Monday, June 08, 2015

The correlation between glyphosphate and autism

In November of 2014, I wrote an article covering a statistical link between autism and the use of glyphosphate. As you can see in the chart below, the trend in autism and the use of glyphosphate is nearly a perfect fit, but no one could say why there was such a close fit.

The source of the chart is Stephanie Senneff. She is controversial, often referred to as a quack and even admits to being new to biology. Yet her work is still supported by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Senneff is roundly criticized by the scientific community as a search around the web will reveal. What is hard to miss is the condescension in that criticism.

There are many, many chemicals that are sprayed on the food we buy in the store. It may well be that it's hard to pin down the source of autism to one chemical. But consider this: Glyphoshate is pretty much everywhere. It's the key ingredient in RoundUp Ready, the weed killer you can buy at Home Depot or Lowes. It's sprayed even more on crops genetically modified to resist glyphosphate. The GMOs give farmers the confidence to spray even more of this stuff on our food.

There is a Snopes article claiming that the link between autism and glyphosphate is unproven and suggests that we should look more to genetics than to the chemicals on our food. Yet I would find it hard to believe that autism rates can go from 1 in 150 in 2000 to 1 in 68 in 2012 (CDC site stats here) on the basis of genes alone. The chart above shows that autism rates have gone up rather quickly since 1994, when glyphosphate was first introduced.

In this article, Senneff makes the case the biological pathway to autism is in the gut bacteria. The same mechanism that kills genes could also be killing off the bacteria in our gut. If you kill the gut bacteria, you're going to have problems all over your body. Gut bacteria provide nutrients that we can't provide on our own.

I note with interest that Senneff claims that the rate was actually about 1 in 10,000 in 1970. The actual numbers seem to be in dispute in the past as WebMD puts the number closer to 1 in 2,000. What matters is that with better technology and the internet we can check the facts. There is general agreement that the rate has gone up from something like 1 in 150 or less, to 1 in 68. That is a pretty alarming spike, especially for people with young children.

We may not have all the facts now, but I prefer to take the insurance and look for organic everything, especially corn and soy. I'd rather not look back and wish I had something different. Going organic is quite possibly the safest route. Sure, it's more expensive. But I would rather pay the farmer than the doctor.
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