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Poison on your plate!

Let food be thy medicine” said Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine in 400BC. Since ancient times all traditional wholistic medicinal systems be it Ayurveda or traditional Chinese medicine have used the power of good food, its nutritional and medicinal value, to cure diseases and achieve good health naturally.

But are we seeing the reversal of this truth today? Is the food on our plate proving to be the root cause of our illnesses, the epidemic of chronic diseases spreading rapidly and striking at an ever-younger age? What can we do to protect ourselves and change this reality? These are the questions I will try to address here.

Chemicals in our food

  • The food we consume contains lots of highly toxic chemicals – fertilisers, pesticides, weedicides, anti-biotics, steroids, preservatives, stabilisers, colouring & ripening agents, etc.

  • There are 80,000+ toxic chemicals, most of them not even tested for safety, in our environment.

  • Harmful chemicals, many neurotoxic and carcinogenic, are used at every stage of our food chain.

  • These chemicals have now become ubiquitous, present in the food we eat, air we breathe, water we drink and even mother’s milk.

‘Green Revolution’ & Advent of Industrial Farming

Modern industrial farming with its mega monocultures, rampant use of chemical fertilisers and pesticides started post 2nd WW. Farming world over till then, was done mainly based on regenerative traditional practices like crop rotation, multi cropping, cover cropping, organic manures and so on.

After WW2 the massive oil empire built during the war suddenly found itself with huge excess capacity. But they soon discovered that Nitrogen, Potassium and Prosperous can be extracted from oil and thus was born the NPK fertiliser era.

This led to the so-called green revolution is the 60s (70s in India) where by farmers were brain washed and incentivized to start using these artificial chemical fertilizers instead of natural inputs. NPK was heralded as the magic ingredient and a massive propaganda blitz was launched by the industry with active help from the scientific and academic community, and Govts. Which led farmers to gradually abandon their age-old practices of focusing on soil health and seed security.

Undermining soil health

NPK initially did make plants grow and turn green but its usage coupled with abandoning the regenerative traditional practices led to steady degradation of the soil. Plants growing in such soils become weak, their immune system compromised and they become prone to viruses, pests and weeds.

NPK initially did make plants grow and turn green but its usage coupled with abandoning the regenerative traditional practices led to steady degradation of the soil. Plants growing in such soils become weak, their immune system compromised and they become prone to viruses, pests and weeds.

Pesticides to the ‘rescue’

Now the same chemical industry which supplied chemical fertilizers was ready with pesticides, fungicides and weedicides as the magic solution. As the usage of these toxic chemicals started increasing, soils became even more lifeless rapidly losing the life in them, decimating microorganisms, other soil creatures and beneficial insects, thus creating a massive ecological imbalance.

Vicious Cycle

The Result – plants became even weaker, pests started mutating and becoming resistant to these chemicals. Which meant even more fertilizers and ever more and stronger toxic pesticides had to be used, damaging the soil and natural eco system even further. Thus, was born the first vicious cycle.

As farmers increasingly found agriculture unviable and started migrating out, it led to large scale corporatized industrial farming mono cultures practicing the most toxic forms of chemical farming.

Emergence of chronic diseases

This trend started accelerating post 80s. The food that was produced from such chemical farming was not only toxic but also lacked both the nutrients and medicinal properties present in the plants, thanks to the work of the soil microorganisms. That led to the emergence and rapid spread of chronic diseases across populations.

Pharma to the ‘rescue’

And now the pharma industry was ready with a multitude of chemical drugs and other interventions to treat the symptoms of such diseases, while totally ignoring the root cause. We started putting more toxic chemicals in our bodies, now in the name of medicine, only increasing the toxic load and causing further damage. To address which more drugs were invented and thus was born the second vicious cycle.

Convergence of toxic legacies

The story of use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides for plants, and anti-biotics and pharma drugs for humans runs in parallel. And does it come as any surprise that Monsanto, largest source of these toxic chemicals and GMOs in agriculture is now owned by Bayer, the largest pharma company in the world.

Epidemic of chronic diseases

This trend started with the US, but spread rapidly across the industrialized world and with globalization now has reached the remotest corners of the world. Since 1990s there has been an explosion of an epidemic of chronic diseases across the world. Lets look at some facts for US, the leader of the pack

  • Autism in children which was 2 to 4 in 10,000 in the 1960s now stands at 1 in 36 and if the current trend continues by 2035, 1 in 3 children are expected to be autistic.

  • By 2035 every 1 in 2 adults is expected to have some kind of cancer.

  • Similar scenario is unfolding w.r.t diabetes, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, auto immune, diabetes, ….

  • While the above trends are most pronounced in the US followed by rest of the developed world, China and India are fast catching up and even surpassing them in many areas

So, the correlation is crystal clear. The dangers are undeniable.

Public enemy No.1

Here onwards, I want to focus on one of the most noxious chemicals, the usage of which has become synonymous with modern farming and which has caused incalculable harm to the ecology on the planet, life in general and human health in particular. Glyphosate popularly known as Round UP and used as a week killer from urban gardens and driveways to large scale industrial farms is our focus here.

Shocking & scary facts

  • Around 2 Billion kilograms of Glyphosate is used annually globally.

  • Glyphosate was invented in 1958 by a Japanese scientist but was not put in the market because it was a water-soluble toxin.

  • Water soluble toxins cannot be taken out of the eco system once introduced as everything on planet earth including our bodies comprises of 70% water.

  • In humans Glyphosate can pass through the gut lining and blood-brain barrier

  • Glyphosate was not patented as a weed killer but was initially patented as an anti-biotic and then re patented as anti-parasite, anti-fungal

  • Less than 1/10th of 1% of Roundup used actually hits the weeds. Other 99.99% gets into soil and is run off from farms along with rain water into the water system (streams, rivers and oceans and even underground aquifers). It also evaporates with water and gets into air we breathe and clouds and rain.

  • Studies in the US have shown that 75% of the air and rainfall are contaminated with Roundup

  • 3.5 M kg of anti-biotics are used in humans and 14 M Kg in animals annually. But pales in comparison to 2B kg of Glyphosate dumped into our food chain every year

  • Last 150kms of Mississippi river which collects all the Glyphosate washed away from farms in what is known as the bread bowl of the US is called the cancer alley, as it has the highest rate of cancer in the developed world

How Glyphosate works

Mechanism of Glyphosate is to block the enzymes in soil bacteria, fungi and plants. The Enzyme pathway it blocks is called Shikimate pathway. It’s a metabolic pathway used by bacteria, fungi, algae and plants for biosynthesis of folates and several important amino acids.

Our bodies comprise of only 20,000 genes but 200,000 proteins. We make 200,000 proteins from 26 amino acids.

Essential amino acids

These 26 amino acids are like 26 alphabets of English language. While certain alphabets are not that widely used, the vowels are critical and the absence of them would affect massive number of words and make the language unusable.

Vowels of amino acids are 9 essential amino acids. If you start to tweak any of those 9 you will affect 10s of thousands of protein structures, their functionality and unique form.

These essential amino acids cannot be made by the human body. They have to come from our food chain. They are only made by bacteria and fungi in plants using the Shikimate pathway. You don’t have Shikimate pathway in human cells.

These essential amino acids are blocked through their Shikimate pathway by Glyphosate/Round up

Monsanto’s spurious logic

Monsanto’s argument is – Shikimate pathway is a plant process and doesn’t exist in humans and hence harmless to humans.

But Roundup blocks the ability of plants to make building blocks for a healthy human or any animal body. In fact, all multi cellular complex life depends on these amino acids.

By taking out the essential amino acids from our food chain, by extensive usage of Glyphosate, we have subtracted out the building blocks of a healthy human body.

Damage doesn’t stop here

Every macro membrane in the body including the gut lining, blood vessels, kidney tubes and even the most sacrosanct blood-brain barrier are held together by a protein trijunction in the membrane. Glyphosate toxin attacks the trijunction in all these membranes.

Thus, massively increased usage of Glyphosate starting 1990s in the US led to a massive explosion in the neurologic injury leading to rapid spread of diseases like Autism, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and Autoimmune.

Glyphosate undermines the integrity of how our body holds itself together. It affects our gut, blood vessels, kidney and most importantly the central nervous system.

This creates a chronic inflammatory response in the body. Chronic inflammation once it occurs, accelerates the sponge like effect for other toxins.

Further Glyphosate not only attacks the Trijunction in the membranes in our body but also attacks the Gap Junction in the same membranes.

While Trijunction regulates the flow of material, the Gap Junction regulates the flow of communication between cells.

Thus Glyphosates damages both the flow of material and flow of communication between cells.

Initiation of cancer

Cancer cell is actually a highly damaged cell that has also got isolated i.e. has lost communication with other cells. It thinks it’s the only surviving cell and starts multiplying to save life.

In a lab environment scientist have observed under a microscope how when you brake the flow of communication for just 15 minutes the cells now cut off from each other start developing into cancer cells

Under normal conditions when inter cellular communication is active, such damaged cells are either quickly repaired or if they are beyond repair, they commit suicide in a process called apoptosis. And then these are replaced by the stem cells. But when intercellular communication breaks down this process also breaks down.

Here I have focused only on one highly toxic chemical use of which is widespread globally. But there are literally 1000s of such chemicals in our food chain. If one chemical could cause so much damage, just imagine what a combination of such chemicals could be doing to our health and wellbeing as well as health and well being of all life on planet earth.

What is the way forward?

The only solution is for us to stop using these highly toxic chemicals in our food chain and switch to regenerative natural farming, as we practice at Savera Naturals. But what can we do as consumers to make it happen.

Buy Organic: Firstly, buy organic food whenever & wherever possible. Don’t think that organic food is expensive. Once you understand the price you pay in terms of loss of your health by consuming the “cheaper” toxic food, you will realise that there is simply no comparison. You will also discover that naturally grown organic food is rich in nutrients, medicinal properties and retains its natural taste and flavour.

Buy fresh, local and seasonal: As less chemicals are used to grow, process and preserve them even in case of chemically grown food. Patronize organic farmers markets happening near you. Whenever possible buy directly from farmers.

Grow whatever is possible: Use your backyard, terrace garden, balcony – on the ground or in the pots. Start growing at least some of the veggies, greens and herbs like tomatoes, coriander, chilies, mint, lemongrass, turmeric, ginger and so on. Always use mixed planting. Grow pulses & beans, chilies & garlic & marigold along with veggies & greens. It will help you both improve soil fertility (pluses and beans fix nitrogen in soil) and ward off pests. Compost your kitchen waste and use it to feed your plants. Experiment. Dirty your hands.

Visit organic farmers. Volunteer to help them. Get to know them and learn from them. Most importantly get your children involved. Inculcate in them a love for plants and curiosity to explore nature.

Be passionately obsessed. Spread the word, talk about it, talk to your family, extended family, friends and acquaintances, colleagues, on social media; create awareness. As the customer awareness increases about the dangers of chemical food, the demand will increase for organic food; which will incentivize more farmers to switch to organic farming and create more retail options to buy organic produce.

Switch to a plant-based whole food diet. Its your best bet to detoxify your body, build immunity and create long term natural good health and wellbeing. Eliminate animal foods, dairy, added sugars and processed foods from your diet. Add fermented food to your daily diet. Eat fresh food, rediscover the joy of cooking at home

Embrace natural alternatives: Avoid using chemical based personal care products, cleaning agents and so on. Switch to the natural alternatives. Shun artificial fabrics and switch to natural ones, handloom, Khadi.

Be environmentally conscious. Use less plastic; generate less waste; be aware of your carbon footprint; consume less and live more.

In short, Try to live more naturally and simply! Together we can make it happen!!

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