Last year, it was the World Health Organization’s (WHO) study on glyphosate—the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup weed killer—that got everyone’s attention. The study determined that glyphosate, which is the most heavily-used agricultural chemical in history, is a probable human carcinogen.
The link to cancer caused Monsanto to launch into an offensive, saying the WHO study “generated unwarranted confusion and concern” about the safety of glyphosate. But as more and more information on glyphosate comes in, people are becoming exactly that: concerned that evidence is showing the herbicide to be dangerous.
This year, the concern generated by the WHO study is only continuing to build, as more and more people learn how prevalent glyphosate is in the foods we eat. According to a new study, glyphosate is even in the beer we drink.
Munich Institute Study Finds Traces of Glyphosate Weed Killer in Beer
A German environmental group recently conducted a study looking for traces of glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup weed killer, in beer. The Munich Institute examined 14 popular German beer brands for glyphosate concentrations and found that every single beer in the study had traces of glyphosate.
The concentrations of glyphosate or weed killer in beer ranged from 0.49 micrograms per liter to 29.74 micrograms per liter. The beer manufacturers were quick to point out that glyphosate in these concentrations were too low to have any negative impact on health. Besides, they noted, traces of the herbicide can be found in “almost everything.”
Technically, it’s true that these recorded concentrations of glyphosate weed killer in beer brands were low. But with glyphosate found in “almost everything,” even small concentrations add up and contribute to the overall chemical levels we are exposed to.
Aside from finding glyphosate weed killer in beer, the Munich Institute found concentrations of the herbicide in:
- 44 percent of oats
- 16 percent of wheat
- 7 percent of wine
- 5 percent of rye
- 1 percent of cauliflower
Studies have also found traces of the herbicide in meat (farm animals are typically exposed to high levels of glyphosate), bread, and even baby formula. Another study found traces of the herbicide in the urine of people in 18 different European countries.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said it will soon begin testing food in the U.S. for glyphosate residue for the first time in the agency’s history. The FDA had previously asserted that testing for glyphosate wasn’t necessary to protect public health.
EU Countries Rebel Against Plans to Relicense Glyphosate
The widespread use of glyphosate coupled with mounting evidence suggesting a link to serious health problems has led a number of countries to publicly question the herbicide’s safety. Some have taken the hard line of banning the sale of glyphosate altogether.
Last week, four European Union countries rebelled against plans to approve a new 15-year license for glyphosate in the EU. A vote on relicensing glyphosate had been scheduled as part of a two-day meeting of experts from 28 member countries beginning on March 7.
Italy joined France, Sweden, and the Netherlands as nations opposed to granting a new license for glyphosate, disagreeing with the European Food Safety Authority’s (EFSA) assessment that the herbicide is harmless. The EFSA’s assessment is reportedly based on six industry-funded studies that have not yet been fully published.
Sweden’s environment minister, Åsa Romson, said the analysis conducted on glyphosate up to this point simply isn’t sufficient. Sweden will propose that no decision on relicensing glyphosate in the EU be made until further analysis has been conducted and “the EFSA scientists have been more transparent about their considerations.”
With four countries standing in opposition, officials with the European committee decided to postpone the vote to relicense glyphosate rather than lose it, raising the prospect of legal limbo for the herbicide. The EU license for glyphosate is scheduled to expire in June.
France and the Netherlands are among the growing list of countries to ban the sale of glyphosate. Below are other countries that have raised the alarm on the herbicide’s safety:
- Argentina: More than 30,000 health care professionals have called for a ban on glyphosate.
- Bermuda: Banned the commercial and private sale of glyphosate-based products.
- Brazil: A federal prosecutor asked the country’s Justice Department outlaw glyphosate use out of concern the herbicide causes health problems.
- Colombia: Banned glyphosate to destroy illegal coca plantations.
- El Salvador: Banned glyphosate over links to serious kidney disease.
- Germany: German government officials have called for an EU ban on glyphosate.
- Italy: Raised concerns about glyphosate safety along with France, the Netherlands, and Sweden.
- Portugal: President of the Portuguese Medical Association (PMA) called for a worldwide ban of glyphosate.
- Sri Lanka: Banned the private sale of glyphosate-based products.
- Sweden: Raised concerns about glyphosate safety and has pushed against relicensing the herbicide in the EU.
- Switzerland: Swiss supermarket chains Migros and Coop removed glyphosate-based products from their shelves over safety concerns.