About the Author

Lee Evslin

Lee A. Evslin, M.D., is the author of “Breakfast at Monsanto’s: Is Roundup In Our Food Making Us Fatter, Sicker, And Sadder?” He is a Kauai-based pediatrician and the former CEO of Kauai Medical Clinic and Wilcox Hospital. He served on the state-sponsored task force involved with the analysis of pesticide usage on Kauai and received special recognition from the American Academy of Pediatrics for his work on pesticide legislation. You can contact him at levslin@makaiola.com.


It’s the active ingredient in Roundup-like herbicides. Will Hawaii again lead on food safety?

Six years ago, Hawaii became the first state in the U.S. to ban the toxic insecticide chlorpyrifos from use in agriculture. The rest of the U.S. and the European Union followed.

Last month, the American Academy of Pediatrics released a Clinical Report discussing the potential danger of the herbicide glyphosate in our food supply. Glyphosate is the active ingredient in Roundup-like herbicides.

On Jan. 18, Gov. Josh Green announced significant progress in transferring state leases for pastoral and agricultural lands to the Hawaii Department of Agriculture. This is part of his administration’s vital mission of increasing local food production.

As we move towards the governor’s goal of increased food production for the state, we should pay close attention to what the science says about glyphosate.

As Hawaii was considering legislation to ban the very toxic insecticide chlorpyrifos in 2017, the voices supporting the pesticide industry wrote columns stating that the ban was unscientific and based on fearmongering. Despite these statements and with the evidence presented by the AAP and others, Hawaii persisted and put the ban in place.

On Dec. 11, the AAP entered the pesticide arena again. They published a clinical report on the use of GMO food products on children. They reported that the potential toxicity in these foods may stem from a particular type of gene engineering that made the crops “Roundup Ready.”

Roundup-ready crops are resistant to glyphosate and may be sprayed multiple times during a growing season. The weeds die, but these crops do not, and due to the applications of herbicides, we end up with glyphosate in our food.

Roundup-like herbicides are now the most heavily sprayed herbicides in history. The AAP reported that there is increasing evidence of a connection between cancer and glyphosate-based herbicides, as well as evidence of endocrine dysfunction.

One example they described of endocrine dysfunction was the masculinization of female infants born to mothers with higher exposures to glyphosate during pregnancy.

The AAP chose their words carefully. Their paper included references to 76 scientific papers and studies.

Despite the careful wording, the AAP was aggressively attacked in the media as “unscientific” and “parroting propaganda” by some of the same pesticide-protecting voices that stated we were fearmongering and unscientific in 2017.

It is not surprising that these publications attacked so quickly and aggressively. The global sales of GBHs are expected to be 9-10 billion dollars in 2024. Thirty percent of that market is in the U.S.

I am a Fellow of the AAP. I have been a member for over 40 years. The AAP is considered one of the most respected voices in pediatric health.

Close to 70,000 board certified pediatricians are members. Our clinical reports and policy statements significantly drive the dramatic improvement in child health worldwide. Our expert panels include the most respected medical scientists in the nation.

There is growing international scientific concern about the health effects of chronic low-level glyphosate exposure. To call the AAP unscientific for reviewing those concerns is unconscionable and incorrect.

Glyphosate-based herbicides (GBHs) such as Roundup were added to our diet in the 1990s.

The GMO foods in the U.S. that were engineered to resist Roundup include soy, corn, canola oil, alfalfa, and sugar beets. In addition, in that same time period, Monsanto taught farmers that they could spray many non-GMO foods such as wheat, oats, barley, and others before harvest to kill them. This allowed the harvesting of a dryer, easier-to-handle crop.

The amount of GBHs sprayed in the U.S. increased from about 40 million tons in 1990 to 280 million tons by 2014. Additional studies adding to the growing international concern include the following:

  • A very recent study followed 480 children until they were 18 years old. They found that the children who had higher levels of glyphosate in their urine at age 5 had increased evidence of obesity, high blood pressure, and precursors of cardiovascular disease and liver inflammation by as early as age eighteen. They calculated that the main exposure to glyphosate was through their diets.
  • A study of pesticide applicators showed that higher levels of glyphosate in the urine were associated with higher blood levels of substances associated with inflammation and cancer.
  • Data from a CDC study showed that 80% of the population tested had glyphosate in their urine, and the higher the level of glyphosate in the urine, the lower the levels of sex hormones in the blood, and the greater the incidence of depression and cognitive decline.

Studies like these are important because glyphosate has been part of the American diet for 30 years. In that same 30 years, Americans and many other people around the globe have become steadily unhealthier.

We have marked increases in cancers in younger people, autism, autoimmune disease, liver disease, diabetes, depression and anxiety, and perhaps most visibly apparent, we have become much, much heavier. There has been nearly an 80% increase in obesity in the same 30 years.

Hawaii was the first state to ban chlorpyrifos for agriculture.

Of course, a correlation in time is not proof that glyphosate in our bodies is causing this epidemic of ill health. Still, we should pay attention when there is evidence of both a close correlation and of a causal mechanism.

In the National Library of Medicine, there are close to 2000 papers on the subject of glyphosate and toxicity. Evidence of toxicity is demonstrated in 100s of these studies.

Let’s lead again. Hawaii was the first state to ban chlorpyrifos for agriculture. As we move towards the critical goal of increased local food production, let’s put regulations and guidelines in place to keep Roundup-like herbicides out of our food crops.

Community Voices aims to encourage broad discussion on many topics of community interest. It’s kind of a cross between Letters to the Editor and op-eds. This is your space to talk about important issues or interesting people who are making a difference in our world. Column lengths should be no more than 800 words and we need a photo of the author and a bio. We welcome video commentary and other multimedia formats. Send to news@civilbeat.org. The opinions and information expressed in Community Voices are solely those of the authors and not Civil Beat.


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About the Author

Lee Evslin

Lee A. Evslin, M.D., is the author of “Breakfast at Monsanto’s: Is Roundup In Our Food Making Us Fatter, Sicker, And Sadder?” He is a Kauai-based pediatrician and the former CEO of Kauai Medical Clinic and Wilcox Hospital. He served on the state-sponsored task force involved with the analysis of pesticide usage on Kauai and received special recognition from the American Academy of Pediatrics for his work on pesticide legislation. You can contact him at levslin@makaiola.com.


Latest Comments (0)

Hmmmmm let me analyze this...clean seawater, rivers, food, air, healthy children......or weeds? What a brilliant time we live in when people defend pesticides.

Tdouble · 1 week ago

Loyal to the soil.

Da329Guys · 1 week ago

The pesticide industry is following the same game plan as the tobacco industry decades ago, which the oil industry has also picked up on. The object is to keep making as much money as long as possible, despite the impact on human health.

sleepingdog · 1 week ago

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