Renewable Farming

Antibiotics kill beneficial digestive microbes too… leading toward obesity

A study published Oct. 21 in the International Journal of Obesity documents a statistical relationship between children’s antibiotic treatments and excessive weight gain.

Public health officials acknowledge that the antibiotics disrupt normal populations of digestive tract bacteria, killing species that constrain fat buildup in tissues. 

The agricultural significance of this large-scale epidemiology study is that it focuses on the probable impact of continuous low-level food residues of one of the world’s most powerful antibiotics: glyphosate. 

The Wall Street Journal reported the study Oct. 22 in a feature by Gautam Naik.  This link may take you to the story… or you may need a WSJ subscription.

The study shows how difficult it is to connect a toxin with its effects over wide populations and extended time. The study, by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, tracked nearly 164,000 children in Pennsylvania’s Geisinger Health System between 2001 and 2012. 

The scientific team, headed by Dr. Brian S. Schwartz, documented that increased levels of antibiotic use and extended time of usage correlates with permanent accumulation of fatty tissue. 

Glyphosate manufacturers have long claimed that it’s “not active outside of plants” because only plants have the enzyme pathway which glyphosate blocks.  However, some of the microbial flora in human digestive systems need this enzyme reaction, known as the Shikamate pathway. When they’re killed, their functions in digestion are lost. Studies in life-cycle feeding of hogs have shown stomach and gut inflammation effects from glyphosate and GMO corn and soybeans, but there are few long-term epidemiology studies of animals or humans. A simple 90-day feeding trial would not detect an adverse reaction, and almost all the “safety” trials with glyphosate are of short duration.

In April, California attorney Matthew Phillips filed a class action lawsuit against Monsanto, citing that Monsanto’s safety claims for glyphosate are false advertising, given the growing evidences of disruption of gut flora by glyphosate. 

Obesity probably has many causes, including the developing world’s shifting toward a Western junk-food diet. Food Matters TV has coined the movie title: “Globesity” to describe the trend. Here’s a link to the film source. 

Even though 36 nations ban GMO crops, glyphosate is still used in most of those nations. There could be as much non-farm use of glyphosate as there is sprayed on crops. Glyphosate residues are found in human urine and even mothers’ milk. A new study of mothers’ milk will be announced soon.  It could help health officials become more aware and concerned about constant low-level glyphosate residues in foods — and examine more closely if these residues are killing beneficial digestive organisms. It could help explain why chronic disease rates are going parabolic in the United States.

If you’re spraying glyphosate… it’s something think about.  A longtime friend of ours, crop consultant Steve Westin, did more than think about it: He refused to serve as a consultant for any farmer who insisted on using glyphosate on the farm. Steve was very direct with such growers, firing comments like this at them: “What is there about your grandchildren that you don’t like?”

Steve’s family remembers his courage. Although we never heard him complain about heart issues, last spring at age 70 he suddenly died.