Mirazie vs. Monsanto
The recent filing of a class action lawsuit against Monsanto by Elvis, Edison And Romi Mirazie in the state of California represents the beginning of the windfall microbiologists have anticipated for decades as more individuals recognize the vital role microbes play in human health. At issue is the labeling of the herbicide Round Up, which contains glyphosate. The label claims that glyphosate targets an enzyme found in plants, but not in people or pets. The product was approved before recognition that 90% of the cells in the human body are microbial was widespread. As it turns out, glyphosate also targets microbes. This includes microbes that are critical for human health. Glyphosate is used almost universally in agricultural crops. This means that if your food is not 100% organic, you probably contain glyphosate residues, and those residues are probably messing with your microbiome.
Microbes critical for health are destroyed by glyphosate, other chemicals
In the years since the Human Microbiome Project was released, understanding that microbes on our skin, in our gut, and throughout our body play critical roles in maintaining good health is also awakening us to devastating effects played by chemicals in our environment. Glyphosate is not a surprising target. Perhaps the most widely used pesticide worldwide, glyphosate is a non-selective herbicide. In English, that means it is toxic to essentially every plant on the planet. Yet because it has been marketed as safe to people and animals, OSHA has not set any limits at all to permissible exposure. Glyphosate levels in foods on the marketplace are increasing in conjunction with the use of Round-Up Ready GMO’s.
Studies increasingly weigh heavily against assumptions of glyphosate safety
Not surprisingly, the safety levels established for glyphosate have been repeatedly challenged since the chemical was released as a herbicide in 1974. A chemical that can wipe out an entire kingdom and is used with little to no restrictions is bound to have widespread environmental impacts. Yet scientific studies have remained controversial, with one report claiming the chemical poses no threat to the environment or its inhabitants, and the next linking it to alarming levels of human or environmental toxicity. Recently, the World Health Organization International Agency for Research on Cancer (IRAC) identified glyphosate as a probable carcinogen. This high level consensus, combined with evidence that microbiome disruptions induced by glyphosate contribute to disease, are undoubtedly upping the ante, presenting strong challenges to the widespread use of glyphosate.
Yet as news of the pending lawsuit spreads across environmental advocacy groups on the internet, one can only wonder what outcome could possibly alter the behavior of a corporation so powerful that it can influence protection of its products through executive order signed by the president of the United States.
The documented associations between glyphosate, its usage on crops since the mid 1970’s, and the increase in major illnesses associated with western diets (obesity, cardiovascular disease, gi disorders, diabetes, depression, autism, infertility, cancer, and Alzheimers) will undoubtedly prompt numerous disease victims and their families to support Mirazie’s efforts. If this lawsuit is judged in favor of the plaintiffs, and if glyphosate is removed from the market, the effort will represent one small step in an effort to protect the environment from toxic chemicals.
Lawsuits and legislation are insufficient to reduce exposure to harmful chemicals
When we consider the number of industrial chemicals that are routinely introduced into our health care, our food, and our environmental systems, the potential that each of these chemicals holds to disrupt our microbiomes, and the association between exposure to these chemicals and the rise in chronic disease and health care costs, it stands to reason that running one chemical and one company through the court system at a time is unlikely to provoke the widespread change in our industrial obsession with hazardous chemicals. Recall that the notorious DDT (another Monsanto chemical recognized as safe for humans) was only off the market for two years before glyphosate was introduced.
Lawsuits like Mirazie vs. Monsanto are useful for raising public awareness and inspiring critical thinking. Who knows, the effort may even lead to a ban on Round Up. But new chemicals will come to replace the old, and Monsanto will continue business as usual, unless, more individuals step up to the plate and accept more personal responsibility for keeping food systems safe.
Personal responsibility can put glyphosate-free food on tables this year.
At some point the general public needs to recognize that courts simply cannot make our food system secure or safe. This is because what lands on your plate is really not the government’s responsibility. Its yours. Real and lasting change will come when individuals recognize that:
1) healthy and nutritious foods come from local organic farms and gardens, not from supermarkets stocked via global distribution centers.
2) legislation and legal proceedings promoted to improve food safety will always burden small producers while containing loopholes that the biggest companies can slip past. For this reason, less regulation makes local food systems more secure.
3) public awareness of the hazards chemicals present-to ourselves, our environment, and our children, combined with public understanding of green alternatives to chemicals are the most powerful tools we have access to for reversing the complex problems created by chemicals like glyphosate.
4) Local organic farms and gardens offer multiple nutritional, environmental, and economic benefits in addition to the production of safe and chemical-free food.