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What We Read Today 06 March 2015

Econintersect: Every day our editors collect the most interesting things they find from around the internet and present a summary "reading list" which will include very brief summaries (and sometimes longer ones) of why each item has gotten our attention. Suggestions from readers for "reading list" items are gratefully reviewed, although sometimes space limits the number included.

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MIT States That Half of All Children May be Autistic by 2025 due to Monsanto (Janet Phalen, LA ProgressiveEconintersect disclaimer:  The headline is deceitful; there has been no statemnt from MIT. Yesterday in this spot we discussed an article  about research establishing genetics as the primary factor in the occurrence of autism (here).  We have this article today, hat tip to Roger Erickson.  This is not about a research paper but a panel discussion a week ago in which the headline comments were made.  From this article:

Dr. Stephanie Seneff, who made these remarks during a panel presentation in Groton, Massachusetts, last week, specifically cites the Monsanto herbicide, Roundup, as the culprit for the escalating incidence of autism and other neurological disorders. Roundup, which was introduced in the 1970’s, contains the chemical glyphosate, which is the focal point for Seneff’s concerns. Roundup was originally restricted to use on weeds, as glyphosate kills plants. However, Roundup is now in regular use with crops. With the coming of GMO’s, plants such as soy and corn were bioengineered to tolerate glyphosate, and its use dramatically increased. From 2001 to 2007, glyphosate use doubled, reaching 180 to 185 million pounds in the U.S. alone in 2007.

Seneff referred to studies that show glyphosate engages “gut bacteria”, enabling the chemical to interfere with the biochemistry of bacteria in our GI tract, resulting in the depletion of essential amino acids.  Seneff claims that this is "the link which allows the chemical to get on board and wreak further damage".

The article says that the "connection between intestinal flora and neurological functioning is an ongoing topic of research".  The articvle also says:

According to a number of studies, glyphosate depletes the amino acids tyrosine, tryptophan, and phenylalanine, which can then contribute to obesity, depression, autism, inflammatory bowel disease, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

Monsanto disagrees. The food and chemical giant has constructed a webpage with links to scientific studies pronouncing the safety of glyphosate.

Of course the rise in the incidence of many of the diseases mentioned above has occurred during the decades that the usage of glyphosphate has been becoming more widely used on food crops.  There appears to be a correlation here.  But the article does have the following paragraph (Skeptoid link added):

Others, such as Skeptoid writer and PhD physicist Eric Hall, take a more measured approach, and instead focus on the studies which prompted the glyphosate concerns. According to Hall, Seneff is making an error known as the “correlation/causation error,” in which causality is inaccurately concluded when there exists only the fact that two separate items—in this case, the increased use of glyphosate and the increased incidence of autism—may be observed but are not, in fact, directly related.

The article includes a conspiracy theory reference about a belief that autism is being induced to make the population more easily controlled.

We leave the discussion at this point.



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