If Not Vaccines, What Triggers Autism?

by L J Furman, MBA on February 1, 2015

in Connecting the Dots, Ecology, Environmental Issues

Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman in Casablanca, 1943

Humphrey Bogart as Rick and Ingrid Bergman as Ilsa in Casablanca, 1942

“Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine” – “Casablanca.

Once rare, the incidence of Autism has increased exponentially from less than 0.02% of boys to 2.38%.

Before the MMR Vaccine: 400 to 500 died each year as Millions contracted the disease. Due to widespread administration of the vaccine, the incidence of Measles dropped to 37 reported cases in 2004.  But because people believe (falsely) that the MMR vaccine triggers Autism, they stopped immunizing their children. There were 644 cases of Measles in 2014.

If the MMR Vaccine does not trigger Autism, what does?  Glyphosate? Possibly. And what’s Glyphosate? The active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup.

This is a story of unintended consequences.

Part 1: Casablanca,  a story of Unintended Consequences.

“Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine” –  Rick (Bogart) says of Ilsa (Ingrid Bergman) in “Casablanca.” Ilsa’s entrance to the cafe set in motion a series of events that ended with the shooting death of a Nazi and Rick joining the fight against them. While she would have been happy to hear the news, this was not her intent. It was an unintended consequence.

Part 2: Autism, Measles, Vaccines, and Outbreaks.

Once rare, the incidence of Autism has increased exponentially from less than 0.02% of boys to 2.38%. In the 1970s less than one in 5,000 American boys were diagnosed with Autism. Today, one in 68 American children and one in 42 American boys are diagnosed with Autism, according to the CDC, here.

And Measles:

  • Before the MMR Vaccine: 400 to 500 died each year as Millions contracted the disease.
  • In 2004: because of the vaccine, there were 37 Reported Cases: 0 Deaths.
  • 2014: presumably because people don’t vaccinate their children, 644 children got sick with Measles. There have been no Deaths – yet.
  • Dec. 2014: 84 people infected with Measles at Disneyland, California.
  • Go on vacation, Come home with Measles: Unintended consequences!
  • But what do you expect if you don’t immunize?

What does Measles have to do with Autism? Nothing really, but some people believe, incorrectly and despite scientific evidence to the contrary,  that the MMR vaccine triggers Autism. But if MMR Vaccine doesn’t trigger Autism how do we explain the rise in Autism?  What scientific evidence is there suggesting a cause? Before the development and widespread adoption of MMR vaccine in 1963, millions of Americans caught the disease each year, and 400 to 500 died each year. By 2004, due to the vaccine and other measures, there were 37 reported cases of measles, an intended consequence of the widespread administration of the vaccine.  Last year there were 644 reported cases. Fortunately, no one has died – yet.  However, as of Feb. 1, 2015, 84 people in 14 states have contracted Measles in an outbreak that began in Disneyland, in California in December, 2014.

Katie Palmer, writing in  Wired, here, noted the irony of a measles outbreak originating from “The Happiest Place on Earth.” There is more to the irony. Disney (NYSE DIS) sells happy fantasies. The belief that MMR vaccines cause autism is a fantasy, albeit a dark dystopian one. Not quite as fun as a day at a theme park or an afternoon watching an animated feature like Alladin, the Little Mermaid, or Frozen, not quite as exciting as what is on ESPN, but a fantasy.

In October, 2013, I wrote, here, about the mistaken belief that the MMR vaccines cause autism. This belief, promoted by Jenny McCarthy and Generation Rescue, appears to be widely held. But if vaccines don’t cause autism, what does?

  • What has caused this increase in Autism, from 0.02% to 2.38%?
  • What will the rate of Autism be in 5 or 10 years?
  • How do we bring Autism back down to 0.02% or lower?

Part 3 – Roundup, Glyphosate and Autism.

The usual suspects for Autism, like other modern illnesses, are toxic agents in the biosphere. Chief among them for Autism, and also linked to Alzheimers, may be Glyphosate, the active ingredient of Monsanto’s Roundup®.

As I understand it, this is the basic business model for Roundup:

  • Glyphosate, invented by Monsanto, kills plants.
  • Monsanto, therefore, engineers seeds to be resistant to the herbicide.
  • These seeds are sold to farmers, along with the herbicide, so they can attain higher crop yields.
  • Farmers plant the seeds and spray the herbicide on their fields.
  • As the crops grow, unaffected by the herbicide.
  • Other non-desirable plants, aka “weeds,” die from administration of the herbicide.
  • Farmers buy more of the herbicide, sold as “Roundup” and seeds, called “Roundup Ready” which are genetically altered to be resistant to the herbicide.

In addition, there are four key side effects of the Roundup / Roundup Ready GMO seed system:

  • Roundup Ready crops accumulate Glyphosate as they grow.
  • These crops are harvested for sale as food for human consumption and as feed for livestock.
  • Over time the “weeds” develop a resistance to Glyphosate, requiring larger doses of herbicide or other herbicides.
  • We ingest Glyphosate in grains, corn, sugar, meat …

Dr. Anthony Samsel, an environmental biologist, and Stephanie Senoff, PhD, of MIT, in their abstract for a review (here) of the scientific literature, wrote,

Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup®, is the most popular herbicide used worldwide. The industry asserts it is minimally toxic to humans, but here we argue otherwise. Residues are found in the main foods of the Western diet, comprised primarily of sugar, corn, soy and wheat. Glyphosate’s inhibition of cytochrome P450 (CYP) enzymes is an overlooked component of its toxicity to mammals. CYP enzymes play crucial roles in biology, one of which is to detoxify xenobiotics. Thus, glyphosate enhances the damaging effects of other food borne chemical residues and environmental toxins. Negative impact on the body is insidious and manifests slowly over time as inflammation damages cellular systems throughout the body. Here, we show how interference with CYP enzymes acts synergistically with disruption of the biosynthesis of aromatic amino acids by gut bacteria, as well as impairment in serum sulfate transport. Consequences are most of the diseases and conditions associated with a Western diet, which include gastrointestinal disorders, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, depression, autism, infertility, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. We explain the documented effects of glyphosate and its ability to induce disease, and we show that glyphosate is the “textbook example” of exogenous semiotic entropy: the disruption of homeostasis by environmental toxins.

The full paper can be downloaded here from the Special Issue Biosemiotic Entropy: Disorder, Disease, and Mortality) (Download PDF [518 KB, uploaded 18 April 2013]

Their findings are summed up on Green Med Info, here,

The researchers identified the inhibition and/or disruption of cytochrome P450 (CYP) enzymes as a hitherto overlooked mechanism of toxicity associated with glyphosate exposure in mammals.

CYP enzymes are essential for detoxifying xenobiotic chemicals from the body. Glyphosate therefore enhances the damaging effects of other food borne chemical residues and environmental toxins.  The researchers also showed how interference with CYP enzymes acts synergistically with disruption of the biosynthesis of aromatic amino acids by gut bacteria (e.g. tryptophan), as well as impairment in serum sulfate transport, a critical biological system for cellular detoxification (e.g. transulfuration pathway which detoxifies metals).

These effect, according to the researchers, can contribute to causing or worsening “…most of the diseases and conditions associated with a Western diet which include gastrointestinal disorders, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, depression, autism, infertility, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.

It seems to me that the burden of proof for the safety of the herbicide should be on the manufacturer or purveyor of the agent, not the regulators.

Interestingly, an article on Investment Watch published June 20, 2013, shortly after the Samsel – Seneff study, here, said,

Lethality of Roundup ‘Weedkiller’ Extends Beyond Plants To Humans, Study Suggests

Glyphosate is the world’s most popular herbicide and is designed to kill all but genetically modified “Roundup Ready” plants, such as GM corn, soy, beet, cottonseed and canola. Over 180 million pounds of the chemical are now applied to US soils each year,[ii] and while agrichemical manufacturers and government regulators have considered it ‘relatively safe,’ an expanding body of biomedical research indicates that it may cause over 30 distinct adverse health effects in exposed populations at far lower concentrations than used in agricultural applications.

Some investors are interested in the long term and try to make investment decisions based on their understanding of the facts. They want to know if a corporation has one or more terrific new products and they also want to know if one or more of a corporation’s products carries liabilities and potential liabilities. As noted above, the CDC, here, and here, estimated total societal costs of caring for children with ASD to be over $9 billion in 2011. Liability for a large fraction of those costs could severely damage Monsanto (NYSE MON), a public company worth $57 Billion in January, 2015.  $9 Billion is 16.364% of $57 Billion ….

A summary by MIT, here, suggests that Roundup Ready crops really only benefit Monsanto, and do so at the expense farmers, taxpayers, and people who eat. The good news, however, is that farmers have been using so much Roundup that weeds are now evolving resistance to it.  The future of Roundup Ready crops may be short-lived.

Many farmers have begun to use Roundup Ready crops. A recent news article (link) suggests that farmers have becoming so reliant on Roundup as a herbicide that they may be weakening Roundup’s ability to control weeds. Monsanto, manufacturer of Roundup, funded the study. Few farmers consider resistance an issue until it affects them directly. Farmers are now being encouraged to use multiple herbicides. It is unclear how this will impact the use of Roundup Ready crops, as these crops are only resistant to Roundup.

A recent study by the Soil Association, a leading organic organization in Britain, estimated that genetically engineered corn and soybean have cost the United States $12 billion since 1999 in farm subsidies, lower crop prices, loss of major export orders and product recalls (link). While genetically engineered crops were supposed to help cure world hunger, there have been very few reports of increased yields. Additionally, farmers are not achieving higher profits as promised to them by biotechnology companies like Monsanto, who market Roundup Ready products as the only way to grow crops in the new age.

So Roundup, cost the US $12 billion since 1999 in farm subsidies, lower crop yields, loss  of exports, and may be linked to $9 billion in 2011 in costs related to Autism (and more each year as more children are diagnosed) may eventually go the way of the kerosene lamp.

Part 4 – In defense of Jenny McCarthy

Jenny McCarthy, Head and Shoulder

Jenny McCarthy

in my previous post I criticized Ms. McCarthy for speaking passionately and yet speaking incorrectly; for being a pundit, but for getting it wrong.  I was critical of her for not listening to hard science.  But in her defense, how can she be criticized for ignoring what the government says when the government ignores hard science?  If the research reviewed by Semsel and Seneff is correct then the use of Glyphosate on food crops, feed crops and suburban lawns should be restricted and perhaps banned. Yet the government in the form of the CDC, EPA and FDA appears to be lax if not derelict.  Why should Ms. McCarthy, or any other citizen, trust the government on something like vaccines when it appears untrustworthy on other things, like herbicides?

And if Ms. McCarthy were to get back on the Autism Fighting Bandwagon and say, “I believed that my son’s autism was triggered by vaccines, but I was wrong. New research indicates that it is Roundup and GMO foods” then I would say, “As she has in the past, Ms. McCarthy is using her status as a celebrity to try to do some good for society. However, in the past, when she blamed vaccines for the increase in the rate of Autism, she ignored the scientific evidence. Today she is aware of the evidence. More power to her.”

An analyst with Popular Logistics, I hold a BS and an MBA and over 20 years experience in Information Technology. Available as a speaker and consultant, I can be reached at “LFurman . MBA” at G Mail.  The goal in these posts is to present systems dynamics of the bio-humano-sphere…. to look at side-effects.

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