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In the Media

article imageOp-Ed: Is glyphosate psychoactive? Hormone inhibitor in the food chain?

By Paul Wallis
Jan 27, 2013 in Health
Sydney - Glyphosate was invented in the 1970s as an alternative to the highly toxic herbicides of the time. The trouble is that it also inhibits tyrosine, tryptophan, and phenylalanine, psychoactive amino acids and appears able to inhibit hormonal functions.
These key amino acids are psychoactive. They were part of some forms of psychiatric treatment, notably mood disorders. Tryptophan was actually prescribed as a mood treatment in the 1970s. The others were similarly related to treatments. Hormonal aspects of psychiatric disorders are comparatively recent discoveries, and it looks like glyphosate slipped under the radar.
This information rang every alarm bell I have- All three amino acids are classified as psychoactive, and glyphosate affects all three? What if it remains in the body, inhibiting the action of these amino acids? Consider the sudden prevalence of psychological disorders in recent times.
I came across an article related to glyphosate on the Permaculture College website. As a horticulturalist, I had to be a bit interested, although I’d never use things like weedkillers in any environment, let alone food crops. ( I won’t even hang clothes out to dry, to avoid airborne pollution.)
This is indicative of the areas of known glyphosate toxicity in the Permaculture College article:
Studies on human cells showed toxicity and hormone disruption at sub agricultural levels with effects within 24 hours caused by concentrations as low as 0.5 parts per million. And DNA damage at 5 parts per million. The impact of glyphosate-based herbicides residues in food, feed or in the environment now has thus to be considered real. PMID: 19539684
The exposure of children to glyphosate should be avoided as recent animal studies have shown that commercial formulation of glyphosate is a potent endocrine (hormone) disruptor, causing disturbances in reproductive development when the exposure was during the puberty period (5)
…Glyphosate used to control weeds under trees inhibits the trees uptake of essential nutrients including Manganese, Zinc, Iron and Boron, which plants need to fight disease.
(See the article for references.)
There’s a lot more. Those minerals are also essential for human biology.
That, of course, wasn’t enough. I wanted to see if there were any plant analogues to these amino acids. Plants may contain a range of chemistry which is quite close to animal.
The information about the amino acids was in plain sight, on Wikipedia: (No, this is not just Wikipedia saying this.)
Glyphosate's mode of action is to inhibit an enzyme involved in the synthesis of the aromatic amino acids: tyrosine, tryptophan and phenylalanine. It is absorbed through foliage and translocated to growing points. Because of this mode of action, it is only effective on actively growing plants; it is not effective as a pre-emergence herbicide.
Hang on- Inhibits amino acids?
That was quite sufficient to get me looking for a few more answers. Those aminos are very much part of human life. My natural distrust of the phrase “only effective on actively growing plants” was the main reason.
I’m a horticulturalist. I'm not going to claim expertise I don't have, but this phrase set off some more thinking. Those aminos are required chemistry in all plants. “Actively growing” is a bit of a euphemism. What do plants do? They grow. How do they grow? Using their amino acids. If “actively” means during any state of growth or amino activity, then that could apply to humans, where the growth/replacement cycle never ends. It does make sense that a chemical could target amino synthesis in the course of acting as a weed killer, so that seemed like a reasonable assumption.
I got lucky in my search. The net effect of combining the Permaculture College information and a government website was to show some very nasty possibilities. Glyphosate is a phosphoric compound. Phosphorous is related to the growth of plants, but it’s also closely related to synthesis of a lot of different amino acids.
It also relates to the formation of cysteine, an amino acid directly related to fertility in men. Glyphosate was already linked to loss of fertility in men, but cysteine, to be more specific, relates to oxytocin, a hormone required in men for healthy children called “the love hormone”. Moods again? Male fertility is currently in a tailspin, declining by 85% in recent years. That has to be related to some sort of environmental factor, and food is the big environment for health.
(Information on the government website relates to formation of baseline amino acids, the famous CGAT combination. Not very reassuring reading in context with my search, but interesting.)
To say that the use of oxytocin is nothing less than bizarre barely does it justice. You can spray this stuff on you to gain trust and of course buy it online, whether you know anything about it or not. OK, some people need things like that. The other side to the equation is that those oxytocin-starved individuals, whatever the reason for their lack of oxytocin, are also mood-deficient. Oxytocin is a wild card in the emotional pharmacopoeia, and glyphosate is an inhibitor at a remove or so?
Look at the psychiatric position of a chemical which can kill off hormones affecting mood. Glyphosate is theoretically in a position to affect all the big mood-related hormones at their baseline chemistry levels. Think of the plague of psychological disorders. 1 in 4 people around the world will experience mental disorders at some time in their lives. That’s currently 1.75 billion people for the global population.
Readers can judge for themselves the number of people in what could euphemistically be called a “joyless” mental state, permanently. You will have met misanthropes, mean little bastards and other tedious “normal” people many times. These people don’t have moods. They’re just plain mentally ugly, effectively "alien", all the time. Their background is solid suburban. They’re in the primary demographic for mass consumption of routinely produced foods. They're primary recipients of any hormonal inhibitor if that inhibitor is actually ingested and able to function. Your perception of other people, incidentally, is also influenced by both your own hormones and theirs.
Another issue- Glyphosate bonds to things like copper. In the human respiratory system, copper is a big part of breathing properly. Global epidemic of respiratory problems? Coincidence? Oxygen deficiency also causes some very well-known mood symptoms, as well as sabotaging basic health.
If you’ve been around long enough, you’ll also be aware that the incidence of mental health issues and asthma started to climb in the 1980s. In the past, these were unusual. Now they’re part of the dismal norm. Some people deny this, but I’d suggest readers pay more attention to the evidence of their own eyes and ears than mere paid denialists.
Epidemiology is a spectator sport these days. When it was a real science, environmental factors, particularly environmental contamination, were primary issues. The ridiculous remains of this science now contents itself with telling people old lead pipes are dangerous, but it has never, to my knowledge done any form of systematic study of psychoactive chemistry in the environment.
In theory, it’s a bit of a jump of logic- If you’ve never been to school in your life.
1. Psychoactive inhibitor enters food chain at point of production.
2. Effect of inhibitor is never investigated, because it’s not an issue in the 1970s.
3. Lack of knowledge of hormonal effects + lack of interest on part of manufacturers + big capital product = No action.
4. Catch up medicine isn’t structured to make the equation between hormonal inhibitors, nutrition, and agriculture.
5. Governments are comatose regarding environmental issues, and even prosecution has no effect at all on big corporates.
6. Corporate culture and some parts of the political spectrum are opposed to any form of public health interest, even when they’re dying just as regularly from their own products.
7. Is it possible that manufacturers were not aware of the possible issues related to glyphosate? Very. These guys don’t go looking for trouble with their products, so they never find it.
This is the environment in which any sort of dangerous compound could sit around in the food chain for decades.
The rise of GM has obscured the other environmental effects of potentially highly dangerous toxins. Thankless though acting on all environmental issues may be, the possible risks of a hormonal inhibitor in the food chain cannot be overstated.
A very minor disclaimer- I think the logic here is clear enough, but I must emphasize that the only way to prove the logic is to do thorough testing and achieve irrefutable, court-standard results.
If a hormonal inhibitor is viable in the food chain, if it’s active after digestion, the effects I’ve described make sense. A hormonal inhibitor which applies to psychoactive amino acids and fertility has a natural range of areas of testing.
Journalists please note- If I’m right, this is far too serious for “trial by media” and the internet’s usual flippant, brief attention span drivel.
Even the idea of a hormonal inhibitor in the food chain makes nukes look like firecrackers. Such a chemical would be a weapon of infinite destruction, able to maim the genetics of the Earth. The possibility is for long term, multi-generational damage, and there aren’t any working remedies.
The need now isn’t for opinions- It’s to get the facts straight. I’d prefer to be wrong, but as you can see, I have this terrible suspicion I’m right.
The main manufacturer of glyphosate is Monsanto. Check their website for their perspectives on glyphosate. Even in an op-ed, you need some sort of balance.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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