glyphosate

Glyphosate is, of course, the primary ingredient in the herbicide Roundup (that contains added surfactants, penetrants, and other additives for improved weed-killing efficacy). It is sprayed liberally on genetically-modified (GM) corn and soy engineered to be resistant to glyphosate, thereby allowing farmers to spray it on a field, killing weeds but not the GM corn or soy. While wheat, in the language of agribusiness, is not “genetically-modified,” i.e., no gene splicing methods were used to create it, it is still sometimes sprayed with glyphosate after harvest as a desiccant, i.e, a drying agent. It is also sprayed on wheat fields between growing seasons to inhibit weed growth. Canola oil crops and beans are also sprayed with glyphosate-containing herbicides.

Consuming these crops thereby exposes you to substantial quantities of the herbicide glyphosate, now detectable in air, drinking water, animal feed, and soil. Given the widespread use of glyphosate by farmers, we all have glyphosate residues detectable in our bodies. Over 300 million pounds of glyphosate-containing herbicides are sprayed on crops in the U.S. alone every year.

The World Health Organization has labeled a “probable carcinogen” due to its association with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. It is also an endocrine disrupter, interfering with the function of sex/reproductive hormones.

But it is a little known fact that glyphosate is a potent antibiotic. So potent that Monsanto, the St. Louis, Missouri manufacturer of glyphosate and Roundup, filed patents for glyphosate as an antibiotic (United States Patent 7,771,736). As an antibiotic, glyphosate is oddly effective against Lactobacillus, Bifidobacteria, and Enterococcal species, species regarded as beneficial to humans and included in virtually all probiotic supplements, while it is ineffective against species like Clostridium perfringens and Clostridium botulinum (increased in kids with autistic spectrum disorder) and Salmonella. In other words, glyphosate exposure disrupts the composition of the microbiome, selectively eradicating or reducing beneficial microbes while selecting for proliferation of unhealthy species.

If you follow the Wheat Belly lifestyle, you are already on a low-glyphosate lifestyle, since you have banished all wheat, corn, soy, and canola oil from your diet, while also choosing organic produce whenever possible. This alone, of course, does not rebuild a healthy microbiome, but it is one important step in that direction. An unanswered question: Did prior exposure to foods containing glyphosate, via its effects on disrupting microbiome composition, contribute to dysbiosis and small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, SIBO?