Posted by: Chris Maloney | November 25, 2014

Does Roundup On Wheat Cause Celiac Disease?

A friend sent me a well-written discussion of the proliferation of celiac disease which pins the blame on the drying process of wheat using huge quantities of the herbicide Roundup. The Roundup dries the wheat and makes  it a more uniform crop with a higher yield. Since the main ingredient of Roundup, glyphosate, has been shown to be relatively non-toxic, farmers see no problem using it. Heck, the Monsanto salesmen have been known to even drink the stuff on sales calls.

Glyphosate, yum!


On the official Roundup website, there’s no question it’s harmless. “glyphosate targets an enzyme found in plants but not people or pets.”  That makes it harmless.

So…why are there reports of cardiac abnormalities in rats, rabbits and farmers? They are exposed to a lot of herbicide, but isn’t it non-toxic?

Maybe not as non-toxic as we’d like to believe. Exposure drops the sperm count in zebra fish. There are cellular changes at human poisoning levels of Roundup.

But in 2000, Roundup’s main ingredient glyphosate was given a completely clean bill of health. “it is concluded that the use of Roundup herbicide does not result in adverse effects on development, reproduction, or endocrine systems in humans and other mammals.” This is a pretty important result, because the U.S. has sponsored massive Roundup spraying to destroy drug crops in Columbia. Study after study finds no harm from the villagers who ingested Roundup.

By 2013, we’ve got a better answer. It isn’t the glyphosate that causes the problem. It’s the other compounds in the Roundup. When they did all the testing on glyphosate, they didn’t check it as a whole compound. POE-15, one of the compounds added to the Roundup, may be the problem: “POE-15 clearly appears to be the most toxic principle against human cells, even if others are not excluded. It begins to be active with negative dose-dependent effects on cellular respiration and membrane integrity between 1 and 3ppm, at environmental/occupational doses

When checked against neonatal, embryonic, and placental cells, the combined forms of Roundup were not non-toxic: “All R formulations cause total cell death within 24 h” Other “data suggest that Roundup exposure may affect human reproduction and fetal development in case of contamination.”

Adults are not immune to the combination: “we found genotoxic effects after short exposure to concentrations that correspond to a 450-fold dilution of spraying used in agriculture, our findings indicate that inhalation may cause DNA damage in exposed individuals” In poisoning situations, the effects are dramatic: “Ingestion of >85 mL of the concentrated formulation is likely to cause significant toxicity in adults. Gastrointestinal corrosive effects, with mouth, throat and epigastric pain” I guess someone forgot to tell the salesmen who drank Roundup to show it was non-toxic.

So does the toxicity of Roundup contribute to the increase in celiac disease? Several researchers seem to think so. Here’s a quote from one of their papers: “The authors also observed “disruption of mucosal folds and disarray of microvilli structure” in the intestinal wall, along with an exaggerated secretion of mucin throughout the alimentary tract. These features are highly reminiscent of celiac disease.” (quote discusses fish, here’s the complete paper).

It’s not hard to make the link between Roundup thinning the gut at the same time as wheat is introduced to that gut and an increased allergic response to wheat. But right now we can’t prove that’s what happens. What is clear is that bulk spraying Roundup to maximize the wheat crop isn’t a very good idea, and that we really don’t have a good handle on the relative toxicity of supposedly harmless herbicides.



  1. […] salespeople, glyphosate is not sold as an individual product but as a mixture. As I point out in my post on whether Round Up causes Celiac, it is not the single chemical but the combination product that causes the […]

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