Glyphosate, The World's Most-Used Herbicide (You've Never Heard Of), Explained
When I started to read articles (like this from the Daily News) about how trusted brands produce popular snacks that contain troubling levels of glyphosate, the world's most-used herbicide, I immediately called Partake’s grain suppliers to better understand their protocols for accepting and harvesting grains treated with glyphosate.
Quick pause: Are you as concerned as I am that there are concerning levels of herbicides (weed killers) in our food, and this isn’t more widely discussed? Let’s change that!
While I was relieved to learn Partake’s grain suppliers had "no glyphosate" processes in place, I wanted to take things a bit further and conduct testing on our finished goods. I am proud to say Partake is now officially the only packaged cookie on the market with Glyphosate Residue Free Certification, and through this, I aim to encourage transparency in the natural foods industry with the hope that glyphosate-free will become our new normal in the future.
To learn more about glyphosate, and share with you what I’ve learned and what we should know, I reached out to my friend Dr. Bojana Jankovic Weatherly, an award-winning physician who is double board certified in internal and integrative medicine. Her interest and knowledge about the dangers of glyphosate started as a result of her involvement with EWG (The Environmental Working Group). EWG is dedicated to protecting human health and the environment, and Bojana serves on their board. She also regularly speaks about environmental toxins and how to avoid them, so we asked her our most pressing questions about glyphosate. Read on for the informative Q&A with Bojana!
To begin, please tell us about your professional work and approach to nutrition.
I am a double board certified internal medicine and integrative medicine physician. I am also trained in functional medicine and have studied mindfulness-based stress reduction. While I was in medical training, I had no idea what integrative medicine and functional medicine were, and if they actually worked. I first turned to integrative modalities as a resident physician. I was pregnant twice during my residency training. At that time, I was working 6 days per week, and doing 30 hour shifts every 3-4 nights for a large part of my internal medicine residency. I was taking care of very sick patients, and it was hard to take care of my pregnancy simultaneously. On top of this, my baby was measuring very large and my OB/GYN brought up the possibility of a C-section.
I knew that these long hours, lack of sleep and work during the night could cause pregnancy complications. As a result, I reached a critical point of overwhelm and exhaustion and decided to take mine and my baby’s health into my own hands. I made a commitment that I would do everything in my power to live at my highest level of health. I started prenatal yoga classes, I started working with a birth doula, and started acupuncture and chiropractic treatments to prepare my body for this large baby. While doing these practices, my perspective on medicine started to shift. As I gave birth to two healthy babies naturally, I realized the profound effect that integrative healing methods have on the mind and body.
Two years later, I started my practice as a primary care physician. I started seeing patients, many of whom had inexplicable fatigue, difficulty losing weight, irritable bowel syndrome, thyroid problems, anxiety and depression. Many of them had suffered with symptoms for years, and I got curious. I wanted to figure out and address the root causes of my patients’ symptoms so they can live their healthiest, best life. I wanted to empower my patients the way I was empowered by my practitioners and I pursued an integrative medicine fellowship that was started by Dr. Andrew Weil, and pursued functional medicine training.
As I started to help my patients optimize their nutrition, reduce environmental toxin exposure, improve sleep, and master stress, they started to feel better. I was able to help patients get off of medications for anxiety, have more energy, improve or eliminate irritable bowel symptoms, lose weight and reduce high blood sugars and their high blood pressure.
I now apply evidence-based modalities in internal and integrative medicine, through a root-cause lens, to help my patients live at their highest level of health. My practice is located in Manhattan.
For those reading who may not know what glyphosate residue is, can you explain it in layman's terms?
Glyphosate is an herbicide, a weed killer, used on genetically modified soy and corn. It is also used as a drying agent for oats, wheat and barley. It kills them so that they can be harvested earlier. It is also used in parks and golf courses, and has been found in water.
Are we eating this every day? How can we know, and how can we avoid it?
Unfortunately, there are plenty of opportunities for exposure to glyphosate. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) did a study and found it in many breakfast cereals and snack bars. This means that many children are exposed to it daily. We can reduce the amount of glyphosate we are consuming by avoiding genetically modified soy and corn, and making sure we only eat organic. I recommend reading EWG’s article and watching their video on glyphosate to learn more about it and EWG’s report on which breakfast cereals and snack bars have it.
Do we know the effects of glyphosate on mind and body health? What is some of the research that backs this up?
Glyphosate is classified as a probable carcinogen by the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer. It has been linked with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, a type of cancer, in multiple studies. Moreover, other pesticides have also been linked to adverse health effects. In fact, a study conducted in France found that out of almost 70,000 participants, those who ate organic foods had the lowest incidence of several types of cancers (including Breast, Colorectal, and Prostate Cancer, as well as Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma).
Glyphosate is also known to have anti-bacterial activity and it can affect the gut bacteria. The gut microbiome is the collection of bacteria in our gut that is correlated with virtually all of our body’s functions, has been associated with our immune system, and has implications in obesity, mental health, and many other associations.
Explain, from your perspective, why Glyphosate Residue-Free Certification is so important.
It’s important to know how to avoid this probable carcinogen. As a mom and a physician, I do not feel comfortable giving my kids cereal that is contaminated with glyphosate. The other point to keep in mind is that there are at least dozens of chemicals that we are exposed to daily (e.g. through food, water, personal care products, food packaging, children’s toys, etc.) and we still don’t have a full understanding of how these chemicals can act synergistically to promote disease. Until we have a better understanding of this, my philosophy is to avoid as many known toxins as possible. EWG is an excellent resource for this.
Thank you to Bojana for the wealth of information shared and for helping Partake spread this important message.
If you’d like more information about glyphosate, you can also visit here. Please feel free to share this article with your loved ones, especially parents, since children are the most vulnerable to glyphosate exposure.