A new peer-reviewed, open source study co-authored by Health Research Institute shows how to test for the genetically modified crops produced through gene-editing.
According to HRI Labs CEO and Chief Scientist, Dr. John Fagan, “The method we have developed detects what is probably the most challenging class of gene edits – a modification of just a single letter in the genetic blueprint. Since the scientific community has been using similar approaches for two decades to detect more complex GMOs, it is likely that this approach can be used to develop detection methods for most, if not all, gene-edited crops.
In earlier GMO generations, crops were modified through transgenic engineering which is the placement of DNA from one species into another, typically involving multiple genes.
A new study co-authored by Health Research Institute shows levels of glyphosate — the main ingredient in Roundup pesticide — dropped 70% after study participants consumed an organic diet for one week.
We hope you and your family are well in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. The staff at Health Research Institute are all fine and we are taking care while continuing to operate the lab in rural Iowa where there are very few cases.
Like you, we’ve looked into ways to stay healthy and to avoid COVID.
Remarkably, when we looked at the Centers for Disease Control website on “How to Protect Yourself & Others” from COVID-19, there is no mention about preventive health like diet and immune boosting measures.
Fortunately, there are other sources of information that are empowering. We’d like to share a few of these resources that we have found helpful:
- A correlation between higher vitamin D levels and lower severity of COVID-19 symptoms.
- Dietary recommendations for a healthy immune system.
- Research on potential connection between glyphosate and immunity
Vitamin D and COVID-19
Grassroots for Health is a non-profit research organization that provides direct-to-consumer testing for vitamin D levels much like HRI provides glyphosate test kits. They contributed to the paper, Evidence that Vitamin D Supplementation Could Reduce Risk of Influenza and COVID-19 Infections and Deaths. They also note that, “other observational studies have published data showing a strong correlation between vitamin D levels and the severity of the COVID-19 disease – with the most severe cases and death being associated with the lowest levels of vitamin D.” A chart with the study results is below.
As a research organization, we do not give medical advice, but are happy to share that staff at HRI have personally chosen to take 5000 IU of vitamin D to try to sustain a blood level of 40 ng/mL recommended by Grassroots for Health and numerous medical practitioners.
Diet and Immunity
“Food is medicine” is a phrase we often hear. In particular, some foods like those loaded in phytochemicals are known to boost immunity. We found an overview in BBC news, “How important is diet for a healthy immune system?” to be informative. The article suggests:
– eating a wide range of fruit and veggies will ensure you get all the nutrients your immune system needs.
– The wider the variety of different colored plants you eat, the more types of phytochemicals you’ll consume. Red, orange, yellow and green plants contain carotenoids, which have been associated with boosting immunity.
– There is a connection between the bacteria in your gut and the functioning of your immune system. The wider the variety of plant fiber you eat, the healthier and more diverse the bacteria in your gut will be.
Glyphosate and Immunity
If a healthy gut bacteria population contributes to a healthy immune system, it follows that an unhealthy guy bacteria population does not.
Since glyphosate was originally patented as an antibiotic (a substance that kills bacteria), scientists have wondered if glyphosate might be harmful to beneficial bacteria in the gut.
As recently reported in gmoscience.org, “A new study in rats raises further concerns about the health risks of both glyphosate and glyphosate-based herbicides (e.g. Roundup). The study provides firm evidence that these pesticides disrupt the gut bacterial populations (microbiome) at doses assumed by regulators to be safe…” (Glyphosate and Roundup Disrupt the Gut Microbiome).
Additionally, a Missouri federal court recently found that it is misleading for the manufacturer of glyphosate to say on its label that the herbicide is only harmful to plants because the enzyme affected by Roundup is also found in bacteria that are present in people and animals (Monsanto To Pay $39M In Roundup False Ad Class Settlement).
While potential disruption of the human gut microbiome by glyphosate needs further research, there is ample evidence that the gut microbiome helps to regulate immune responses. Given the effects observed in rats, and the need for further research in humans, a precautionary approach to protecting gut health and the immune system might be to minimize exposure to glyphosate.
Preliminary results from HRI Labs’ Glyphosate Environmental Exposure Study give some insights on how to minimize glyphosate exposure:
- People who eat the most organic food (80-100% reported) have 75% less glyphosate in their urine than people who eat the least amount (0-10% reported).
- People who eat non-organic oats have double the amount of glyphosate than people who do not.
- People who eat six or more servings of vegetables per day have 50% lower glyphosate levels than people who eat two or less servings of vegetables.
We hope you found these observations helpful.
Stay safe and healthy,
The Science Team at HRI
We never thought to test cats and dogs!
When Health Research Institute started testing people for glyphosate, we just focused on people. But, a few pet owners called. They were concerned about exposure of their four-footed friends.
Our team tested a few cats and dogs, including some of our own – Ella, Shadow, Joonie and Thunder. All of them had glyphosate levels much higher than what we measured in people!
One dog had a level 200 times higher than the human average. It made us wonder, “where is all this glyphosate coming from?” To answer that question, we launched an animal exposure study parallel to the human study.
The graph below shows what we have seen so far. Cats are averaging 8 ppb which is 16 times the human average. Dogs are averaging 15.8 ppb which is 32 times the human average!
What is causing much higher glyphosate levels in animals?
You might think that exposure is due to walking outside, licking paws and grooming fur. Survey answers from study participants, however, suggest that exposure is far more dependent on pet food. Dogs that eat raw food have virtually no detectable glyphosate. Those that eat canned food have more. Those that eat kibble have higher levels. Those that eat grain-free kibble have the highest levels!
Why might grain-free kibble be the highest source of dogs’ exposure? The move by pet food makers away from corn and soy to fillers like oats, pea protein, chick peas and lentils is likely
the reason. As we have seen in the human study and by testing foods directly, crops like oats and legumes deliver the highest glyphosate levels to the consumer. This is because these crops are so often sprayed with glyphosate just before harvest, not to kill weeds but to kill the food crop to make it easier to process.
Horses eat a lot of oats and, increasingly, Roundup Ready® alfalfa, so this may explain their higher levels. We know less about why cats have higher levels because only a few cats have participated in the study so far.
What are the consequences of chronic exposure by animals to glyphosate?
There is less research on the consequences of glyphosate on the health of pets than on the health of humans. Given the correlation between glyphosate and lymphoma in people, the question naturally arises, “Is there a connection between glyphosate and the dramatic rise in cancer rates among pets?”
Perhaps veterinary researchers will investigate and let us know. In the meantime, feel free to share information from Health Research Institute’s animal exposure study with your veterinarian. Let us know what they think.
You can also enroll your pet in the HRI study. We plan to submit it for peer-reviewed publication once enough data is collected. This may encourage other researchers to take a closer look.
If you have read this far, then thanks for taking the time! We appreciate your interest in the work of Health Research Institute.
Test pets and farm animals for glyphosate by gold standard LC-MS/MS instrumentation.
Just a small urine sample is required.Limits of detection (LOD) are highly sensitive at 0.02 part per billion (ppb).
A groundbreaking peer-reviewed study published in February in the journal Environmental Research has found that switching to an organic diet significantly reduced the levels of synthetic pesticides found in all participants – in just a matter of days. Levels dropped as much as 99%.
A video summarizing the findings may be seen here.
While the Organic For All study did not include glyphosate, Dr. John Fagan, co-founder and Chief Scientist at Health Research Institute did an informal study on himself! He ate lots of conventional oats and other foods known to be high in glyphosate to boost his levels. Then he went 100% organic and tests showed a same dramatic reduction in just three days. The graph below starts on the first day that he went 100% organic.
Test your exposure to glyphosate, the most widely used weed killing chemical on farms, lawns, schoolyards and golf courses.
Join others in this crowd-sourced research project to learn about ourselves, our food system, and our environment.
Test pets and farm animals for glyphosate by gold standard LC-MS/MS instrumentation. Limits of detection (LOD) are highly sensitive at less than 1 part per billion (ppb).
Results will help you determine whether to change diet or environmental exposures.
Testing of water by LC-MS/MS instrumentation.
Capable of determining if samples meet the stringent European maximum residue level of 0.1 ppb in drinking water.
The kit can also be used to test lakes, streams and reservoirs near your home.
HRI test results were featured in a recent report, prepared by Friends of the Earth, that examined 30 oat cereal samples and 27 pinto bean samples for glyphosate. The report and test results may be viewed here.
A second report, Eating Out: A Date with Glyphosate, released this week by GMO Free USA, examined glyphosate levels in popular restaurant foods.
HRI continues to test individuals, pets and drinking water for glyphosate.