(Beyond Pesticides, April 21, 2016) A report released Tuesday by the Alliance for Natural Health (ANH) shows that glyphosate residues are widely distributed in common breakfast foods, such as bagels, cereals, creamers, and eggs. Glyphosate is a pervasive and toxic chemical found in Monsantoâ€™s Roundup weedkiller and was classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) as a probable human carcinogen in 2015.
The report looks at conventional and organic-certified versions of 12Â popular breakfast foods and ingredients (a total of 24 items) and finds that many of the sample foods or ingredients contain detectable levels of glyphosate. Testing was done by an independent laboratory using the ELISA (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay) method. Categories tested were: flour, corn flakes, instant oatmeal, bagels, yogurt, bread, frozen hash browns, potatoes, cream of wheat, eggs, non-dairy creamers, and dairy based coffee creamers. Of note is the finding that a sample of organic cage-free eggs contain more glyphosate than the allowable tolerance level. The lab found glyphosate residue levels of 169 parts per billion (ppb), while the allowable tolerance level is only 50ppb. The report acknowledges that the effects of other chemical ingredients in glyphosate formulations have not been evaluated, and the consequences of those interactions on health are not evaluated. The researchers also speculate that because animal products, such as eggs, are not sprayed directly with glyphosate, the finding of glyphosate residues in those products may indicate that the chemical is entering the food chain and bioaccumulating in animal tissues.
Unfortunately, this is not the first time that glyphosate residues have been detected in foods and products that are not typically associated with heavy glyphosate use, or even in organic foods and products, in which the use of glyphosate is prohibited. In March 2016, Moms Across America released a report on glyphosate residues in California wines. The reportÂ findsÂ that all of the ten wines test positive for glyphosate. The highest level of glyphosate detected is nearly 30 times higher (18.74 ppb) than other wines from a 2013 Cabernet SauvignonÂ sourced from a conventional, chemically farmed vineyard. The lowest level (.659 ppb) is from a biodynamic and organic vineyard, a 2013 Syrah. According to the owner of the organic vineyard, the vineyard has never been sprayed, indicating the possibility of pesticide drift from conventional agriculture, which has been a real and persistent problem for organic growers. EPA has done little to protect organic growers, who often bear the burden, both economic and otherwise, of pesticides applied to nearby conventional farmlands and vineyards. Other recent reports of the widespread presence of glyphosate residues find the chemical in breast milk, in nearly 100% of Germans and in German beers, feminine hygiene products, and bread.
Following theÂ IARC classification,Â aÂ research studyÂ published inÂ Environmental HealthÂ links long-term, ultra-low dose exposure to glyphosate in drinking water to adverse impacts on the health of liver and kidneys. The study focuses on glyphosate-based herbicides (GBHs), rather than pure glyphosate, unlike many of the studies that preceded it. In addition to impacts on human health, glyphosate has been linked to adverse effects onÂ earthworms and other soil biota, as well asÂ shape changes in amphibians. The widespread use of the chemical on genetically engineered (GE) crops has led it to be implicated in theÂ decline of monarch butterflies, whose sole habitatÂ to lay their eggs, milkweed plants, are being devastated as a result of incessant use of glyphosate.
A scientific review was released in February 2016 by a group of 14Â scientists, who expressed concern about the widespread use of GBHs, the lack of understanding regarding human exposure, and the potential health impacts. According to the report, U.S. agencies, such as the National Toxicology Program, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and EPA, have not adequately kept up with cutting-edge research. The researchers call for the global science and regulatory community to step back and take a fresh look at glyphosate due to widespread exposure patterns.
Beyond Pesticides advocates for a regulatory approachÂ that prohibits high hazard chemical use and calls for alternative assessments. The organizationÂ suggests an approach that focuses onÂ safer alternatives that are proven effective, such asÂ organic agriculture. Thus, the best way to avoid glyphosate residues in a wide range of food and drinks is to buy and support organic agriculture and the USDA organic label over conventional agriculture. Beyond Pesticides’Â database, Eating With a Conscience (EWAC),Â provides information on the pesticides that could be present in the food we eat, and why food labeled organic is the right choice. EWAC also includes information on the impacts chemical-intensive agriculture has on farm workers, water, and our threatened pollinators.
All unattributed positions and opinions in this piece are those of Beyond Pesticides.