America the sick; Huge increase in 22 chronic diseases


Correlation is not causation; but Damn, if it walks like a duck…….

Glyphosate AKA “Round-Up” and the deterioration of America’s health

Is rising glyphosate use responsible for increases in modern diseases? Claire Robinson of GMwatch looks at the latest study to raise the question

Is the rise in glyphosate (Round-Up) use since the advent of Genetically Modified (GM) crops responsible for the rapid deterioration of health in the US in the last 20 years?

A new study by former US Navy scientist Dr Nancy Swanson and co-authors asks this question. The study charts the huge increase in 22 chronic diseases in the US over the last 20 years and plots it against the rise in the use of glyphosate and the percentage of GM corn and soy plantings.

The correlations, portrayed graphically in super-clear charts, are striking. There’s a highly significant correlation between glyphosate use and the incidence of many of the diseases, including hypertension, stroke, diabetes, obesity, thyroid and liver cancer, kidney disease, and Alzheimer’s. There’s also a highly significant correlation between the percentage of GM corn and soy planted in the US and a similar list of diseases. And the increases in these diseases are not due to people living longer, which the authors adjusted for in most cases.

Does this mean that glyphosate causes these diseases? No – not necessarily. As the authors themselves note, correlation is not causation. The authors do, however, argue that given the known biological effects of glyphosate herbicides, “it would be imprudent not to consider causation as a plausible explanation”.

And while there are thousands of toxic substances and pathogens that could have contributed to the exponential rise in these diseases, the authors state, “No toxic substance has increased in ubiquity in the last 20 years as glyphosate has.”

It’s difficult to argue with this interpretation. And as a scientist unconnected with Dr Swanson and her co-authors told GM Watch, if the issue of GM crops and their associated pesticides were not such a political and economic ‘hot potato’, such a rapid escalation in disease in a population would be investigated as an emergency priority. That may be especially true if the disease in question were caused by bacteria or viruses, where there is massive corporate interest in developing vaccines and anti-bacterial products. In the case of non-infectious diseases, however, where possible culprits may include widely used and consumed GMOs and pesticides, US regulators turn their backs and pretend nothing is happening.

What is required scientifically in order to establish causation? The answer: long-term controlled animal feeding studies performed with the complete glyphosate herbicide formulations as sold to farmers and the public, using realistic doses that you and I could be exposed to and that are currently claimed to be safe. As far as I know, only one study that meets all these criteria has been carried out: Seralini’s study on NK603 maize and the Roundup herbicide it’s engineered to tolerate. The results were clear: doses of Roundup at only half the level allowed in EU tap water were found to cause severe liver and kidney damage and hormonal disturbances.

Arguments against such studies on animal welfare grounds do not hold water. If it is cruel to subject a few hundred or thousand lab rats to environmentally realistic doses of Roundup, it is far more cruel to subject millions of people and animals to these same doses in an uncontrolled experiment where no one is looking at the results and no regulatory action will be taken.

Should we sit back and do nothing until the necessary animal feeding studies can be funded and carried out, and then wait some more time for the regulators to take action? No. It makes sense to minimize our exposure to Roundup and other agrochemicals right now. That means eating organic, filtering our water, avoiding the use of pesticides in our gardens and fields, pressuring local authorities to restrict their use in school grounds and parks and on our roads and pavements, and lobbying for school and hospital meals programs to serve organic and non-GMO food. And if you’re living somewhere other than North and South America, it means doing everything you can to keep herbicide-tolerant GM crops out of your country.

Meanwhile, Dr Swanson’s study provides excellent ammunition against the GMO promoters’ argument that “trillions of GM meals” have been eaten in the US and that Americans are fine. Clearly, they are nothing of the sort.



18 thoughts on “America the sick; Huge increase in 22 chronic diseases

  1. As with climate change, the oligarchs who are “the deciders” dont give a damn about science, or our health for that matter. They figure they can buy their way out of any situation.
    Yes it would be prudent to stop or at least slow use of these toxic substances, but dont hold your breath waiting for it to happen.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I visited family last summer in the Modesto area in the Central Valley. As a result of crop dusting I could actually see the fog of pesticides hanging in the air. Not being used to it I became nauseous. I you want proof of the death toll attributed to pesticides in that area just look at the obits in the Modesto Bee or Stockton paper compared to similar sized non agricultural cities in California. The difference will astound you.

    Liked by 2 people

    • “…I could actually see the fog of pesticides hanging in the air.”

      Unlikely. The Central Valley is among the most polluted air in the state, if not the country. I’ve read it’s the most polluted in the state because of the farm equipment that doesn’t have to comply with smog regulations that normal vehicles do.

      If you lived in Southern CA back during the 60s and 70s, you’d see the haze there, too. Awful on a bad day. Hard to keep your eyes open sometimes. Luckily it depended on weather conditions. Wasn’t too bad most of the time, but you could still see the haze looking north from where I lived in Orange County.


    • You’re wrong Fred. I’m not going to waste time writing a long comment with the science involved, because you would just revert to your favorite conservative mainstream soundbite. However, what Otis is describing is very real.

      Ps-this is the very first time I have agreed with him on any comment thus far.

      Also…how’s your pension check and affordable care (I mean Obama Care) working for you Fred? Libertarian in in talk, but regular republican in action, I guess.

      Liked by 1 person

    • many fertilizers and pesticides emit hydrocarbons freddy boy. That and dust are the main reasons for the fog like haze in the big valley.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. This is not science. Reading the paper itself, it struck me as so ridiculous that I started to look for information about the Journal of Organic Systems.

    Here’s the first:

    That’s not to say that the paper isn’t useful. It would be a great assignment for a bright high school class,tossed in with a few real scientific papers. There assignment would be to find the paper that wasn’t science, and list the ways in which the paper pretended to be science and the reasons it was not.


  4. My comment that included a link is still in moderation, so I’ll replace the link with a quote.

    This is not science. Reading the paper itself, it struck me as so ridiculous that I started to look for information about the Journal of Organic Systems.

    Here’s the first [thing I found, from Business Insider magazine]:

    “The paper in question [a different paper] was published in the Journal Of Organic Systems. This is a small journal that does not appear to have an “impact factor,” a way that scientists analyze the importance of journals. Additionally, the journal is funded by a pro-organic farming federation, the journal doesn’t specialize in genetically modified organisms but in organic farming, and doesn’t appear in an important repository for peer-reviewed research — sure signs that something’s up.”

    That’s not to say that the paper isn’t useful. It would be a great assignment for a bright high school class,tossed in with a few real scientific papers. There assignment would be to find the paper that wasn’t science, and list the ways in which the paper pretended to be science and the reasons it was not.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I wrote the editors of the journal. The response strikes me as extraordinarily inadequate, but I’ll share my question and the response.


    Hi, I have no connection whatsoever with those who peddle or use glyphosate, but I am interested in the relationship between science, politics, and communities.

    I’m startled to read a paper published in your journal that is composed purely of a set of correlations. I’d have expected reviewers to respond to the author with a request that they find locations where glyphosate was not introduced into the food chain, and compare deltas in the rates of various diseases between areas with glyphosate and areas without.

    Any explanation? – Thanks.


    Dear Mitch – I think that your response is one example of why the paper was published – hopefully it will stimulate others to reflect on these ‘findings’ and take next steps to test them – the public sharing of such ‘correlations’ has been of great importance in the ongoing development of science – Cheers, Stuart

    Emeritus Professor Stuart B. Hill, Foundation Chair of Social Ecology, School of Education, University of Western Sydney (Kingswood Campus)


    • read it again:
      (Dear Mitch – I think that your response is one example of why the paper was published – hopefully it will stimulate others to reflect on these ‘findings’ and take next steps to test them – the public sharing of such ‘correlations’ has been of great importance in the ongoing development of science – Cheers, Stuart)

      All part of science and the scientific method Mitch, Science is not religion, its a process.

      Always question, always challenge.


    • To point out that a lot of diseases have increased in incidence during the same time frame that a particular chemical has been used is interesting, and would be a good reason to start an investigation into whether the chemical is connected to any of the diseases. It’s a starting point for a research project, but insufficient for any real journal to publish.

      There are two routes anyone seriously interested in studying the topic could take.

      The first would be to demonstrate that people with greater exposure to glyphosate have higher incidences of one or more disease than areas with lower or zero exposure to glyphosate. So, for example, a scientist might investigate whether farm workers on farms using glyphosate have a higher incidence of a disease than other people.

      The second would be to demonstrate the existence of a chemical pathway that leads from exposure to disease. Ideally, you could demonstrate that exposing rats to glyphosate causes A to happen, which causes B to happen, etc…, with the end result being a disease.

      But, if someone just wants to write propaganda, no work is necessary. You just simulate a scientific paper by using the standard format for such papers, complete with citations and graphs, and then publish it in a scam journal that uses an impressive sounding name, fools no one in the scientific community, but is great for articles in propaganda outlets like the TE.

      I know the folks at the TE are trying to create positive change, but it’s my strongly-held belief that lying to people or spreading bullshit actually hurts the credibility of others trying to create such change. So, I think you people are as bad in effect as, say, the publicity department of a typical oil company. You just sleep better at night, because you think you are doing good in the world. (That might make your effects worse than the bought and paid for people, for the same reasons that it takes strongly-held religious beliefs or ideology to kill large numbers of people and feel comfortable about it.)


    • Mitch, the local blog police officer is back in force! Good job. How’s the Herald doing since you were running it? Wait, Mitch ran it into the ground? Now he critiques small blogs that are trying to help put forward progressive ideas? What is wrong with Mitch and why does he hate so much?


    • Sorry “MC what,” but these days I just assume that unless someone attaches their real name to a post, they’re all the same Green Coward. You know the one, I’m sure.


    • Mitch:

      Which “Green Coward?”

      I’m not as up to date on bad guy code words as I ought to be.

      Liked by 1 person

    • MOLA —

      As you may or may not know, I severely bothered at least one person by working to remove their comments from the Herald when it became clear they were posting under multiple pseudonyms, going so far as to have pseudonym A agree with pseudonym B, and so on.

      That person is still bothered two years on, and has been attacking me on another blog, with devotion and regularity. A new anonymous poster at that blog initially characterized the person as GC, which I took to mean “Green Commenter” after their green avatar. Apparently the new anonymous person was actually referring to someone’s initials, and they have since identified the person by name. As I don’t know if their assertion regarding the true identity of “Green Commenter,” I simply refer to him as “Green Coward.”

      One of the sadder aspects of this is that, at this other blog, the game of multiple identities supporting one another is continuing, even though it would be obvious to most sane people that no one is being fooled.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Good points Albert and Stuart.

    Dr. Tyron Hayes has lectured at HSU twice on the endocrine disruptive capabilities of herbicides, specifically Atrazine.

    What began as a correlation motivated Dr. Hayes to prove direct causes of various diseases. His second lecture focused on industry and individual’s attempts to discredit and diminish the importance of correlations with relentless and bizarre personal attacks that persist against the research and ultimately the scientific proof of causal links that have been internationally replicated resulting in worldwide bans…except in the U.S. where 80 million pounds are annually sprayed.

    The Humboldt County Agricultural Commissioner is responsible for issuing local permits for herbicide use. These permits are not always forwarded to the California Department of Health as required by Title 22 of the Ca. Code. As a result, herbicides being permitted in the Mad River watershed include Atrazine but are not slated for testing, and even if tested, are not required to be listed on the annual “Consumer Confidence Report” sent to every municipal water user unless reportable quantities are discovered.

    The public has no knowledge of what chemicals are being approved for use in the Mad River watershed and there is little oversight or accountability.

    The only local media reporting Dr. Hayes’ lecture on herbicides was Econews, even the nearby Lumberjack failed to cover it.


  7. Pingback: regulators and Big AG consider Roundup one of the safest herbicides….oops!! | Tuluwat Examiner

  8. This kind of correlational nonsense science is standard issue in the antismoking arsenal. Like the “Organic Farmers” the Antismokers even produced their own comic-book journal, “Tobacco Control” to publish the junk the real medical journals wouldn’t touch.

    The difference is that the USA’s MSA “smokers’ tax” has been pumping between 400 million and 900 million dollars PER YEAR into what the American Medical Association calls “Tobacco Control” in its annual reports, and that kind of money buys a LOT of respect (and researchers). Google “V.Gen5H” and read the booklet “The Lies Behind The Smoking Bans” you’ll find there and feel free to print it out and spread it around if you like.

    In terms of these particular correlations with chronic diseases over the past 20 years, try this: Graph the spread of smoking bans vs. Asthma and some of the others. 30-40 years ago students at college commonly smoked in many of their classes with the professors’ permission. Never once did I see or hear of any student complain about their asthma or allergies being bothered, nor hear of any students running home to strip off their clothes and wash “the stink of tobacco smoke” off after classes. While some of these “chronic diseases” may be caused by a lack of childhood exposure to environmental challenges (E.G. the gigantic 1998 WHO study under Boffetta found a 22% *reduction* in adult lung cancers among matched children exposed regularly to tobacco smoke in the home while growing up!) I would guess that at least some of the disease increase is purely psychogenic: people developing real symptoms, but developing them because they have been so deeply and profoundly ingrained with fears and phobias on a psychological level.

    Are these pesticides etc possibly very bad things in their effects on some people? Sure. But their impact may be very overstated by correlational studies that don’t correct for confounders and co-correlates..

    – MJM


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