In this episode of the Ricci Flow Nutrition Podcast, I had the pleasure of speaking with Stephanie Seneff.
Stephanie is a senior research scientist at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. She has a bachelor’s degree in biology with a minor in food and nutrition, and a master’s degree, an engineer’s degree, and a PhD in electrical engineering and computer science, all from MIT. She has authored over three dozen peer-reviewed journal papers on topics including human disease and nutrition and toxic exposures. She has focused specifically on the herbicide glyphosate and the mineral sulfur.
Stephanie has been a huge influence on my views towards agriculture and synthetic chemicals in general. Her research is a sobering reminder that just because government agencies assure us that a substance is safe, it doesn’t mean that the research is settled, objective or up-to-date. Her work has gradually parsed out several mechanisms by which the herbicide glyphosate interferes with both plant and animal biology to cause disease. Much of this research was uncovered during the explosion of microbiome research in the last few decades. This was because prior to our current understanding of our microbiome, the glyphosate-containing herbicide Roundup was touted as safe to humans as it only acted upon an enzyme pathway that happened not to be present in animals. It is, however, present in bacteria. Glyphosate has been shown to drastically disturb microbes that commonly colonise the human gastrointestinal tract. This is no surprise for early researchers of glyphosate, as the molecule’s original patent was as an antibiotic. To make matters worse, glyphosate is an extremely powerful metal chelator, meaning that it can strongly bind to metals. Again, those who kept up with the research knew this could be a potential problem because glyphosate had been used for decades to clear metals from plumbing systems. Unfortunately for humans, once glyphosate is on board either through our food, water or air, it can bind minerals that we need for life, particularly the trivalent cations such as zinc. This problem gets worse as Stephanie outlines in her paper, “Aluminium and glyphosate could act synergistically to cause gut and neurological problems”. Aluminium in the blood is likely to bind to glyphosate because of it 3+ charge, where they can pass the blood brain barrier and deposit this toxic metal in the brain; probably the pineal gland. Glyphosate is also an analogue of a critical amino acid, glycine. Glycine is abundant in human tissues, being a major constituent of the collagen matrix. There is now irrefutable evidence that glyphosate can find its way into proteins such as collagen because it can mimic the charges and shape of glycine. The potential ramifications of widespread glycine substitution for glyphosate may be substantial.
It’s also critical to understand that this molecule is water-soluble. This is a huge problem because once we release it into the environment, we can’t get it back. This is why glyphosate is present in the air, rain, municipal water supply and even highly concentrated in the breast milk of mothers eating organic diets. This is a highly pernicious molecule and I have by no means outlined part of how glyphosate interferes with biology. I believe, as does Stephanie, that it is crucial now more than ever to support organic and biodynamic farmers. These farmers are producing healthy food on chemical-free soils. The more of us that contribute to supporting these producers, the cheaper the produce will become, and the more options we will have available.
Seneff’s latest book, ‘Toxic Legacy: How the weedkiller glyphosate is destroying our health and the environment’ is the most complete and rigorous distillation of the research surrounding glyphosate and its effects on life.
Visit https://stephanieseneff.net/book/ to get a copy of her book and to keep up to date with all of her work.
I had a great time speaking with Stephanie. I have been a huge fan of her work for years, so to get the opportunity to sit down and talk with her was an absolute gift. She was extremely kind and generous with her time and I hope that I get the chance to speak with her again.