Glyphosate and autism…or is it?

I would very much like to believe that the glyphosate in Monsanto’s Roundup is toxic, but I’ve just found a comment that brings the current ‘proof’ into question. The comment, from Henry, is copy-pasted below.

I have to admit that the word “autism” troubled me a great deal when reading this piece. The whole debacle with vaccines and autism has been quite well-publicised as an example of bad science. The reason why autism spectrum disorder always seems to pop up should be clear.
Autism spectrum disorder affects children. And there are a lot of concerned and frightened parents in the world, who look things up on the internet.
It turns out Stephanie Seneff is quite infamous for a paper she co-wrote in 2013. Here are two links to articles debunking her paper at the time by people more familiar with the topic than I am.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/tamar-haspel/condemning-monsanto-with-_b_3162694.html
http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2014/12/31/oh-no-gmos-are-going-to-make-everyone-autistic/
Some of the main points in the articles are that:
– Correlation between glyphosate use and autism over time does not prove causality; indeed there is a similar correlation between organic food sales and autism.
– Showing that a compound affects an enzyme in gut bacteria is far removed from showing any link with any disease, let alone proving that the compound causes autism specifically.
– “Exogenous semiotic entropy”, a phrase used in the paper, is made-up.
– The paper contains no original research.
Now this is not to defend Monsanto as an organisation (the interplay of intellectual property and genetics is something I’m really not comfortable with). But please let’s not get into fearmongering. I really admire this blog because the information you throw light on is not just interesting, but also accurate.
Thanks for your consideration~
Henry

I have followed both links and read them. Honestly, I no longer know what to think. Please read Henry’s comment and let’s talk about this. I have someone with Ulcerative Colitis in the family so this is rather important to me.

As a lay person, I can’t speak for any of the facts, on either side, but the disruption of the shikimate pathway in gut bacteria does worry me. We do not know everything there is to know about either the human body or the bacteria that live in our gut and seem to have a symbiotic relationship with us. At the very least, I’d like to see some serious research into what effect, if any, the glyphosate has on our gut bacteria. All? Or just a few? Which ones? And does it matter to them? If it does matter, then I’d like to know if it affects us and in what ways.

I think these are valid questions, but as far as I know, the research hasn’t been done, and that is the problem with the correlation vs causation argument: until we can disprove any harmful connection between glyphosate and shikimate pathways and gut bacteria and humans, we cannot prove that there is no causation either. Examples off the top of my head include: smoking and lung cancer, asbestos and mesothelioma, h.pylori and stomach ulcers, thalidomide and birth defects, human papillomavirus and cervical cancer. I was tempted to mention agent orange but I have no idea where the research is on that one.

I’m not saying the glyphosate/shikimate pathways/gut bacteria situation is the same, but the question has been raised, and I’d hate to throw the baby out with the bath water. Whether the answer will have anything to do with autism [or ulcerative colitis] is irrelevant. This is something we need to know, and I, for one, do not trust Monsanto to provide a non-biased answer.

Please tell me what you think.

Meeks

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About acflory

I am the kind of person who always has to know why things are the way they are so my interests range from genetics and biology to politics and what makes people tick. For fun I play online mmorpgs, read, listen to a music, dance when I get the chance and landscape my rather large block. Work is writing. When a story I am working on is going well I'm on cloud nine. On bad days I go out and dig big holes... View all posts by acflory

9 responses to “Glyphosate and autism…or is it?

  • headwindjournal

    My money is on science. And the burden of proof lies with those who claim a link. You are right; there is still a lot to learn.

    Like

    • Yvonne Hertzberger

      I would agree with you if only the scientists were not being funded by the corporations. There are very few scientists now funded independently and free to search for the truth. Even those that are government funded are restricted by hidden agendas. It’s a very sad state if affairs. Less so in Europe but very much in North America.

      Liked by 1 person

      • acflory

        -nods- sadly it’s corporatisation at work and we’re not immune either. Our iconic research facility – the C.S.I.R.O – is now in bed with Monsanto happily creating GMO wheat that we don’t want or need. 😦

        Liked by 1 person

    • acflory

      Unfortunately, as Yvonne said, corporate funded research is not as unbiased as it should be. 😦

      Like

  • DawnGillDesigns

    my feeling is that it is better to be safe, than sorry. If something poisons an entity in the food chain (wherever it is) then how do we know that won’t accumulate. Like aluminium in Alzheimer’s, lead – no longer to we have lead water pipes in the UK; mercury – again no longer in thermometers, uranium no longer used to paint watch dials. we need to work with nature not against it; question just how many children the world needs; how much ‘stuff’ do we need, and finally place appropriate values on all these. Sorry. more ranting. I have a task I am really dreading today and I think I’m more than a little grumpy in anticipation!!

    Like

  • Yvonne Hertzberger

    I think it will be some time yet before the jury is in on this one – but it IS clear that glyphosphate is toxic and dangerous to the environment, and by projection, to every kind of life. Monsanto would have us believe otherwise but there is a great deal of solid evidence already available. That is why many European countries have banned it.

    Like

    • acflory

      Good point, Yvonne. Just found this:
      “They concluded that, yes, glyphosate is probably carcinogenic to humans based on three strings of evidence, that is clear evidence of cancer in experimental animals, limited evidence for cancer for humans from real-world exposures, of exposed farmers, and also strong evidence that it can damage the genes from any kind of other toxicological studies.” Will try and find out more about how they think it may happen.

      Liked by 1 person

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