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GMOs & Glyphosate - What Are They?

I have been seeing more and more research on the health challenges associated with consuming GMO ladened foods. This topic is complex and it certainly can complicate our food choices even further. However, I feel I need to bring some insight around this topic.

Brandy Zender, Santa Barbara Health Coach, Santa Barbara Nutrition

What are GMO's? GMO stands for Genetically Modified Organism, which means that the genetic makeup of the plant or animal in question has been scientifically altered. The process of creating a GMO entails scientists locating a gene in one organism which has characteristics that are desired in another. The gene is then extracted, copied, and inserted into the genome of the new organism, so that the desired traits are then present in the new host.

What is Glyphosate? Glyphosate is a chemical compound that works as an herbicide, or weed killer. Monsanto patented the chemical and began selling its glyphosate herbicide under the trade name Roundup in 1974. Many farmers use glyphosate products in their fields and orchards. *Glyphosate can also now be found in our drinking water.

What is the GMO & Glyphosate Connection? Glyphosate, the most commonly used pesticide in the world, is notably used in the production of dozens of GMO crops (Roundup ready crops). So, where you find GMO food - you will oftentimes find very high glyphosate residue. Whether you realize it or not, there's a good chance you eat GMO foods every single day. The Grocery Manufacturer's Association estimates that 70 to 80 percent of our food contains genetically modified ingredients.

The Non-GMO Project lists alfalfa, canola, corn, cotton, papaya, soy, sugar beet, yellow summer squash and zucchini, animal products, microbes, and enzymes all as high-risk products for GMOs. Since many of those foods are used to make ingredients, like soybean oil or sugar or cornstarch, - their potential to infiltrate the food supply is huge.


What are the health implications?

Research is showing long-term health effects for glyphosate are listed as: cancer, liver and kidney damage, reproductive and developmental issues. Some scientists are concerned that pregnant women and children may have higher risks. Additionally, Glyphosate exposure can result in an increase in intestinal permeability, also known as leaky gut. We know from our previous series on Autoimmunity that leaky gut can set the stage for autoimmunity development.

Research on GMOs' health implications show: - The process of genetic modification (changes the plant's DNA) can create or increase allergens, toxins, and anti-nutrients. - GMOs use Herbicides (glyphosate). The World Health Organization lists it as "probably carcinogenic." - Bt toxin is an insecticide produced within most GMO corn grown in the U.S. to kill insects. According to research, the toxin may increase the allergenic and carcinogenic compounds in corn. - Controversial, however there are indications GMO & Glyphosate are affecting honey bees, butterflies and other pollinators.

Researchers have seen an increase in the following health conditions starting after the introduction of GMOs in 1996: Chronic illness, Food allergies, Reproductive disorders, AutismDigestive problems. This includes the increase in Americans with 3-or more chronic illnesses, which leapt by 6% in just 9-years following the introduction of GMOs. More research needs to be done in this area, but the correlation is hard to ignore.

Pediatrician Dr. Michelle Perro MD., is recognized as one of the top pediatricians in America many years in a row and she wrote the book 'What’s Making Our Children Sick'. She saw that soon after GMOs were introduced into the food supply, significant changes appeared in the health patterns of the children in her practice. As a result, she started the children and their families on organic diets and noticed some great changes for the better in their health markers.

What can we do about it?

I have been living a clean lifestyle for over 25 years and have always been up on the research and made the switches and swaps as new research is available. With that said, I tested my children's level of glyphosate (via urine test) last fall and was shocked and highly concerned at their high levels. There is no doubt this has played a role in my daughter's autoimmunity. Despite our already organic diet, I have had to deep dive and look for hidden sources of GMOs & Glyphosate.


Action Steps: 1. Buy 100% organic and Non-GMO Project certified foods. Admittedly finding enough Non-GMO certified products can be really hard and that is where I got my kids in trouble. We need to be gluten free - many of those products contain ingredients or substrates that are GMO based. For example - most corn products, most soy products, canola oil, baking powder, oats, ect...come from GMO roundup ready crops. 2. Eat Fresh and shop at your local farmers market. Many local farmers are committed to GMO-free. 3. Begin growing a small garden with your kids. 4. Check Costco - surprisingly they carry many organic options. 5. Limit processed foods (chips, cereals, food bars). 6. Avoid the foods shown with high levels of glyphosate (2 resources below independently test standard foods and provide their levels) Example: cheerios show some of the highest levels of glyphosate. 7. Check your tap water. (simple at home test can be found in our Nourish Shop) Having to layer in GMO-Free products, can complicate your diet approach. I know because I am in these shoes. Additionally not everyone can afford to eat this way and that is not ok. Everyone should have access to safe food and water! Let's continue to be educated and vote with our dollar and demand better!

Did you know?

Did you know you can test your urine for glyphosate? If you would like to deep dive and see your levels or those of your family - reach out. We love to test.



1. Check out where GMO are banned: Click here

2. Check out foods that tested high in glyphosate: Click here

3. Glyphosate high in water supply: Click here

Visit these resources to check out which standard foods you eat may be high in glyphosate. (responsibletechnology/org, Grow half your food in your backyard (thegrownetwork/com) Resources: responsibletechnology/org,, PMC3791249, PMC3945755, PMC5486281


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