January 7 2015
If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. There should be a corollary to that rule, though: “if it sounds too bad to be true, it probably is.” If, like me, you’re active on social media, you’ve probably seen your friends posting a sensational story, likely from a “natural news” outlet touting a statement about the dangers of Monsanto and/or the pesticide Roundup, blaming it for any and every evil that has befallen the health of Americans over the last few decades. These sensationalists, with little applicable scientific background, claimed at a recent conference:
“At today’s rate, by 2025, one in two children will be autistic.” She [the presenter] noted that the side effects of autism closely mimic those of glyphosate toxicity, and presented data showing a remarkably consistent correlation between the use of Roundup on crops (and the creation of Roundup-ready GMO crop seeds) with rising rates of autism. Children with autism have biomarkers indicative of excessive glyphosate, including zinc and iron deficiency, low serum sulfate, seizures, and mitochondrial disorder.
A fellow panelist reported that after Dr. Seneff’s presentation, “All of the 70 or so people in attendance were squirming, likely because they now had serious misgivings about serving their kids, or themselves, anything with corn or soy, which are nearly all genetically modified and thus tainted with Roundup and its glyphosate.”
Fortunately, the Huffington Post has a surprisingly succinct takedown of the claims:
Here's the list of ills they blame, at least in part, on Roundup: inflammatory bowel disease, obesity, Alzheimer's, autism, anorexia, dementia, depression, Parkinson's, reproductive issues, liver diseases and cancer.
The evidence for these mechanisms, and their impact on human health, is all but nonexistent…
Samsel and Seneff [the presenters] didn't conduct any studies. They don't seem interested in the levels at which humans are actually exposed to glyphosate. They simply speculated that, if anyone, anywhere, found that glyphosate could do anything in any organism, that thing must also be happening in humans everywhere. I'd like to meet the "peers" who "reviewed" this.
And what of the claims that autism’s meteoric rise are due to our changing diets? Those who claim that correlation indicates causation won’t be a fan of the following chart, one of the best charts in the history of charts:
There are actual scientists working on explaining the rise in autism, and according to a new study conducted by JAMA Pediatrics,reported by Forbes, “almost two thirds of the increase in autistic Danish children results from how autism is diagnosed and tracked.” In other words, the rise is in diagnoses, not prevalence, of autism.
So parents, feel free to buy your family five non-organic apples for the price of one organic and be content knowing you have the evidence, and not just the economics, on your side.