The Truth About Toxic Wheat

The Truth About Toxic Wheat

You may or may not have seen this article from the Healthy Home Economist touting wheat is toxic due to being sprayed with Round up (glyphosate) as a pre-harvest. This article brings up some pretty fear inducing statistics for both farmers and non-farmers. Farming is our life and our passion and when someone spreads fear in regards to our livelihood, it is hard not to take it personal. So we respond in the best way we know how, through our own experiences and how we run our own farms.

Unfortunately, trying to lump all farming practices in one category doesn’t help the credibility we are trying to establish as farmers. Here’s the problem. Farming is not black and white, farming is not one size fits all, and there are no absolutes in farming. Farming can vary greatly depending on region, soil, climate, crop variety, etc. And this particular article proves that point well.

The problem lies in when we try and make blanket statements about all wheat production. For each different variety of wheat whether it be durum wheat, hard red spring wheat, or even soft red winter wheat, there are different production methods for each one. But here’s what is the same on every farm… As farmers, we do our best to follow safe practices for our farms, ensure we aren’t breaking the law, reading chemical labels. We are constantly scrutinizing our choices for productive, safe, and profitable decisions. And let me tell you, it isn’t an easy process.

If you’ve read my posts before, you know I strive for truth and honesty. There is nothing in our production methods I want to hide from you all. So I want to address some of the myths that have been circulating about pre-harvest of hard red spring wheat since it is a practice we do on our farm and have done for years.

Wheat Harvest 2014-2

It is not a practice that is widespread across the United States.

Pre-harvesting wheat with glyphosate (most commonly Roundup) is not something the majority of wheat farmers across the nation do. There is a small sector and region of wheat production that practices this: mainly North Dakota, small parts of South Dakota, and parts of Canada. In the United States, North Dakota represents about 5% of total wheat acres produced. We are, however, the second hard red spring wheat producer in the nation. So the claim that this occurs everywhere is not at all valid or true since only about 5% of the total production practices this pre-harvesting.

Wheat farmers in Kansas, Oklahoma, and the majority of the wheat belt producing regions don’t have a need to pre-harvest wheat for a number of reasons ranging from their typically dry and warm climate to the variety of wheat they grow.

So Why Do We Pre-harvest our Wheat?

Wheat has been grown on our farm since the first generation with my husband’s grandfather. Historically on our farm, we would swath our wheat while it was not fully mature. Basically cut it and lay it in windrows to let it dry. It would lie there until the kernels reached desired moisture content (anything less than 18%, but ideally around 13.5%). Once it reached desired moisture, it would be picked up out of the rows and harvested much like we do today.

So why don’t we continue to do that? There are a number of reasons for this.

First, the advent of pre-harvesting with glyphosate has allowed us to eliminate the swathing step completely. Not having to swath our wheat saves us time, labor, and resources like fuel and trips in and out of the field. By pre-harvesting our wheat with glyphosate, we are able to simply use a combine to harvest it as we do with the rest of our crops. We also don’t have to run or maintain two pieces of equipment; the combine does all the work. With swathing there is also a danger of the downed wheat sprouting, any time you lay grain on the ground; there is the chance of a heavy rain causing sprout damage in the windrow.

But on top of not having to maintain or run another piece of equipment, one of the biggest advantages is that pre-harvesting with glyphosate allows very even ripening of the wheat. Glyphosate has been shown to reduce the amount of time that it takes for a crop to reach harvest moisture if conditions are not favorable for drying. Even ripening is important to maintain quality (test weight) in our wheat crop. Some years it is a more viable practice in heavy or lodged wheat (basically wheat that has fallen down) or uneven emergence after planting. We also have the added benefit of an opportunity to control weeds pre-harvest with a glyphosate application. 

However, applying this pre-harvest glyphosate too early can reduce yield and test weight. It is also not encouraged to be used in seed wheat or malt barley due to the fact that glyphosate can interfere with the germination process after harvesting. This is the reason the label discussed below clearly states it is for use on feed barley only.

Wheat Harvest 2013-14

Is Pre-harvesting Wheat with Glyphosate Even Legal or Licensed?

As with any chemical we use on our farm, it has a label that gives us extensive information about how to use the chemical. This label is not simply a suggested use guide; it is indeed a federal and civil regulation under FIFRA (Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act) through the EPA. 

All chemicals we use on the farm are required to be registered through the EPA. This registration requires studies to be conducted to establish the conditions in which the chemical is safe to use and that the product does not pose adverse effects to humans or the environment. An applicant will have to prove that the pesticide active ingredient will not cause unreasonable adverse effects on human health and environment. An unreasonable adverse effect is defined as: (1) any risk that is unreasonable to man or the environment that takes social, economic, and environmental costs as well as benefits into consideration and (2) any dietary risk that could be the result of a pesticide. In addition to the EPA regulations required to be met, the USDA and FDA set standards for level of pesticide residue that is allowed on or in crops for that particular chemical.  

All registered products must be reviewed every 15 years to ensure they continue to meet the proper standards. During this registration process, a label is created. The label contains directions for proper use, safety restrictions, and much more information. All of these chemical labels can be looked up using a free website such as Agrian or CDMS. FIFRA is enforced through the EPA and requires all users to adhere to the requirements set during the registration process. Breaking of these requirements is against the law. This includes using a pesticide in any manner not consistent with the label.

If you look up the Roundup Powermax label, for example, you will find the manufacturer gives us the requirements and restrictions for Grains and Cereals among many other crops from leafy vegetables, fruits, sugarcane, and legumes. Under section 9.1, Cereals and Grains, the label is very specific what crops can be used with this specific chemical: Barley; Buckwheat; Millet (pearl, proso); Oats; Rice; Rye; Quinoa; Teff; Teosinte; Triticale; Wheat (all types); Wild Rice. Any other cereals or grains are not labeled for this chemical. Under this section as well there are also requirements for Pre-harvest on Feed Barley and Wheat ONLY. 

So what are the requirements?
  • For wheat, apply after the hard-dough stage when grain moisture is 30 percent or less..
  • Apply this product in 10 to 20 gallons of water per acre when using ground application equipment and in 3 to 10 gallons of water per acre when using aerial application equipment.
And what are the restrictions?
  • Do not apply more than 22 fluid ounces of this product per acre (43,560 square feet) for pre-harvest application.
  • Allow a minimum of 7 days between application and harvest (this is called a PHI or pre harvest interval)

As I stated before, these are not just “suggestions”, these are labeled requirements and restrictions that must be followed by law.

Is Pre-harvesting Wheat with Glyphosate Safe?


Before I talk a little about toxicity of glyphosate it is important to note the restrictions on the concentrations of glyphosate, specifically, Roundup. On pre harvest applications, you cannot apply more than 22 ounces per acre mixed with 3 – 20 gallons of water (depending on application). Let me put that into perspective. That is the equivalent of a Gatorade bottle (20 ounces) of Roundup mixed with (let’s say on average) 10 gallons of water that is used on the size of an entire football field.

Even better of a perspective, let’s convert those gallons to ounces… 22 ounces put into 1,280 ounces of water equals a concentration of 0.017 or 1.7%. 

So to address the article’s claim about wheat being “doused” or “drenched” in glyphosate is hardly even truth and at the least laughable. How is less than 2% concentration for 43,560 square feet (an acre) dousing our fields? 


I think it is safe to say, we’ve established that the amount of glyphosate we are using to pre harvest our wheat is relatively low. So what about the toxicity? Is glyphosate toxic?

This post by Weed Freaks (Salt, Vinegar, and Glyphosate) addresses the toxicity of glyphosate in comparison to things like acetic acid (vinegar) and sodium chloride (salt) in mammalian values. The chart below gives you a good comparison of toxicity values, presented in mg of material per kg of body weight of the test animal. The lower the LD50 value, the less it takes to kill 50% of the population of test animals. Therefore, the lower the LD50, the greater toxicity of the chemical.

Screen Shot 2014-11-17 at 10.36.39 AM

It is interesting to note that in both toxicity measures, vinegar is more toxic than glyphosate. And salt is more toxic to rats than glyphosate when exposed orally. Glyphosate is classified under the FIFRA Toxicity Category IV (virtually the least non-toxic category) and on the MSDS label for Roundup is classified as “practically non-toxic”. You can find all the toxicity information on the MSDS sheet for any chemical by searching the Agrian or CDMS websites. 

Keep in mind that all of this information has to be approved by the EPA as well as USDA and the FDA in order for it to make it on the label and additional safety information. This is not statements simply “made up” by the chemical manufacturers.

The Truth about Toxic Wheat


 Maximum Residue Level 

In addition to toxicity values, there is also another measure done by the EPA and this is called a MRL (maximum residue level). A MRL is the maximum concentration for pesticide residues in or on food to ensure the lowest possible consumer exposure.

For glyphosate, the MRL set for wheat is 30 PPM (parts per million). That doesn’t mean much to me so I did some digging. What if we put that measurement into ounces? How much glyphosate is allowed in wheat crops? 0.00384 ounces. That seems like a miniscule amount of a fairly non-toxic chemical allowed, doesn’t it? 

Glyphosate has been the subject of numerous toxicity tests as well as researched for carcinogenic properties. Results have been overwhelming negative. The EPA has classified glyphosate as a Group E meaning it shows no evidence of carcinogenicity in humans based on studies of test animals not producing compelling evidence of this. Here are some great studies to check out:


I know Roundup and glyphosate is a hot button topic and the buzz surrounding the dangers around it are numerous. But when you really take the time to digest some of the facts, read the labels, and put it into perspective with other common household items, the toxicity of glyphosate is extremely low. I’ve written an article before on fear. We don’t need to make our lives more complicated by buying into these fears spread much like the article above. And I hope this post has done just that, taken a little bit of the fear out of it all.

In the end, I honestly and personally don’t believe that the wheat we grow on our farm is toxic and would not want to be promoting a product I believed was toxic. We enjoy wheat products all the time at our table just as my husband’s family has done for years. 

And even if you don’t believe a word in this post, that is okay! You are entitled to your own opinion as well as your own choice! If you still choose to forgo conventionally raised wheat, there are options out there like certified organic wheat. 

Here is what I do ask. I ask that you understand a few things: Pesticides are COMPLEX, they involved SCIENCE and some pretty hardcore science at that. But I believe that having these conversations is important which is why I spend my time writing about such things. In light of that, I expect the conversations and dialogue here to be respectful and intellectual.

Please remember that we are all people, no matter what side of the fence we are on. Whether we are organic farmers, an employee for the “dreaded Monsanto”, or a conventional farmer, we are all people. We have families, friends, and people we care are about. We are all passionate about the food we eat and how it ends up on our tables. And we all care about the health and safety of those we love, farmers are no exception.

Mark & Jenny Field 2014For some other resources directly from farmers on glyphosate and pre harvest wheat, check out these posts: 


    • Joyce
      November 17, 2014 / 7:52 pm

      If vinegar is more toxic than glyphosate, tell me this: Would you cook with glyphosate?
      No matter how you look at it, it is still a chemical, and it does not belong in our bodies.
      I get that your livelihood depends on the use of chemicals. It’s too bad more research isn’t put into a natural way of doing things.

      • November 17, 2014 / 8:09 pm

        It is all about the dose. While vinegar and salt are indeed chemicals we can cook with, glyphosate isn’t labeled to be cooked with. But yes, you could more than likely drink it and be perfectly okay.

        As I said in the post, you are more than welcome to disagree with me and purchase certified organic wheat. That is your choice and thank goodness for choice in our food system!

      • Leo
        November 17, 2014 / 8:58 pm

        Vinegar is acetic acid. It is most certainly a chemical. Sodium chloride is an ionic compound, and is also most certainly a chemical. EVERYTHING is made of chemicals and elements. Water is a chemical. Arsenic is natural. Deadly nightshade is a natural, non-GMO plant. Pantothenic acid and pyridoxamine sound like scary chemicals, but they’re perfectly natural vitamin B5 and B6, respectively.

        Think about it.

      • Mickie Yeates
        November 18, 2014 / 3:34 pm

        We need to remember that most farmers in America are not using this method at all. They are using no Roundup on any wheat for early harvest.

    • Rob
      November 18, 2014 / 10:02 am

      I was born in 1949 and experienced the introduction of the new high protein wheat in the early 1960’s. This is pre-glyphosate I think. And yes, people would return from Europe noting they could eat pastry there without difficulty. Some people even arranged to have European wheat shipped to them. The issues with wheat gluten pre-existed the introduction of glyposate, but were made far worse after the introduction of high protein, short stalk GMO wheat.

      • Geoff
        November 18, 2014 / 11:31 am

        Sorry, still no such thing as GMO wheat. Yes, wheat has been selectively bred to be more compact and have higher protein, but there is nothing but wheat in wheat…

        • November 23, 2014 / 1:49 am

          Hi Rob,

          I recently wrote a post you might be interested to read The Skinny on Modern Wheat. Wheat has not changed “chemically” at all in the last 100 years. Yes, Norman Borlaug created semi-dwarf wheat to be more hardy and grow more efficiently…but the actual wheat didn’t change (no more protein, no less—depending on the variety and what it’s used for). Hope that helps.
          Sarah Schultz recently posted…CurrentlyMy Profile

    • November 18, 2014 / 2:31 pm

      Hi Jenny, I am a farmer from Montana that grows spring wheat and barley( malt). I commented on the original article posted on Facebook, and was perhaps non complimentary towards Monsanto. Even though I do use glyphosate in my chem fallow I never have pre harvest. There are all types of operations around here too, and some of them have gotten way to big to accomplish what they need to given the shortened growing season around here. There are a lot of peas, lentils, canola, barley, and winter and spring wheat grown around here. I know for a fact that if the crops no matter what they are do not mature fast enough they are sprayed with glyphosate to hasten maturity. You quoted an experiment with ld 50 statistics, but you must also know that there are rats or people at both ends of the spectrum and just because it won’t kill most people doesn’t make it safe. Pardon me if I ramble a bit , but I am also baking cookies for the grandkids. You must also know that as you and I follow the label guidelines, there are those that “experiment” on their own , or tweak the lines just a bit. I will not judge the toxicity of roundup , but I know the grain elevators do not test for residue, and I do know a lot of farmers around here use it for wheat that does go into the regular pipeline. What and who it affects I don’t know, but I imagine that just like peanuts the same dose doesn’t have the same affect on everyone. I appreciate all of your comments and enjoy reading them, but do not trust large agribusiness and their agendas.

    • JC
      June 2, 2015 / 9:12 am

      I am a scientist and although 1.7% doesn’t sound like much, it is. When we calculate concentrations of inhibitors/chemicals to use in mammalian systems, it needs to be less than 1% to be considered nontoxic. Ideally, less than 0.05%. And the references you posted don’t address the most likely concern, which is cancer, since it is long term exposure of low levels of a toxin. And an epidemiological study to show correlations of wheat intake to anything would be INCREDIBLY hard to control for. So, it seems you want to be conscientious about your farming practices, and you probably think you are, but the truth is this method of improving your crop yield is very risky to the all wheat consumers.

      • Steven St. John
        June 2, 2015 / 9:48 am

        I’m surprised “a scientist” neglected the additional factors that the 1.7% concentration was then spread over an acre of land and was applied at least 14 days prior to harvest. The actual final concentration of glyphosate would be considerably smaller than the 1% figure you cite as safe, although I’m also surprised that a scientist would suggest that any one number could serve as a toxicity threshold for all “inhibitors/chemicals”.

      • Chad
        June 2, 2015 / 9:49 am

        I am also a scientist. Where do you get “it needs to be less than 1% to be considered nontoxic”? There is no hard rule about concentrations because no chemical is alike. Every chemical has a different LD50, a different range of effects, and different levels of safe exposure. Slapping a hard “1%” or ideally “0.05%” is not justified.

  1. Tsu Dho Nimh
    November 17, 2014 / 3:23 pm

    “How much glyphosate is allowed in wheat crops? 0.00384 ounces. ”

    Ounces allowed in what? Is it 0.00384 ounces per gram of wheat, ounce of wheat, pound of wheat, ton of wheat or ????

    • November 17, 2014 / 3:42 pm

      If you will notice the specific and regulated amount is in parts per million (30 to be exact). Parts per million is a very specific measurement of concentration.

      Here is an example of how it works: PPM are measures of concentration, the amount of one material in a larger amount of another material; for example, the weight of a toxic chemical in a certain weight of food. They are expressed as concentrations rather than total amounts so we can easily compare a variety of different environmental situations. For example, scientists can measure the concentration of a chemical in a lake by looking at small samples. They do not have to measure the total amount of chemicals or water in all of the lakes.

      An example might help illustrate the part per … idea. If you divide a pie equally into 10 pieces, then each piece would be a part per ten; for example, one-tenth of the total pie. If, instead, you cut this pie into a million pieces, then each piece would be very small and would represent a millionth of the total pie or one part per million of the original pie. If you cut each of these million minute pieces into a thousand little pieces, then each of these new pieces would be one part per billion of the original pie. To give you an idea of how little this would be, a pinch of salt in ten tons of potato chips is also one part (salt) per billion parts (chips).

      In this example, the pieces of the pie were made up of the same material as the whole. However, if there was a contaminant in the pie at a level of one part per billion, one of these invisible pieces of pie would be made up of the contaminant and the other 999,999,999 pieces would be pure pie. Similarly, one part per billion of an impurity in water represents a tiny fraction of the total amount of water. One part per billion is the equivalent of one drop of impurity in 500 barrels of water.

      Parts per million can be expressed as:
      1 inch in 16 miles
      1 minute in two years
      1 second in 11.5 days
      1 car in bumper-to-bumper traffic from Cleveland to San

      • November 22, 2014 / 9:09 pm

        Beautiful explanation! You’ve done a great job explaining the process in terms anyone can understand. Keep up the good work!

  2. November 17, 2014 / 3:29 pm

    Great post! As a farm wife, I enjoy reading the articles from those actually involved in agriculture, and backed up with facts… as opposed to the alternative. 😉

  3. farmerswife518
    November 17, 2014 / 4:07 pm

    Thank you!!! Perfect explanation!!

  4. Lisa
    November 17, 2014 / 4:27 pm

    Point of clarification – in the second to last paragraph you mentioned that,”Pesticides are COMPLEX, they involved SCIENCE and some pretty hardcore science at that.” Roundup (glyphosate) is not a pesticide. It is an herbicide. While your statement is very true, it seems incongruous with your article.

    Lisa – mom to a large, ‘big ag’ family

    • November 17, 2014 / 4:37 pm

      Appreciate the comment Lisa! You’re too kind!! Unfortunately (in my mind) this post doesn’t even scratch the surface of all that is pesticides and WHY we use them on the farm! I am ALWAYS learning something new about science and the farm all the time! It is a pretty amazing life to continually be learning new things and adapting to what nature throws at us!

    • Matt
      November 17, 2014 / 9:17 pm

      Correction Lisa, glyphosate is indeed a pesticide. The definition of a pesticide according to the Oxford Dictionary is: a substance used for destroying insects or other organisms harmful to cultivated plants or to animals. For the sake of this rebuttal that Jenny has wrote, it would be important to not get real specific about the types of pesticides since this whole article can relate to pesticide usage to every single part of the agriculture industry.

    • Hillary
      November 17, 2014 / 9:32 pm

      Actually Lisa, herbicides are pesticides – just a more specific classification of a type of pesticide.

      Excellent post Jenny!

    • November 17, 2014 / 10:22 pm

      A brief clarification here: pesticide is general term used to refer to herbicides, insecticides, fungicides, algicides, etc. So, because it is a herbicide, it is also correct (though less precise) to refer to RoundUp as a pesticide. Hope this helps!

    • Jeremy
      November 17, 2014 / 10:33 pm

      Herbicides are pesticides. Same as fungicides are pesticides and insecticides are herbicides. Semantics to say glyphosate is not a pesticide. Glyphosate is in the pesticide family.

  5. Lee Rohrer
    November 17, 2014 / 4:55 pm

    Good job Jenny, I had always wondered about the exact facts.
    also I read this: 1 in 133 people actually have a gluten intolerance,–but– “many” get their information from friendsandtwitterandfacebook so around 33% “just in the past 10 years” suddenly think they should be gluten free

    • Jan
      December 8, 2014 / 9:59 pm

      A correction to your data. 1/133 people (that’s a bit dated, now it’s closer to 1/100) have CELIAC disease. Up to 10-20% of the population likely are non-Celiac Gluten Sensitive.

      • Jim
        December 9, 2014 / 10:44 am

        The most recent issue of Consumer Reports (Jan. ’15) states that the percentage of Americans with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity is less than 7% (page 37). Guess it depends on whose data are used.

  6. Naheta
    November 17, 2014 / 6:53 pm

    thank you I just wish people would listen to the truth instead of the bull

  7. Mike Fletcher
    November 17, 2014 / 8:01 pm

    Coming from a farming family, I appreciate the detail that was provided. But the question I am seeking to get answered is why so many people have developed sensitivities to gluten, wheat, etc.

  8. Verna Lang
    November 17, 2014 / 8:33 pm

    Good rebuttal article, Jenny, showing just how little of the chemical that farmers actually use, but there is an error that you should correct. When you divide your 22 ounces by the 1280 in 10 gallons of water, your decimal answer is 0.017, but your percentage should be 1.7%. You did mention later that your result was less than 2%, so I think in your mind you had it right.

  9. Jack
    November 17, 2014 / 9:36 pm

    I would use rats or rabbits for both of the LD50s, just to make it less misleading and tighten up your page. I would also make some points about how long it stays in the body, what the long-term dose is, and what the RfD is. The LD50 really doesn’t give much of the story. You really need to talk about frequency and duration of exposure.


  10. Norm Uherka
    November 17, 2014 / 10:36 pm

    Thanks for the info Jenny. I’d like to clarify the word ”pesticide”. Insecticides, herbicides, fungicides, etc, ALL fall under the category of being a pesticide. I know it is a little confusing with ”pest” being a ”prefix” to the word pesticide. I learned this bit of information at my first chemical applicators class way back when I started farming.

  11. Larry
    November 18, 2014 / 5:52 am

    If, in fact, vinegar is more toxic, could you …….would you please use the vinegar instead?

    • Kim
      November 18, 2014 / 12:17 pm

      Larry, vinegar is more toxic to mammals than glyphosate. While I’m sure it’s not good for plants, I doubt it would be a very effective herbicide.

      • Jim
        November 18, 2014 / 1:58 pm

        Kim and Larry,
        You are correct Kim, vinegar can be used as a weed killer. In fact, there are a number of recommendations on the Internet for it to be used in gardening. The problems for a grain farmer are the rate and expense and availability. I don’t know how much would be needed, but probably much more than the 10 or so gallons of water per acre used with glyphosate. Salt works also. My grandfather used brine (salt and water) to kill a patch of field bindweed. It was over 50 years before that land came back to full production–and the bindweed came back (I killed it with glyphosate).

        If the rate needed for vinegar was 10 gallons/acre (I suspect more like 50 or higher), the cost per acre would be prohibitive and securing thousands of gallons of vinegar for that use would be problematical. The cost of an air application (airplane or helicopter) of pre-harvest glyphosate at 22 oz./A. is probably around $10/A and would use 3-5 gallons of water/A. [Note: an air application is preferred so as not to leave tracks in the field. Ground applications are cheaper, but they generally destroy more wheat than the cost of the air application. Some farmers (mainly Europe) establish “tramlines” in the field and follow them with their multiple operations. Generally we don’t have their conditions in North America.]

        This is not an inexpensive operation, but manageable. Vinegar is basically acetic acid diluted with water. Acetic acid is very corrosive. While it is much less corrosive than say battery acid or cola, it “eats” metal and it is very difficult to keep it off, or rinse it off, the equipment.

        Have you ever seen the results of leaving a loose metal cap on a vinegar bottle? How about putting a rusty nail in cola? I love pickles and cola and I put them in my body. . . not at the same time, but in high doses!

  12. November 18, 2014 / 8:17 am

    I have read the blog article that you are rebutting.
    I have read this one as well.
    I have done some research of my own and I have done so with an open mind.

    So many things I have read are so very contradictory, and that is disconcerting to me. Your information for instance is very convincing, but so are the other articles out there.

    If I should believe your information and yours alone, there would still be questions. How do we know that every. single. wheat farmer that uses Roundup is that precise with their dilutions? How am I as a consumer to believe that every. single. farmer out there has MY best interest at heart.

    They don’t. You might. Farmers that you know might…but not everyone. There are those out there that that don’t and are looking to make as much money as possible.

    Aren’t we all?

    I read this article this morning… … and the information is backed up scientifically…but so is Monsanto’s.

    Who am I to believe? I don’t know.

    What I do know is that 8 years ago my daughter became very ill. After over a year of doctor visits and almost $10,000 we found that she is allergic to gluten. About 10 years ago my sister was diagnosed the same.

    Why did this happen around the same time? Why are so very many people becoming allergic to wheat/gluten or have celiacs? There HAS to be a reason.

    In the blog article you refer to mentions that people who can not eat wheat here in the US are finding that they can eat it in Europe. Which suggests that it MUST be something that the US is doing and Europe isn’t.

    I do NOT/am NOT passing any sort of judgement, blame or shame on farmers. My grandfather and great-grandfather were farmers. I have it in my blood. I would love to own a farm of my own. So please do not think that I’m out to blame a farmer.

    What I am after is answers.

    You said “This post by Weed Freaks (Salt, Vinegar, and Glyphosate) addresses the toxicity of glyphosate in comparison to things like acetic acid (vinegar) and sodium chloride (salt) in mammalian values.” To me this is comparing apples to oranges. There is NO WAY I’d take roundup and sprinkle some on my mashed potatoes like I would salt….or use Roundup in my potato salad…even diluted to the same equivalent that is being sprayed on your wheat. I don’t think you would either. Do you really think anyone would?

    There is so much more I’d like to say, but my heart is just so sad. Sad for the farmers that are being placed in this situation and sad for the people that are becoming sick because of eating wheat. Sad for myself because I’m a total carboholic 🙂 and I honestly don’t know who to believe.
    chocolatechic recently posted…November 10My Profile

    • November 18, 2014 / 8:47 am

      Chocolatechic – As with ANY food.. Whether it be gluten-free or organic or even conventional, there is NEVER any absolutes. We will never be able to have a food that is 100 percent SAFE. It is just not possible. Food borne pathogens like E.coli or salmonella will always exist. But here’s what I do know. Our food supply and the food we produce here in the United States is one of the safest and most abundant, ON THIS PLANET. It is because of those facts, you and I are able to have these conversations. If we were worried about food in our fridge, we wouldn’t be worried about the safety of it. That is the point I am trying to make. We are consumed with this fear and distrust about our food, which is completely fine. But it doesn’t have to be that way. We can put all that time spent worrying and stressing ourselves out into something else, something more constructive. And something that will bring way more blessings into our lives.

      And much like faith, maybe those distrusting our food system need a little bit of faith. Need to extend a little bit of trust in their fellow human. And most importantly in their fellow farmer. Chocolatechic, I write these things because I care because it pains me to see people like you having to question my motives and the way we farm. You should be able to enjoy life and everything that it has to offer. Instead you are, it seems, quite literally worrying yourself sick over what I do.

      I’ve written before about Farmer Choice. Nobody is placing us in this situation. We CHOOSE this life and we CHOOSE the things we put in the ground and on our crops. Nobody is forcing us.

      Also, I’ve written before about Gluten Free and what it REALLY means.

      You are indeed right in that you can find any resource that will discount what I’ve written here. I guess it all boils down to a personal choice for you to trust me. Or for you to not trust me. And that my friend, I cannot make that choice for you. Thank YOU for your comment. Thank YOU for reading. And know that I am always open to answering questions or having a conversation with you about anything. My email is [email protected]

      • Luke
        November 18, 2014 / 10:26 am

        chocolate chick just FYI the wheat in europe is the same as the wheat in the US more than 30% of wheat is imported from the US and mixed with domestic wheat so that theory goes out the window..if one single chemical was responsible for a genetic disorder such as celiac (celiac it’s not something you catch it’s a genetic anomaly) then why wouldn’t more people be effected when the population suffering from this is minuscule ?

    • mandy
      November 18, 2014 / 9:47 am

      You are worried that not all farmers would be as precise when measuring roundup? Why would they want to use more? It is expensive so throwing in a little more doesn’t really help since one of the reasons it is being used is to save money and increase yield. Also, and this relates to the ppm, even if a farmer doubled the rate it is still a drop in the bucket. And one more thing, if I’m not mistaken as I’m not a wheat farmer, when round up is sprayed on wheat plants the chemical is not touching the seed that we eat.

      • Janet
        November 22, 2014 / 1:01 am

        But a farmer does reply further down in the comments that at a certain stage of maturity the heads of grain are supposedly protected from absorbing it.

        • Jim
          November 22, 2014 / 11:39 am

          I think that comment was by me, and, yes, the glumes of the wheat head shield the wheat berry from environmental assaults of all sorts throughout its entire development.
          As far as the enzyme/biome thing, I am not a microbiologist and cannot comment on whether our biome has it or not. However, the authors of the literature search that set off this entire brouhaha, Samsel and Seneff, are not either and do not appear to have any bio-science training.

  13. November 18, 2014 / 8:37 am

    Great post!! You do a great job explaining the details and sticking up for farmers. I love that!

  14. Karol
    November 18, 2014 / 8:52 am

    Here is a perplexing article telling farmers not to use glyphosate crops sprayed late for seed as it damages the crop.

    This publication was distributed to possibly 40,000 farmers and ranchers in North Dakota, South Dakota and Montana and the farmers are encouraged to use glyphosate-sprayed crops for feed or food but not seed since the crop was damaged by the glyphosate so it no longer should be used as seed but it is OK to go ahead and use the damaged crops as food.

    This does not make sense to me. The crop is damaged by a herbicide/pesticide and it is no longer able to grow new crops but we can eat it? It sounds scary to me. If we can’t grow new crops with this altered/damaged seed it scares me that we are allowed to eat it.

    • November 18, 2014 / 9:03 am

      Karol –

      In this post I do address that yes, it is not labeled or recommended for seed wheat or malt barley due to the fact that it causes low germination issues. If you understand the way Glyphosate works, there is really not a need to be scared of it.

      Glyphosate targets a specific enzyme in plants that plants require to build amino acids. Humans or mammals DO NOT contain this enzyme, therefore that is WHY glyphosate is virtually non-toxic to us. If you understand this, it makes sense why this would cause germination issues in plants after you harvested the seeds. It literally stops that enzyme in the plant to produce amino acids.

      It is also important to note it does not say that it causes NO germination, it causes either spotty or low vigor in germination. When you are trying to grow crops for seed, you want to get the best germination possible. So even then, glyphosate does not KILL or STERILIZE the seed. It just causes its’ affectiveness to be lessened for germination. I haven’t found a good, peer-reviewed study to explain WHY this is, but I feel the “fear” of it is pretty much non-existant if you understand how glyphosate works to begin with.

      • Jim
        November 18, 2014 / 12:08 pm

        Great blog and answers Jenny. I am an “old” wheat grower in Oregon. I was also a grad. student when, what would become Roundup, first started being field tested in the early seventies and performed a few of those early test plots.

        The way glyphosate works is to be absorbed through the plant’s “skin,” move into the plant’s “circulatory” system, and thus into every living plant cell. This is the same as what we humans want with antibiotics or any medication or vitamin we might be ingesting. If I remember correctly, it moves primarily in the phloem tissue (kind of like the arteries) so it moves with the plant’s food supply and thus moves to the growing points first. If the plant is still green and is producing seed, the seed is one of these growing areas.

        The reasoning behind the glyphosate treatment timing for feed barley and wheat is that at the “hard dough” stage of the wheat plant development (<30% moisture content in the wheat seeds) the wheat seeds are no longer absorbing nutrients from the plant. If they are no longer absorbing nutrients, they will no longer absorb the glyphosate. Further, as the seed is protected from exposure to the open air by the glumes, the seed will not absorb glyphosate residues from any of the spray mixture used.

        Another "protection" is the pre-harvest interval (PHI). The PHI serves at least 2 purposes. First, and green stuff (weeds or wheat plants) starts to dry down. As you pointed out so well in your blog, this allows the farmer to directly combine the grain without having "green stuff" issues. I have had that before and can tell you that wet stuff wrapped around the innerds of a combine in 90+ degree weather, is definitely not the way I wish to spend my afternoons.

        Second, any residues left from the spraying are quickly degraded. The Sun (UV) rays degrade organic compounds and glyphosate is an organic compound. Also, the green plants degrade the spray that they have absorbed.

        All of these pathways of degradation reduce the amount of glyphosate that is actually present at harvest time.

        Now as for the barley or wheat seeds and the germination effects. As you pointed out, wheat fields do not always reach maturity on the same day. High spots in the field tend to mature first, low spots later. If the farmer guesses wrong, there may be some plants that are too green and the seed from those areas might absorb some of the chemical. If they do the overall germination potential of those seeds will be lessened. When I buy seed (in the neighborhood of $25/cwt) I look at the germination test that accompanies the paperwork. I want it to be above 95% because every seed put in the ground counts (and costs). If the germ is low, I have just wasted a lot of money. That is why the glyphosate label is only for grain to be used for food or feed.

        As to the question of safety for food or feed, yes, it is safe. Remember the pathways for degradation of the original spray. By the time the seeds are turned into animal feed or food any remaining residues are at an extremely extremely low level. Our society has gotten scared of its shadow because our testing techniques have gotten so precise we can pinpoint residues in the nano- and pico- level.

        I will soon turn 67 years old. My mother lived to 93, my dad was 6 weeks short of 92. Both were lifetime farmers (yes they lived to see glyphosate) and neither died of agrichemical problems. My mother had high blood pressure and finally succumbed to several strokes. My dad had life long problems with COPD and developed diabetes at 90 years old.

        I intend to keep farming, using glyphosate, and die at a ripe old age.

        Come on people, there are a lot more important things to worry about. Get your priorities straight.

        • November 18, 2014 / 2:24 pm

          When your child can’t eat because of a gluten allergy…then it is something you worry about!!!
          chocolatechic recently posted…November 10My Profile

          • Jim
            November 18, 2014 / 3:20 pm

            That is correct, and I am very sorry that is happening to your family. Our family actually went through a time last year when we thought my wife had developed the gluten allergy. It put our family on edge for quite a while. Her condition turned out to be something else, but we went through a year or so of symptoms and several doctors before we got a diagnosis.

            As for me, I was born with allergies, just not the gluten sensitivity. I am allergic to wheat, barley, Russian thistle, beef, chocolate, citrus, mold, dust mites, and. . . . My mother discovered my allergies early in my life (I got colic any time she ate chocolate while breast feeding me). I should be in another occupation that entails an air conditioned office, but I love the outdoors and farm. I have been through several series of desensitization shots and they work for a while. Now, I just try to avoid the triggers.

            In no way does this lessen the nightmare of dealing with a child’s problems. We have gone through some trials also. We are a blended family and there are 11 children/stepchildren/adopted children. We are awaiting grandchild number 15 at Christmas.

            I am not a doctor, but I have enough of a biological background and education to know that glyphosate residues are not the source of your child’s gluten sensitivity.

            I praise you for leaving no stone unturned to find answers. I would do the same, and have.

  15. Ted
    November 20, 2014 / 2:18 am

    All of a sudden there are legions of pretty farmer’s wives writing blogs telling me how safe and natural it is to spray glyphosate on wheat 7-14 days before harvesting.

    It’s all too slick, people. Too much bogus research, or non-research.

    Just tell me when a product I buy uses wheat that was sprayed with Glyphosate 7-14 days before harvesting. I’ll vote with my wallet, thank you very much.

    • November 20, 2014 / 11:27 am

      Hi Ted,

      Last time I checked, three farmer’s wives (who live in different parts of the country and also don’t practice the same type of agriculture) speaking openly and honestly about an issue on their own farm is not a legion.

      Nobody said spraying glyphosate was natural, although I am not sure what your definition of natural is. What is natural anymore? I mean some of the vegetables and fruits we have today came out of things that don’t occur “naturally” in nature thanks to selective breeding. Anyway, that is beside the point… There is one thing you are indeed correct in… that you can vote with your wallet, as I said in this post, by purchasing certified organic wheat products. I clearly state in here Ted you don’t have to agree with what I have to say here. I just ask you be respectful.

      By the way, thanks for calling me pretty. But that honestly has nothing to do with my ability to write a fact based, research based article. Have a good one Ted.

    • Jim
      November 20, 2014 / 2:28 pm

      It is too bad that you are so upset. It certainly is discomforting to have so many differing viewpoints and trying to separate them out.
      You are a discerning person as you noted that Jenny is pretty. Please do not assail her for attempting to defend her way of life.
      I am a wheat farmer in a totally different part of the U.S. and I wish to defend it also. Glyphosate has had a lot of research done on it. I even did a little back in 1971 when I was a graduate student.
      As you are a discerning person, would you please take a closer look at something for me. Go to the “toxic wheat” blog that started all this discussion and look at the two figures that are presented.
      First, note that they are presented out of order and without explanation. This means that they were lifted from a presentation from some other source. That source is not identified, but I believe it is from some of Dr. Seneff’s work.
      Second, note the title of Figure 4. It says “Pesticides Applied to Wheat Planted Acres, by Type, 2012.” The narrative indicates that it is common practice for wheat farmers to use Roundup right before harvest and implies that the graph shows that. The graph has very little to do with the narrative. The graph shows percentage of acres treated at any stage of growth from planting to harvest. It is a common practice to spray wheat acres to kill broadleaf and grassy weeds. The chemicals used on the nearly all of those acres are not glyphosate, because glyphosate is non-selective and kills the wheat plants also. There are no commercial varieties of wheat that have been bred to resist glyphosate. As far as I know, there are no statistics on just how many acres receive pre-harvest glyphosate. [NOTE: the name of the active ingredient in Monsanto’s herbicide Roundup is glyphosate. Monsanto is not the only producer as glyphosate is now a generic. I think I heard that China actually produces more glyphosate than the U.S. and Chinese material is imported. Also, the label on the generic generally has identical instructions and restrictions.] The total number of acres is low as pre-harvest treatment only fits a certain set of conditions. I read that the first farmer listed in the “toxic wheat” blog, Kieth Lewis, actually is not growing wheat. I read that he has retired and only grows hay now. Additionally, he is Canadian. I have nothing against Canadians, just that was not pointed out in the blog and that difference is important as the blog was about U.S. wheat, not Canadian. The second farmer, Seth Woodland, farms about 200 miles from me. Pre-harvest applications of any herbicide are rare here.
      Now, please look at Fig. 1. It supposedly shows a nice correlation between celiac disease and glyphosate use. First, you can show this type of correlation with almost any set of data if you manipulate the axes correctly. Second, let’s take one year, 2009, and see how the usage agrees with the acreage. The pre-harvest rate for glyphosate is a max. of 22 fl.oz. That translates to just under 1 pound of active ingredient per acre (0.945 if we use the sodium salt formulation) or just over 3/4 pound active ingredient per acre (0.773 if we use the acid equivalent). The blog does not specify which is used. For 2009 the graph indicates 18,000 times 1,000 pounds or 18,000,000 pounds. Dividing 18 million by 0.94 yields just over 19 million acres treated. Dividing by 0.77 yields over 23 million (23.27 million).

      Statistics indicate around 63 million acres of wheat were grown in that year. Jenny and I contend that the pre-harvest application of glyphosate is used on a small percentage of the wheat acres grown (several percent at most).

      Someone has bad data and is using it to scare people. Ted, you are discerning, use that discernment to seek the truth.

    • Maria Gaige
      November 23, 2014 / 10:55 am

      So, if you think this is “bogus” research why don’t you share some of your own? And I can tell you the woman who wrote the original article had barely any research to show of her own either – people eating wheat in Italy on vacation had no problem with wheat allergies? Where is the scientific evidence for that? You’ll also notice she misread the USDA chart that she cited as pretty much her only evidence. Which explains why only 5% vs 99% – as she claimed- of farmers are using this practice. I’ll tell you why farmers wives are writing blogs – because the real farmers don’t care what other people are thinking, it is us – the farmer’s wives that want to come to their rescue. And why shouldn’t we? What do you do, Ted? Do you sit in an office all day? Or do you do manual labor that requires you to work 12 hours per day at least, for 7 days a week? I highly doubt it, because if you did, you likely wouldn’t have much time to sit around and talk on a blog. But, our husbands do work that hard. SO excuse us if we want to prove that article wrong. And it is wrong – and you are free to disagree with the actual science. Also, the point being made about glyphosate toxicity in relation to salt and vinegar is not suggesting that we SHOULD BE eating glyphostate. The point is that the chemicals that are being used as herbicides on wheat will not harm you. That is the point, it is just plain ignorant for people to even be ASKING, are you saying we can cook with glyphosate? That just shows me they have little else to say. But good job on pointing that one out. On behalf of another farmer’s wife (diary), thank you for writing this article.

  16. Peter
    November 21, 2014 / 1:44 pm

    Very interesting and informative post, Jenny, thank you. As an organic farmer, what I have a problem with is the safety assessments made by USDA, EPA, and FDA. Many of these rely on testing done by the manufacturers, not by independent laboratories. The regulatory agencies themselves have been so de-funded by Congress that they no longer have the ability to do their own in-house testing, so they are forced to accept the manufacturers’ self-serving test results. There have been instances where an agency’s scientists criticized the manufacturer’s testing procedures, but they were over-ruled by the agency’s politically-appointed executives. Whether glyphosate and the myriad of other chemicals used on farms are indeed safe is still, for me, an open question. It will remain so until regulatory agencies that are supposed to assure public safety are no longer controlled by industry representatives or former executives.

    • November 21, 2014 / 2:37 pm

      Ah, the ole “Big Ag” is a government shill comment. While it is a very compelling arguement, in all reality, it is more of an opinion than anything else. And you’re entitled to thinking that.

      In the meanwhile, even IF, for some reason glyphosate got pushed through because of bribes, it STILL is virtually non-toxic to humans and mammals as we simply don’t contain the enzyme it targets. This post clearly makes the case for that. But thanks for commenting!

      • Janet
        November 22, 2014 / 12:58 am

        What about the idea that we don’t have the enzyme that is required, but that our gut biome does. Is that all a hoax too?

        • November 22, 2014 / 11:10 am

          Not really sure what you are asking here.. Mammals or humans don’t contain the enzyme. period.

    • Jim
      November 22, 2014 / 11:01 am

      Conspiracy. Incompetence. Love it. Actually, I have a similar feeling. After working my way through graduate school learning how to do research, how to analyze research, meeting the people who do the research, and seeing the research protocols imposed on that research, I have a lot of confidence in the research. I now know how to view research and see the strengths and weaknesses of a particular study. I also know my limitations in doing analysis, but I can generally find someone who can do the analysis.

      Twenty plus years ago, I had the privilege of traveling to Washington, D.C. with a contingent from my state wheat growers assoc. We met with our Congressional delegation, administrators from USDA, EPA, and other agencies. Even met with an official in the Old Executive Office Building next to the White House (took a White House tour too).

      We should all be very proud of our capital city, it is a jewel. There is a problem though. Here’s my conspiracy theory–it’s the marble. All the buildings are beautiful, but they are covered with marble. It appears to filter out all common sense.

      I’m okay, you’re okay, but there is no common sense coming out of Washington, D.C. It must be the marble.

      Now that we have all had a chuckle, let’s examine the real problem–TRUST.

      With all the advancements in medicine, transportation, crop and animal science, and all our other institutions, we are living longer and better and healthier. We live in a country that allows us to voice our opinion and we now have a way through the Internet to let everyone know it. Yet we do not trust.

      I am reminded daily of a proverb I heard somewhere: It’s better to keep your mouth shut and appear to be ignorant, than open it and leave no doubt.

      • November 22, 2014 / 11:12 am

        Indeed Jim – we put trust in technology across the board. I mean look at the phones we carry around with us every single day, the vehicles we drive that are now “smart”, and the amazing advances we’ve made in the medical field to improve people’s condition of living. But yet when it comes to agriculture, we want to turn the clock back 50 years simply because some refuse to trust the government, the scientists, and more importantly the farmers.

  17. Janet
    November 22, 2014 / 12:21 am

    Thank you for sharing your life’s experience and knowledge. I’m confused by this part: “In the United States, North Dakota represents about 5% of total wheat acres produced. We are, however, the second hard red spring wheat producer in the nation. So the claim that this occurs everywhere is not at all valid or true since only about 5% of the total production practices this pre-harvesting.”

    I understand the 5% of all US wheat grown might use this practice, but would it also be correct to say that 100% of hard red spring wheat grown in North Dakota uses this practice? Percentages can be so confusing sometimes and I know each farmer will have their own practices, but I’m really trying to understand how widespread this method is. Thank you so much for your help.

    • November 22, 2014 / 11:09 am

      No it would not be correct to say 100% of hard red spring wheat grown in North Dakota uses this practice. This practice is something that can vary from farmer to farmer. It is expensive to pre-harvest your wheat, so some may simply not choose to spend the money to do so. Or maybe timing isn’t right or it has been a warmer year. There are many, many different factors. But never assume that 100% of farmers do any two things the same. There are no absolutes in farming.

  18. December 31, 2014 / 9:04 am

    This is the first time visiting your page and I really appreciate your detailed analysis of ratio of toxicity, your opinions and how you attempt to respond to every reply on your blog. My concern is the long term effect we are causing to our bodies, immune systems and overall health. Our diet is extremely important and the more research I perform, the more depressed I become regarding the uphill battle to consume what I would consider healthy food. I have noticed from my preliminary research that the 3 top genetically modified producing countries have the highest obesity or cancer rates in the world! ‪Have you performed any detailed analysis regarding our health, diet and food consumption regarding this topic? I realize this topic isn’t just regarding wheat but the overall opinion you have regarding the American farmer and the American diet in regards to what they produce and what chemicals they apply to their fields. What is your opinion of organic farming? Thanks, I hope you have a happy and healthy new year.
    Kerry Steuart recently posted…PrintsMy Profile

    • December 31, 2014 / 9:51 am

      Hi Kerry,

      Appreciate your comment and taking the time to read! Welcome! You’ve caught me on a particularly honest day so here it goes…

      I have to agree with you that yes, we should be concerned about long term affects of the things we are putting in our mouths. As farmers, we are no different than you. We are constantly thinking in the long term. Americans are certainly seeing an increase in things like obesity, etc. But do I believe we should point to our food as the leading cause of these things? Not really. A lot has changed along with our food. Look at technology, medicine, and other things that we interact with on a daily basis. I get extremely leery about pointing to one evil and assuming that correlation equals causation. If this were true, we could say that cancer and obesity is caused by eating organic foods as both have increased over time.

      It is certainly a complex food system, there are so many choices. And our food system has its’ problems, I will fully admit that. But the truth is there will never be 100% safe food. Ever. There will always be risks, new food borne pathogens, etc. at some point we have to trust that the people growing and producing our food have our best interests at heart. Much like we put the trust in our doctors to save our lives when the time comes down to it. We also have know that the choices WE make are what will ultimately affect what goes in our mouths. People have to take responsibility for their own actions versus trying to put the blame on someone else.

      Since I do not believe that taking away choices is the answer to the problem, I fully support things like local or organic farming. I view them much like GMOs. Organic farming is another tool at the disposal of farmers who do their best to make decisions for what is best for their farm, their land, the safety and quality of their products, and of course their pocketbooks. Because we could not continue to farm if it wasn’t profitable. One size does not fit all in agriculture and what works for one farm may not work for another, whether it be organic or conventional or something else. In some cases this means switching methods in order to do what works.

      As a woman in agriculture, it is important to me that I use and share peer reviewed, researched, and tested science as well as put the correct information out there. Lord knows there’s already enough bad information out there. I am constantly asking questions and trying my best to keep up on the new and upcoming information in the industry. And if I am sure of something I read, I ask! 🙂

      Have a fantastic New Year!

      • January 1, 2015 / 10:03 am

        Hi Jenny,

        Thanks so much for your honesty and detailed response! I look forward to your post and photos, have an awesome week!!!

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