According to a senior research scientist from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, up to 50% of all children born in the U.S. eight years from now will be autistic to some degree. The reason: glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s flagship product, the herbicide Roundup.

Dr. Stephanie Seneff initially earned her degree in biophysics in 1968, but went into electronics and computer science in the 1980s. Recently, however, she has returned to the study of biology, focusing on the connections between human health and the food we eat. Over the past six years, she has co-authored and published over thirty papers on disease afflicting our modern world that increasingly scientists attribute to our diet and post-industrial lifestyles – including Alzheimers, heart disease and autism. Dr. Seneff attributes the dramatic increase in autism to decreased sunlight exposure and the presence of aluminum and mercury in the environment – as well as glyphosate.

The reason, she says, lies in glyphosate’s mechanism of action upon what is known as the “shikimate pathway.” In simple terms, the shikimate pathway is how plants turn their food into energy to grow; it is the basis of a plant’s metabolism. Seneff explains, “The way glyphosate works is that it interrupts the shikimate pathway, a metabolic function in plants that allows them to create essential amino acids. When this path is interrupted, the plants die.” She adds, “Human cells don’t have a shikimate pathway so scientists and researchers believed that exposure to glyphosate would be harmless.”

The problem is that, while human and animal cells do not have the shikimate pathway, bacteria do. This includes the beneficial “gut flora” that lives in our intestinal tract and aids the digestive process as well as immune function. It also protects the body from toxicity of chemicals such as aluminum. When these bacteria die, the consequences to human health can be serious. In addition, Seneff has found that glyphosate can interfere with liver function, leading to vitamin D deficiency.

Dr. Seneff became concerned when she realized that rates of autism in the U.S. were increasing at an alarming rate. In 1970, autism affected one in 10,000 children. Today, that rate is approximately one in 70. Why hasn’t there been more awareness of this issue? According to Seneff, “people were saying, ‘Oh, it’s just more reporting, more diagnosis’ – that’s a way to hide the evidence.” Although the federal government is doing next to nothing to investigate the problem, independent research has shown a direct correlation between the use of glyphosate and rates of autism among six and seven-year-olds.

Obscuring that evidence is something that Monsanto has been very good at – but it is getting increasingly difficult to hide the truth.

K.J. McElrath is a former history and social studies teacher who has long maintained a keen interest in legal and social issues. In addition to writing for The Ring of Fire, he is the author of two published novels: Tamanous Cooley, a darkly comic environmental twist on Dante's Inferno, and The Missionary's Wife, a story of the conflict between human nature and fundamentalist religious dogma. When not engaged in journalistic or literary pursuits, K.J. works as an entertainer and film composer.