Glyphosate has turned up in our food, women’s blood, human urine, animals’ organs, air, rain, and streams. It has been found to cross the placental barrier in an in vitro (not in living humans) study.
Places glyphosate has unexpectedly turned up include:
- Our food
In 2017 The Detox Project and Food Democracy Now! released glyphosate testing results for a range of popular U.S. food products – the results were astonishing.1
- Women’s blood
Glyphosate was found circulating in the blood of non-pregnant women living in Canada. The amounts of glyphosate detected ranged from undetectable to 93.6 ng/ml (93.6μg/L), with an average of 73.6ng/ml (73.6μg/L).2 Worryingly, this is well within the range of glyphosate concentration found in vitro to have endocrine disruptive effects on the estrogen hormone system.3 Such disruptions can lead to serious diseases such as cancer and reproductive problems.4
- Crossing the placental barrier in an in vitro study
In an in vitro study simulating human exposures, 15% of administered glyphosate crossed the human placental barrier and entered the foetal compartment.5 The study showed that the placental barrier in mammals does not protect the unborn foetus from glyphosate exposures.
In testing coordinated by The Detox Project in 2015 and carried out by the University of California San Francisco (UCSF), 93% of the people tested across the U.S. were shown to have glyphosate in their urine.13
In other testing commissioned by Friends of the Earth Europe the highest levels of glyphosate and its toxic metabolite AMPA were respectively 1.8 μg/L and 2.6 μg/L and these chemicals were found in the urine of respectively 44% and 36% of European city dwellers.6
Glyphosate levels have been found to be significantly higher in urine of humans who ate non-organic food, compared with those who ate mostly organic food. Chronically ill people showed significantly higher glyphosate residues in their urine than healthy people.7
In a separate detailed analysis, glyphosate was found in the urine of cows, humans, and rabbits. Cows kept in a GM-free area had significantly lower glyphosate concentrations in urine than cows in conventional livestock systems.7
In an analysis of farm and non-farm families, urinary levels of glyphosate in non-farm children were slightly higher than those in farm children. The authors suggested that this was because of the widespread use of glyphosate in non-farm areas, such as in home gardens.8
- Animals’ organs
Glyphosate has been found in the intestines, liver, muscles, spleen and kidney of slaughtered cows.7
- Air and rain
Glyphosate and its toxic metabolite AMPA were found in over 75% of the air and rain samples tested from the Mississippi Delta agricultural region in 2007. The researchers noted that the widespread presence of glyphosate was due to the cultivation of GM glyphosate-tolerant crops.9
- Streams and watercourses
Glyphosate and AMPA were frequently detected in streams in the American Midwest during the growing season.10 In a monitoring programme in Denmark, glyphosate and AMPA were washed out of the root zone of some types of soil and into drainage water in average concentrations that exceeded the EU permitted limit for drinking water (0.1 μg/l).11,12
Are these levels of glyphosate found in human and animals’ bodies and in the environment dangerous? No one knows, as the necessary testing of presumed safe “acceptable daily intake” levels has not been done in animals. Also, the complete herbicide formulations as sold and used, such as Roundup, have not been tested over the long term at realistic exposure levels.
- Detox Project and Food Democracy Now’s food testing results: https://s3.amazonaws.com/media.fooddemocracynow.org/images/FDN_Glyphosate_FoodTesting_Report_p2016.pdf
- Aris A, Leblanc S. Maternal and fetal exposure to pesticides associated to genetically modified foods in Eastern Townships of Quebec, Canada. Reprod Toxicol. 2011;31(4):528-533.
- Thongprakaisang S, Thiantanawat A, Rangkadilok N, Suriyo T, Satayavivad J. Glyphosate induces human breast cancer cells growth via estrogen receptors. Food Chem Toxicol. 2013;59:129-136. doi:10.1016/j.fct.2013.05.057.
- Vandenberg LN, Colborn T, Hayes TB, et al. Hormones and endocrine-disrupting chemicals: Low-dose effects and nonmonotonic dose responses. Endocr Rev. 2012;33(3):378-455. doi:10.1210/er.2011-1050.
- Poulsen MS, Rytting E, Mose T, Knudsen LE. Modeling placental transport: Correlation of in vitro BeWo cell permeability and ex vivo human placental perfusion. Toxicol Vitro. 2009;23:1380-1386. doi:10.1016/j.tiv.2009.07.028.
- Hoppe HW. Determination of Glyphosate Residues in Human Urine Samples from 18 European Countries (sponsor: BUND, FoE). Bremen, Germany: Medical Laboratory Bremen; 2013. http://www.foeeurope.org/sites/default/files/glyphosate_studyresults_june12.pdf.
- Krüger M, Schledorn P, Schrödl W, Hoppe HW, Lutz W, Shehata AA. Detection of glyphosate residues in animals and humans. J Env Anal Toxicol. 2014;4(2). doi:10.4172/2161-0525.1000210.
- Curwin BD, Hein MJ, Sanderson WT, et al. Urinary pesticide concentrations among children, mothers and fathers living in farm and non-farm households in Iowa. Ann Occup Hyg. 2007;51:53-65. doi:10.1093/annhyg/mel062.
- Majewski MS, Coupe, R. H., Foreman WT, Capel PD. Pesticides in Mississippi air and rain: A comparison between 1995 and 2007. Env Toxicol Chem. February 2014. doi:10.1002/etc.2550.
- Coupe RH, Kalkhoff SJ, Capel PD, Gregoire C. Fate and transport of glyphosate and aminomethylphosphonic acid in surface waters of agricultural basins. Pest Manag Sci. 2011;68:16-30. doi:10.1002/ps.2212.
- Kjaer J, Olsen P, Ullum M, Grant R. Leaching of glyphosate and amino-methylphosphonic acid from Danish agricultural field sites. J Environ Qual. 2005;34(2):608-620.
- Kjær J, Olsen P, Barlebo HC, et al. The Danish Pesticide Leaching Assessment Programme: Monitoring Results 1999–2003:; 2004. http://pesticidvarsling.dk/monitor_uk/2003.html.
- UCSF: Biomonitoring of glyphosate across the United States in urine and tap water using high-fidelity LC-MS/MS method: https://detoxproject.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/APAMT-Poster-Gerona.ppt