Herbicide Used on GM Corn & Other Crops a Mineral Chelator

by Melissa Diane Smith

The active ingredient in herbicides sprayed on genetically modified herbicide-resistant crops such as corn and soy is a mineral chelator, according to a new report by Jeffrey Smith of the Institute for Responsible Technology. In other words, the herbicide ingredient grabs vital nutrients and doesn’t let them go, depriving plants of essential minerals needed for healthy function and leaving them susceptible to disease.

The ingredient, glyphosate, is the world’s bestselling weed killer and is found in the Roundup brand of weed killer made by Monsanto and sprayed on so-called “Roundup Ready” genetically modified crops. These crops have inserted genetic material from viruses and bacteria that allows the crops to withstand repeated applications of the normally deadly weed killer. Roundup Ready crops now include corn, soy, cotton, canola, and sugar beets.

According to the new report:

The amount of glyphosate that can cause damage is tiny. European scientists demonstrated that less than half an ounce per acre inhibits the ability of plants to take up and transport essential micronutrients (see chart).

As a result, more and more farmers are finding that crops planted in years after Roundup is applied suffer from weakened defenses and increased soilborne diseases.

The latest Roundup Ready crop in the news is Roundup Ready alfalfa. It was marketed by Monsanto for a year until a federal court declared its approval illegal in 2007. An environmental report since then found that genetically modified (GM) alfalfa can contaminate organic and non-GMO alfalfa, and Smith reports widespread nutrient reduction in GM alfalfa (see chart).

Yet the USDA is still considering approving it. Alfalfa is used primarily as feed for animals that we eat as meat. If you want to keep GM alfalfa out of our food supply, act now and tell Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack not to approve GM alfalfa.

The same nutrients that glyphosate chelates and deprives plants of – essential minerals such as iron, zinc, copper, manganese, magnesium, calcium, and boron – are also critical for animal and human health. One example is manganese, a mineral whose losses can be severe. The nutrient not only is chelated by glyphosate but also is reduced in Roundup Ready plants. Recently veterinarians have found low levels of manganese and sometimes no detectible levels in livestock that they’ve tested. Veterinarians also report much sicker animals since GM foods started to dominate animal feed, and when livestock is switched from GMO to non-GMO feed, the animals experience dramatic improvement in health.

Tests don’t always find deficiencies, though. According to Smith’s blog post:

Glyphosate-induced mineral deficiencies can easily go unidentified and untreated. Even when laboratory tests are done, they can sometimes detect adequate mineral levels, but miss the fact that glyphosate has already rendered them unusable.

Glyphosate can tie up minerals for years and years, essentially removing them from the pool of nutrients available for plants, animals, and humans. If we combine the more than 135 million pounds of glyphosate-based herbicides applied in the US in 2010 with total applications over the past 30 years, we may have already eliminated millions of pounds of nutrients from our food supply.

This loss is something we simply can’t afford. We’re already suffering from progressive nutrient deprivation even without Roundup. In a UK study, for example, they found between 16-76% less nutrients in 1991, compared to levels in the same foods in 1940.

To read more about the many problems associated with glyphosate-based herbicide, see Jeffrey Smith’s report “Monsanto’s Roundup Triggers Over 40 Plant Diseases and Endangers Human and Animal Health.”

Melissa’s Comments:

Minerals are simpler in chemical form and are tiny in comparison to vitamins, but they are one of six groups of nutrients we need for healthy function each and every day. With depleted levels of minerals, failure to thrive develops, then deficiency diseases with severe health consequences, and eventually death. This occurs not only in humans, but also in animals and plants.

This information about glyphosate is startling. As if the problems associated with changing the genetic material in plants weren’t bad enough, applying glyphosate-based herbicide to GM crops adds insult to injury. To protect your health, your family’s health, and the health of animals, plants and the environment, I can’t stress enough how important it is to just say no to GM foods.

Copyright © 2011 Melissa Diane Smith

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