Glyphosate from Roundup causing soil problems in No-Till agriculture

In a recent article published for the agricultural No-Till system specialists were recommended to reduce use of the GM crops that are designed to use the herbicide Round-Up which contains glyphosate by rotating non Round-Up crops with the GM Round-Up ready crops. Research findings suggest the chemical glyphosate is remaining in the soil longer than expected, over years of time, and collecting to levels that seem to support increased fungal pathogens. Some types of healthy strains of bacteria that would typically help protect the soil environment from the harmful strains of fungi are being negatively affected by the glyphosate. Some crops are also beginning to be affected by the increased saturation of glyphosate within the soil.

See “Glyphosate & GM Crops are Harming No-Till Soils,”, Jan. 10, 2018, for more detail.

The fungi that may be promoted by increased concentrations of glyphosate may include Fusarium strains which can affect large percentages of a crop causing a large financial loss to the farmer. The effect has been noted in Canadian research: Monsanto’s Roundup Spreading Fusarium Fungus,

Some of the fungal strains may be a risk to farm workers exposed to dusty air that contains the fungal spores and protective masks were recommended. Symptoms might result in a persistent cough and testing and a diagnosis of fungal growth in the lungs is not typical. Beneficial types of fungus in the soil that also help prevent growth of the harmful strains may also be negatively effected by glyphosate. People consuming foods with glyphosate residue would not be at risk to dust in a farm field in the same way that a farm worker is at risk however increased health complaints in farm workers and people living near by may be a concern in areas with increased agricultural use of glyphosate/Roundup.

“Few cases of Aspergillus lung infections resulting in death have been recorded, but possibly only because pneumonia, asthma or viral infections are assumed to be the cause of death when respiratory failure occurs. A fungus growing in the lungs has not been considered as a cause of death by most physicians. Nor does death always occur, as the Aspergillus niger mold growing in the lungs might just cause a persistent cough and respiratory discomfort.”

– Read more: Dust Study is There More to the Story on GMO’s?, Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance,

What would be less easy to determine is if eating a diet that contains a greater concentration of glyphosate is increasing the internal percentage of pathogenic strains of fungi over more benign bacteria and fungi. Our intestines and bodies benefit from a healthy balance of bacteria as they create some important nutrients and more digestible forms of some types of carbohydrate starches from less digestible types of plant fiber.

There has been an increase in asthma (7% in 2001 to 8% in 2009, and an increase in deaths due to respiratory problems in the U.S. between 1980 and 2014:

“From 1980 through 2014, more than 4.6 million Americans died from a range of chronic respiratory illnesses, the researchers reported. While the risk was pegged at 41 deaths for every 100,000 people back in 1980, it rose to nearly 53 out of every 100,000 by 2014, representing a nearly 31 percent spike over 35 years.”

Read more: Respiratory  Disease Death Rates Have Soared, Sept. 29, 2017,

More information about respiratory and other types of illnesses associated with Aspergillus fungi and current treatment options is available here: .

The tips for avoiding glyphosate residue in food is not something anyone is likely going to be happy about – eat organically grown foods. Animal products from animals fed crops that were grown with RoundUp may also have glyphosate residue as chemically it may be similar enough to an amino acid that is incorporated into proteins throughout the body.

A summary of the main GM crops grown with glyphosate and a timeline for when use was significantly increased in the U.S.:

Avoid processed foods, as most contain ingredients made from crops on which Roundup was used as an herbicide or as a drying agent. Foods made from ‘organic’ ingredients may also contain residue of glyphosate or Roundup; but screening of food samples has found less glyphosate in organic samples than in commercially grown samples; and individuals who have switched to a diet containing only organically grown food were found to have a drop in the level of glyphosate measured in their specimen samples (blood or urine) that were taken before and after switching to the organic diet for several weeks (posts with more info: glyphosate levels in test samples and subjectsGlyphosate, a consensus statementSome tips for reducing dietary exposure to glyphosate or to replace nutrients it effects negatively; and an update on the post with dietary tips).

Soy, corn and cottonseed oil all may be sources of increased amounts of glyphosate residue since use of the chemical increased in the late 1990’s with the introduction of crops genetically modified to be resistant to the herbicide Roundup which contains glyphosate also has other ingredients which in combination seem to be even more of a health risk than safety tests suggest glyphosate is on its own as a single chemical hazard.

Disclaimer: Opinions are my own and the information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes.

1996, the year GM crops were planted commercially

Genetically modified crops were introduced commercially in 1996. Advantages were to include more resistance to pests and less need for herbicides however the pests and weeds have become resistant to the modifications. [1] We don’t really  know the long term effects of the foods on human health.

A disadvantage of the modified corn is that the grain itself was modified to produce internally a chemical harmful to pests. Bt corn produces a protein derived from the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis. The Bt protein content of pollen from the GM corn was found to be harmful enough to negatively impact the larval stage of Monarch butterflies in areas adjacent to corn fields. [2] Typically a pesticide is applied to the exterior of a food and is removed before eating by washing or peeling the food. Clearly a modified grain that forms a pesticide within the food itself has disadvantages in that peeling or washing can’t remove the pesticide from the food. So in 1996 an interesting experiment was begun with the food supply and it is still taking place.

The following link is to an animated map which shows the increasing rates of obesity in the US between 1985 and 2010. [3] The animation is a little fast over the 25 year time span but it can be seen that more categories had to be added during the 1990s when the map changed from mostly pale blue (10-14%), to dark blue (15-19%), and to peach (20-24%), around the year 2000, and then advanced to orange (25-29%) around 2007, and finally red (>30%). The overall rate for 2011-2012 was 34.9%. [4]

We had sugary foods throughout the 1900’s but we didn’t have Bt corn as 76% of the corn crop [5] or other genetically modified foods. Not enough is known about autoimmune and fertility risks that may be associated with Bt corn or other genetically modified crops. [6] Gliadin, one of the types of protein in wheat, may be associated with an autoimmune type of diabetes [7] as well as the autoimmune condition of Celiac disease.[8]

/Update, 11/3/2017 – the Roundup herbicide which contains glyphosate and which is frequently used with genetically modified crops and some other crops, may also be affecting physiology in a way that increases risk of weight gain and high blood sugar due to inhibition of CYP enzymes. This is still considered hypothetical rather than proven information however – more research is needed.

/Disclaimer: Opinions are my own and  the information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes./