In this episode of the Regenerative Agriculture Podcast, John interviews Zach Bush MD, an educator and a triple board-certified physician who specializes in internal medicine, endocrinology, and hospice care. Zach brings his understanding of the systemic challenges in pharmaceuticals and farming to non-profits such as Farmer’s Footprint and Non-Toxic Neighborhoods, where he works to create collaborative communities to solve these human and environmental problems. In this episode, John and Zach discuss the challenging problem of glyphosate. Zach describes the research showing the ramifications of this phosphonate compound and provides clear insights into the science of the problem before returning to an optimistic vision of regenerative agriculture as a solution.
Glyphosate/Roundup (around 00:02)
With Zach’s background in chemotherapy and cancer research, he was on the front lines in 2005 when it was discovered that the gut microbiome, made up of fungi and bacteria, has a significant impact on whether and how cancer affects people. Joining other researchers, he began to learn the importance of supporting beneficial fungi and bacteria and realized that glyphosate damages the microbiome. Zach explains that glyphosate was originally deemed safe due to the fact that it blocked the shikimate pathway, which does not exist in humans or animals. However, in time it was discovered that glyphosate limits access to some essential amino acids needed by humans for microbiome resilience. Zach says that glyphosate targets protein structures in human cells which can lead to a leak in the gut lining, furthering chronic inflammation. He says that some widespread chronic diseases, such as asthma, Alzheimer’s, and cancer, can be traced to gut disruption and inflammation linked to glyphosate use.
Zach references the statistic that the Mississippi River collects 80-85% of the water-soluble residues of Roundup. The last stretch of the river is referred to as “Cancer Alley” because the surrounding regions have the highest rates of cancer in the world. When glyphosate was first widely used, it was thought of as safer than the chemistries it replaced because those were known carcinogens. What we’re seeing now, a generation of 25 years later, is that vegetables can have high enough levels of glyphosate concentrations to lead to leaky gut, which is not fully explained by historical definitions of toxicity. In addition, Zach explains that there is an epidemic of autoimmune and neurological disorders that can be attributed to glyphosate. From a study done on mice, Zach knows there are cumulative epigenetic effects of Roundup. If a first-generation is exposed to Roundup, the second generation does not need to be exposed directly to have disorders, immune dysfunction, and a shortened lifespan. The third generation of mice in the study experienced cancers and stillbirths, still without direct exposure. Chronic diseases in children have been increasing exponentially, and Zach expects that trend to continue according to the models developed from this research.
Sixth Extinction (Around 00:20)
John asks Zach to elaborate on the prediction that the human population will go extinct in 70 years. Zach bases this prediction on the rise of chronic disease combined with decreasing fertility. He cites the statistic that about 1 in 3 men and women are infertile. Zach explains how we are creating the sixth extinction event by destroying soils, increasing greenhouse gas levels in the atmosphere, acidifying the oceans, and other modern phenomena.
The Research(Around 25:00)
Zach mentions that he is currently working on a book that covers this perspective. For current material, Zach recommends Stephanie Seneff’s research correlating glyphosate to chronic disease epidemics. In the last seven years, Zach’s lab has been working on the causation aspect, with that research available on ionbiome.com.
Zach’s lab has shown that glyphosate disru