A letter from Don M. Huber, Emeritus Professor of Plant Pathology, Purdue University
Dr. Hartzler has written several similar papers, as have others, defending
GMOs and glyphosate in spite of the growing scientific peer-reviewed
studies to the contrary that document the serious health and safety risks
associated with them. I guess it is like the saying, “it is easy to be
down on something you are not up on.”
I have stated on several occasions that Future historians may well look
back upon our time and write, not about how many pounds of pesticides we
did or did not apply, but about how willing we are to sacrifice our
children and future generations with this massive experiment we call
genetic engineering that is based on false promises and flawed science just
to benefit the ‘bottom line’ of a commercial enterprise.”
I do not worry about the critics because this is common in science, but the
truth finally prevails with a little time (it took quite a long time re
tobacco). I was surprised that Dr. Wise was listed as a coauthor to the
information although she is relatively new to Purdue and perhaps
inexperienced and not familiar with all of the research that has and is
being done in this area by her colleagues there.
I am not interested in a bashing game or debate so I generally just share
the information and documentation and let it go. However,I am concerned
about the damage that is done to our production efficiency; and soil,
plant, animal, and human health that is obvious all around us. I will
briefly comment on several items in the Arneson paper:
The effect of glyphosate as a strong mineral chelator is well documented in
the published literature (also herbicide labels and US Patent Office).
It is also patented as a strong antibiotic to many beneficial soil, animal
and human microorganisms that protect us from disease as well as enhance
nutrient uptake and availability from soil or the GI Tract.
I also had serious concerns in writing a very private/confidential letter
to alert Secretary Vilsack of the impact of what we were seeing could have
on our exports. Within two months of the letter being leaked to the
public, scientists in other countries had also identified the abortigenic
agent in Roundup Ready soybeans imported from the US. They also have been
observing reproductive failure, ‘gut’ diseases, birth defects, etc. when
animals are fed the imported GMO or glyphosate containing feed stocks.
Some countries have initiated efforts to secure sources of NON-GMO products
to replace US imports because the US is not considered a viable source of
these materials that they want. (Remember, the customer is always right – a
lesson we should have learned from the Japanese in the 70s when they
developed a competitive source of soybeans in Brazil.) If we keep our
collective and governmental heads in the sand and continue to force them to
have only GMO products, our markets are shot – along with our ag economy
without the markets).
Dr. Wise’s colleagues at Purdue have published some excellent research
verifying numerous earlier peer-reviewed scientific papers showing that it
is the soilborne pathogens that are the herbicidal mode of action of
glyphosate. In fact, they approached it from a new angle and showed that
if you treat susceptible weeds with a fungicide, it destroys the efficacy
of glyphosate. They then looked at “glyphosate resistant” weeds and showed
that they are resistant to the fungi (not the glyphosate) and therefore
don’t respond to normal herbicidal rates of the glyphosate (See the Ph-D
Thesis of Jessica Schaffer and publications of Johnson, Shaffer, et al in
Dr. Wise’s Department at Purdue). Increasing the rate of glyphosate to
kill “resistant weeds” merely increases the virulence of these soil borne
pathogens and kills off (antibiotic activity) the soil microorganisms that
would otherwise provide natural biological control of these pathogens.
These are common pathogens that are then left ‘souped up’ to attack other
crops grown on these more disease conducive soils. There are few voids in
nature, so when entire groups of beneficial microbes are eliminated, the
void is filled with the bad guys to increase disease (See Krueger, et al.
Dr. Hartzler’s assumptions of a large (10,000 to 100,000 times
higher)excess of metal ions is not correct. It is the opposite relative to
‘available’ ions – that’s why we refer to many of them as MICRO-nutrients)!
The availability of many of these nutrients (esp. manganese and iron) for
plants is determined by microbial activity in the soil. Glyphosate is toxic
(patented as an antibiotic) to beneficial organisms critical to effective
biological function in soil (and also in our intestinal tract).
Corn used to be the healthiest crop grown. Now, look at Goss’ wilt, etc.
and all of the fungicides applied to it – and also to wheat. If you will
ask yourself “what has changed” and then connect the dots, you will
probably come to the same conclusion that I and other scientists have, that
we have a lot of failed promises because we haven’t recognized the flawed
science involved in the GMO process and toxicity by applying chemicals such
as glyphosate in our food. The wealth of literature documenting these
health and safety concerns continues to grow while I know of no long-term
safety studies that indicate that our current glyphosate herbicide
practices or GMO toxins in feed and food are safe.
Don M. Huber
Emeritus Professor of Plant Pathology, Purdue University