Gasoline was blended with lead (Pb) for decades until we realized that its devastating impact on public health. Lead was banned. We are now facing biofuels full with the lead of modern times glyphosate. There is mounting scientific evidence that the strategy to promote biofuels is backfiring ... it is exposing citizens to airborne toxins which could dramatically affect our lungs.
We need to be aware and take precautionary measures. Waiting until the scientific proof is delivered, it like waiting for the enemy to invade your country before a nation starts preparing its defense.
Read more in this blog based on extensive scientific research coordinated by academics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Life on earth is a combination of the minuscule and the gigantic: from the cells that build an organ to the body of a sentient being, to the communities we live in, the ecosystems we depend on, and the tiny spot the Earth represents in the Universe. Life is not just a mix of matter, chemistry and biology - it consists of innumerable relations that have unfolded over millions of years of evolution and symbiosis. This “Web of Life” was first described by the Austrian scientist Fritjof Capra. The key characteristic is that the whole (life) is more than the sum of its parts (physics, chemistry and biology), something Leonardo da Vinci already described.
We are still in the process of discovering what life is and how it is organized. There are more bacteria living in our mouth than there are people living on earth. There are ten times more viruses in the sea than there are bacteria. There are a million bacteria in one cubic millimeter of seawater. One hundred million viruses descent every day on each square meter of land. Most are released from the waves in the sea into the air. The number of microorganisms in our body equals the number of human cells. No matter how well you wash and scrub, every nook and cranny of your body is covered with microscopic creatures. However, the greatest concentration of this invisible life thrives in the dark depths of our oxygen-deprived intestines.
That is where our immune system works with the precision of a nuclear clock following with great discipline each instruction of our genome. This sequence of chemical reactions and biological matter, known as our double helixes, harbors approximately 20,000 rules. While we have determined the structure and the content of the human genome, we still do not fully understand how it works. Our life force depends on these rules which are deployed on autopilot. If we add all the genes of the bacteria, viruses and fungi that call our body their home and that interact with our genes, then we are operating under more than two million “rules”. So if we understand “us”, we still need to grasp “the others” to metabolize food, to trigger a response from our immune system when a virus attacks, and to make vitamins, just to name a few. If we think we can master life through genetic manipulation, gene editing, and modern medicine “killing the bad”, then we should think again.
The war against enemies in us
Our view of bacteria, viruses and fungi, which determines how we could live happy and healthy, is wrought with ignorance and fear. Unfortunately, we systematically view these microorganisms as enemies. Worse, we are waging an open warfare against them. Antibiotics and vaccines are the weapons we unleash against smallpox, tuberculosis and many more. Yes, it is true that this warfare saved large numbers of lives. But more and more researchers and members of civil society are concerned that our assault on “the bad guys” has done (and is doing) irreparable damage to our good partners with whom we have built up a very effective synergy to promote and enhance life. Success in fighting pathogens has contributed to a whole new set of diseases that we now have to deal with. Worse, we make it impossible for our immune system to operate with its time-proven partners to bind the dangerous viruses, bacteria, and fungi for collecting and clearing debris and dangers.
The fight against life around us
Our modern day science and engineering does not only fight what is inside us; society embarked on an unparalleled and indiscriminate fight against life that surrounds us. Over the past fifty years we have applied pesticides, herbicides and fungicides as part of a ferocious warfare against anything posing a perceived risk to monoculture crops. Mass cultivation and mass processing of standardized food has been considered indispensable to achieve food security. The fact that we have neglected biodiversity, while not achieving the intended food security, is complemented by statistics that show devastating food, health and biodiversity trends. Somehow these facts have not motivated us to change course. As part of the strategy to achieve food security, the modus operandi pursues the indiscriminate killing of weeds, insects and vermin. Until recently, we did not realize that the pursuit of one objective (producing more food) has had many devastating side effects, including the killing of a whole pyramid of life. While the worst toxins like DDT and asbestos have been banned (in most countries and for most applications, but not all) there are thousands of other molecules that have been licensed for free dispersal. We should have known better.
The Failure of Cause and Effect
The challenge for regulators is that the approval of a novel product is limited to a simplistic assessment of “the cause and no effect on the health of people, and the health of Nature”. This direct causality may not be easy to prove, or to dismiss when the Web of Life of each living species operates by more than 2 million rules. The mere proposal that one must abide by the “scientific logic” of cause and effect, without considering the real complexity of life, implies an incapacity to deliver proof.
The reverberating impact of chemical cocktails on the Web of Life is beyond any doubt. Countries like Germany have reported a decrease of insects over the past 30 years of no less than 70 percent. And while bees have gotten their well deserved attention -and although we still fail to stop their demise-, there are thousands of most beneficial insects, which we cannot even name, that are exterminated without valid reason. This genocide of insects is considered a collateral damage in the fight for food security. Common sense confirms clearly that something is fundamentally wrong. However, how can policy makers move from the statistical proof with a very high degree of certainty that the system is collapsing, to prohibiting one specific synthetic molecule? Under the prevailing rules of the game, it will be impossible to ever stop the onslaught until irreparable damage has woken up civil society at large.
From non-GMO crops to biofuels
One of the chemical substances that has been under broad scrutiny for decades is glyphosate, the active ingredient of the herbicide Roundup. This is the most extensively applied chemical on GMO and non-GMO crops. It controls weeds and functions as a desiccant of the harvest. While many activists have been concerned with the traces of this herbicide as it travels through the food chain into our body and our excrements, we need to point to the abundance of the raw glyphosate molecule in biofuels. This volatilization of glyphosate is at the core of a chain of adverse effects we are discovering as we write. It is timely to increase awareness and investigate the impact of airborne glyphosate spreading through the air as more biofuels turn into a fixed part of the energy mix. The implications could soon be proven to be as devastating as the technique to mix lead (Pb - plumb) into gasoline. It made the engine run smoother but the volatilization of lead in the air and from there in the web of life through rain, rivers, soil and plants turned into a public health disaster which forced Governments to intervene and prohibit it.
Good Intentions with unforeseeable Side Effects
The starting point of this unfolding drama is a series of laudable intentions. Governments have been actively promoting biofuels as part of very diverse policies, which each make sense as long as we make abstractions of the unintended consequences. In the 1970s, Brazil wished to reduce its dependence on imported fossil fuels. Since sugar lost its favor with consumers, its massive cane culture that had initially emerged on demolished Atlantic Rainforest land, was transformed into a biofuel industry. The billions invested saved the country billions in foreign currency per year by blending ethanol with petroleum, while it generated thousands of jobs. In 2001, the United States embarked on a deliberate strategy to increase demand for corn by turning it into a fuel. 25% of the American corn fields have been turned into ethanol farms. This additional demand secured higher prices for the farmers, just like the strategy to promote plastics from corn generated an additional boost in prices. The US Government dedicated billions of USD in subsidies each year to convert maize into biofuels and it turned the corn traders into billionaires, while the tortillas, the staple food for poor Mexicans turned prohibitively expensive.
Europe committed to reduce carbon emissions to reverse climate change. To do so, Europe decided to convert wasted biomass (excess olive oil production, spent kitchen oil, rapeseed oil, even wood) into fuels. Europe’s ambitions for biofuels far outpaced its capacity to farm and recover oils. Thus, the EU had to import in 2018 nearly four million tons of biofuels full of glyphosates. Much came from GMO Roundup-Ready soybeans (mainly from Argentina) and palm oil (mainly from Indonesia) cultivated on denuded rainforest that destroyed the habitat of the orangutan. Whatever the policy objective was or is, the fact is that all these biofuels burned by cars in Brazil, the USA, and Europe are contaminated with glyphosate. The consequence is that we have unknowingly polluted the air we breath and put an additional stress on our immune system.
After the success of biofuel for cars, the airline industry felt the pressure to join the bandwagon. The aviation industry has been actively blending vegetable-based oils into kerosene for over a decade. Los Angeles (LAX) was the first airport in the world to offer aviation biofuel in 2009. In 2011, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines became the first airline to use bio-kerosene made from used cooking oil. United Airlines, American Airlines and Air France joined soon after. The airline corridors are now airborne glyphosate corridors. Is there a correlation between the fact that Brazil, the United States and some European regions score the highest in the consumption of biofuels, and that they have been hit with proportionately more deaths from the coronavirus?
It is worth pointing out that Bhutan and Sikkim, the 2 regions of the world committed to 100% organic farming, and where aviation is very restricted have had zero coronavirus deaths reported. It may also be ironic that countries with a powerful oil and gas lobby but without a prevalence of biofuels like Russia and Saudi Arabia have lower incidence of coronavirus deaths - especially compared to Brazil and the USA. These are not proofs of cause and effect which are - as indicated - impossible to demonstrate with the present logic that neglects the system as a whole.
Strong Correlations refute Coincidence
Glyphosate is the major contaminant that according to its own specifications and permits to be used, is not supposed to be found in food, soil, rivers, lakes, groundwater, blood, urine and breast milk. Unfortunately traces are found everywhere! Due to the popularity of biofuels this doubtful molecule is increasingly present in the air we breath. It spreads like a virus through air corridors descending on us through rain and wind. Unless you live high up in the Himalayas, no one can be protected from exposure to it. By simply breathing, glyphosate settles in our lung tissue.
The correlation between the alarming rise of a series of chronic diseases and the use of glyphosate was confirmed through scientific research with a stunning p-value of less than 0.00001. This indicates that the match between illness and presence of glyphosate is no coincidence at all. An analysis of those who suffered and passed away in Lombardy due to the COVID-19 revealed that 99% of them had a chronic disease, and nearly half suffered from three or more illnesses that correlate with chronic diseases associated with glyphosate. Perhaps we should not insist on social distancing, rather Governments should finally enforce a dramatic reduction of the citizens’ exposure to glyphosate.
A growing list of scientific literature suggests that glyphosate may be damaging our lungs in such a way so as to induce an acute response to this new cold virus, leading to extensive damage to the lungs, difficult breathing, and an inability to efficiently clear the virus from the body. The correlation between glyphosate and chronic diseases is so strong that we can advance with certainty the hypothesis that “the degree to which persons are susceptible to COVID-19 is proportional to the degree to which they have been exposed to glyphosate”. Eating a European certified organic diet, staying away from major highways and avoiding the corridors of airplanes running on biokerosene may be among the best tools for protection from an acute reaction to COVID-19. The best response is to increase organic farming as especially Spain, Italy, Austria and the Baltic States are doing.
Policy Makers should Adopt a Military Strategy
When military intelligence confirms that an enemy is preparing an attack, then it would be absurd to wait to prepare for and build up a defense strategy until it has been proven that the adversary is belligerent, i.e. the attack has taken place. We cannot claim that it is proven that glyphosate weakens the immune system and damages the lungs and subsequently leads to an acute response to a simple virus. However, it is time to apply military logic. Why wait until it is proven? This should motivate the European Union to finally put a stop to glyphosate, which might very well be one of the key factors to reduce the risk of another pandemic.
Of course there will be scientists arguing strongly against this argument. I am prepared to face the threats and abuses because will stand for what I believe is right and people should know. Civil society listens to scientists, collects data, facts, knowledge and wisdom and then decides without fear but with a heart in the interest of the Common Good. Only 0.1% of the population qualifies as a scientist, so it is impossible that this minute number rules over 99.9% of the citizens who wish to pursue a happy and healthy life in harmony with their community and Nature.
I am grateful to Jennifer Margulis for her amazing background research based on peer group reviewed articles. She and Dr. Stephanie Seneff from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) were my key sources in documenting this article.
 The smaller the p-value, the stronger the evidence that the null hypothesis should be rejected. A p-value less than 0.05 (typically ≤ 0.05) is statistically significant. It indicates strong evidence against the null hypothesis, as there is less than a 5% probability the null is correct (and the results are random).
 https://www.epicentro.iss.it/coronavirus/bollettino/Report-COVID- 2019 17 marzo-v2.pdf.
I hereby submit a series of scientific studies that substantiate the arguments advanced in the article above. This is only a small selection of articles reporting on studies undertaken by organizations independent of the pro-glyphosate lobby.
FC Chang, MF Simcik, PD Capel. Occurrence and Fate of the Herbicide Glyphosate and its Degradate Aminomethylphosphonic Acid in the Atmosphere. Environ Toxicol Chem. 2011; 30(3): 548-55.
A Samsel and S Seneff. Glyphosate’s Suppression of Cytochrome P450 Enzymes and Amino Acid Biosynthesis by the Gut Microbiome: Pathways to Modern Diseases. Entropy 2013; 15: 1416-1463.
NL Swanson, A Leu, J Abrahamson, et al. Genetically Engineered Crops, Glyphosate and the Deterioration of Health in the United States of America. J Org Syst 2014; 9: 6-37.
T Houben, Y Oligschlaeger, AV Bitorina et al. Blood-derived Macrophages Prone to Accumulate Lysosomal Lipids Trigger oxLDL-Dependent Murine Hepatic Inflammation. Scientific Reports 2917; 7: 12550.
R Mesnage, G Renney, G-E Séralini et al. Multiomics Reveal Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease in Rats Following Chronic Exposure to an Ultra-low Dose of Roundup Herbicide. Sci Rep 2017; 7: 39328.
S Gunatilake, S. Seneff and L. Orlando. Glyphosate’s Synergistic Toxicity in Combination with Other Factors as a Cause of Chronic Kidney Disease of Unknown Origin. Int J Environ Res Public Health 2019; 16(15): 2734.
WK Ip, KH Chan, HK Law et al. Mannose-binding Lectin in Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus Infection. J Infect Dis 2005; 191: 1697-1704.
R-M A Mackay, CL Grainge, LC Lau, et al. Airway Surfactant Protein D Deficiency in Adults With Severe Asthma. Chest. 2016 May; 149(5): 1165–1172.
DS Thakur, R Khot, PP Joshi et al. Glyphosate Poisoning with Acute Pulmonary Edema. Toxicol Int. 2014; 21(3): 328-330.
S Kumar, M Khodoun, EM Kettleson et al. Glyphosate-rich Air Samples Induce IL-33, TSLP and Generate IL-13 Dependent Airway Inflammation. Toxicology. 2014; 0: 42-51.
P Mehta, DF McAuley, M Brown et al. COVID-19: Consider Cytokine Storm Syndromes and Immunosuppression. Lancet 2020; 395: 1033-134.
SM Alif, SC Dharmage, G Benke et al. Occupational Exposure to Pesticides are Associated with Fixed Airflow Obstruction in Middle-age. Thorax 2017; 72(11): 990-997.
R Lozano, M Naghavi, K Foreman et al. Global and Regional Mortality from 235 Causes of Death for 20 Age Groups in 1990 and 2010: A Systematic Analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2010. Lancet 2012; 380: 2095-128.
Lombardy: Red Light for Diesels until March 2019. Wanted In Milan. April 3, 2020. https://www.wantedinmilan.com/news/lombardy-red-light-for-diesels-until-march-2019.html.
The aim of this blog is to present a fresh look at realities around us. Whereas I do not pretend to present the truth nor a definite position, I do wish to push the reader to think beyond the obvious. After all, time has come to dramatically improve the plight of millions, and that requires more than the predictable. Sometimes it forces us into spheres of discomfort.