In Part 1 of this interview, Professor Huber shared some fascinating nutrition tips and, amongst many gems, he clarified the kind of reduced sugars that attract insects and those that boost plant resilience. In this second installment, there is a stronger focus upon glyphosate and the many problems associated with the most popular farm chemical on the planet.
Graeme: I had understood that glyphosate was originally patented as an industrial chelating agent and that it shut down the availability of key minerals, hence killing the weed. However, you have explained that the biological action of this chemical is of most importance. Could you please explain?
Don: Well, you are correct in that glyphosate was first patented in 1964 as an industrial chelating agent for manganese, to clean boilers. However, ten years later, Monsanto patented it for killing weeds. Then, in 2000, they also patented the chemical as an antibiotic. It certainly kills microorganisms with its mode of action, but most of the impact is on the good guys. Glyphosate predisposes the plant to disease organisms, to the point that you cannot kill a plant with glyphosate in a sterilised soil.
Graeme: Is this biocidal action related to shutting down the Shikimate pathway?
Don: Yes. As I have mentioned previously, this chemical gives the plant, and many of the supporting microorganisms, the equivalent of AIDS. It is a synthetic amino acid that can be incorporated as glycine in the proteins of microbes and plants. This aberrant amino acid can then create chaos. The Shikimate pathway is integral to life on the planet and it is seriously impacted. While it is true that mammals do not have a Shikimate pathway, we all house trillions of beneficial organisms that are dependent on this pathway.
Graeme: Gut health is integral to every aspect of our wellbeing and disease resistance. Surely this would have a massive negative impact on our health?
Don: There is an epidemic of 32 diseases that are related to glyphosate shutting down our access to key nutrients. It is an endocrine disrupter, a virulence enhancer, an enzyme inhibitor, a chronic toxicant, a growth regulator and a DNA mutagen.
Graeme: My goodness. It is a major concern when you realise how much of this stuff is used in agriculture. It is everywhere in the food chain. Most supermarket bread in Australia contains around 30% soy flour sourced from US, Roundup Ready soybeans that have had three sprays of glyphosate during the season. We were always assured that it biodegraded rapidly in the soil, but this appears not to be the case. In fact, it is cumulative in our soils.
Don: The current usage in the US involves over 225 million pounds per year and it is certainly persistent in the soil. There are now over 40 re-emergent diseases caused by glyphosate. The natural control organisms have been killed by the antibiotic effect. It is a very robust chemical because the carbon phosphate lyase enzyme, required to break it down, is extremely rare in our soils.
Graeme: Are there some soil types where glyphosate is more persistent?
Don: The higher the clay component, the more the persistence and the more acidic the soil, the greater the persistence.
Graeme: Is there any evidence that the North American population has higher levels of glyphosate in their tissues considering the scale of the Roundup Ready cropping in their region?
Don: Most definitely. The level of glyphosate in breast milk is hundreds of times higher in Americans and Canadians, compared to European women. The levels found in water are also vastly higher. It is also found at concentrations of up to 400 ppm in food.
Graeme: How is this impacting our health?
Don: It is having a massive impact. It has been strongly linked to endocrine disruption, liver damage, kidney failure, placental damage, various forms of cancer and a host of digestive tract disorders.
Graeme: I guess that if you disrupt the immune system and viability of our 100 trillion gut organisms, by shutting down their Shikimate pathway, there must be a price to pay.
Don: There most certainly is. The immune system is largely located in the gut, so there is a link to the increase in autoimmune diseases. Gluten intolerance is directly related and there is a strong link to autism, which also has a proven association with gut health. Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, celiac disease, leaky gut and Irritable Bowel Syndrome, are all intimately related to this chemical in our food chain.
Graeme: My goodness! It is no surprise that they are calling glyphosate the new DDT. It will be very difficult for many farmers to contemplate a life without this herbicide, because no-till systems are totally dependent upon herbicide burn downs. They definitely need to rapidly prepare for the inevitable withdrawal of this chemical. I am amazed that we still have proponents of GMO crops out there, when Roundup Ready crops involve three sprays of this toxin on to the food crop. In Europe, they are happy that they never openly embraced the GM crops, but many consumers there do not realise it is still in their food chain. The EU barely grows protein crops these days. Most of their animal food is Roundup Ready soy or corn. What effect does this herbicide have upon livestock?
Don: There are serious health issues. We see manganese deficiency all the time and there are still born, deformed calves. It is difficult to move calcium into the bone without manganese, so knobbly joints are common. Inflamed intestines are also common in most livestock but it has been particularly well documented in pigs. We are seeing new animal diseases that didn't exist before the introduction of GMOs. It is interesting to observe the wild animals. Raccoons, deer and rats typically avoid the Roundup Ready crops, even when they are hungry.
Graeme: Cattle are our predominant livestock in Australia. Are there specific issues with beef or dairy cattle?
Don: Yes, there are. Premature ageing is a major problem, but one of the most serious issues is reproductive failure. There has been a dramatic decline in fertility in the US. In fact, cattle fertility has dropped 30% in the last five years. There are often multiple services required to achieve just a 30% success rate. Just like the soil, we see that beneficial organisms in the rumen become super sensitive, but pathogens become resistant. Chronic botulism is neurotoxic and it kills cattle. It has become a major issue in Germany, due to this antibiotic activity of the Roundup in the GM feed.
Graeme: It is amazing that we have allowed this abomination to become the world's most widely-used chemical. What about our precious pollinators. Bees have been dying off with Colony Collapse Disease, to the point that beekeeping is no longer a viable profession in your country. The world lasts just four years without bees. Are the bees impacted by glyphosate?
Don: Unfortunately our bees are being seriously impacted by this chemical. In fact, when combined with the impact of the neonicotinoid insecticides, it is an absolute recipe for disaster. Bees can't digest honey when it loses its Lactobacillus and Bifidus component due to the antibiotic effect of glyphosate. They suffer neurological disruption and become disorientated. Eventually, the inability to digest the honey kills tissue and they die. This antibiotic effect is also impacting frogs and bats.
Graeme: I guess the negative impact on the immune system will predispose many species to plagues. It may not be pretty when our world eventually suffers the pandemic that is supposedly overdue.
Don: Yes this is correct. The bird flu in the Midwest recently killed 48 million turkeys and chickens. There was not a single death amongst birds fed organic grains that were free from Roundup. There is a huge relationship between glyphosate and compromised immunity.
Graeme: It really does seem that GMO crops have been a premature, poorly-researched introduction, based upon multinational greed. In their attempts to control the seed of the world, we have been subjected to many unacceptable risks. The BT gene, inserted in several crops, for example, delivers the BT toxins 24/7. The poison is delivered at much higher rates and for much longer periods than what occurs in Nature. Here, the applied bacterium, Bacillus thuringiensis, releases a poison for a couple of weeks to dispose of Heliothis. However, when a toxin is constantly present, Nature always adapts and, in this case, the response from the geneticists is counterproductive – they just keep increasing the strength of the toxins that are now exuded from the entire plant. We are now seeing the death of beneficials, and even mycorrhizal fungi are suffering from the onslaught. What is your feeling about the GMO technology?
Don: I feel very strongly that this is the greatest hoax that has ever been perpetuated in the history of man and I feel sure that, in years to come, we will look back in amazement at our blind stupidity. It has been all about failed promises and flawed science. It was sold to us on the basis that it would solve world hunger, help counter climate change and improve the finances of farmers. It has failed on every front. There were no food safety studies and we now have a massive global spike in food sensitivity and allergies associated with the introduction of 60 new proteins that we have never seen before. Proteins like nuts and shellfish are common allergens but now we have a suite of disruptive alien proteins. The British Medical Association, for example, reported a huge increase in allergic responses directly associated with the import of GM soy into the UK.
Graeme: In Australia to date, we have thankfully not embraced the GM food crops. We have allowed cotton and canola, but margarine is not a food. Our biggest contamination source is the GM soy flour in supermarket bread, as mentioned earlier. I feel horrified when picturing all of those school children heading to school with lunchboxes laced with this poison and GM proteins potentially predisposing them to problems. There are so many kids out there who have developed food sensitivities.
Don: I share your concerns. The fatal flaw relates to the assumption that one gene relates to one function, and this is simply not the case. The inserted genetic material is inherently unstable. There is no substantial equivalence between GMO food and non-GMO food. I strongly suggest that your readers source the book Altered Genes, Twisted Truth by Steve Druker. This work offers a well-researched explanation of the multiple issues associated with this technology.
Graeme: I am hoping that the GM crops will eventually prove the architect of their own demise. They appear to have very little resilience to climate extremes. They were the first to fail in dry conditions in India, and this is one of the reasons for the mass suicides associated with GM crops in that country. Climate extremes are the shape of the future, so these small rooted crops, designed to prosper in perfect conditions, may become less and less relevant.
Don: There is another issue here that relates to vulnerability. I spent forty years in bio-warfare research looking at current diseases and new diseases, and evaluating their potential impact on US food production. We also developed rapid recovery programs, should we encounter disease epidemics or bio-terrorism. A society lives on its stomach and, in this context, there is nothing more important than agriculture. I can assure you that when you look at putting all of your major crops into an extremely susceptible technology, you have simply failed to learn lessons. We had the Texas male sterile incident in the seventies, where 70% of our corn hybrids were made with Texas male sterile. The idea was based in saving labour costs because you didn’t have to mechanically detassle. Then, we had a mutation of a pathogen that targeted that particular gene. This mutant devastated those hybrids. Corn prices went crazy and it was only the thirty percent, without the sterile genetic modification, that got us through. The gene that has been replaced to allow for Roundup resistance in the plant has effectively created much less resistance to other things, and this is an extreme vulnerability to food security in uncertain times. This new gene is extremely vulnerable to mutation, and this is recipe for disaster with four of the five major US crops involved.
Graeme: I understand that you wrote a detailed, private letter to the Secretary of Agriculture, Vilsack, regarding this vulnerability, but it was not well received.
Don: I asked that GM alfalfa should be further researched. I asked that the USDA should be permitted to research this obvious vulnerability of GM crops, because they were prohibited from publishing any of that research. I also alerted him to a new microscopic entity that was always associated with our new, destructive diseases, and with reproductive failure in animals. I asked for research funding to investigate this new issue.
Graeme: I read one of your interviews online, and you mentioned your controversial finding that there appears to be a foreign entity associated with glyphosate. It is a weird protein-like substance that grows like a living organism. Could you please elaborate on this intriguing finding?
Don: It has been a difficult piece of research to pursue and several of the labs I have enlisted have had to withdraw their services. They came under intense pressure due to their involvement. My research began with investigating a major increase in miscarriage in pigs, cattle, goats, sheep and horses. The owners of stillborn 4-million-dollar foals wanted answers. We checked nutrition and mycotoxins and other obvious things, but there were no answers. A vet friend was diligent and kept on looking. He decided to look at some tissue under an electron microscope in the search for physiological clues. He consistently found an entity that is smaller than a small virus. It was about 20 nanometers and it was definitely not a virus. He only ever found this entity in the placenta or amniotic fluid of an aborted fetus. He wondered if there was a link to the animal feed and he checked. Sure enough the Roundup Ready soybeans were just loaded with the stuff. About the same time, I was involved in researching an explosion in Goss's wilt in corn, in the Midwest. There were different symptoms than we had even seen before, and we checked the tissue with the electron microscope. It, too, was loaded with this entity and there was more of the entity wherever the new symptoms were most pronounced.
Graeme: It sounds like an intriguing detective story. What happened next?
Don: Well, at that point in 2002, I approached a colleague who specialised in Sudden Death Syndrome linked to Fusarium, because Fusarium is a carrier for this entity. I had $10,000 in private research funds available and I asked if he would like to be involved. He was really keen to help until his department head heard about it and totally forbade it. He recognised that it threatened their future endowments if they rocked the boat. So we just kept plugging away ourselves. I really feel that the veterinarian involved should get the Nobel Prize. He is amongst the sharpest and most perceptive individuals I have ever encountered.
Graeme: What is his name?
Don: At this point we are not releasing those details because two of the veterinarians that were previously involved were brutally treated. We have had six labs that had agreed to help, until the politics got in the way. To grow this entity we had to have a bacteria or fungi growing with it, just like the way you grow a prion. We had to get enough mass to enable testing. We sent the first sample off to England, after collecting about $40,000 in donations to enable this analysis. There were so many proteins in the sample that the $40,000 wouldn’t even touch it. We eventually managed to grow it on a medium to secure better samples but the lab was suddenly closed down. We were back on our own.
We continued to work, and discovered that this thing grows really well in a fermented medium. It flourishes in silage. It can grow with things like Saccharomyces just as well as it does with disease organisms. Then we discovered that horses grazing on pasture fertilised with chicken manure were aborting their foals, so we looked a little further. We checked the grass and it was loaded. We traced the chicken manure and it was also loaded. However, it was also loaded with glyphosate. It turned out to be so packed with glyphosate, you were effectively putting out half the recommended rate of glyphosate with every 4 tonnes of manure.
This is a pervasive thing that is definitely related to glyphosate and we have proven that many times since.
Graeme: Where are you at now with this research?
Don: Well, to cut a long story short, we believe that this is a prion. You may recall the prion that was linked to Mad Cow Disease.
Graeme: How do you theorise that it happened?
Don: Well, there are a couple of possibilities. One of them relates to formaldehyde. We have found this chemical in all Roundup Ready food in amounts of up to 200 ppm. Prions thrive in the presence of formaldehyde, when all living things struggle. In one of our studies, we subjected this entity to 1000 ppm of formaldehyde and heated it to 80 degrees centigrade. Low and behold this thing really takes off. This is the classic response of a prion. The prion associated with Mad Cow Disease was linked to the use of an organophosphate insecticide (Phosmet), used to control Warble fly grub. It was poured down the animals spine and hence ending up in the brain. The organophosphate is a copper chelator. The brain proteins are metalloproteins with copper as the stabilising element. When copper is chelated in this manner, the metallo portion of that protein is substituted by manganese. Copper has two bond connections but manganese has six. This messes up protein folding. You grow the protein and it is resistant to protease, to formaldehyde and to temperature, and the darn stuff grows without any DNA or RNA. Glyphosate is a sister to Phosmet.
Graeme: Yes, I once met with the English guy, Mark Purdey, the farmer/researcher who discovered this link. He was truly impressive and really tried to spread the word about the link between Phosmet and the creation of the killer prion. I remember him describing how his lawyer and assistant were both killed in suspicious road accidents. For the readers benefit we had better explain a prion. A prion is a very small (smaller than a virus) infectious particle. It is still somewhat mysterious because it does not relate to normal infectious organisms at all. It is actually a misfolded protein that seems to form a template for other proteins to mimic the destructive behaviour. It is commonly linked to progressive neurological disorders and can be linked to amyloid plagues that mess up neuron messaging. In this context, do you think there could be a link between this prion and the plague of Alzheimer’s?
Don: Well there has definitely been a huge increase in Alzheimer’s since the introduction of Roundup-laden GMO food. Mark Purdey was certainly a very special man. When I return to the US, I am expecting test results that give further support that glyphosate has generated a destructive entity in our food chain. This chemical has no further place in agriculture.
Graeme: I couldn’t agree more. Farmers need to seriously prepare themselves for a life without glyphosate as it will soon be banned. There is always another solution. Cover crops and roller crimpers may be part of that story. I would like to express my sincere thanks and gratitude for your efforts against extreme odds. You are a genuine hero and truth seeker and we are all indebted to you. Thank you so much for your time and for your passion.
Don: It was a pleasure. Keep up your good work.
To read Part 1 of this interview, please click here.