There has been an increase in the number of people who cannot tolerate gluten. Unlike corn and soy, wheat is not a genetically engineered crop (“GMO”). Some people find that they can eat wheat without problems when they go abroad, but cannot eat it in the US. Why might these things be so? Some have alleged that gluten intolerance is a result of Round Up use. But wheat is not one of the GMO crops designed to tolerate Round Up. First, a bit of background on GMOs and Round Up.
There has been a fair amount of debate about the safety of GMO crops and the right of consumers to decide for themselves. There is evidence that GMO foods themselves cause problems in nature. The very reason for these GMO foods is to make them “Round Up ready.” Round Up is a herbicide (kills weeds) that can be used if the crops are genetically engineered to tolerate it. This makes farming easy. There are no weeds and harvesting is therefore easier. But at what cost? And who profits? Monsanto sells both Round Up and GMOs that are Round Up ready. They were recently joined by Dow chemical. Those of us who remember the Vietnam War also remember stories of Agent Orange. Though it was developed by Dow, it was also manufactured by our friend Monsanto. We will soon be able to enjoy foods that tolerate an defoliant present in Agent Orange. Further, we will now have two industrial giants in the game.
It is interesting that in the process of writing this article, when I did a search of “Glyphosate Round Up health effects,” the first article in the list was an extensive study that showed that there were no health effects due to glyphosate exposure. Many possible effects were studied. It is possible to demonstrate “no effects” if a study is not of sufficient duration because some effects take a while to manifest. If you do the same search, “glyphosate Round Up health effects,” you will find a very different story on www.foodandwaterwatch.org.
Monsanto and many large food companies (for example, General Mills) have invested lots of money to avoid labeling requirements for foods containing GMOs. While there is evidence that GMO’s harm ecosystems (at the very least, they deprive the soil of the beneficial effects of weeds, nature’s way of making soil healthier and more able to support the growth of crops for human food), it is good to keep in mind the very purpose of GMOs — to make the crop Round Up ready. If the crop is Round Up ready, then you can be pretty certain that Round Up was also used in growing it.
Enough background. As it turns out, it is easier to harvest wheat if Round Up is applied shortly before harvesting. The leaves shrivel up and the grain is much easier to capture from the stem. So even though wheat is not GMO, we can enjoy the use of Round Up at even higher than what-has-become-normal concentrations in our food. Though some contamination will be removed during processing of the wheat seeds, it is interesting to note that the number of people who cannot tolerate wheat is skyrocketing.
On a recent trip to Pakistan, I learned that Monsanto has a rapidly growing market there. Thanks to the generosity of a well-known Pakistani politician, there is now a clinic in the Lahore area where you can get free treatments for cancer. Two thirds of the patients there are children. Are the cancers caused by Round Up? I cannot answer that question. Western junk food abounds and much of it is eaten by children. Perhaps other substances are the cause, or perhaps it is other substances, in combination with Round Up. How many children will undergo the horrors of chemotherapy before we know for sure?
What can you do? First, if you must eat wheat, buy organic. If you can’t buy organic, eat white bread rather than whole wheat. You should get less Round Up that way. Write to your Congressional Representative and your Senator. Write to your favorite food companies. Educate your friends and family.