One of the most important things each of us can do to protect ourselves in today’s toxic and polluted is to make a commitment to having organically-grown foods form the bulk of our diet.  The number of untested chemicals that we are exposed to in the course of a day is staggering, and choosing organic foods grown without dangerous pesticides can go a very long way in reducing the total toxic burden carried by the body.

Glyphosate, a highly controversial chemical, is the main ingredient found in the weed killer Roundup and is the most widely used herbicide in the world . In the U.S.  Roundup  is used in over 150 food and non-food crops, particularly in corn, soy, wheat, sugar and cotton.  Glyphosate is a “non-selective herbicide”, meaning that it kills any plant it comes in contact with, whether that is a weed or a crop.  In order to withstand this killing effect, many crops have been genetically modified to be able to tolerate the Roundup application, so that farmers can apply as much as they like to kill weeds without worrying about killing the crop itself.  Glyphosate is also increasingly being used on lawns, gardens and in parks nationwide.  What this all means is that close to ten times the amount of glyphosate is currently being used as compared to levels present in the early to mid 90s.

Unfortunately, glyphosate has some potentially negative health effects on humans.  It has been categorized as a Group 2A “probable” carcinogen by the International Agency For Research, which oversees cancer research for the World Health Organization, and in particular has been implicated in the development of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.  It is banned in several countries around the world, but here in the U.S. the agricultural, chemical and biotech lobbies have pushed back hard, saying that glyphosate is perfectly safe, and the attempt to try to get its usage curtailed or stopped is an ongoing battle.  Little wonder, as there are billions of dollars at stake here.

Its also important to realize that you cannot wash glyphosate off, as when it is sprayed on a plant or crop,  it penetrates throughout and becomes systemic or part of the plant.   To take the example of corn:  genetically-modified corn has been found to contain 13ppm (parts per million) of glyphosate, compared to zero in organic, non-GMO corn.  13ppm is more than 18 times what is considered “safe” by the Environmental Protection Agency, and organ damage in animals has occurred at levels as low as 0.1 ppm.

One of glyphosate’s potentially most damaging effects in the body is that it may affect the beneficial bacterial organisms in our gastrointestinal tracts to a greater degree than other more harmful bacteria.  This could allow an unfavorable climate to set up that favors harmful pathogens, and can allow for a state of chronic inflammation, which can then engender many chronic and potentially debilitating diseases.  Glyphosate also may inhibit the cytochrome P450 (CYP) enzymes, a large and diverse group of enzymes which serve a crucial role in the body’s detoxification processes, as they help to neutralize xenobiotics, or chemical compounds foreign to the human organism.

To sum all of this up,  it is very important that each of us become educated and aware about the dangers of the extremely toxic environment all of us now live in.  Although much is yet to be learned about glyphosate and its effects on the human body, there are enough troubling reports of its toxicity that it mostly likely would be prudent to avoid coming in contact with it or ingesting it as much as possible.

Avoiding a chemical like glyphosate is not easy, but there are a few things you can do:

  • Do not use herbicide products like Roundup anywhere near your home, where people  and pets can come in contact with it through the skin
  • Try to seek out foods that are specifically-labeled “GMO-Free”, this is the only way you can be sure that the food will not contain traces of glyphosate.  Food companies are not required to inform the consumer that the food in question is genetically modified.
  • Increase your consumption of organic, whole, fresh foods
  • Look for the “USDA Certified Organic” label on processed foods, should you want to consume them
  • Consume only grass- or pasture-fed meat to insure that the animals were not given GMOs in their feed
  • Do not be fooled by such labels as “natural” or “all-natural”, they are essentially meaningless.


Once again, I encourage you to get knowledgeable and motivated around this issue, and take responsibility for your health.  There are many sources of pollutants and contaminants that we can’t always do a lot about, but our food and diet is one area where we do have a large measure of control, and most of us live in places where there are now a wide variety of healthier, organic foods available, including at the local supermarket.  Our federal government is probably not going to protect us from this bombardment of chemicals and pollutants anytime soon, so we must take steps to protect ourselves.

In this, as in so many other things in life, knowledge is power!














Dr. Allen gives free lectures at the Library three to four times each year, on topics of interest from the cutting edge of integrative medicine.  If you would like to be added to our mailing list for these lectures and his other speaking engagements, please email