Almost all the oats, wheat, soy, and corn grown in the US these days are GMO — genetically modified — to allow farmers to spray them with glyphosate, the popular weed and grass killer.

Glyphosate kills a plant by being absorbed by the plant’s foliage, so that it enters the plant’s internal system, destroying the plant’s ability to function. But GMO grains are modified to make them immune to the effects, so that the herbicide does not kill the crop.

But the genetic modification of a crop plant does not prevent the glyphosate from being absorbed; it only keeps the plant from reacting negatively to it. This means when you eat products made from GMO grains, you are eating some herbicide — products such as bread, breakfast cereal and grain-fed beef come laced with glyphosate. Independent research has found significant amounts of glyphosate in the GMO-based food supply.

The World Health Organization has determined that exposure to glyphosate probably increases one’s risk of cancer.

To avoid including glyphosate in your diet, purchase only those products that do not contain GMO grains — look for labelling such as “non-GMO” or “organic” or “grass-fed." Don’t be fooled by “all natural” on the label; that phrase has nothing to do with glyphosate content. It might cost more to buy organic or non-GMO products, but you are avoiding the ill effects of eating glyphosate.

I urge local farmers to move away from applying herbicides to crops, perhaps by setting aside some glyphosate-free acres as a learning experiment.

Kenton Machina, Lexington

 

 

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