The Nutrition and Education Committee’s Monthly 3-Question Survey

Produce Section

December’s Survey Topic: GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms) and Glyphosate

Please click here to go to our survey!
Each month, The Nutrition and Education Committee (NEC) posts a survey in the Co-op Voice. We are always interested in your opinions. This month we’d like to share some information about GMOs and glyphosate and get your opinions on them.

When people refer to genetically modified organisms – GMOs – they are referring to crops developed through genetic engineering, also referred to as biotechnology, a method of inserting genes from one organism, such as a bacteria, into the genes of another organism, such as a plant. In other words, “genetic modification” is the mixing of two species that would never cross-breed in nature.

There are many different types of GMO crops that are available in the US today, including sweet and field corn, soybeans, cotton, canola, alfalfa, sugar beets, papaya, potatoes, squash, apples, and salmon. Some are drought tolerant, some are disease resistant, some are insect resistant and actually produce their own pesticides, and some are resistant to herbicides, such as Roundup Ready® crops that can be sprayed with Roundup® (an herbicide containing glyphosate) multiple times during the growing season.

Glyphosate, listed in our Food and Product Manual (see page 8) under “What HWFC Strives to Avoid,” was first patented for use as an industrial “chelating agent” (meaning an agent that binds to minerals and metals), and is now better known for its use as a broad spectrum herbicide. Because of its ability to bind to minerals, it is suspected to cause mineral deficiencies that could lead to chronic diseases, and was declared a probable carcinogen by the World Health Organization in 2015.

Roundup®, which contains glyphosate, is not only used on GMO crops, it is also used on conventionally raised crops in pre-harvest applications to “dry down” the crop and increase harvest yields. This occurs with many crops, including: wheat, feed barley, tame oats, canola, flax, peas, lentils, soybeans, dry beans, and sunflower seeds.

Roundup® may cause pregnancy problems by interfering with hormone production, possibly leading to abnormal fetal development, low birth weight, or miscarriage. It is suspected that the inert ingredients in Roundup® amplify the toxic effect of glyphosate on human cells—even at concentrations much more diluted than those used on farms and lawns. It has also been linked to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, DNA and chromosomal damage in human cells, and endocrine disruption in human cell lines. One specific inert ingredient, Polyethoxylated Tallow amine (POEA), was more deadly to human embryonic, placental, and umbilical cord cells than the herbicide itself. See more reports on scientific studies relating to GMOs, Roundup®, and glyphosate in the References section at the bottom of this article. Remember, just because you’re eating non-GMO does not mean it’s glyphosate free!

GMOs can be a very controversial subject in and of themselves. At Honest Weight we recently adopted a GMO Policy in our Food and Product Manual (see page 12), because we recognize that you, our members and customers, are concerned about the potential negative health and environmental effects of GMOs and we strive to provide education and information that allows you to make informed decisions about GMOs. Have you read Tracy Frisch’s article, GMO Anti-Labeling Bill (“DARK Act”) is Now Law? In it, she explains in detail how difficult it is, and will continue to be, to learn whether or not products contain GMOs. We hope in the near future to help you find truth in labeling, even if you don’t have a smartphone. To that end, our staff is working towards installing a kiosk in our store to help you learn about the products that you purchase, and will include such information as a product’s GMO content and product ratings. Look for our kiosk soon, mounted in Aisle One, near the front of the store.

So, what do you do if you want to avoid GMOs? Well, you can research each and every product that you buy, you can buy products that are Non-GMO Project Verified, you can buy CNG (Certified Naturally Grown) products, which prohibit the use of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides or GMOs, or you can buy Organic products, which prohibit the use of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, or GMOs. But, remember, just because it’s GMO-free doesn’t mean you’re avoiding the glyphosate! If you want to avoid as much glyphosate as possible, you can buy CNG or Organic, but even then there are no guarantees. Unfortunately, glyphosate is in our water, it’s in our soil, and it has contaminated much of our world. See trends in glyphosate herbicide use in the United States and globally and Pesticides Use and Exposure Extensive Worldwide.

Please, don’t forget to take this month’s survey about GMOs and glyphosate!

October’s Survey Results

Thank you so much for responding to our recent surveys about Wellness! Alex Mytelka and his team from the Wellness Department are also thankful for your responses, noting they have received some very valuable information from all of your responses these last two months. Please click here to see the full results of October’s survey.

In October, Wellness Department Manager Alex Mytelka asked about your Wellness purchases. His first question was, “Have you utilized the Wellness Department’s bulk body care products to refill your soaps, shampoos, conditioners, lotions, detergents, etc., which could save money and reduce waste? And if not, why?” Nearly 60 percent of respondents said they had used bulk body care products. Of those who did not buy bulk Wellness products: many indicated they did not know that the Wellness Department even carried bulk products; some were aware of the bulk products but expressed concern that they did not know the quality of those products (it can indeed be difficult to find ratings on products from smaller and local manufacturers on Environmental Working Group’s website and their Healthy Living App); others said they prefer to make their own products or preferred different brands. Among the responses, the suggestion was also made for Wellness to offer used, clean, and sterilized bottles of the squeezable type, much like the Bulk Department offers clean containers for re-use.

The next Wellness-focused question in October was, “Have you ever purchased the ‘impulse’ items at the Co-op’s checkout registers? And how satisfied are you with the Wellness Department’s options at the checkout registers?” Just over two-thirds of respondents said they had not purchased impulse items at the registers, many indicating they had not noticed them. A couple of suggestions were made for products to carry at the registers, including hand sanitizer, lip balm, hand cream and more maple candy (yum!)!

The final Wellness question in October was, “If you have recently asked for assistance at the Wellness Counter, how would you rate your experience from 1 through 10?” It looks like the Wellness Department is doing pretty well in this area: the average rating was 8.77. No one reported having less than a fair experience and nearly half reported having had a great experience! The comments were, for the most part, full of wonderful compliments. It sounds like Alex can give his team in Wellness a nice pat on the back.

Thank you for participating in our survey!


IARC Monographs Volume 112: evaluation of five organophosphate insecticides and herbicides

Excretion of the Herbicide Glyphosate in Older Adults between 1993 and 2016

Glyphosate induces human breast cancer cells growth via estrogen receptors.

Glyphosate-based herbicides are toxic and endocrine disruptors in human cell lines.

Test yourself for glyphosate

Major Pesticides Are More Toxic to Human Cells than Their Declared Active Principles

Genetically modified foods: safety, risks and public concerns—a review

Multi-omics reveal non-alcoholic fatty liver disease in rats following chronic exposure to an ultra-low dose of Roundup herbicide

Detection of Glyphosate Residues in Animals and Humans

Complete Genes May Pass from Food to Human Blood

Risk assessment of genetically modified crops for nutrition and health, abstract.

Risk assessment of genetically modified crops for nutrition and health, complete.

A long-term toxicology study on pigs fed a combined genetically modified (GM) soy and GM maize diet

Glyphosate’s Suppression of Cytochrome P450 Enzymes and Amino Acid Biosynthesis by the Gut Microbiome: Pathways to Modern Diseases

Cytotoxic and DNA-damaging properties of glyphosate and Roundup in human-derived buccal epithelial cells.

Glyphosate-Based Herbicides Produce Teratogenic Effects on Vertebrates by Impairing Retinoic Acid Signaling

Glyphosate induces human breast cancer cells growth via estrogen receptors.

Trends in glyphosate herbicide use in the United States and globally

Pesticides Use and Exposure Extensive Worldwide

Glyphosate, Pathways to Modern diseases III: Manganese, neurological diseases, and associated pathologies

Glyphosate Patents

Pesticide exposure as risk factor for non-Hodgkin lymphoma including histopathological subgroup analysis.

Cytotoxicity on human cells of Cry1Ab and Cry1Ac Bt insecticidal toxins alone or with a glyphosate-based herbicide.

Potential toxic effects of glyphosate and its commercial formulations below regulatory limits.

Time- and dose-dependent effects of roundup on human embryonic and placental cells.

Glyphosate Formulations Induce Apoptosis and Necrosis in Human Umbilical, Embryonic, and Placental Cells