Baking Soda (NaHCO3) is one of the most useful substances to keep handy at home...
Sodium bicarbonate or sodium hydrogen carbonate is a white solid crystalline that often appears as a fine powder. It has a slightly salty, alkaline taste resembling that of washing soda sodum carbonate. It is a component of the mineral Natron and is found dissolved in many mineral springs. The natural mineral form is known as nacholite. It is found in its dissolved form in bile, where it serves to neutralize the acidity of the hydrocloric acidproduced by the stomach, and is excreted into the duodenum of the small intestine via the bile duct. It is also produced artificially.
Since it has long been known and is widely used, the salt has many related names such as baking soda, bread soda, cooking soda, bicarbonate of soda. Colloquially, its name is shortened to sodium bicarb, bicarb soda, or simply bicarb. The word saleratus, from Latin sal æratus meaning "aerated salt", was widely used in the 19th century for both sodium bicarbonate and potassium bicarbonate. The term has now fallen out of common usage.
The ancient Egyptians used natural deposits of natron, a mixture consisting mostly of sodiuma carbonatedecahydrate and sodium bicarbonate. The natron was used as a cleansing agent like soap.
In 1791, a French chemist, Nicolas Leblanc, produced sodium carbonate, also known as soda ash. In 1846 two New York bakers, John Dwight and Austin Church, established the first factory to develop baking soda from sodium carbonate and carbon dioxide.
Sodium bicarbonate is primarily used in baking where it reacts with other components to release carbon dioxide, that helps dough rise. The acidic compounds that induce this reaction include phosphates, cream of tartar, lemon juice, yogurt, buttermilk, cocoa, vinegar, etc. Sodium bicarbonate can be substituted for baking powder provided sufficient acid reagent is also added to the recipe. Many forms of baking powder contain sodium bicarbonate combined with one or more acidic phosphates (especially good) or cream of tartar. It can also be used for softening peas (⅛ tsp. per pint of water and bring to boil for one hour)
Thermal decomposition causes sodium bicarbonate alone to act as a raising agent by releasing carbon dioxide at baking temperatures. The mixture for cakes using this method can be allowed to stand before baking without any premature release of carbon dioxide.
Many laboratories keep a bottle of sodium bicarbonate powder within easy reach, because sodium bicarbonate is amphoteric, reacting with acids and bases. Furthermore, as it is relatively innocuous in most situations, there is no harm in using excess sodium bicarbonate. Lastly, sodium bicarbonate powder may be used to smother a small fire.
A wide variety of applications follows from its neutralization properties, including reducing the spread of white phosphorus from incendiary bullets inside an afflicted soldier's wounds. Sodium bicarbonate can be added as a simple solution for raising the pH balance of water (increasing total alkalinity) where high levels of chlorine (2-5 ppm) are present as in swimming pools and aquariums.
Sodium bicarbonate is used in an aqueous solution as an antacid taken orally to treat acid indigestion and heartburn. It may also be used in an oral form to treat chronic forms of metabolic acidosis such as chronic renal failure and renal tubular acidosis. Sodium bicarbonate may also be useful in urinary alkalinization for the treatment of aspirin overdose and uric acid renal stones.
An aqueous solution is sometimes administered intravenously for cases of acidosis, or when there are insufficient sodium or bicarbonate ions in the blood. In cases of respiratory acidosis, the infused bicarbonate ion drives the carbonic acid/bicarbonate buffer of plasma to the left and, thus, raises the pH. It is for this reason that sodium bicarbonate is used in medically supervised cardiopulmonary resuscitation. Infusion of bicarbonate is indicated only when the blood pH is marked (<7.1-7.0) low.
It is used as well for treatment of hyperkalemia. Since sodium bicarbonate can cause alkalosis, it is sometimes used to treat aspirin overdoses. Aspirin requires an acidic environment for proper absorption, and the basic environment diminishes aspirin absorption in the case of an overdose. Sodium bicarbonate has also been used in the treatment of tricyclic antidepressant overdose. It can also be applied topically as a paste, with three parts baking soda to one part water, to relieve insect bites.
Adverse reactions to the administration of sodium bicarbonate can include metabolic alkalosis, edema due to sodium overload, congestive heart failure, hyperosmolar syndrome, hypervolemic hypernatremia, and hypertension due to increased sodium. In patients who consume a high calcium or dairy-rich diet, calcium supplements, or calcium-containing antacids such as calcium carbonate (e.g., Tums), the use of sodium bicarbonate can cause milk-alkali syndrome, which can result in metastatic calcification, kidney stones, and kidney failure.
Sodium bicarbonate is also used as an ingredient in some mouthwashes. It works as a mechanical cleanser on the teeth and gums, neutralizes the production of acid in the mouth and also as an antiseptic to help prevent infections occurring.
Sodium bicarbonate can be used to cover an allergic reaction of poison ivy, oak, or sumac to relieve some of the itching that is associated with it (an alternative to buying hydrocortisone cream).
Sodium bicarbonate has also been used as a cure for gout.
A paste made from sodium bicarbonate and a 3% hydrogen peroxide solution can be used as an alternative to commercial non-fluoride toothpastes, and sodium bicarbonate in combination with other ingredients can be used to make a dry or wet deodorant. Sodium bicarbonate is a common ingredient in alternative and natural brands of toothpaste and deodorant.
Small amounts of sodium bicarbonate have been shown to be useful as a supplement for endurance athletes, but overdose is a serious risk.
A paste from baking soda can be very effective when used in cleaning and scrubbing. For cleaning aluminium objects, the use of sodium bicarbonate is discouraged as it attacks the thin unreactive protective oxide layer of this otherwise very reactive metal. A solution in warm water will remove the tarnish from silver when the silver is in contact with a piece of aluminium foil.
Baking soda is commonly added to the rinse cycles of washing machines (together with the detergent) as a replacement for softener and also to remove odors. Sodium bicarbonate is also effective in removing heavy tea and coffee stains from cups when diluted with warm water.
Sodium bicarbonate is sold as a cattelfeed supplement, in particular as a buffering agent for the rumen.
Sodium bicarbonate can be used to extinguish small grease or electrical fires by being thrown over the fire. However, it should not be applied to fires in deep fryers as it may cause the grease to splatter. Sodium bicarbonate is used in BC dry chemical fire extinguishers as an alternative to the more corrosive ammonium phosphate in ABC extinguishers. The alkali nature of sodium bicarbonate makes it the only dry chemical agent, besides Purple-K, that was used in large scale fire suppression systems installed in commercial kitchens. Because it can act as an alkali, the agent has a mild saponification effect on hot grease, which forms a smothering soapy foam. Dry chemicals have since fallen out of favor for kitchen fires as they have no cooling effect compared to the extremely effective wet chemical agents specifically designed for such hazards.
Sodium bicarbonate is used in a process for cleaning paint called sodablasting. It can be administered to pools, spas, and garden ponds to raise pH levels. It has disinfectant and antiseptic properties, and it may be an effective fungicide against some organisms.
Because it can be used to absorb odors, it is a tried-and-true method of used booksellers. The baking soda will absorb the musty smell, leaving the books less odorous.
Hungary Destroys All Monsanto GMO Corn Fields
(By Dr. Mercola) In March 2011, Hungary introduced a new regulation that states seeds must be checked for GMO before they are introduced to the market. However, some GMO seeds made it to the farmers without their being aware of it.
As a result, almost 1,000 acres of maize found to have been grown with genetically modified seeds have been destroyed throughout Hungary. The deputy state secretary of the Ministry of Rural Development Lajos Bognar said that the GMO maize has been ploughed under, and pollen has not spread from the maize.
"Unlike several EU members, GMO seeds are banned in Hungary. The checks will continue despite the fact that seed traders are obliged to make sure that their products are GMO free, Bognar said."
The United States, meanwhile, is beginning to see the consequences of widely planted GMOs. In the mid-'90s, Monsanto introduced seeds genetically engineered to withstand its Roundup brand of herbicide. Today, these "Roundup Ready" crops are planted all across the U.S. -- 94 percent of soybeans and more than 70 percent of corn and cotton contain the Roundup-resistant gene.
But when the land is dosed with a single herbicide for years on end, the ecosystems adapt. Roundup-defying "superweeds" are getting out of control. And the problem is only accelerating, because the resistant weeds are driving out their non-resistant counterparts.
According to Mother Jones:
"These weeds adapt faster and more vigorously than their weed cousins, choking fields and clogging irrigation ditches so badly water can't pass through."
The news that Hungary recently destroyed nearly 1,000 acres of corn crops because they were found to be mistakenly grown with genetically modified (GM) seeds should be a major wake-up call to anyone in the United States and elsewhere who believes GM (genetically modified) crops are harmless. The discovery that the farmland was planted with GM seeds came when the season was already underway, so the harvest has been completely lost for this year.
What would prompt the Hungarian government to take such a drastic step?
Perhaps it is the fact that GM crops simply cannot be contained, and inevitably will contaminate the environment with GM DNA. Or it could be that they do not want superweeds, triggered by the overuse of Roundup herbicide on GM Roundup Ready crops, overtaking their farmland the way they are now doing in the United States. Then again, it could be the unknown threats to human health -- and the fact that new research shows toxins from GM crops are now appearing in human blood -- that made them think twice.
Either way, they are clearly well educated about the dangers of GM foods … which is a lesson the U.S. government still needs to learn.
GM corn, soybeans, canola, and sugar beets have made their way into approximately 80 percent of current U.S. processed grocery store items, now that up to 90 percent of several U.S.-grown crops are grown with genetically engineered seed. So if you live in the United States, you have most certainly already been exposed to GM foods -- most likely a lot of them. So it may make you angry, or at least curious, to know that in Hungary, the government just destroyed crops that were grown with GM seeds and plowed the corn under so the pollen could not spread.
You see, GM seeds are banned in Hungary, as they are in several other European countries, such as Germany and Ireland. These countries have chosen NOT to allow their people to be used as guinea pigs in a massive experiment on the food supply, which is essentially what the introduction of GM crops is. Although Monsanto, the world leader in GM seeds, insists that GM foods are no different from conventionally grown varieties, the research in existence begs to differ. Here is just a sampling of the unsavory findings associated with GM foods:
|GM peas caused lung damage in mice||Offspring of rats fed GM soy showed a five-fold increase in mortality, lower birth weights, and the inability to reproduce|
|GM potatoes may cause cancer in rats||Male mice fed GM soy had damaged young sperm cells|
|Bacteria in your gut can take up DNA from GM food||The embryo offspring of GM soy-fed mice had altered DNA functioning|
|GM foods lead to significant organ disruptions in rats and mice, specifically the kidney, liver, heart and spleen||Several U.S. farmers reported sterility or fertility problems among pigs and cows fed on GM corn varieties|
|Bt corn caused a wide variety of immune responses in mice, commonly associated with diseases such as arthritis, Lou Gehrig's disease, osteoporosis, and inflammatory bowel disease||Investigators in India have documented fertility problems, abortions, premature births, and other serious health issues, including deaths, among buffaloes fed GM cottonseed products|
There are movements underway around the globe pressuring governments for a moratorium on untested GM seeds and foods, yet the United States is giving Monsanto free reign, aiding and abetting their agenda -- even though most Americans do not want GMOs.
But the U.S. government is plowing ahead, and allowing virtually all of Monsanto's GM crops and related chemicals to call the United States their home, despite minimal testing and widespread concern. Most recently, the USDA approved planting of GM alfalfa, the fourth-largest crop in the United States, without restriction, despite massive opposition and serious concerns that its potential to cross-pollinate and transfer genetic material is very high, if not guaranteed.
Because it's a natural forage for pastured (organically raised grass-fed) animals, contamination would be disastrous for organic dairy- and cattle farmers, as federal organic standards forbid them from using GM crops (not to mention Monsanto's history of suing both conventional and organic farmers for patent infringement should their crops be cross-contaminated). This could essentially make true "organic" food, which by definition should be GM-free, a virtual impossibility.
If you're wondering why the United States leads the world in GM crop acreage, it's because the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the FDA are heavily influenced by Monsanto, which spends millions of dollars lobbying the U.S. government for favorable legislation that supports the spread of their toxic products every year. In the first quarter of 2011 alone, Monsanto spent $1.4 million on lobbying the federal government – and this was a drop from a year earlier, when they spent $2.5 million during the same quarter.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the USDA, and the U.S. Trade Representative all have a special set of revolving doors leading straight to Monsanto, which has allowed this transnational giant to gain phenomenal authority and influence.
One of the consequences of this cozy relationship is now surfacing as superweeds make their way across the Midwest. Massive acreage of soybeans, cotton, and corn grown in the United States contain the GM Roundup Ready gene -- and all of these crops receive numerous applications of Monsanto's Roundup each and every year.
But Roundup is proving to be no match for Mother Nature. It's estimated that more than 130 types of weeds spanning 40 U.S. states are now herbicide-resistant, and the superweeds are showing no signs of stopping.
As Mother Jones reported:
" … in what is surely the least surprising, most-anticipated major development in the history of US agriculture, farmers are discovering that when you spend years dousing land [with] a single herbicide, ecosystems adapt. Roundup Ready crops, meet Roundup-defying weeds.
… the USDA openly acknowledges the superweed problem and even delivered a pretty good explainer on it in its environmental impact statement on Roundup Ready alfalfa. Yet it keeps deregulating or choosing not to regulate at all new Roundup Ready crops, all of them quite widely planted.
This year alone, the agency has green-lighted Roundup Ready versions of alfalfa (a major cow feed); sugar beets (source of half of US sugar), and most recently, Kentucky bluegrass (popular lawn turf). These dubious USDA decisions will likely bring millions more acres—including lawns, parks, and golf courses near you—under the Roundup Ready domain."
On a slightly brighter note, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is finally looking into the damaging effects of glyphosate (the key ingredient in Roundup) on humans and the environment and plans to make a decision regarding its future by 2015. At that time, Roundup could either continue to be used as it is now, be required to have some modifications to its use or be banned from use entirely in the United States.
If you do not live in Hungary or another country that is operating the precautionary principle regarding GM foods, it doesn't mean you have to be a helpless guinea pig in this giant experiment. In fact, the time to take action against them is now, as there are signs that consumer advocates are making a difference and public disclosure and debate is urgently needed.
For instance, on May 20, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a summary order in favor of farmers and consumer advocates, requiring the USDA to prepare a rigorous environmental study of the impacts of GM sugar beets. Once that review is done, the Court will decide whether GM sugar beets may be grown for commercial use. The USDA has estimated it will complete the Environmental Impact Statement sometime in 2012.
Organic farmers and food advocates are also fighting back with a lawsuit aimed at preventing GM alfalfa from being unleashed.
I believe the sooner you get involved, the sooner we will persevere and eliminate these toxic threats in the United States and other parts of the world. We will require loads of education to be effective, however, as many are still completely clueless about GM foods and have no idea that they're eating them every day, and have been eating them for years!
If you're eating CAFO (confined animal feeding operation) meats and processed foods that are not 100% USDA organic, you're eating GMO's. It's that simple. The answer is to buy organic, and/or look for foods that are "non-GMO certified" by the Non-GMO Project. For your convenience, download this Non-GMO Shopping Guide, and share it with everyone you know.
Although GM foods still do not require labeling by law, the campaign for GMO labeling is making progress, thanks to the persistence of Jeffrey Smith and the Institute for Responsible Technology, an organization whose goal is to end the genetic engineering of our food supply and the outdoor release of GM crops. If you like, you can join the fight by signing the petition to President Obama in support of mandatory labeling of GM foods.
By educating the public about the risks of GM foods through a massive education campaign, and by circulating the Non-GMO Shopping Guide so consumers can make healthier non-GMO choices, the Institute's plan is to generate a tipping point of consumer rejection to make GMOs a thing of the past. To keep up with the latest actions and developments on this important issue, you can follow my Mercola.com GMO page, as well as our Non-GMOs page on Facebook.
Fluoride, the Invisible IQ Lowering Drug Most Americans Consume Daily
August 5, 2011
(By Dr. Mercola) Fluoride has been been proven to cause serious health issues, including damage to your bones and teeth, as well as your kidneys, thyroid, pineal gland, and even your brain. Over 40 percent of all American teens between the ages of 12 and 15 show visible signs of having been overexposed to it and recent international studies indicate that even small doses of this drug can lower the IQ in children.
Many do not realize that fluoride is indeed a drug. In fact, if you decided you wanted to take it, you'd have to get a prescription for it. Yet it's added to municipal water supplies reaching more than 180 million Americans, including infants and the elderly. This is a significant problem, because once you add it to the water supply, you have no way of gauging how much of the drug any particular person will consume on any given day.
Consider this: It is illegal and unethical for a medical doctor to give you a drug without specifying dosage, and to fail to monitor your health for side effects from the drug. Yet, your water authority is not only allowed, but encouraged to add a toxic drug—fluoride—to your drinking water without your consent and without any way of knowing who in your household is drinking it, how much, and the effect it is having.
Water fluoridation began in the mid 1940's as a solution to fluoride pollution generated by the Atomic Bomb Program and the aluminum industry, but it was cleverly "sold" to dentists and the general masses as a preventive strategy for reducing tooth decay... It has been heralded as one of the top 10 greatest public health achievements of the 20th century.
Alas, it may actually be more accurate to describe it as one of the greatest mass poisonings in our history. Sodium fluoride, which is a far simpler toxin than the fluoride compounds used for most water fluoridation, has been used for rat and cockroach poisons, so there is no question that fluoride is highly toxic.
In a sane world, public health policy would be based on sound and conclusive science. Unfortunately, that is not the case when it comes to water fluoridation. In fact, despite overwhelming evidence demonstrating that fluoride is not an effective preventive strategy against tooth decay and may be causing significant health problems in many individuals, the practice of adding fluoride to municipal water supplies continues unabated. A majority, 64 percent, of all drinking water in the United States still receives this ill-advised treatment.
Why does this practice continue when it flies in the face of all the current research?
The answer to this question is just one of the countless shocking revelations featured in Professional Perspectives on Water Fluoridation. The film, which features a Nobel Laureate in Medicine, scientists, dentists, medical doctors, and leading researchers in the field, reveals the science behind fluoridation, the effects it has on your health, and why there is no logical or rational reason to continue fluoridating ANY water supply.
The only science that mildly supports the use of pharmaceutical-grade fluoride as a preventive against dental caries is topical use of fluoride (although even that is debatable, based on more recent findings). There is really no scientific basis at all for ingesting fluoride to protect your teeth! In fact, when fluoride is taken internally, it actually damages your teeth, causing a condition known as dental fluorosis; the pitting and discoloration of teeth. Today, 41 percent of American children between the ages of 12 and 14 have dental fluorosis. But that's not all. When you swallow, fluoride it can also cause:
|Weakened bones, and fatal bone cancer (osteosarcoma)||Impaired mental development, lowered IQ, and dementia||Gastrointestinal problems|
|Hyperactivity and/or lethargy||Arthritic symptoms||Kidney issues|
|Lowered thyroid function||Chronic fatigue||Disrupted immune system|
This is what the science is telling us about the ramifications of fluoride ingestion. And, yet, rather than taking the precautionary approach and stopping fluoridation until we know more, our policymakers continue to blindly forge ahead; refusing to give the scientific evidence the attention it deserves.
In November of 2006, the American Dental Association (ADA) sent out an email to alert its members of their recommendation to parents to not use fluoridated tap water to make infant formula.
Because an average glass of treated water contains 250 times more fluoride than breast milk. A few days later, the CDC followed suit. But neither of them openly informed the public!
As a result, millions of parents are still using tap water to make up formula, completely oblivious of the fact that the agencies that promote fluoridation in this country have also issued a specific warning against using fluoridated water for this purpose. Not only that, but by fluoridating the municipal water supply, you doom many low income families to fail to protect their young children from this dangerous drug, even if they have this information.
The evidence suggests that minorities and low-income families are being disproportionately harmed by water fluoridation, and two Atlanta Civil Rights leaders, Andrew Young and Reverend Dr. Gerald Durley, recently requested that Georgia legislators repeal the state's mandatory water fluoridation law based on this fact.
African American children have been found to consume significantly more total fluids and plain water, and thus receive more fluoride than white children. African American mothers are also less likely to breastfeed than most other racial groups, and since breast milk contains very low levels of fluoride, babies fed formula made with fluoridated water could receive up to 200 times more fluoride than a breast-fed baby. Thus African American children have a higher risk of being overexposed to fluoride from infancy on.
Knowledge is power, and you have the power to not only protect yourself, but also to help protect others once you know the truth. The United States is one of the few remaining developed countries in the world that still fluoridates a majority of its water supply.
Don't you agree that it's time for our policymakers to stop putting your and your family's health at risk? I strongly recommend viewing Professional Perspectives on Water Fluoridation. We can eliminate this harmful practice, but it's going to take people like you to make it happen—so please watch the film to get the cold hard facts, and share it with everyone you know.
The Fluoride Action Network has a game plan to end water fluoridation in both Canada and the United States, and this Fluoride Awareness Week will hopefully bring us a lot closer to that goal by spreading mass awareness. Our fluoride initiative will primarily focus on Canada since 60 percent of Canada is already non-fluoridated. A few weeks ago the city of Calgary stopped fluoridating over a million people and last October the citizens of Waterloo, Ontario voted it out in a referendum. If we can get the rest of Canada to stop fluoridating their water, we believe the U.S. will be forced to follow. Please, join the anti-fluoride movement in Canada and United States by contacting the representative for your area below.
Contact Information for Canadian Communities:
- If you live in Ontario, Canada, please join the ongoing effort by contacting Diane Sprules at email@example.com.
- The point-of-contact for Toronto, Canada is Aliss Terpstra. You may email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contact Information for American Communities:
We're also going to address three US communities: New York City, Austin, and San Diego:
- New York City, NY: With the recent victory in Calgary, New York City is the next big emphasis. The anti-fluoridation movement has a great champion in New York City councilor Peter Vallone, Jr. who introduced legislation on January 18 "prohibiting the addition of fluoride to the water supply." A victory there could signal the beginning of the end of fluoridation in the U.S. If you live in the New York area I beg you to participate in this effort as your contribution could have a MAJOR difference. Remember that one person can make a difference. The point person for this area is Carol Kopf, at the New York Coalition Opposed to Fluoridation (NYSCOF). Email her at NYSCOF@aol.com . Please contact her if you're interested in helping with this effort.
- Austin, Texas: Join the effort by contacting Rae Nadler-Olenick at either: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org, or telephone: (512) 371-3786
- San Diego, California: Contact Patty Ducey-Brooks, publisher of the Presidio Sentinel at email@example.com.
In addition, you can:
- Tell the EPA you expect them to uphold their duty to protect you and your children from this toxic food fumigant.
- Make a generous tax-deductible donation to the Fluoride Action Network, to help them fight for your rights to fluoride-free food and water.
- Check out FAN's Action Page, as they are working on multiple fronts to rid our food and water supplies of fluoride.
- For timely updates, join the Fluoride Action Network Facebook page.
50% of Rats die -- Why is it On Our Dinner Plate?
August 5, 2011 By Dr. Mercola
Genetically engineered crops have vastly increased the use of glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto's nonselective broad-spectrum herbicide Roundup, and this product alone is now wreaking unimaginable havoc in our environment.
The first report was recently issued on ambient levels of glyphosate and its major degradation product, aminomethylphosphonic acid (AMPA), in air and rain. Glyphosate is the most widely used herbicide in the U.S.
Weekly air particle and rain samples were collected during two growing seasons in agricultural areas in Mississippi and Iowa. Rain was also collected in Indiana. The frequency of glyphosate detection ranged from 60 to 100 percent in both air and rain.
According to the report, as linked on the website Green Med Info:
“The frequency of detection and median and maximum concentrations of glyphosate in air were similar or greater to those of the other high-use herbicides observed in the Mississippi River basin, whereas its concentration in rain was greater than the other herbicides.”
Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry March 2011; 30(3): 548-555
Green Med Info
I've often said that chemical exposure in our environment is a pervasive threat, and the report of the herbicide glyphosate being detected in 60 to100 percent of air and rain samples is a perfect illustration of this sad truth.
Evidence now clearly shows that glyphosate is devastating crops, animal and human health around the world, even when the exposure is restricted to residues leftover in the soil. Clearly, its presence in air and rain water can only add to its destructive force.
Glyphosate—The World's Most Popular Herbicide…
Genetically engineered crops have vastly increased the use of glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto's nonselective broad-spectrum herbicide Roundup, and this product alone is now wreaking unimaginable havoc in our environment. According to Jeffrey Smith with the Institute for Responsible Technology, by 2004 farmers used an estimated 86 percent more herbicides on GM soy fields compared to non-GM fields.
So-called "Roundup Ready" soybean, cotton and corn crops became exceedingly popular because it allows farmers to spray Monsanto's Roundup herbicide directly onto their fields without harming the crops. Ordinarily, if you were to spray Roundup, or any other glyphosate-based herbicide, onto a plant, it would rapidly die.
Since the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) stopped updating its pesticide use database in 2008, it's becoming increasingly difficult to estimate how much glyphosate is actually used in the US, but the following 2006-2007 market usage estimates were reported by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) earlier this year:
Ambient Levels of Glyphosate in Air and Rain
The results of the first report on the ambient levels of glyphosate and AMPA in air and rain water were published in the journal Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry in March. The samples were collected during two growing seasons in Mississippi and Iowa. Glyphosate was detected in 60 to 100 percent of all air and rain samples. The following concentration ranges of glyphosate were found:
According to the authors:
"It is not known what percentage of the applied glyphosate is introduced into the air, but it was estimated that up to 0.7 percent of application is removed from the air in rainfall. Glyphosate is efficiently removed from the air; it is estimated that an average of 97 percent of the glyphosate in the air is removed by a weekly rainfall ≥ 30 mm."
The Environmental Dangers of Glyphosate
A couple of years ago, a French court found Monsanto guilty of falsely advertising its herbicide as "biodegradable," "environmentally friendly" and claiming it "left the soil clean." The truth is that Roundup is anything BUT environmentally friendly. Monsanto's own tests showed that only two percent of the herbicide broke down after 28 days, which means it readily persists in the environment!
Glyphosate is the most commonly reported cause of pesticide illness among landscape maintenance workers in California, and researchers have now linked it to Sudden Death Syndrome (SDS), a serious plant disease, in many fields around the world. Numerous studies have also shown that glyphosate is contributing not only to the huge increase in SDS, but also to the outbreak of some 40 different plant and crop diseases! It weakens plants and promotes disease in a number of ways, including:
The herbicide doesn't destroy plants directly; instead, it creates a unique "perfect storm" of conditions that activates disease-causing organisms in the soil, while at the same time wiping out plant defenses against those diseases. So the glyphosate not only weakens plants, it actually changes the makeup of the soil and boosts the number of disease-causing organisms, which is becoming a deadly recipe for crops around the globe... A report from 1998 by the Environmental Monitoring & Pest Management Department of Pesticide Regulation on the environmental fate of glyphosate states that:
"Aerial drift of the herbicide will cause injury to nontarget plants… Minute quantities of mist, drip, drift or splash of glyphosate onto nontarget vegetation can cause severe damage or destruction to the plants or other areas on which treatment was not intended."
So, what exactly is being done to vegetation everywhere, now that both air and rain is clearly contaminated with glyphosate?
Potential Health Hazards of Glyphosate
Usually, whatever toxins lurk in the environment has a tendency to find its way into animals' bellies and onto your dinner plate, and this holds true for glyphosate as well. Some of the fungi promoted by glyphosate produce dangerous toxins that can end up in the food supply. Some of these have been linked to human toxicosis in Eastern Europe, esophageal cancer in southern Africa and parts of China, joint diseases in Asia and southern Africa, and a blood disorder in Russia.
A recent report from Earth Open Source has also revealed that Roundup herbicide not only causes birth defects, but that industry regulators have known this for years and did nothing about it. After reviewing industry studies and regulatory documents used to approve Roundup, they noted:
What Do We Know about AMPA?
Aminomethylphosphonic acid (AMPA) is a byproduct of the degradation of glyphosate, and no one seems to know what the full environmental- and health impacts might be from this synthetic metabolite. However, according to a 2008 study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, AMPA is phytotoxic to plant species, although it's less active than glyphosate. And the British Pesticide Properties DataBase (PPDB) lists it as being moderately toxic to fish, aquatic invertebrates and algae, and cites "probable liver and kidney toxicant" as a known human health issue.
Aside from those few nuggets, toxicology and safety data is glaringly absent.
This could spell trouble, depending on what the truth is about the health impact of this metabolite, as a previous report by the US Geological Survey, issued in 2007, found that AMPA was detected more frequently than glyphosate, and occurred at similar or higher concentrations than the parent compound.
Genetically Modified Crops May Contain Toxic Roundup Residues
It's widely known that genetically modified (GM) Roundup Ready crops contain Roundup residues, and a 2009 study demonstrated just how toxic these residues may be to your health... Even when researchers tested formulations of Roundup that were highly diluted (up to 100,000 times or more) on human cells, the cells died within 24 hours!
They also found damage to cell membranes and DNA, along with an inhibition of cell respiration. Further, the researchers discovered that the mixture of components used as Roundup adjuvants actually amplified the action of the glyphosate. The researchers wrote:
"This work clearly confirms that the adjuvants in Roundup formulations are not inert. Moreover, the proprietary mixtures available on the market could cause cell damage and even death around residual levels to be expected, especially in food and feed derived from Roundup formulation-treated crops."
Although Roundup isn't used exclusively on genetically modified (GM) crops, these crops are some of the most prevalent in the US diet. So to drastically reduce your exposure, avoiding GM foods would be an obvious starting point.
How Do You Know if You're Eating GM Foods?
According to the latest US Department of Agriculture (USDA) statistics, about 88 percent of all corn, 90 percent of all canola, and 94 percent all soy grown in the United States is genetically modified in one way or another (not all are the Roundup Ready variety), which means that virtually every processed food you encounter at your local supermarket that does not bear the "USDA Organic" label will contain one or more GM components.
Therefore, if you want to avoid GM foods (which have a variety of inherent health dangers over and above the hazards of Roundup residues), you'll want to, first and foremost, avoid most processed foods, unless it's labeled USDA 100% Organic. You can also avoid GM foods that are not found in processed foods, if you know what to look for. There are currently eight genetically modified food crops on the market:
Sugar from sugar beets
Cottonseed (used in vegetable cooking oils)
Some varieties of zucchini
Canola (canola oil)
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The potential health ramifications of these world-wide experiments with our food supply, using genetic engineering and vast amounts of toxic chemicals, are frightening to say the least. If you care about the health and future of your family, I strongly urge you to refuse to participate in this destructive trend.
In your own home, you can:
The True Food Shopping Guide is a great tool for helping you determine which food brands and products contain GM ingredients. It lists 20 different food categories that include everything from baby food to chocolate.
The simplest way to avoid GM foods however, is to buy whole, certified organic foods. By definition, foods that are certified organic must be free from all GM organisms, produced without artificial pesticides and fertilizers and from an animal reared without the routine use of antibiotics, growth promoters or other drugs. Additionally, grass-fed beef will not have been fed GM corn feed.
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