The genetically modified “Roundup Ready” soybean by Monsanto was approved in the US in 1995. This modification made soybean plants resistant to glyphosate, the company’s patented herbicide. In what was considered a boon to food production, farmers could now spray an herbicide on their soybean crops to kill surrounding weeds without harming the soybean plants.
Glyphosate kills normal plants by inhibiting a specific shikimate enzyme pathway. This pathway in plants, fungi and bacteria synthesizes essential amino acids tyrosine, tryptophan and phenylalanine – humans cannot produce these essential nutrients. We rely exclusively on nature to make them.
Early on, it was assumed that because humans do not have a shikimate enzyme pathway, we would be little impacted by the herbicide. It turns out, though, that bacteria in the human gut do have this pathway. And so, ingesting glyphosate will disrupt or destroy gut bacteria thereby interfering with digestion and promoting dysbiosis. According to a 2020 study in the Journal of Hazardous Materials, “54% of the human core gut bacterial species are potentially sensitive to glyphosate.”
In the US, “280 million pounds of glyphosate are applied to an average of 298 million acres of crop land annually.” Farmers will spray glyphosate on fields to kill weeds prior to sowing and to desiccate crops just before harvest. Glyphosate is used in the production of corn, canola, wheat, and more.
Patients seeking optimal wellness should be advised to avoid consuming these foods unless they are organic. Some patients with sensitivities to these foods will better tolerate organic variety, but this is not typical for true food allergy.
Another consequence of the ubiquitous application of glyphosate is the emergence of glyphosate-resistant plants. Farmers have responded by applying more of the herbicide.
Glyphosate is used by farmers in Canada and the US. It is banned in Austria, Luxembourg and Germany is phasing it out. There are calls to ban it in the UK.