The autism rate was estimated to be 1 in 10,000 in 1970. The most recent figures from the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention has the rate now at 1 in 68 and by 2025 according to a senior research scientist at MIT, half the children in the US will be diagnosed with autism.
In Seed Sovereignty, Food Security: Women in the Vanguard, a new book edited by ecofeminist, and author Vandana Shiva, contributors to the anthology, Zen Honeycutt and Stephanie Seneff warn of the dangers that genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and related pesticides present to the health of children.
Zen Honeycutt is the founder of ‘Moms Across America: shaking up the system’ a national coalition of ‘Unstoppable Moms’ committed to empowering others to become educated about GMOs and the need for labelling laws and healthy alternatives such as organics. Moms Across America report that:
Allergies are up 400% in our children. Asthma affects 1 in 8. Autism has increased 1500% over the last 20 years. Twenty three and a half million Americans are now suffering with auto-immune diseases. Diabetes in teens has quadrupled in ten years. Colitis in children has tripled and Crohn’s disease is up 79% in ten years. Cancer is the number one killer of children in America today.
So what is causing such frightening health outcomes? ‘Moms Across America’ tested breastmilk and found it was contaminated with the weedkiller Roundup. The highest level of Roundup was 1600 times greater than allowed in drinking water in Europe. Glyphosate-containing herbicides are the top-selling herbicides in the world and are sold under trademarks such as Monsanto’s ‘Roundup’. Monsanto’s sales of Roundup jumped 73 percent to $371 million in 2013 because of its increasing use on genetically engineered crops (GE Crops).
The U.S. has a high percentage of its farmland controlled by the GE crops industry, with many varieties of GE soybeans, GE corn, GE cotton and others, whereas Europe has only allowed one GE Crop – Monsanto’s MON810 maize – which is still not grown in most EU states due to health and environmental concerns.
In her chapter ‘Autism and Glyphosate’, Stepanie Seneff ‘connects the dots’: The interactions between autism, glyphosate and vaccines. Stephanie Seneff is a computer scientist who transitioned into biology and toxicology and has been studying autism for over 7 years, along with the environmental factors that lead to the disease. She points to decreased exposure to sunlight, poor diet, vaccines, as well as glyphosate toxins as causing the skyrocketing rates of autism. The active ingredient in Monsanto’s herbicide ‘Roundup’ is glyphosate which kills all plants except the genetically modified RR corn, soy and other plants that have been genetically augmented with a special bacterial gene. Seneff reports that the US government is doing little to monitor the amount of glyphosate found in common foods because it is conveniently believed that glyphosate is harmless to humans. But nothing could be further from the truth!
Monsanto claims that glyphosate is safe because humans don’t possess the biological pathway that the herbicide disrupts in plants- the Shikimate pathway. However our gut bacteria do have a shikimate pathway and we have millions of good bacteria in our gut which are essential to our health. Our gut bacteria supply us with amino acids that are precursors to the neurotransmitters dopamine, serotonin, melatonin and adrenaline, plus thyroid hormone, folate and vitamin E. Many of these molecules have been shown to be deficient in children with autism. We are now learning how important gut bacteria is to our health with autism often linked to ‘leaky gut syndrome and food intolerances, the severity of which is linked to the severity of autism.
The fact that there is a correlation between the rising number of adverse effects from vaccines and the increasing amount of glyphosate used on corn and soy crops has not escaped Seneff who has come up with a plausible explanation. This being that glyphosate enhances the toxicity of aluminium. Aluminium is added to vaccines to enhance the immune response to the antigen in the vaccine – that is the vaccine is more likely to ‘take’ if there is aluminium present. Childhood vaccines such as the Triple Antigen, Hepatitis A&B, Gardasil, Hib ( haemophilus influenza), and PVC (pneumococcal pneumonia) contain aluminium which is known to be toxic to the brain and can result in seizures, infection, cellulitis, depression, insomnia and death.
Seneff notes that insomnia has become a huge problem throughout the US population recently. She explains that aluminium accumulates in the pineal gland, the gland which produces melatonin which in turn is responsible for the wake-sleep cycle. The negative effect of the aluminium along with the presence of glyphosate in our systems and its ability to enhance the effect of aluminium, and you have the perfect recipe for the interference in the supply of melatonin.
Glyphosate interferes with the synthesis of new haem (the component of haemoglobin responsible for binding oxygen) which is no longer functional because aluminium has displaced iron at the core of the haem molecule. Secondly, glyphosate interferes with the production of melatonin because melatonin’s precursor is tryptophan, a product of the shikimate pathway that glyphosate disrupts. Lastly glyphosate affects the cells’ ability to make sulphate needed for the production of red blood cells – the pathway already disrupted by the presence of aluminium.
In conclusion, Stephanie Seneff urges more research into the connection between glyphosate and autism adding that should her hypothesis be confirmed, glyphosate should be banned from agricultural use.
Seed Sovereignty, Food Security: Women in the Vanguard, is a unique international offering on an issue of critical importance today, and demonstrates how women as activists, scientists and scholars are at the forefront of shaping new scientific and economic paradigms to reclaim seed sovereignty and food security across the world. Women in the North and South are leading movements to change both practice and paradigm: how we grow and transform our food. As seed keepers and food producers, as mothers and consumers, they are engaged in renewing a food system that is better aligned with the ecological processes of the earth’s renewal, the laws of human rights and social justice and the means through which our bodies stay well and healthy.
In this blog I have focussed on two contributors to this fine anthology. This is because Stephanie Seneff and Zen Honeycutt focus on the health effects of industrialised food systems on children which is an issue of real concern to me. Growing up in the 1950s there was no epidemic of autism; children didn’t have chronic diseases. We really have to turn this around.
There are many wonderful chapters in this book. Women from the Global North, such Susanne Gura write on the Seed Emergency in Germany, along with US political activist Winona LaDuke who praises the leadership of Indigenous women. From the Global South, health and women’s rights activist Farida Akhter reports on the Seed Freedom and Sovereignty in Bangladesh today, and Australian author Susan Hawthorne argues for a ‘wild politics in which multiversity of knowledge, biodiversity in nature and eco-social systems of justice’ abound.
Oh, for that time to arrive!
Seed Sovereignty, Food Security: Women in the Vanguard is published in Australia by Spinifex Press