4.19.2011

Roundup Ready, a rant.

Lately it has come to my abrupt attention how many of my generation (and even more, our children) are coming down with chronic autoimmune conditions. Be it celiac disease, hypothyroidism, systemic Candida infections, IBS, Rheumatoid arthritis, Lupus, Autism or Fibromyalgia (and yes, I know not all of these are classified as 'autoimmune' diseases, but if you search, they could cause them, or be caused by them).

I wonder to myself why this is happening, to us, in our generation.

Many people blame our diet, our stress, our society; or just advances in medicine that didn't recognize these problems earlier.

Maybe it is my background studying horticulture, my hippy tendencies, or just my experience that has led me to believe it is because of 3 main things.

1. Pesticides.

2. Antibiotics.

3. Chemical Toxins (pharmaceuticals and petrochemicals) in us, our water and food.

The first is maybe the one I know the most about. What got me thinking about it was an article by Jeffery Smith for the Huffington Post. It studied genetically modified soy, and the effects of feeding it to hamsters. What they found scared them. In each generation the death rate of the babies (pups) rose significantly, and more than half the babies from GM fed mothers died by 2 weeks. By the third generation, the hamsters eating the GM soy had lost the ability to reproduce, among other strange genetic effects (like growing hair in the mouth).

Now, this article and others they quote would make everyone raise up their arms and shout "NO MORE GMO, NO MORE GMO". But wait.

Why is it that GMO's are causing this? GM corn and soy (and other crops) are modified so that when they grow they can be treated with Roundup, which 'kills anything green'. Roundup is a mixture of glyphosate and a surfactant (which helps the chemical enter plant (animal and human) cells. Roundup has been used since the 1970's and in 1985 started a double-digit climb as it was positioned as a cheap weed killer agriculturally and for residential consumers. With the introduction of GMO corn and soybeans in 1998, it's usage has tripled again.

Do we remember Vietnam? Does Agent Orange ring a bell? 2,4,5-T? Okay maybe not, but this chemical seems to be the only one blamed with any misdeeds. It was introduced in the 1940's and it wasn't until the 1970's that the public figured out how deadly it could be. (Eventhough the government was informed on this in 1952) Do we realize that 50% of that deadly chemical (2,4-D) is still used today as a broadleaf weed killer on corn, wheat, and rice crops? Not to mention added to home fertilizers to kill things like dandelions in our own backyards?

How much corn, wheat, rice and soy do you eat? Does it make up a bulk of your diet?

What is frustrating is how so many people believe that organic food is a hoax. That using pesticides is fine, because 'wouldn't the government stop them if it wasn't?'. The truth is, the government may or may not know if they are genetically harmful to humans. The chemical companies that produce the herbicides and pesticides may or may not know. If it takes 3 generations to see the devastating results of too much herbicide usage, they wouldn't be finding any significant human reactions... until... now?

But how could they trace it back to one or two things? They can't. Not in our world of chemical additives, preservatives, herbicides, pesticides, antibiotics, petrochemicals, radiation, etc. The chemical companies are pretty much off the hook because no one can prove it is their doing.

2. The second issue is antibiotics, and, yes, I know. Antibiotics are a medical marvel, and save millions of lives each year.

My issue with antibiotics is the over-use, unnecessary use and the unconscious use of antibiotics (think beef, pork, poultry, all grown in confined spaces with disease), and their negative affect on our gut.

You know, your gut.

That friendly place between your mouth and your rectum also known as your digestive tract. People don't realize how important it is, how it functions, and what it affects.
In anatomy you learn the different organs and where they are and basically what they do, so I won't go into that.

What most people don't realize is how important the health of your gut is to your immune system, your hormonal system, and your metabolism (okay, maybe you kind of know how it affects your metabolism).

Antibiotics kill bad bacteria... and they kill good bacteria. It drastically can affect the balance of your gut flora (I highly recommend reading that Wikipedia link), which affects your digestion (duh), nutrient absorption, lymphatic system, immune system, thyroid, allergies, and metabolism (may be the real main cause of obesity in our country).

What we need to do is stop messing with the bacteria (flora, 'biotics') in our gut. When we need to use anti-biotics, make sure it is really what is needed. None of this giving antibiotics for a viral ear infection crap. (0ops, a little to passionate. Try not to get too personal here). When we do have to take them, we need to do our best to repopulate our intestines with good bacteria, using prebiotics (a good source is fermented foods), probiotics (a good source is fermented dairy) and nutritionally dense foods to help the body recover.

Number 3 might just be my category that covers everything else. Everyday toxins that accumulate in our livers, daily introduce estrogen-mimicking compounds into our systems that tax our health and manipulate our hormone balance by blocking our estrogen receptors, causing our bodies to produce more than we actually need, a vicious cycle.

I think I am too tired now. If I can formulate more words on this I will update my #3 at a later date.

What are your thoughts on why our generation is so sick?


7 comments:

Amanda said...

If you ask anyone in our house, it will always be tied primarily to diet. Pesticides primarily come in through the food we eat. Yeah, they come in elsewhere, but mostly through our food. Antibiotics, mostly through food. Strangely processed foods - less fermenting, more refined sugars and flour, more starch, less fruit and vegetables, more freaky foods that didn't exist 100 years ago - soda, twinkies, hamburgers en masse, etc. It's kind of like asking what would be most effective for world peace - if everyone had family prayer, imagine the impacts, but it would require individual accountability which nobody wants to take.

C. said...

I know nothing about plants and have few (if any) hippy tendencies, but I agree 100%. What is happening to our food is horrifying. Also, I would add infertility to that list of illnesses. I know it's not autoimmune, but the numbers of people affected by it have skyrocketed since the introduction of GMO foods and that study of the hamsters makes me shudder every time I hear about it.

JoAnne Leboeuf Coakley said...

I think the government and the pesticide companies know very well what they are doing. It's all about money, of course. Do you think that the families of Monsanto executives eat GMO food? I don't think so. As for the government, it is in bed with the big corporations because of all those campaign contributions. Many employees of the FDA are former Monsanto people. It's all very disgusting but it's not likely to change. We must continue to be vigilant and buy organic when we can afford it and rinse the heck out of everything that isn't. We must also make our opinion known to our elected officials.
We are literally being poisoned by people who only care about their bottom line. That is the reason for all the new diseases and disorders.

Bethany said...

Awesome post!!! Love it and I love you! Right on! Wish more people could understand and "care" about this!

Mawn said...

Right on, our gut IS important. The difference between pro and pre biotics has confused me, thank you for the clarification!

Tasha said...

I once had someone tell me the reason I had cancer was my fault due to the foods I eat since it wasn't 100% all organic. Not gunna lie, was slightly offended and felt it was presumptuous to blame a disease fully on what food we take into our bodies. However, I do agree that what we put into our body can and does AFFECT our body - whether that be detrimental or healing.

Suzanna H. said...

Thank you everyone! I just found out ANOTHER friend is gluten intolerant. Really, this issue with our gut has me worried. No one knows the affect that everyday chemicals have on our gut, and consequently our whole systems. Tasha, there is no way you can be blamed for getting cancer! There are SO many causes (for lack of a better word) that are around us EVERY day, and so many times it just happens. Mutations make the world go round. (not that I think you are a mutant :) or that cancer is a good thing...) I better stop there.