The most recent study on genetically modified foods, shows that long-term consumption of the herbicide Roundup and Roundup tolerant GM corn (maize) may cause hormonal imbalance. The evidence is mounting; genetically modified food crops may be a cause of infertility.
If the case of fertility, both estrogen and testosterone are key players. These hormones are imperative to proper reproductive function in both men and women. Higher levels of estrogen were shown to be a result of rats fed Roundup alone in their water, rats fed corn sprayed with Roundup and/or corn genetically altered to tolerate Roundup spraying. Across the world images of the rats were displayed, showing huge mammary tumors. These images sent shock waves across the world. This study has prompted protests against GMO worldwide. Check out the findings on altered hormonal balance in the rats as published in the study below:
Note: GM stands for genetically modified and R stands for Roundup
…in females the androgen/estrogen balance in serum was modified by GM maize and R treatments (at least 95% confidence level, Fig. 5B), and for male animals at the highest R-treatment dose, levels of estrogens were more than doubled…
…These tumors are generally known to be mostly estrogen-dependent (Harvell et al., 2000). We observed a strikingly marked induction of mammary tumors by R alone, a major formulated pesticide, even at the very lowest dose administered. R has been shown to disrupt aromatase which synthesizes estrogens (Richard et al., 2005), but to also interfere with estrogen and androgen receptors in cells (Gasnier et al., 2009). In addition, R appears to be a sex endocrine disruptor in vivo, also in males (Romano et al., 2010). Sex steroids are also modified in treated rats. These hormone-dependent phenomena are confirmed by enhanced pituitary dysfunction in treated females. An estrogen modified feedback mechanism may act at this level (Popovics et al., 2011; Walf and Frye, 2010). The similar pathological profiles pro- voked by the GM maize containing R residues may thus be explained at least by R residues themselves, knowing that the medium dose of the R treatment corresponds to acceptable levels of this pesticide residues in GMOs.
What are we left to think and do after reviewing such a study? Many in the scientific community have spoken out about this study, saying that it is poorly done, but most all agree it does warrant further longer-term studies on the health implication of GM foods and Roundup use for food crops. The recent study prompted the largest healthcare organization in the U.S., Kaiser Permanente, to release warnings to limit consumption of GM foods. Their partners in health Northwest Fall 2012 newsletter stated:
GMOs have been added to our food supply since 1994, but most people don’t know it because the United States does not require labeling of GMOs. As of 2012, most corn, soybeans, canola, cotton, and sugar beets are genetically modified. Nearly 80 percent of processed food and most fast food contain GMOs.
Despite what the biotech industry might say, there is little research on the long-term effects of GMOs on human health. Independent research has found several varieties of GMO corn caused organ damage in rats. Other studies have found that GMOs may lead to an inability in animals to reproduce.
This newsletter is not yet available online, but you can see at reference #8 at the end of the article.
Back to the elevated estrogen levels in the rats. We already know that estrogen dominance is a leading cause of a variety of fertility issues, including low sperm count, endometriosis, uterine fibroids, PCOS and ovulation disorders. Not only that, 3 studies in the past 2 years have come out showing that rising estrogen levels are causing young girls to begin puberty at an earlier age than ever documented in history. A study published in Pediatrics in 2011 found that in the United States alone, 15% of girls begin puberty by age 7. With breast development beginning at a younger age as well. Exposure to any chemicals, foods, or substances that increase estrogen levels unnaturally may lead to widespread fertility problems for future generations. Don’t think that males are immune, exposure to elevated estrogen levels can alter sperm health, count and liver function.
As if hormonal balance wasn’t enough, the rats also suffered liver and kidney damage. The liver and kidneys are needed for a variety of bodily functions including hormone metabolization, toxin filtration, blood pressure regulation and removal of waste products from the body. Poor liver health has been linked to causing hormonal imbalance and toxin overload.
Roundup, GMO and Our Food
Roundup is an herbicide. Many crops have been made to resist glyphosate, the main ingredient in Roundup. Monsanto, who makes Roundup, calls these seed crops Roundup Ready. Roundup tolerant crops include the top most consumed foods in the world over, including soy, corn, sugar beets, cottonseed oil and canola oil. These are the top food crops that are used to not only feed humans, but livestock as well. So not only does consumption of GM foods affect humans, it affects animals as well; animals we also choose to eat. GM feed and Roundup exposure is most common in poultry, beef and pork.
Roundup has been used since the 1970s to kill annual broadleaf weeds and grasses that compete with these food crops. Roundup Ready plants resist glyphosate, preventing their death, while the weeds around them die off. To date there have been no long-term studies on animals, to show the safety of GM food crops or regular consumption of foods regularly sprayed with Roundup, except this most recent study. Roundup also contains surfactants, similar to those in shampoo, liquid soap, ect. Surfactants are there to permeate the outer layer of the leaves of plants, so the glyphosate can be absorbed into the plant. These surfactants have been shown to cause cell death. Typically a person using surfactants via soaps, ect. uses them on the outside of the body, where the skin protects the inner body, but what if you are ingesting these surfactants through Roundup residue on produce? Roundup is not meant to be eaten. Just another reason to choose organic produce!
According to the Organic Consumers Association, Monsanto is currently urging the United States Congress to pass a law allowing GE crops to be planted, even when other courts have ruled that the USDA has approved them illegally. Federal courts have ruled and recognized that consumers and farmers alike have the right to grow and consume non-GMO foods. Monsanto is trying to implement a new law that would render the past ruling meaningless.
Protect Your Fertility: Avoid Consuming GM Foods
Knowledge is power. If you know the facts, you are more likely to avoid unhealthy food choices. An attitude of “I don’t care” has to stop. Be concerned about your health and the health of your children.
Tips for Avoiding GM foods:
Know how to read food labels
Do not consumed processed boxed foods that contain corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, processed sugar, fillers, soybean oil, cottonseed oil, canola oil, artificial flavors or colors. If you are not sure if a produce item is organic or not, learn the difference in labels.
Know which foods are GMO
- Sugar beets
- Farm raised Salmon
Currently the only foolproof way to avoid GMO is to eat organic. Try to eat organic whenever possible! The most important foods to eat organic are:
- Commercially raised meat; poultry, beef, pork (anything raised in a non-organic feedlot)
- Dairy products
- Sweet bell peppers
- Imported grapes
The easiest and best thing you can do for your fertility is eat organic whole foods, as close to their natural state as possible! Furthermore, avoid use of Roundup on your lawn and gardens. Your choices impact the health of the entire world. Want more information on the health implications of GMO and fertility? Read our article Research Indicates That GMO Could Be a Cause of Infertility article!
1. Please cite this article in press as: Séralini, G.-E., et al. Long term toxicity of a Roundup herbicide and a Roundup-tolerant genetically modified maize. Food Chem. Toxicol. (2012), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.fct.2012.08.005
6. Bell, L. Early Arrival: Premature puberty among girls poses scientific puzzle. Science News. December 1, 2012; Vol.182 #11.
7. Konkel L. Early puberty? Girls exposed to household chemical menstruate earlier, CDC study finds. August 2012.
8. Newman, AA. A Younger Group for Feminine Products. New York Times Advertising Section. April 14, 2011.