On 2 Feb 2016, Charles Benbrook, Ph.D., published research in Environmental Sciences entitled, Europe Bridging Science and Regulation at the Regional and European Level. He explains the practice of spraying glyphosate on wheat prior to harvest, known as desiccating, began in Scotland in the 1980s.

“Farmers there often had trouble getting wheat and barley to dry evenly so they can start harvesting. So they came up with the idea to kill the crop (with glyphosate) one to two weeks before harvest to accelerate the drying down of the grain,” he said. The pre-harvest use of glyphosate allows farmers to harvest crops as much as two weeks earlier than they normally would, an advantage in northern, colder, wetter regions. See reference article

Joel Ransom, an agronomist at North Dakota State University explains the practice spread to wheat-growing areas in the upper Midwest of the U.S. in states like North Dakota (the leading wheat-producing state in the U.S.) and in Saskatchewan and Manitoba provinces of Canada.  “It does help hasten dry down and controls grain weeds and other material that slows down the threshing practice,” he said. “It has an important role in areas where it’s wet.” See source article.

Traditionally, wheat was cut before it was fully mature. Farmers would lay it in rows called windrows to let it dry. It would lie there until the kernels dried out sufficiently. Once they were dry enough, the wheat would be harvested. The chemical spray shortcuts the natural drying and maturing process and save weeks of time. Farmers can just use a machine called a combine to harvest their dead wheat since they don’t have to cut and dry the wheat. A single application of glyphosate kills the wheat because the wheat has not been genetically engineered to resist glyphosate as GMO corn and soybean have been.

According to the US Department of Agriculture, as of 2012, 99% of durum wheat, 97% of spring wheat, and 61% of winter wheat has been treated with herbicides. Glyphosate is not only used on wheat but it is used on oats and other grains. These chemical residues are passed on to the unsuspecting consumer.

The herbicide industry maintains that glyphosate is minimally toxic to humans, but studies conducted by researchers not paid by the industry tell a much different story. Anthony Samsel and Stephanie Seneff of MIT investigated glyphosate’s effect on cytochrome P450 (CYP) enzymes created by gut bacteria. CYP enzymes are critical to human biology because they detoxify many foreign chemical compounds called, xenobiotics, that we are exposed to in our modern environment today. Gut bacteria aid digestion, prevent permeability of the gastointestinal tract (which discourages the development of autoimmune disease), synthesize vitamins and provide the foundation for robust immunity.  They found that glyphosate significantly disrupts the functioning of beneficial bacteria in the gut and contributes to permeability of the intestinal wall leading to autoimmune disease.

Dr. Zach Bush reports that adding glyphosate to wheat as a dessicant in the 1990s had a synergistic effect on gluten sensitivity. A report published in the Journal Interdisciplinary Toxicology in December 2013 examined glyphosate use as a desiccant and compared it to the rise of celiac disease. The data shows a direct correlation between the two. In fact researchers can track the rise of celiac disease with the application of this herbicide to wheat. Remember that wheat is NOT GMO and unable to withstand an application of glyphosate. The herbicide kills the wheat. The research data shows that what began as a trickle of gluten sensitivity in the early 1990s turned into a flood by 2010 with over 18 million documented sufferers. Dr. Bush’s latest research demonstrates that glyphosate hits the membranes of the cells lining the gut and upregulates the receptors for gliadin (a protein within gluten) and this activity can produce leaky gut. Glyphosate has a synergistic effect with the gliadin in gluten which leads to this condition. If people remove the gluten, that removes the herbicide residue and people get better. (GMOs Revealed, August 2017.)

But as most of us know, the gluten-free option is not usually a healthy option because it is normally loaded with sugar. A better approach would be to ensure you buy organic and one of the more ancient varieties of wheat like Kamut, Einkorn or Emmer. At home when we can make our own food it’s surprising how easy it is to swap the flour in any recipe with a organic Kamut for instance…you’d never know and it’s much, much healthier for us!

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