and presented by Monsanto and there are recent blood tests in urine and in blood that indicate that it is not as biodegradable in the body. Now we can question those tests and data as well. But there are other issues that are coming to light as well, as far as it being an issue with hard water regions that spray a lot of glyphosate so there can be other issues that are a problem though not specifically glyphosate itself but rather how it reacts with other items in the environment. I found this hypothethis quite compelling but I am sure there are holes in this as well. The basic point you didn’t address is the that there has been NO HUMAN TESTING! Which there hasn’t been, and the effects of this chemical as it pertains to greater dosages which are currently being administered.

            Glyphosate, Hard Water and Nephrotoxic Metals: Are They the
            Culprits Behind the Epidemic of Chronic Kidney Disease of
            Unknown Etiology in Sri Lanka?

        • Eric Hall says:

          Would I drink a cup of the stuff? No – because it is far beyond any dose I am ever exposed to. But if asked to participate in a study where I am given tiny doses typical of the exposure I would get from unwashed veggies – I would gladly participate.

          It would be like saying – will you drink 10 gallons of water every day to test water toxicity? It is ludicrous because you would never drink that much water on a normal basis.

          • Larry says:

            10 gallons of pure clean water may leave me bloated and give me hyponatremia, but certainly not full of toxicity but that is not the point here. Just curious as to your thoughts on this snail study. Again we can talk about 5 ppm concentrations versus 0.5 ppm and the fact that it is snails, but this still gives me pause.

            I just think we don’t know the mid to long term effects of the bioaccumulation of this herbicide and moreso I am not happy about the EPA’s recent decision to allow much higher dosage of glyphosate.


  23. Mike says:

    I’m sorry, but the science and evidence against Glyphosate are both overwhelming in this instance and the many correlations made by many biologists under peer review do in fact point to a smoking gun called Glyphosate. Glyphosate is not a naturally occurring compound and the manner in which it interferes with many biological processes for plants, mammals, amphibians and yet others, only requires a general assessment among the greater public once the data reaches a degree of well qualified entropy.

    We have prosecuted murder on circumstantial evidence having far less supporting data than the industry now holds on this toxin. But then there was always someone standing in the wings saying maybe it was an accident she pulled the trigger after she slit his throat, JUST so they could see their name in print one more time.

  24. Your skepticism of as-yet unsubstantiated challenges to the safety of glyphosate may well be warranted on the basis of current scientific research, but perhaps consideration also should be given to the huge downside risk to humanity of being too dismissive in this particular case.

    Fifteen years ago, I was diagnosed with chronic sarcoidosis, an autoimmune disorder that I was told repeatedly has “no known cause, no known cure.” My symptoms became increasingly disabling. Finally, six months ago, on the advice of my doctor, I tried a completely wheat-free diet. That was the only change in my diet. It was nothing short of a miracle cure for me — all my symptoms (and significant weight) melted off in just weeks. Then, I read about the possible adverse effects of glyphosate consumption and current agricultural practice of spraying wheat fields with Round-Up shortly before harvest, I became curious if my own disease might have been caused (or exacerbated) by glyphosate rather than the wheat itself. So, using myself as a guinea pig, I resumed eating wheat but only things that I made myself with organic flour and bread products that are certified organic. Six weeks into the new diet, I have not experienced any resumption of my sarcoidosis symptoms. A coworker who has not been able to eat wheat for many years, because it causes her GI symptoms and an adverse immune response, also tried eating organic wheat and also discovered that she did not experience the same symptoms. I realize, of course, that this is certainly no proof that my disease was caused (or exacerbated) by glyphosate consumption, but it does suggest that. (I encourage all of you skeptics — particularly those suffering from chronic health problems — to perform the same test. It’s absolutely free, and you may be surprised by the result.)

    Meanwhile, American wheat is feeding the world. Billions of people around the globe consume it. More and more glyphosate is being sprayed on food crops — particularly including wheat — and agricultural companies are hard at work developing GMO crops that can withstand heavy doses of glyphosate. If glyphosate consumption actually is hazardous to humans, the convergence of those facts could prove to be devastating worldwide.

    Perhaps you are right that we must be skeptical and conclude that current scientific research has not yet established a solid connection at all between glyphosate consumption and the causation or exacerbation of chronic diseases. You may well be correct that the claims made by some are overblown, at least based on current research. But what if there actually is a connection? I was facing likely disability and possible death from sarcoidosis (Bernie Mac died from it). By the single act of eliminating glyphosate-tainted wheat from my diet, my health has returned to normal. If my own very personal experience has any validity, it is possible that glyphosate may be contributing to any number and types of chronic diseases among those who consume it. (BTW, the average American consumes about 130 pounds of wheat a year.) These are very real people, and the diseases they may suffer from may be serious (as it was in my case). That is, the downside risk here may be huge. How does that factor into your skepticism?

    • Although your story is compelling it suffers from being an anecdote. Which means it has no weight overcoming the available evidence. Anecdotes are compelling and appeal to our emotional response but they are not a type of evidence that carries weight. Sarcoidosis is an autoimmune disease with unclear triggers. Any part of your dietary change may have caused it to go into remission. It really says nothing about the disease or the substance your are trying to eliminate. There are simply to many variables in dietary changes/environmental exposure to limit it to one variable. Even if you are really really cautious. Plus there is regression to the mean, spontaneous remission and mis-diagnosis that needs to be excluded. Stress reduction has been helpful in sarcoidosis, so maybe you feel better after changing your diet and then you actually get better because of decreased stress/anxiety.

      I am thrilled you are better but personal experience is an unreliable starting point to base a hypothesis upon, never mind refute better scientific evidence indicating safety.

    • kelleyb says:

      Tim: Your self-experiment requires the further step of adding regular wheat products back to your diet and seeing if your symptoms return. If they don’t return, then it wasn’t the inorganic wheat products that caused your symptoms. Your illness may have gone into spontaneous remission at about the same time you eliminated wheat. (Strange coincidences do happen.) If symptoms do return, then it’s one tiny step closer to being a workable hypothesis. Still not conclusive since n=1. But without that step, it’s definitely incomplete.

      Self-experimentation has a respectable history in the advancement of science. But it’s a starting point, not the end-all.

      • Kelly I like your approach but it is still unreliable to self experiment. It is just as likely that personal anxiety about the return of symptoms could in fact be the trigger that flairs the autoimmune disorder. You shouldn’t self experiment with autoimmune disease. Talk to a rheumatologist and follow their advice do not attempt to prove your own theories. It won’t provide any insight into the disease and you may hurt yourself in the process.

        • kelleyb says:

          An area of inquiry for me right now is attempting to understand the role of personal/anecdotal experience (and also what you might call self-experimentation). I understand that n=1 doesn’t carry scientific validity, but it’s more of an intellectual understanding on my part than really getting it. I have a BS degree in nutrition (never completed the training necessary to become an RD), but for most of my adult life I’ve viewed personal experience as paramount. Same with most people I know. Further, anecdotes can be more than just compelling; sometimes they make logical sense. And doesn’t the evidence of accumulated anecdotes sometimes prompt researchers to test the hypothesis that the anecdotes seem to promote (assuming the hypothesis is plausible)? I’m also a skeptic about many CAM claims and tend to roll my eyes when I hear things like: “Acupuncture after my stroke totally cured my aphasia.” In other words, I believe in the scientific method.

          Stephen: I see that you’re a clinician. That means you work daily with patients who probably regale you with anecdotes about their health status. From you (as well as from other commenters) I would welcome being pointed in the direction of resources that can help me with this question: What, if any, valid role does personal (anecdotal) experience play in helping one improve one’s health, especially if one has a seemingly intractable and perhaps mysterious chronic health condition. (I enjoy good health, btw, and I’m not one of the “worried well.”) I’ve never had a statistics class. It’s a weak area for me. If memory serves, I had the choice of taking stats or calculus during college. I took calculus. Probably because the class time could better accommodate my busy work schedule at the time.

          This is all part of my quest to improve my critical-thinking skills. Btw, some very good thinkers whom I follow online are relentless self-experimenters (e.g., Peter Attia, MD; Richard Bernstein, MD).


          • Eric Hall says:

            See my blog and others on this site about how anecdote fits in science and how it doesn’t –

          • @kelleyb
            You have good thoughts and I like the way you are thinking. I would like to point out that diagnosing and treating patients is not scientific research. History taking-anecdote is in fact a necessary part of the history and physical for diagnosis. Obviously anecdote would not trump diagnostic testing, imaging, or other methods that I may use for diagnosis, still it is an integral part.
            That Is obviously vastly different situation than scientific research, it also does not mean it is an effective method to overcome well structured research. They are slightly different aspects to similar issues.

            An integral part of patient treatment is some times educating them that their anecdotal experience, although compelling, is incorrect. It can be convincing but that does not make it a good treatment. I.e. glucosamine for knee pain/Arthritis.

    • Eric Hall says:

      Giving up all wheat will have a natural side effect of usually lowering your caloric intake. When you lower your caloric intake, you tend to lose weight. When you lose weight, many problems associated even with being slightly overweight can also go away. Why assume it was the wheat and not the extra weight you were carrying?

  25. kelleyb says:

    Thanks to Eric and Stephen for your replies. Eric: The blog posts you referred me to were very helpful.

  26. xtine000 says:

    Common Sense would tell you that Pesticide harms both human beings and their gut bacteria. If you think Glyphosate is sooooo safe, why not go chug some right now and test out your theory that it is safe, in real life? Bottoms up LOL

    • xtine
      I know this sounds like nonsense to most people but there is a safe dose for pesticides. It may be very very tiny amount but there is a safe amount you can take in and suffer no ill effects. The converse is true about water, you can drink so much that it is toxic to you and will kill you. There is nothing that is always safe or always dangerous. Common sense doesn’t replace testing and scientific discovery. The most toxic substance for people(by volume) known to exist is botulism toxin. Yet people get dosed with it all the time and survive quite nicely. Gut bacteria are disrupted all the time, by illness, antibiotics, the food we eat and how we age and change. Despite popular misconception there is no standard organism, colony count, or variety of species that is the same person to person. How do we know that? Simple, attempts to treat the gut disease c.diff caused us to look closely at this “normal Flora.” We find that across individuals there are similar but not identical gut flora. Gut organisms are like our face in the mirror it is a custom build. It is impossible to say in an individual that a substance disrupts gut bacteria based on in-vivo studies. In a petri dish anything is toxic to bacteria, if I put vodka and orange juice in a petri dish with staph it will kill the bacteria. Doesn’t mean I should treat strep throat with a vodka screwdriver. Same is true whenever in-vitro studies pop up showing organism X is hurt by substance Y it is not meaningful in the human body. Studies that compare actual gut bacteria shows variation even in the same person over time. Animal models are less reliable since their GI system is very different from ours.
      Hope that helps

      • Sage says:

        But… there is *no* safe level for most carcinogens, because that is a different kind of danger than acute toxicity. In general, carcinogenicity is directly proportional to amount of exposure. The smaller the exposure the smaller the risk of developing cancer from it, but it is not zero. Any exposure is adding risk. Well, glyphosate is most likely similar to this in the sense that exposure to small amounts over time is probably cumulative in terms of effects on the gut microbiome. Sure, gut bacteria changes over time in some ways in every human, but there may be some specific ways that it changes in response to continuous exposure to glyphosate at microgram level. You simply do not know this, Stephen, and if you pretend to know that it’s not true, you’re either lying or you could show me a good research paper that i have not seen in months of searching. “The dose makes the poison” applies to acute toxicity, in other words the LD50 you like to speak about because it makes glyphosate sound safer than table salt, when in fact you know that table salt is not a very targeted competitive inhibitor that blocks a very specific enzyme within a specific biosynthesis pathway that is contained in most of the microbes in our gut.

        • Factually and completely wrong exposure and dose does directly affect the final result of cancer. Statistically speaking who do you think has a higher cancer risk someone who smoked for one year one cigarette a day or 1 ppd smoker for 30 years. Grilled food has carcinogens in it the air you breathe has carcinogens in it. Carcinogens is a global title that is non descriptive. What matters is what is the cancer incidence at useful doses of a product used. That is an expression of the danger. If you don’t know the answer check it out.

          You are assuming its cumulative, you are assuming that it changes, and your demanding proof that it doesn’t. Yet no problem in representative animal studies for 30 years. Prove to me that the organic pesticide doesn’t have the same effect? Prove to me that breathing air doesn’t cumulatively raise my risk for lung cancer. It is a weasel question that, on purpose, cannot be answered because there is always a next level of anxiety that you can induce.
          The effects should be checked, because that will give a better answer. Still the scale currently balances totaly away from concern when you look at the body of evidence over time, and the the very high dosages used in an in vitro study. Truth is that you can put cointreau, tequila and lime in a petri dish and kill bacteria. Doesn’t mean that drinking margarita’s will cure your pneumonia. We don’t know what the effect may be on the organisms. Fear mongering before you have an answer is typical of a person who doesn’t want an answer you ideologically oppose the chemical.
          It’s worth looking at but probably the dose animals get in feeds in inconsequential. How can I say that without definitive proof?…. Because animals get much lower doses, the gut is a vastly different environment than a dish and generations of animals seem to be fine.

          • sagerad says:

            Wow, Stephen —

            “Factually and completely wrong exposure and dose does directly affect the final result of cancer. Statistically speaking who do you think has a higher cancer risk someone who smoked for one year one cigarette a day or 1 ppd smoker for 30 years.”

            –> You say i’m completely wrong, and then you write and example that agrees with me that dose is not only about acute toxicity and that exposure accumulates in some forms of toxicity.

            Secondly, you minimize my concern about the possible effects of glyphosate on the gut microbiome because of claims about dose in vitro, and yet according to Jaworski (1972), glyphosate at low uM levels inhibits bacteria.

            And when you say that generations of animals seem to be fine, i don’t think that really speaks to the truth about livestock in the last 20 years. So much has changes in antibiotic regimens given to livestock and there are gut disorders.

          • No you still don’t understand and frame you point to only agree with your preconceived notions. You not I are the one who is supposing that any use is dangerous because it it cumulative toxic because it toxic in a P dish. Although it sounds like you are talking about the same things you are not. Demanding that you prove a negative and drawing conclusions from invitro studies. Plus saying that it obviously overturns decades of animal rearing, because you believe that the the dish is convincing does not make it so.
            You want points. This is what is needed.
            1, replicate the invitro study by a different source.
            2. Demonstrate the problem in an animal model.
            3. Duplicate the results in an animal study.

            You also have no evidence that anything relating to this chemical has a cumulative risk at the approved dose. You guessing based upon a in vitro study. The gut biome is very different from a glass bowl. Plus your involving different animals and breeds that have different biomes. You agree that dose is important, but then say that it isn’t. So is it or isn’t it?
            You would like people to starve because your scared and have unsubstantiated claims that show a patent lack of knowledge about basic microbiology, scientific method, chemical toxicity, and animal husbandry.
            Ya I get it…your scared so we should ignore all the replicated data that says it is safe at approved dosage because you don’t like words that you don’t understand, and you believe unreplicated in-vitro studies( which just happen to agree with your premise hmmmm..) prove danger.

            Ok good luck with that.

          • sagerad says:

            Ok, let me just note the smarminess that i see and feel in your reply, and then ignore it.

            So, as to the logic, i am saying that *if* this hypothesis that i believe is very probably true, proves to be true when tested, then in fact exposure to glyphosate would be known to be a cumulative thing, and therefore notions of toxicity relating to accumulation would be relevant. So as to your allegation of me having “preconceived notions” — i deny that. I have notions and i know what’s tested and what has not yet been tested.

            I’m not demanding anyone to “prove a negative” so much as to test a likely hypothesis with a rather simple experiment. This is about a chemical that’s in the world’s food supply, and the experiment is rather inexpensive and simple. So what is the excuse for not doing it?

            We *know* that bacteria in vitro are sensitive to glyphosate at low uM levels. (See Jaworski 1972).

            I have a lot of evidence. I’ve read about 100 research papers on glyphosate now and hundreds of abstracts. I’ve got a good working knowledge.

            As to the rest of your comment, it’s basically red herrings and insults so i’ll just ignore that.

    • Eric Hall says:

      I am not going to just “chug” commercially available roundup. Why? Because I cannot buy it in its pure form. Most of it is combined with surfactants which helps it stick to plants and not wash away quite so easy. Would it kill me? No. But I’d get a nasty stomach ache from it. It would be similar to drinking dish soap (even the all natural variety made from vegetable stuff). It won’t kill me, but I prefer not to have a stomach ache from it.

  27. Liat Ben Zion says:

    It is crucial to have concerns over chemicals. But I guarantee you 1) you do not live anything near a chemical free life 2) man has always been exposed to toxins. Remember that crazy invention we call fire? 3) natural things can kill you in small and big doses 4) because something could be true doesn’t make it true. There are people I know who’ve made full recoveries from heavy drug use. Are they at higher risk for problems? Probably. But the body is remarkable in its ability to withstand and adapt. Many things like fasting have benefits AND drawbacks. The author here never said a hypothesis was wrong. He said it needs to be proven. I changed areas of study but was going to study a specific set of gut bacteria. Almost all of my colleagues spoke sensibly and scientifically but got weird when it came to political views, alot went out the window. Scientists can express shoddy paranoid political views. I’d be here a long time if I went into detail. So far I don’t know anyone who’s authored or participated in a shoddy study but there are plenty of them. And just to say the world is ending costs little nowadays. And if you’re right, you’re a hero. I cannot believe the cheap assaults on the author and I applaud his composure.

    If the hypothesis is that a chemical disrupts gut bacteria you need to establish two things
    1) that doing this kills or impairs the bacteria in significant quantity
    2) if 1 is true, that this causes human harm.

    Supplementation with probiotics has been shown to TEMPORARILY alter gut flora. Sometimes not even. The micro biome we have found is remarkably stable. Diet and supplementation have an effect but not as starkly as you think. It’s still what we consider poorly understood. In addition people have a totally incorrect idea that all bacteria can just live together. It doesn’t work that way.
    We wish we better understood the reason for the stability of the micro biome person to person.

    If it makes you sleep better at night to consider Monsanto evil, it’s fine. I personally feel being fed in a poor country is better than starving to death. I think dead kids is a bad thing but maybe I’m morally obtuse.

    My only suggestion to the author is to concede that even though the micro biome IS an area of pseudoscience and political emotion, it’s important and as of now, poorly understood.

  28. Liat Ben Zion says:

    I’d like to add that there’s a huge difference between autism and what is now labelled ASD.
    That alone can account for the rise in diagnosis.
    The ADHD diagnosis rate is 10-15%.
    We want to accept that people are different and have imbalances of talent and different timetables but we really DON’T accept it.
    Any kid who doesn’t reach prescribed milestones on time, even if the milestones really don’t apply to him…I remember my own son, who hadn’t watched T.V., being quizzed on television characters and deemed non responsive!
    In countries where vaccines have declined, mercury removed, autism diagnoses have not only not fallen but are still rising.
    I believe there is a possibility that vaccination can have a negative autoimmune impact on some kids, that’s plausible, but since no one has proven this, or outlined the damage process in any way, I prefer my kids be protected against a horrible disease.
    I don’t vaccinate for the flu because I think most kids can handle it and the vaccine is not highly effective. In addition, when the strain is wrong, you become more susceptible. I think pregnant women should. But it’s a personal choice. I understand being anti vaccination as in not wanting to be forced but I do think vaccines overall have been highly positive for humanity.
    Addendum: about 50% of my friends, kids with and without diagnoses, have complained their kids aren’t regular in the bathroom. The average American kid does not consume enough fiber, water and get enough movement. That’s a formula for gut dysbiosis.

  29. SageThinker says:

    I have not read Seneff’s paper, and i am not a proponent either way, but i can tell by your third paragraph that you are engaged in a polemic from an ideological standpoint.

    Your use of the term “the naturalistic fallacy” is a problem. You intend to demonize an idea that has merit. What is natural is more often than not healthier, less risky, and more wholesome, than that which is synthetic, or of new origin and not time-tested. This is not a foolish or stodgy or Luddite position. This is an observation. You can see it with technology, as well. Some technology is wonderful, but much of it proves to be more trouble or harm than it is worth. There are far more foolish and dangerous new technologies than old ones, because the old ones that survive tend to be the ones that have done less harm and more good. This is a form of evolution. The new is sometimes the source of great advances in useful technology, but often it is really a curse in the disguise of a blessing, although the public sometimes does not find out until it’s too late, due to the profit motive.

    But the real issue i have is that you erect a strawman version of what Seneff means by “modern disease”. You use the mode of totalizing, of exaggerating the position to the point of absurdity, and then knocking it down in effigy. That’s not intellectually honest.

    Many diseases that are showing up with greater frequency in recent times, and these are related to cultural practices, including our forms of agriculture, which literally feeds into who we are, in body and mind and spirit. The cheapening of our agriculture is the cheapening of ourselves. It is not absurd in the least to say that we reap what we sow, and when we sow poison and lies, we then reap misfortune. Agribusiness which values profits over integrity threatens us all with the loss of our soul.

    Not to mention our gut bacteria.

    To move on to your treatment of the abstract, you write, “The human body is a very complex system. The implication that any one chemical is the cause of all disease all alone is intellectual dishonest, cognitively dissonant, or both.”

    But, besides an “-ly”, you’re missing a complete thought. This is a strawman again. You like burning those scarecrows, don’t you?

    • Noah Dillon says:

      Arsenic is natural. Hurricanes are natural. Black widows are natural. Wheat, corn, cows, apples, and most other farm or ranch products are NOT natural: they’ve been bred to fit human needs, starting more than 10,000 years ago. Dogs are not natural. Tomatoes and peppers are not natural. Cannabis is not natural. They were synthesized by people. It happened a long time ago, but we did it. And we continue to breed new forms of fruits, vegetables, and animals: the oregano and lavender and tomatoes and peppers and cucumbers and kale I grow in my garden was produced by selecting seeds with the most desirable traits for a purpose. Natural and good are not synonyms and are not correlated and are extremely vaguely defined.

      Sellers of natural and organic food are pursuing profit, from the local farmers’ market to Whole Foods and Coca-Cola. Saying that natural is better, and especially saying that natural is free of or less influenced by profit motives is totally, 100% fallacious.

      If you really want to impact global warming, antibiotic-resistant bacteria, monoculture agriculture, and generally the well-being of other people, animals, and the planet, it might be best to stop worrying about big companies vs. small ones, natural vs. synthetic, ancient vs. novel, and instead consider eating less meat or no animal products at all. Ranching contributes enormously to greenhouse gas emissions, contributes to novel antibiotic-resistant bacteria, uses a lot of the cheap grains we produce, and is often really abusive to livestock.

      Don’t confuse mysticism and morals with science. It’s wrong and counterproductive and probably harmful.

    • Eric Hall says:

      Sage – do you have any data which suggests these diseases you also consider “modern” to be more frequent? Let’s us MS for example. 500 years ago, do you suppose they understood what demyelination was? What do you suppose happened to those people?

  30. SageThinker says:

    I have to say that i appreciate skepticism, and rigorous thinking, but i find from this article and from all the comments that i have read, that Eric is closed-minded and does not actual practice rigorous thinking, but appears to have strong bias of his own and to reach foregone conclusions based on ideological needs, the very thing he’s accusing Seneff of. I agree that Seneff’s thinking is not the most rigorous and that there is “word soup” and “throw it all in and see what sticks” kind of technique in her papers, but honestly i find no better from Eric’s supposed take-down of her.

    I posted a comment in a thread with Dr Matt — whose comments i strongly recommend — and i report it here at the root level because i think the points are relevant and should be read by others who find their way here.


    Overall i am not a fan of Seneff, either, and i am aware of various issues with many studies on glyphosate. One of the main issues is that some studies use the full Roundup formulation and then portray the results as if it is glyphosate killing cells, or causing some other nasty-sounding effect, whereas the surfactants in the formulation are actually doing that, especially POEA.

    On the other hand, when you speak of studies that have been “refuted” i am not precisely sure which studies you mean, but i think that certain studies have actually been rightly critiqued, but not so much “refuted”. In other words, sample sizes too small for statistical significance, and the aforementioned conflation of the formulation with the chemical glyphosate alone. So there is useful information but the framing was off.

    On the other hand, it *is* true that glyphosate monkey wrenches the shikimic acid pathway, and we *do* have this pathway in our gut microbiome. So for all the critique of Seneff’s paper, that core concept is sound. And the dosage that we do receive in a typical U.S. diet is in the micrograms of glyphosate per day, and this is enough to theoretically affect the gut microbiome. So is it affecting it? We really do not know but there are adjacent indications that it is likely, such as a study on cow rumen relative to glyphosate concentration, and also differential effects on soil microbiota.

    But now i am trying to get my head around what you are calling the “capitalist fallacy”. So by naming this “fallacy” does this discredit *any* concern about vested interests bending science or hiding evidence or falsifying data? Motivations of people who stand to make or lose a profit? Is *all* of that concern out the window because you named a “fallacy”?

    Yes, some people take it too far. But it is real.

    Do you know about the conduct of Monsanto in the 60s in Anniston, Alabama, relating to production and sales of PCBs, which have devastated the area and also poisoned the Housatonic and Hudson rivers? If you look into it, you will see the profit motive causing ecocide. Deaths of rivers, deaths of people. Dumping and pollution while evidence was hidden from the public.

    Now, if you look at the “science” done by Monsanto in showing the safety of glyphosate, *they* look like the ones with the mostly foregone conclusion, and their studies examined the minimum required to *say* that it is safe and to jump through regulatory hurdles. It is not comprehensive and did not examine the human gut microbiome, or the microbiomes of the rats in feeding studies, in terms of effect on species diversity or function of the gut.

    So, i wish to call you out on this. There are too many biases apparent in the process, in Monsanto’s relation to the regulatory bodies that govern the use of glyphosate, Monsanto’s relation to the journal _Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology_, as well as allegations of data tampering from two labs contracted to do research on the chemical.

    You also repeat the untrue characterization of the Seneff paper, “It is very suspect when someone tries to conclude all disease is caused by one source.” Notice that Dr Matt very carefully made the point that Seneff did *not* say this but rather qualified the statement as “it is reasonable to suspect that” glyphosate *may* *contribute to* *many* modern conditions.

    Therefore, i must call you out on strawman type argumentation, and also a few logical fallacies of your own. I would be curious to receive your response.

  31. Sage says:

    Larry, we already have people eating glyphosate. We would need people willing to *not* eat glyphosate but eat otherwise similar diets to test this in humans.

    As for animal studies, they actually did *not* even *look* at the gut microbiome. They did not even study it at all.

    This is not acceptable.

  32. Gary Smith says:

    Thanks Noah, for your bit. Curious that Sage doesn’t even acknowledge it’s content.

    Sage, trying to play the smart guy by saying; “…i must call you out on strawman type argumentation, and also a few logical fallacies of your own…” is saying absolutely nothing. In fact, it is but disparaging opposition in a debate without substantiation.

    You make the claim: “On the other hand, it *is* true that glyphosate monkey wrenches the shikimic acid pathway, and we *do* have this pathway in our gut microbiome. So for all the critique of Seneff’s paper, that core concept is sound.”, but cannot possibly support it unless you use Seneff’s paper, which is tautological.

    As a professional agriculturalist I can tell you there are far more toxic chemistries out there than Glyphosate. Dow, Monsanto, and a slew of other companies all make them. However, the move toward more target-specific compounds that break down more quickly in the environment is a very real trend, and that is what should be supported and focused on. This persistent prating about the evils of glyphosate and it’s manufacturers is tiresome and utterly unproductive.

    If you think studying the gut microbiome is so important then become a scientist qualified to do so and get it done. Otherwise, you have no credibility. Spouting someone else’s word-soup is just messy regurgitation and I’m thinking there are a few who tire of trying to clean up the mess. You can not possibly win an argument here with what you have had to offer so far. Kick your arguments up several notches with some solid science and come back to it.

    Good luck.

    • sagerad says:

      Yo, i’m not spouting someone else’s word soup. I’ve cooked up my own and it’s a substantial meal, a very good soup. It makes sense. I’ve been to the moon and back in dialogue with others about it, getting all the dynamics down, checking and double-checking, and arranging with a friend who is a microbial ecologist with a large lab at Harvard to do the experiment if nobody else picks it up first.

      • Gary Smith says:

        It’s too bad that that soup is your own…it is sour and has no nutritive value, metaphorically speaking. Being to the moon and back in dialogue is a meaningless metaphor when the result is a meaningless diatribe. And really…skip the “Yo” crap…you ain’t no rapp’in dude and your dreads don’t make you credible.

        As far as having your Harvard friend do the experiment? What are you talking about? If this is such an important issue for you and you have a friend at Harvard with the education and resources to “do the experiment” then why is it not already done? Why are you on here wasting everyone’s time with hyperbole and nonsense? Isn’t there a website that you could more productively contribute to that agrees and promotes your brand of philosophy? Like I said previously, you are not winning any arguments here…you CAN NOT win arguments here by the very nature of your flawed position. I shake my head wearily in your general direction. “Pshaw!”

        • sagerad says:

          Gary, you make absolutely no sense and you sound like a 5th grader on a schoolyard.

          • Gary Smith says:

            What didn’t make sense? I would be happy to help clear up your confusion.

            I note that you go by sagerad and chose not to reveal you common name…care to share?

          • sagerad says:

            Let’s see, maybe i’ll parse it line by line.

            “It’s too bad that that soup is your own…it is sour and has no nutritive value, metaphorically speaking. Being to the moon and back in dialogue is a meaningless metaphor when the result is a meaningless diatribe. And really…skip the “Yo” crap…you ain’t no rapp’in dude and your dreads don’t make you credible.”

            All rhetoric and comments on my rhetoric.

            “As far as having your Harvard friend do the experiment? What are you talking about? If this is such an important issue for you and you have a friend at Harvard with the education and resources to “do the experiment” then why is it not already done?”

            An illogical couple of questions. A study not having been done does not show that it doesn’t merit being done. Obviously.

            “Why are you on here wasting everyone’s time with hyperbole and nonsense?”

            An insult combined with stupidity again.

            “Isn’t there a website that you could more productively contribute to that agrees and promotes your brand of philosophy?”

            A vile comment.

            “Like I said previously, you are not winning any arguments here…you CAN NOT win arguments here by the very nature of your flawed position.”

            A real non-statement here. Saying my position is flawed does not make it so. Are we trying to “win” or to find out reality of the effects of a chemical? I guess you are trying to win a contest.

            “I shake my head wearily in your general direction. “Pshaw!””

            Fine, shake your head and go away. I certainly don’t need you around.
            I don’t need to spend any more time with you.

  33. Larry says:

    So after a year or so on this thread, and all of the back and forth and all of the data analysis and all of the name calling and personal defamation, “When are we going to get a “scientific, repeatable, double blind controlled study showing any intestinal or other effects of people who ingest glyphosate through GMO food with those that don’t? And please don’t reply saying we can’t control what people eat as the chemical companies that are responsible for the science have spent well over 100 million dollars fighting labelling which I am certain would be ample money to pay some subjects to do such a study. And is the onus not on such companies to show the safety of such food on the intestine? The answer I guess is No. It is up to the Sages who are unscientific to raise the issues. Right? And saying we don’t do this for other food organic etc, does not pass muster scientifically. The answer is we have none and we will probably not see it until it is ordered by the very governing body that hastily approved it even against the questions raised by many FDA scientists at the time.

    • sagerad says:

      That’s right, they know they’re on the losing end and they resort to getting nasty and bullying and trying to make smokescreens. I’m out of here.

      • Eric Hall says:

        No, we simply ask for proof. You claim all these studies which show harm from GMOs and glyphosate (which are two entirely different issues, but I will lump them together here as you have). But the studies you cite are small, not repeated, have issues with design, have conflicts of interest, or any combination of those. We provide large, repeated, long-term, peer-reviewed studies and you simply ignore it and again claim the studies don’t exist, even though they do. No amount of evidence will convince you, because you have faith you are right and cannot admit you might be incorrect. That isn’t bullying or a smokescreen, that’s the evidence as presented in your writing.

        Note the major study which Seneff based her conclusions on, Seralini, has been retracted as well as panned by both scientists and animal rights activists. He didn’t follow protocol, tortured the animals, and had several other problems within the study. He, and Seneff, are not doing science, they are going on a witch hunt. IMO, it is unethical.

        • sagerad says:

          Eric, I think you’re confusing me with someone else, maybe? You’re putting words in my mouth. You can ask for “proof” but then you can read what i’ve written, that the absence of study on this is a problem in itself. I explain that feeding studies you mention do not test for glyphosate effect on gut microbiome. Show me one that does, please. Show me the science. This is not a witch hunt. This is desiring to know the reality of the chemicals in the food that most people are eating. It’s responsible.

          • Eric Hall says:

            You cite Seneff as proof, but then say there is no study. You can’t have it both ways. You can’t say it is bad for the gut and then say there is no evidence. You need to choose one.

          • sagerad says:

            I do not think i cited Seneff as “proof”. I have read many, many articles on glyphosate from as far back as Jaworski’s 1972 paper, which shows that it is a very potent inhibitor of bacterial growth:

            Jaworski, Ernest G. “Mode of action of N-phosphonomethylglycine. Inhibition of aromatic amino acid biosynthsis.” Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 20.6 (1972): 1195-1198.

            Jaworski was Monsanto’s own scientist, and in this paper, he reports that Rhizobacterium japonicum was inhibited in growth at 10 uM of glyphosate, the lowest he tested, and from the data in table 5 of that paper, it looks very likely that it would be inhibited at 1 uM. This is in the range that is in our diet continuously, and i am using my working mind, which has been involved with microbial ecology for years, to put two and two together.

            I read at least a hundred other papers, on differential EPSP synthase inhibition by glyphosate according to species of bacteria as source of EPSPS, on glyphosate’s presence in the gut by rat feeding studies, but glyphosate’s effect on endophytic bacteria, on so many more topics.

            Please stop pigeon-holing me, and assuming things. I don’t know where you got the grounds for your comment.

          • Eric Hall says:

            Let me start with a basic question. What does the big “M” stand for? Because I need to know where you stand on understanding the science so I can determine how much I need to explain.

          • sagerad says:

            Really? If you want a mini-CV, just ask.

            uM is micromolars, a measure of concentration. In the Jaworski paper, it’s expressed and tested logarithmically, down to 10 uM concentration, in table 5, and the data looks like it surely would continue to cause inhibition if it extended to 1 uM.

            I worked in a biolab for a couple of years, making media and inoculating hundreds of test tubes with anaerobic bacterial strains and communities, and running experiments on them. I’ve grown Geobacter spp (not so hard) and Sporomusa ovata (not so easy) and created a 96-channel potentiometer with the physical plant to rock 96 test tubes and measure the electrogenic current from each test tube at femtoAmp levels. I’ve been around.

            I also worked for a couple years in a startup company that worked with microbial communities in soil as the main activity, and i was the engineer responsible for much of the equipment and experimental design for that, as well.

            I’ve worked with New England Biolabs as a consultant on questions about microbial metabolic pathways, mostly concerning electrogenic pathways there as well.

            I also know a thing or two about agronomy, and i am concerned about the current state of agriculture, and i am concerned about subtle but real possible effects of glyphosate in the diets of most humans on Earth, especially in the western diet. The gut microbiome is important, and it works in an ecological way, as well as a more deterministic biochemical way. We don’t know what we don’t know. I am pointing out a lacuna in the knowledge base that i think is important.

          • Eric Hall says:

            Well, based on that old paper which only addresses one type of bacteria in a laboratory setting, the rate of growth was slowed at the amounts tested. Why wouldn’t it be tested at the lower amount? At the 10 uM, that would require about 2 mg of pure glyphosate in the medium. If we extend that concentration to our stomach, and assume when we ingest food with glyphosate on it, we would need to ingest 8-10 mg of glyphosate to see that low rate of inhibition. We certainly are not ingesting that much per day.

            As also noted in other studies, many bacteria are not susceptible to glyphosate.

            Should we study it? Yes. And it has been. Very thoroughly.

          • sagerad says:

            How can you speak absolute falsehoods?

            “Well, based on that old paper which only addresses one type of bacteria in a laboratory setting, the rate of growth was slowed at the amounts tested. Why wouldn’t it be tested at the lower amount? At the 10 uM, that would require about 2 mg of pure glyphosate in the medium. If we extend that concentration to our stomach, and assume when we ingest food with glyphosate on it, we would need to ingest 8-10 mg of glyphosate to see that low rate of inhibition. We certainly are not ingesting that much per day.”

            Old paper? So what. It’s science.
            One type of bacteria? Yes, that’s all i need to establish possibility.
            Laboratory setting? So what?
            Why wouldn’t it be tested at the lower amount? Because the scientist did not do it. What’s the relevance of asking that? It means nothing.

            You’re stacking irrelevant things as argument here. You’re lawyering. Stop it. This is science, not a courtroom. The tone is odious. Keep calm and do science.

            At 10 uM that would be 1.69 mG per liter, right? Gut microbiome chyme volume maybe 1/2 liter.
            That means 0.7 mG in flow to chyme to make 10 uM.

            Now, since it’s pretty clear inhibition would happen at lower rates than 10 uM, we can say that it’s possible to see an effect at 1 uM. That’s worthy of testing.

            “As also noted in other studies, many bacteria are not susceptible to glyphosate.”

            That’s not exactly “noted in other studies” … some bacteria can catabolize glyphosate as a phosphorous source, and are resistant to glyphosate but still susceptible at higher concentrations. Some are more sensitive at lower concentrations.

            “Should we study it? Yes. And it has been. Very thoroughly.”

            No, it hasn’t been.

            Show me one single study on glyphosate effects on mammalian gut microbiome.
            Show me the study, since you say it’s been studied.

            Show me, Skeptoid.

          • Eric Hall says:

            If you want it, then do the work.

            Why do I bring up the age of the paper? Because literally 1000s of follow-up papers have been published. Using a paper from 40+ years ago when so much science has been done since is willfully ignoring the repetition, which says to me you are cherry-picking.

            The molar concentration was based on the fluid volume, not the bacterial volume. So my calculations are much closer to reality, not yours.

            Show me. Show me where this is harmful to gut flora. Show me person who won’t reveal their real name!

            PS – how is your taunt, which I obviously am poking fun at here, any better than my “odious” tone? My point here is all signs point to glyphosate risk to be so low compared to the benefit that arguing to stop using it based on limited evidence is a bad conclusion. If glyphosate indeed caused major health problems, we would have observed a much different life expectancy curve since 1975 than what we’ve actually observed. I find it hard to believe the effect at levels consumed are harmful based on the evidence in total.

          • sagerad says:

            “If you want it, then do the work.”

            It is the responsibility of the party who sells a chemical intended to enter the food stream. Your comment is that of someone who doesn’t see the social implications.

            “Why do I bring up the age of the paper? Because literally 1000s of follow-up papers have been published. Using a paper from 40+ years ago when so much science has been done since is willfully ignoring the repetition, which says to me you are cherry-picking.”

            There is not enough actual research done on this. I could also cite you Shulz (1985), a study that compared relative sensitivity of EPSPS frmo various bacteria and found similar levels of sensitivity around 1 to 10 uM.

            “The molar concentration was based on the fluid volume, not the bacterial volume. So my calculations are much closer to reality, not yours.”

            Mine was based on chyme fluid volume. So you’re wrong here.

            “Show me. Show me where this is harmful to gut flora. Show me person who won’t reveal their real name!”

            My name is Sage. I will not give out my full name here for obvious reasons and this does not detract from what i say. I’m sure with enough will power, you can find out who i am, and it doesn’t matter.

            “PS – how is your taunt, which I obviously am poking fun at here, any better than my “odious” tone?”

            Because science is about showing evidence. I claim that a hypothesis is possible and important. You said it’s not possible. You said there were thousands of studies that show that it’s not possible. I said show me. You didn’t show me.

            “My point here is all signs point to glyphosate risk to be so low compared to the benefit that arguing to stop using it based on limited evidence is a bad conclusion. If glyphosate indeed caused major health problems, we would have observed a much different life expectancy curve since 1975 than what we’ve actually observed. I find it hard to believe the effect at levels consumed are harmful based on the evidence in total.”

            Same thing was said about PCBs. Same thing was said about DDT.

          • Eric Hall says:

            No the same thing wasn’t said about PCBs or DDT. Hence, they are no longer on the market.

            I’m not selling the chemical. I am simply saying the evidence overall says it is safe. The only studies which seem to show any link of harm are preliminary, in open-access journals, and all in vitro. The few in vitro studies which are peer reviewed show some effect on beneficial bacteria, but only at levels above what would be normally ingested in a typical diet. In vivo studies show no measurable effects.

            This happens all the time. THC is observed in vitro to kill some types of cancer cells. But when you put it in the body, it does nothing to the cancer. In vitro gives one a path for further study, but it doesn’t mean a conclusion can be reached. Instead, one has to look at the in vivo to see if the effect is still there. It hasn’t shown up when one looks at the studies in aggregate.

          • sagerad says:


            Shulz (1985) full citation:

            Schulz, A., A. Krüper, and N. Amrhein. “Differential sensitivity of bacterial 5-enolpyruvylshikimate-3-phosphate synthases to the herbicide glyphosate.” FEMS Microbiology Letters 28.3 (1985): 297-301.

          • Schussor says:

            I suggest you look up the information for yourself as a responsible follow up to your critique. Start with looking up Dr Zach Bush. Also look up the articles measuring glyphosate concentrations in various products and in human urine and feces. Note that the measurement is a difficult task in itself. There was no established kit for it.

            Then note that urine concentrations in the general population is 2.3ppb glyphosate and 1.2 or so in organic food eaters.

            Bush and others actually took glyphosate in vitro on human gut lining tissue cultures and exposed them to glyphosate at various concentrations at the 10 PPB range and below, showed how tight junctions in the tissue opened up upon introduction of glyphosate and glyphosate and gluten together. The cascading inflammation mechanism that follows from that is pure physiology and not up for debate.

            The antibiotic effect of glyphosate was known to monsanto as they had a project to get it approved as an antibiotic in agriculture. Look it up, don’t ask me for proof. It is YOUR responsibility to back your criticism of a landmark piece of work where these guys went on a limb to get things published. There is much more going on in the lab that is circulated in white papers in order to avoid backlash from the Ag industry (not Monsanto, China produces most of the world’s glyphosate).

            The economic significance of glyphosate is too big to have it banned, but we need to counter the problems it created. The followup article will still not satisfy you, but the reality is already demonstrated. The lack of bacterial diversity in the agricultural soil is well known and a worry for private farmers, the progressive disappearance of “vital micronutrient” nutritional content from industrial farming products is also well known if not well documented.
            We need to figure out a probiotic trace mineral and prebiotic for the soil. And we need a glyphosate eating probiotic, and a stronger tight junction repairing probiotic that is permanent and colonizing; someone has the key set of bacteria in their gut since so many are not affected by glyphosate.

            If you want to do something beneficial then go there and do some real work on the matter. The avalanche of research on the microbiome and its causal, and symptomatic relationship to diseases is now putting the entirety of the metabolic disorders, autoimmune, neurological disorders and cancer in one giant boat and offers the possibility of preventing or reversing them.

            As a libertarian you should be focused on criticizing the FDA from prohibiting the use of fecal microbiota transplants outside of formal research and trials and C Diff treatment. This drives people to DIY the treatment without medical supervision.

            As Dr Zach Bush didn’t point out – the quacks have been sitting in the labs of the patent medicine makers and convincing MDs to continue using their generation n+1 medication for a very particular condition that is so specialized nobody can identify the mechanism of its pathogenesis. But now we know that it belongs to a family of illnesses with a common cause. Glyphosate is one of them, but the underlying problem is the weakness of the gut microbiome for most of us in the West, its narrow bacterial spectrum.

    • Gary Smith says:

      How incredibly obtuse!

  34. Mudguts says:

    Hmmm… Biochem?? S Radachowsky PhD I hope?

  35. Heather says:

    Since eating grains is a primarily new dietary habit for the human species compared with our ancestors, I would call that a fad rather than the other way around. Calling Paleo a fad seems unhelpful, since for a majority of the time hominids have existed, hunting and gathering have been the primary source of sustenence.

    • Noah Dillon says:

      Nope. Eating grains predates civilization and cultivating grains was the start of civilization. They’re an amazing source of complete nutrition and every culture in the world eats at least one: wheat, maize, rice, millet, spelt, etc. Furthermore, carrion species used to eat dinosaurs; that doesn’t mean that they should only ever eat dinosaurs or that they’re ill-equipped to eat other foods.

      I see you’ve got your website attached here. I guarantee you that no paleolithic human ever ate cinnamon coconut cereal, as the one recipe found on your site, since coconut, cinnamon, eggs, salt, maple syrup, sunflower seeds, and coconut oil are all only available to you in quantity at the same time because you live in the 21st century. If you were a cave man you wouldn’t have had access to almost any of those ingredients together, and certainly not an oven, parchment paper, and etc. I also see that you’re promoting CBD and Kratom (a legal opioid-like drug), tea, addiction treatments, anti-government nuttiness, fun summer tips, junk about chronic pain, and so on, and with all of it connected to Amazon sales. It seems like you’re basically just cashing in on fads and fear. I would not be at all surprised if this half-built website was concocted by a fly-by-night marketing company (culpeppercreatives?) to leech money out of gullible people. Thank you for using this blog as an advertising platform.

  36. Sage says:

    There is evidence from the unpublished feeding studies on rabbits that glyphosate disturbs the gut microbiome.

    Read the 2013 Kimmel paper titled “Evaluation of developmental toxicity studies of glyphosate with attention to cardiovascular development” and pay special attention to the effect of glyphosate on the rabbit feces. Note that in the studies described, there were negative effects on gut health as evidenced by very bad condition of feces, in all non-control groups (all doses given). Not the most pleasant reading but evidence nonetheless.

    And if you wonder why i go to a paper on developmental cardiovascular health in rabbits to find this, it’s because the actual feeding studies are no published and not available to the public, even if they have Harvard journal access as i do. That’s not how to promote open science.

    • Eric Hall says:

      I took a quick look at that study. You will notice it took a really high dose before there was any effect on fetal health. So many of the concerns about those developmental dangers seem unwarranted.

      Only one of the 6 studies (in my quick glance) seemed to indicate the soft stool issue. Also of note, the groups receiving the glyphosate also had their food consumption reduced. If my diet was primarily plants, and I eat less, I have less fiber. Also note, these studies followed a protocol of using deionized water. This can cause magnesium and calcium to be pulled back into the gut, which can soften the stool as well.

      It would be a big leap to say this is due to gut bacterial changes. That wasn’t what the studies were testing, and those measurements weren’t made.

      • Sage says:

        You’d better take a longer look, because nearly all the studies show loose and mucus-laden stools at all non-control levels. Search on the word “soft” and “mucus”. It’s not pleasant, but that is the fact of the study that i cited. You are just wrong in your reading of it, and must have missed the passages that show what i said to be true. It’s in the text.

        Yes, the paper found that glyphosate exposure did not affect fetal health ”’at levels lower than those which affected maternal health”’ — in other words, there is a level where glyphosate affects the doe’s health, but it did not appear to create congenital defects at levels lower than affected maternal health. That is the conclusion of the paper.

        • Eric Hall says:

          Your assertion is glyphosate caused gut microbiome changes, which in turn caused the stool changes. That isn’t at all what the studies found. They didn’t even mention gut bacteria, nor measure it. There are other possibilities for the causes. I might suggest, as you did to me, to read it again.

          • Sage says:

            There are other possibilities, of course, but to me this is a strong indication that the gut microbiome ought to be looked at. I did not assert that this unequivocally shows that this is the result of changes in the microbiome, but i deem that a distinct possibility.

            The *lack* of appropriate studies is a major problem in this topic.

            The *secrecy* of existing feeding studies is another major problem in this topic.

            Will you please acknowledge that the review does indeed report loose stools in most of the reviewed feeding studies, in contrast to your statement above that “Only one of the 6 studies (in my quick glance) seemed to indicate the soft stool issue.”? That acknowledgement would go a long way to building a sense of good faith in the dialogue here.

  37. Andy Murray says:

    I’ve steadfastly read my way through all the arguments and counter arguments and counter-counter arguments and I must say, it’s been entirely fascinating, if a little repetitive. And the one person who comes out on top is, of course, Eric Hall. Probably because he really is arguing from the science. Even when sometimes that finding is uncomfortable, counter-intuitive or officially delivered from corporations we love to hate, like Monsanto. It seems insanely clear to anyone with an ounce of reasoning that glyphosate isn’t damaging to human health in the quantities present on and in food crops. And you can bet any bottom dollar you might still have knocking around, that everyone commenting about how dangerous it it to human health will still eat carcinogenic barbecues, or smoke, or drink alcohol or coffee. Or all of them at once. Who knows. Maybe someone has written a paper on it. But they are all known carcinogens. And all far more dangerous than glyphosate.

    • sagerad says:

      I’m arguing from science itself, including and especially that done by Monsanto scientists, that glyphosate is a selective inhibitor of bacteria even at micromolar levels. Interesting how your comment has no actual science content but only an upvote based on falsity.

      • Andy Murray says:

        I think Eric Hall makes a better argument than you do. Sorry.

        • sagerad says:

          Well, you certainly don’t let facts stand in your way or even refer to any. Sorry but true. Science doesn’t work by upvoting.

          • Andy Murray says:

            Mate- This is the comments section of Skeptoid. Scientists and non-scientists will read and write in it. Here’s a hint. It’s probably not the best way to argue your point by belittling others because they have less knowledge than you. It could make you come across as a little arrogant, which I’m sure isn’t the case in real life. But even without your superior knowledge of the subject, amazingly, people like me are allowed to come to sites like this to read about a contentious or confusing issue, before making a decision and even commenting on the subject, based on the provided evidence. Your evidence just seemed a little weak in comparison to that presented by Eric Hall in the main piece, and further borne out by the comments.

          • sagerad says:

            What would actually shed light on what is true is a simple bit of research that has not been done yet. You don’t know what is true about the biochemistry and your comment says nothing particular except that you favor a schoolyard bully and strawman arguments. Science works by looking at reality.

          • Andy Murray says:

            Are you saying that Eric Hill has been bullying you? Well, that changes my opinion of him. This is in real life?

            PS. Science doesn’t look at reality. It makes observations about the natural world. Studying reality is the province of philosophers.

          • sagerad says:

            Misrepresentating another’s meanings is a bully tactic in my book. I seem to recall that, without double checking.

            Science probes for reality. Seeks to enlarge our common knowledge about the world.

            A test as to whether glyphosate affects the gut microbiome would be the best way to know whether it’s real or not. Much better than talking about it and saying “Naw, couldn’t happen!”

          • Andy Murray says:

            Misrepresenting is bullying? So, I’m a bully now too because I misrepresented your calling Eric Hill a bully as actually saying that you were the bully? It’s very complicated, this book of yours. Should I read it? (I’m actually trolling you now).

          • sagerad says:

            Yeah whatever. Get a life.

            Ignore shield up.

            At least you admit it.

          • Andy Murray says:

            Well, I’m a believer in commenting without name calling. You seem angry that Eric Hill hasn’t been on here for over a week to respond to you, so you take it out on another lowly commenter because it makes you feel better. Trolling you seemed to be a useful way to show you how you come across in the comments. I actually study soil organisms, so glyphosate and pesticides are of great interest to me.

          • sagerad says:

            What. .. ever.

          • Gary Smith says:

            Hey Andy…good of you to stick to it. It seems very “grade-school” of some folks to push push push and then throw up their hands and stomp on the floor when they don’t get their way. I agree with your review of Eric Hall’s arguments and have watched the person you’ve gone back and forth here with over the last hour troll this forum with the same material over and over again. Good on you for keeping the high road

          • sagerad says:

            What. Ever.

          • Andy Murray says:

            Thanks Gary. I think Sage has finally gone to bed…

  38. swed says:

    Hahaha…Eric… Eric…this is rich! You are, after all, mere errand boys for Corporate America & the Gvt. (Power Elite). I have been through almost every controversial topic on this site and found an all-pervading theme. You take sides with the PE on every occasion. Never, not once, are you standing by the people of America. Being neutral, that is statistically impossible. I knew there where something fishy about this site. No ads and articles of length and depth that is not compatible with a professional life as a non-author. If you wrote yours yourself, that is? That raised my red flag. Cheapnis, would Zappa have said.

    Jesusfuckingchrist man, I would have bought a mail saying; sorry but your post does not fit our policy, or whatever. You are not all that smart showing the same arrogance as the Nazis did. They at least had the decency to declare openly who they were. You lot, lurk about hiding behind concepts like democracy, free speech, logic, scientific truth and so on. Bah, utter BS! No wonder you can act cool receiving a fat monthly paycheck. You are all anti-democrats (or even fascists) and gravediggers of our civilization.

    Anyway, tanks for helping me make my mind up. I was negative to GMO but also curious and had an open mind. That is how I first stumbled over this site. Now I consider the GMO cultivation technique hazardous to humanity both physical and mentally. The GMO swindle is making people sick and many become corrupted. I have just started a crusade against GMO here in Sweden and already had many people express their concern to the proper authorities. I will also inform my fellow Swedes about the purpose of this site. Finally, read what president Lincoln wrote more than 100 years ago. A prediction?

    “As a result of the war, corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed. I feel at this moment more anxiety for the safety of my country than ever before, even in the midst of war.”
    The passage appears in a letter from Lincoln to (Col.) William F. Elkins, Nov. 21, 1864.

    • Noah Dillon says:

      Lincoln didn’t actually ever write that. It’s a forgery produced by Emanuel Hertz in his 1931 book “Abraham Lincoln: A New Portrait.”

      Dude, this website is user supported. There are no ads, but there are links to PayPal. None of the writers are paid—they’re all volunteers. That doesn’t mean it’s fishy, it means that it’s 501(c)3 non profit. Everyone who writes for this thing has a regular day job. If you think they’re supposed to receive a fat paycheck, maybe you can name the bursar who’s supposed to write it out. No one else here can find one.

      And telling people that there are things they shouldn’t worry about because there’s no evidence, and that’s there’s things they should worry about because there’s evidence of harm—that’s helping people. Telling them a bunch of hysterical nonsense hurts them. Using fake Lincoln quotes hurts them. Calling people you disagree with “Nazis” doesn’t help anyone. Attacking logic, free speech, democracy, and science doesn’t help anyone. You had an open mind and an anti-GMO crusade? That sounds like a contradiction.

  39. Gabriel Andrew says:

    This article should be updated or removed. Unless you think you know more thanthe World Health Organisation – which has come out and said that glyphosate probably causes cancer.


    Krüger M, Shehata AA, Schrödl W, Rodloff A. Glyphosate suppresses the antagonistic effect of Enterococcus spp. on Clostridium botulinum. Anaerobe 2013;20:74–78.
    Shehata AA, Schrodl W, Aldin AA, Hafez HM, Kruger M. The effect of glyphosate on potential pathogens and beneficial members of poultry microbiota in vitro. Curr Microbiol 2012. doi:10.1007/s00284-012-0277-2.
    Guarner F, Malagelada J-R. Gut flora in health and disease. Lancet 2003;361(9356):512-519. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(03)12489-0.
    Samsel A, Seneff S. Glyphosate’s suppression of cytochrome P450 enzymes and amino acid biosynthesis by the gut microbiome: Pathways to modern diseases. Entropy 2013;15:1416-1463.
    Williams GM, Kroes R, Munro IC. Safety evaluation and risk assessment of the herbicide Roundup and its active ingredient, glyphosate, for humans. Regul Toxicol Pharmacol 2000;31:117-65. doi:10.1006/rtph.1999.1371.
    Samsel A, Seneff S. Glyphosate, pathways to modern diseases II: Celiac sprue and gluten intolerance. Interdiscip. Toxicol. 2013;6(4):159-184. doi:10.2478/intox-2013-0026.

    • Noah Dillon says:

      How much glyphosate did the WHO determine is probably cancerous? WHO also list these, though I was unable to figure out how they measure risks:
      fireplaces in the home
      being a hairdresser/barber
      fried foods
      red meat

      As far as dose is concerned, glyphosate is less toxic than caffeine. That doesn’t mean it’s harmless or OK to spray around willy-nilly, it just means it’s less dangerous than the hysteria that leads people to demand that an article should be taken down.

  40. Larry Goldfarb says:

    I think we still have to answer the physiological findings of Dr. Zach Bush and his colleagues as to the damage to the tight junctions in the gut from glyphosate. Maybe the concentrations were way over what we would normally ingest. Maybe what they saw and filmed is not repeatable. Maybe other studies refute the evidence, unequivocally. Maybe it is all contrived in an effort to sell Restore. There has to be good science to destroy the findings. There seems to be more and more studies showing possible toxicity and physiological effects.

  41. alabaster 151 says:

    This is the most fallacious bunch of garbage I have ever read.

  42. Zachary Domike says:

    Skeptoid ought to revisit this topic.
    “Mutation” appears often in the search when combined with “Glyphosate”.
    Sounds incredible, but all signs point to a legal, regulated and quantified mutation in the most fundamental component of our existence, our microbiome, as well as the [formerly] most economical health treatment – inoculation.
    Many online references about the mutations that disrupt the EPSP enzyme. Glyphosate is low toxicity, but can mutate bacteria, such as digestive bacteria – our gut is altered in unpredictable ways, and affects behaviour. In addition to the contamination of vaccine cultures, this mutation pinpoints the “Injected Autism Epidemic.” I believe this is the key to “Why Americans Shoot Strangers.”
    No, RoundUp is not killing Microbiomes … just a mild mutation !!! As Americans like to chant ” What – Me Worry? ”
    All we need is some testing on vaccines and bacteria to determine the mutation proportion – and Monsanto will whither away under the results of this scrutiny.

    • Noah Dillon says:

      First, bacteria and vaccines are completely unrelated. Vaccines do not treat bacterial. They help prepare the body for viruses.

      Second, bacteria and viruses constantly mutate. That’s how evolution works. And it’s a process that works all the time, nonstop, for the past 4 billion years. Check out the PT Extinction Event to see what evolution can do with a bacteria.

      Third, glyphosate is an herbicide, not an antibacterial. What’s your evidence that it affects bacteria? And in particular, gut bacteria? Are you eating glyphosate? Or do you wash your vegetables like everyone in the world? How much glyphosate do you think a typical persona consumes and what’s your evidence for that?

      Fourth, “can” is not the same as “is.” I can make a cake with rocks. I am not making a cake with rocks. Claiming that glyphosate could affect bacteria is not the same as “glyphosate is affecting bacteria,” unless you can provide evidence for it.

      Fifth, I don’t know what you mean by the “injected autism epidemic.” No such thing exists. And I don’t know how you think injections and herbicides are connected. And if you’re right, then why aren’t people most exposed to glyphosate, like farmers, severe autistics?

      Sixth, you think what is the key to what? Crime rates in the US, as in much of the rest of the developed world, have been falling since the 1990s. If anything, that correlates with glyphosate making people NOT kill each other. But that correlation, while factual, is idiotic.

      Seventh, why specify Americans with the Alfred E. Newman remark? Glyphosate is no longer under patent and is being manufactured and used worldwide. Why? Because it works and it’s safer than the predecessors. One chemical it replaced is paraquat. Have you ever seen photos of someone exposed to paraquat? They die. And it was found by NIH to be causing high rates of Parkinson’s in farm workers. Breathing it in can cause asphyxiation, and drinking even a small amount, like if it gets in the water supply, is extremely dangerous. And, like all herbicides, it definitely caused weed resistance. Another herbicide replaced by glyphosate was dinoseb, which causes high levels of birth defects. These are pretty obvious, easy to spot maladies, and the government acted when there was evidence. So far, no such evidence exists for glyphosate. There’s no need for a hypothesized gut bacteria-vaccine-autism-gun thing, which makes no sense.

      • Dread Pyrate Higgs says:

        There ought to be a Dunning-Kruger thread for everyone still suggesting Serelini/Seneff/Samsel (the SSS?) have made sound contributions to ANY discussion on glyphosate/ autism/ brain shingles/ cementshartitis/ and very possibly: adnauseumosis.

        Furthermore: Gimmee all yur damn gold, scallawags, lest I rape yer shikimic pathway with my cytochromic P450!

  43. Timo says:

    “Effects of Roundup (glyphosate) on gut microorganisms of farm animals”…/Specialer/Master_Thesis_final.pdf

    • Noah Dillon says:

      That’s a dead link. And it looks like it’s a masters thesis, which is not a great source, since it’s not peer reviewed or published or anything.

  44. Jane says:

    Wow has science changed this belief of author. Never thought I’d hear the day about solving disease through stool transplants. When will this be updated?!!

  45. Karen Catlin says:

    Yes, many people profit by writing B.S.

  46. Zachary Domike says:

    The probable end of Bayer/Monsanto will be their cover-up of the cause of vaccine damage: mutations caused by residues of RoundUp Glyphosate that are legal, and quantified. Vaccines are made with eggs, with 5ppm of the artificial amino acid, glyphosate, which fits in among the hundreds of aminos in the peptide chain reproducing vaccine proteins. Unknown effects, difficult to test, corroborated by a range of complaints that follow vaccinations: is it a dud, a sore arm, or a baby with autism?

    Eric will be aware of how vaccines are made . . . and how proteins grow . . . and how many possible combinations of amino errors could exist. This depth of possibilities may challenge the profession, but the statistics clearly show the extent of the problem, and the conditions of legal and quantified amino acid glyphosate implicate this possibility.

    If you find this plausible, the implications are enormous. Those families ruined by the Pharma Plague are united in their hatred of vaccines, while the nation may be driven to bankruptcy with a growing proportion of the youth damaged.

    How much of that generation are affected in subtle and inconsistent ways, each unique because the proteins could have been mutated in a vast variety of ways with interactions of all sorts to shift the identity of the particular individuals expression of the mix of conditions and drug interactions.

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