QI have a GMO hating landlord that is isisting that i plant his farm using only nongmo seeds. I told him that would be like going back to the stoneage, but he just continued to ramble about how some ingredient in Roundup was found in peoples blood over in

I have a GMO hating landlord that is isisting that i plant his farm using only nongmo seeds. I told him that would be like going back to the stoneage, but he just continued to ramble about how some ingredient in Roundup was found in peoples blood over in europe because of their supposed overuse of roundready crops. I had never heard of such a topic. What do I say to a nutty landlord that knows nothing about modern seed technology?

AExpert Answer

As you and other farmers are well aware, weed control is one of the keys to good yields. GM crops that can tolerate glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup agricultural herbicides, provide a simplified approach to weed control and allow farmers to rely on an herbicide with a thoroughly documented record of safe use. Glyphosate is well known for its low toxicity to humans, farm animals and wildlife.
 
From time to time, there are reports of glyphosate being detected in samples collected from people. It is understandable that reports like these capture the public¹s attention and raise some concerns. The important point to keep in mind is that regulatory agencies around the world devote a significant amount of effort to reviewing multiple sources of safety data before allowing any crop-protection chemical, including glyphosate, to be sold and used. These agencies will review toxicity data for the chemical and limit allowable use rates to ensure human exposures will be well below levels where adverse effects could occur. Comparing reported concentrations with these allowable levels makes it possible to determine whether adverse health impacts are likely to occur.
 
With respect to this specific allegation, it is likely that your landlord is thinking of a report from 2013 that looked at 182 urine samples collected from people in 18 European countries. There are other, similar reports, but this one received the most attention in the popular press. I am not aware of a report that examined glyphosate in blood from Europeans.
 
In this study, glyphosate was not detectable in most of the samples. The largest concentration detected (two parts per billion, or the equivalent of two cents in $10 million) corresponds to an intake 1,000 times lower that what is allowed in Europe and 3,500 times lower than the limit established by the World Health Organization. In other words, the study found that exposures were well within the limits set by agencies that have reviewed all available data on glyphosate to derive safe exposure levels. As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention note, "Just because we can detect levels of an environmental chemical in a person's blood or urine does not necessarily mean that the chemical will cause effects or disease. Advances in analytical chemistry enable us to measure low levels of environmental chemicals in people, but separate studies of varying levels of exposure determine whether specific levels cause health effects."

AExpert Answer

This type of misinformation is exactly why GMO Answers was created. We understand people have concerns about GMOs, and we need to do a better job answering their questions.  

We encourage you to take a look at and perhaps share several of the questions and answers on this website that discuss the safety of glyphosate,how glyphosate is applied and how trace levels of glyphosate are not toxic to humans. We also have information about how GM technology can reduce pesticide applications, including herbicides, insecticides and fungicides.

We invite you and anyone else you know who has questions about GMOs to participate in the discussion on GMO Answers.

Posted on January 31, 2018
Thank you for your question. There are various aspects of your question. I assume your question refers to the use of Agrobacterium rhizogenes by scientists to intentionally transfer genes from the bacterium to plants. Infection and DNA transfer from this bacterium occurs in nature all the time to cause disease. Such transformed plants are not classified as GMOs since transfer occurred naturally. If this is done by scientists then it would be classified as a GMO. Rules and... Read More
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Posted on March 1, 2018
I’m a Monsanto scientist who has more than 20 years of experience with genetic modification of plants. I will try to answer your question, even though I don’t ever do experiments on animals, certainly not on humans, of course! Can humans be genetically modified…but a much bigger question is should humans be genetically modified? There are two ways to think about genetic modification of humans (or any animal). One way is modification of somatic cells, and the other is the... Read More
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Posted on May 10, 2017
The simple answer is that 20+ years of composition assessments of GMO crops have demonstrated that crop composition is not appreciably affected by the GM process (1). In addition, data collected through that time have indicated that general factors such as the growth environment can contribute to notable variation in component levels (2). Plant agglutinins (or lectins) and amylase inhibitors are examples of anti-nutritional compounds that may be present in crops. The relevance of such a... Read More