When I was 4 years old (until age 10) our family lived in southwest San Jose. California. This was the mid to late 1960’s. At that time, Santa Clara County was still considered one of the most fertile valleys in the world. Fruit groves were everywhere; wildlife and healthy ecosystems flourished. This all changed quickly as the 1970’s and 80’s arrived. The soil, once black and rich became contaminated with toxic chemical residues as pollutants infiltrated the region. The fertility of technology and greed replaced the natural; the countryside transformed into the Silicon Valley.
In those days my dad worked for the tech giant IBM and on weekends and week day evenings, he created the best lawn in the area. In fact, dad’s entire yard was the envy of the neighborhood. His lawn-edger, produced circa 1950, was a ramshackle device requiring physical dexterity and strength. Dad manually mowed the lawn with an even more archaic push mower, the original blades needed to be hand sharpened weekly. Dad enjoyed working in the yard though he was not a fan of weeding.
When we moved into redwood trees just north of Scotts Valley, yard maintenance changed. Dad still had a small lawn to care for but beginning in 1974, hand weeding ended. A modern alternative herbicide arrived. It promised to ease the strain of weeding while being non-toxic to the environment. This new herbicidal invention was called Roundup. A stealth bomb had been dropped on us without a sound but its impact was atomic.
I thought nothing of dad applying one of the early versions of the increasingly popular Roundup around the house and yard. In a world driven by the next quick fix, Roundup was the weed king, promising to destroy weeds fast while you relaxed and watched TV. One no longer needed to touch the soil, perspire or even get dirty.
It wasn’t until years later that I learned the power inherent in a living ecosystem, like a vegetable garden. It’s healing to touch an organic earthen soil that has not been contaminated by chemical poisons. Putting my hands into the soil, I became part of the dynamic life inside this microcosmic environment. As a practicing massage therapist, I found that placing my hands into the earth was no less sacred than touching another human being or animal. The Earth Mother feeds and sustains all forms. The relish of one day consuming the bounty of simple food grown in your own garden was equally appealing.
Chemical herbicidal research started in the early 20th century. During the Second World War these early ‘products’ were originally designed as biological warfare agents.
Roundup was designed by Monsanto Company. Monsanto, for those who may not be familiar, began about 1900 as a chemical company which created saccharin (an artificial sweetener and known carcinogen linked to cancer) for Coca Cola. Monsanto has been exposed in several documentaries: The Future of Food, The World According to Monsanto, and Sweet Misery: A poisoned world.
Monsanto is an agricultural biotechnology company that claims to be saving the world with their GMO seeds. This business conglomerate is responsible for chemically poisoning the planet in myriad ways: herbicides (DDT, Agent Orange), through its pharmaceutical wing (attempting to crack the genetic code and takeover of the world seed market), and poisonous food additives, like Nutrasweet (a known neurotoxin).
In the 1930’s Monsanto bought the chemical company that invented PCB’s (toxic chemical compound) and disseminated these toxins all over the world, leading to wide scale industrial-chemical contamination, now linked to many diseases.
Monsanto has monopolized the world seed market because their Roundup chemical has been sprayed all over the world creating genetically modified seed strains which Monsanto now claims ‘patent ownership’ of. Crops sprayed with Roundup then contaminate nearby seed beds which are then claimed by Monsanto via patent. Monsanto continues to sue farmers in India (and elsewhere) creating a wild scale epidemic of suicides when farm saved seeds were no longer allowed. Over 25.000 peasant farmers, in India alone, have committed suicide in the last 15 years when these poisonous, mutated Corporatized seeds were forced on the farmers.
Roundup’s main ingredient, Glyphosate (N-(phosphonomethyl) glycine) is a broad-spectrum systemic herbicide used to kill weeds. Glyphosate kills insects, aquatic invertebrates (via runoff), mice and other small creatures. Glyphosate was initially classified as environmentally safe. It is now known to cause numerous diseases. Besides the glyphosate, the other so called ‘inert’ ingredients in Roundup create a synergistic amplification of toxicity. Glyphosate binds to heavy metals and evades the detoxification pathways in the liver, instead being filtered through the kidneys, where high acidity breaks the metal’s bond and release the herbicide, destroying the kidney tubules. According to researchers at the University of Buenos Aires in Argentina, Glyphosate wipes out the navigational ability of bees. After being exposed they are unable to return to their hive.
In 2013, the country of El Salvador banned Roundup because of an epidemic of Kidney disease which has been clearly linked to Roundup overexposure. Many people, from Central American, Sri Lanka and other countries, have reported similar incidents.
Animal sickness and death, lesser known poisonous pathways, related to Roundup usage affect both wild and domestic animals whose deaths can be attributed directly or indirectly to Roundup.
As an example, I recently visited my friend Victoria who was preparing to move. During the course of our conversation, she said with eyes, equal parts moist and tired:
“Moving is challenging enough but then my baby, my beloved Tasha almost died.”
Tasha is Victoria’s cat. Both Victoria and I are healing arts practitioners: my background as a health coach and former acupuncturist, hers as an enzyme therapist and nutritional consultant. As we began discussing some details related to Tasha’s acute illness, suddenly a flash of intuition came rushing in:
“Could Tasha have been chemically poisoned?” I asked. Victoria’s eyes widened as recognition arrived.
“She got sick the same day they sprayed the building with Roundup…”. She gasped.
Victoria cast her eyes in my direction but at the same time her gaze was inward. After a short pause, with energy open, alert, but aghast, she continued:
“They spray Roundup once a week around the sides of the apartment buildings.” She stopped. “Her symptoms started that day. She loves to play in the plants and then she, oh my god, licks herself!” She exclaimed.
Tasha would go outside and come back into the house and vomit a stringy plant substance. It was not food. She vomited a clear liquid with little pieces of long strings of plant in them. Over the course of a few days she got weaker and weaker and then her left eye got bloody and puffy and almost fully shut.
Victoria took Tasha to a vet and they ran a blood test. She told me:
“Her blood work showed hyperthyroidism, liver dysfunction based on elevated liver blood markers. The vet simply gave me three choices: cut out the thyroid, radiate the thyroid to kill it, or heavily medicate the thyroid so it stops functioning and producing its hormones.”
Cats, dogs and other wild animals are attracted to the chemical scent in Roundup and if they lick their fur after a recent coating of Roundup, they will become very sick or die.
In our appearance driven society, no one wants to see weeds cropping up to ruin their vision of what beauty is. Instead we put chemicals on. We do it everywhere: with perfume and cologne, paint on the walls and exterior of the house, while the sofa is dipped in chemical fire retardants, as are almost all mattresses.
Cleaning agents, soap and even the blue sky above is sprayed with chemicals to engineer the weather. And it has long been socially acceptable to allow our food crops to be dusted in the name of pest eradication. Chemicals have infiltrated our lives to the point that in one 2009 study of U.S. minority infants, the umbilical cord blood of a newborn fetus contained over 200 chemicals.
Tasha survived her scare, thanks to grace, love and innovative nutritional support which included high grade intestinal supplements, pet-specific probiotics, natural antibiotics and homemade non-grain based food. Tasha has gained 8 ounces, up to 7.5 pounds and is showing signs of playfulness and authentic well-being again. As Victoria said to me the other day:
“She’s my little daughter, and meowing at me right now to feed her and give her some attention- so I will go now.”