Better Health: Organic Food

The evidence is in.


Robert W Malone MD, MS

I used to be somewhat skeptical on the importance of eating organic foods. Then in 2018, an important paper in JAMA came out. That study showed that eating a higher proportion of organic food is inversely associated with the overall risk of cancer (P for trend = .001). Inversely associated in this case means that the more organic foods in the diet, the less cancer. 

Since then, numerous other peer reviewed papers have been published documenting the benefits of eating organic food. Recently, some important studies have been done that show very strong correlations between pesticide and herbicide use and various diseases. There are many reasons to eat organic, but reducing the residues of Roundup (glyphosate) and other chemicals on foods is a big one. 

Today, I am going to list the issues with commercially grown food and then simply present some of the peer reviewed papers that show the importance of eating organic foods. Some of these articles are scientifically complex. However, the bulleted points should be clear enough -for those that don’t feel like diving into the science.

If one can’t afford to eat organically, the other big message is to read food labels for “country of origin.” These days, that can be difficult to determine – due to the issuance of the USDA “Cool rules.” Under these guidelines, processed foods do not need to require a country of origin labeling, if they are assembled or combined in the USA. But even still, read those food labels – they matter

Cool rules do not require country of origin labeling for processed foods:

Processed food exclusion is based on two guidelines:

  • Products that are changed in character. Examples include: orange juice; bacon
  • Products that are combined with other products to make a new product

So what have studies shown about eating organically to avoid herbicides, such as Roundup and other pesticides:

  • A higher frequency of organic food consumption is associated with a reduced risk of cancer. 
  • Roundup™ exposure has been associated with an increased risk of Parkinson’s Disease and death of neurons in the substantia nigra. 
  • There is evidence implicating Roundup™ as a factor in the elevated risk of autism. 
  • Other studies have shown the effects of Roundup™ on synaptic transmission in animal and cellular studies. The major mechanism of action appears to be oxidative stress, accompanied by mitochondrial dysfunction. 
  • Some gut bacteria utilize the enzyme used by plants, and glyphosate and Roundup™ use has been shown to alter the gut microbiome. There is a large and growing body of evidence that the gut microbiome alters susceptibility to a great number of human diseases, including nervous system function. 
  • The weight of the evidence indicates that in addition to cancer and reproductive effects, glyphosate and Roundup™ have significant adverse effects on the brain and behavior and increase the risk of at least some serious neurological diseases
  • Increasing evidence shows that glyphosate and glyphosate-based herbicides exhibit cytotoxic and genotoxic effects, increase oxidative stress, disrupt the estrogen pathway, impair some cerebral functions, and allegedly correlate with some cancers.
  • Glyphosate effects on the immune system appear to alter the complement cascade, phagocytic function, and lymphocyte responses, and increase the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines in fish. 
  • In mammals, including humans, glyphosate mainly has cytotoxic and genotoxic effects, causes inflammation, and affects lymphocyte functions and the interactions between microorganisms and the immune system.
  • There is evidence in support of the hypothesis that residential pesticide exposure from agricultural applications is associated with an increased risk of thyroid cancer.
  • A large subset of the population has been exposed to glyphosate and there are studies showing the detrimental effects glyphosate exposure has on the brain and human health. 
  • Using roundup as a desiccant for crops “is a thing.” Although farmers in the USA are somewhat sensitized to the issue, there are no controls on imported cereal grains and oil crops. In particular, corn, soy and oats harvesting often includes the use of a dessicant, such as Roundup.
  • Unacceptable levels of glyphosate (Roundup) are found in commercially grown cereal grains, particularly breakfast oats and other foods. Organically grown cereal grains have very little Roundup residues when tested.

The peer reviewed studies can be found in the full article at

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