by Brian Shilhavy
Editor, Health Impact News
The Detox Project recently published their latest results from the most comprehensive glyphosate testing of food products ever conducted in the U.S., showing that the contamination of the U.S. food supply with the cancer-causing herbicide glyphosate is becoming significantly worse since their first report published 5 years ago.
In our first report nearly five years ago, we found alarming levels of glyphosate residues in 29 bestselling foods from major food companies in the continental United States, as increases in the spraying of more toxic pesticides was skyrocketing across rural America.
In this new report, we disclose the glyphosate residue testing results of 83 foods found in major Big Box, grocery and natural food stores purchased in Des Moines, Iowa, including Walmart, Whole Foods, Target, Natural Grocers, and Hy-Vee and foods bought online through Amazon.
Incredibly, more than half the foods tested, a total of 45 foods out of 86 products, contained alarming levels of glyphosate, ranging from 12 parts per billion (ppb) in “sprouted wholegrain bread”6 from Whole Foods to as high 889 ppb in Walmart’s brand chickpeas,7 to 1,040 ppb in Whole Food’s 365 Brand Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread, to the highest level detected of 1,150 ppb in Hy-Vee’s 100% Whole Wheat Bread.
While none of these foods are genetically engineered, they still contain ingredients that are at a high risk of glyphosate contamination. There is no GMO wheat or chickpeas on the market in North America. For the past two decades, farmers in the U.S. and Canada have regularly sprayed Monsanto’s (now Bayer) Roundup on wheat, oats, barley and dry bean crops as a ‘pre-harvest drying agent’ to get the harvested crop to market faster.
Glyphosate is the active ingredient in the world’s most heavily used herbicide, Roundup. So even though it has widely been shown that glyphosate is linked to higher rates of cancer, getting it out of the food supply is no easy task.
This report, like our last one, confirms that this practice, known as crop desiccation, exposes the American public to dangerous and unacceptable levels of glyphosate contamination in foods that consumers are led to believe are healthy.
In 2015, leading international scientists at the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) found compelling evidence linking glyphosate to cancer in humans, while a 2019 meta-analysis by independent scientists at the University of Washington found glyphosate increased cancer risks by 41%, specifically non-Hodgkin lymphoma, a cancer of the immune system that develops from abnormal lymphocytes, and is common in farmers, pesticide applicators and those regularly exposed to glyphosate.
Lymphocytes are a type of immune cell made in the bone marrow that are found in the blood and lymph tissue. If that weren’t concerning enough, in 2017 researchers found that rats exposed to Roundup developed nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) over a 2-year period, even at “extremely low doses”, 0.1 ppb, while in 2018 peer reviewed research revealed that glyphosatebased herbicides were able to alter important biological markers relating to sexual development, genotoxicity and damage the gut microbiome of rats in as little as 13 weeks at levels allowed in drinking water in America and considered to be “safe” by the U.S. government.
What is particularly concerning is that even foods labeled as being “USDA Organic” or labeled as free from GMO contamination, also test positive for levels of glyphosate contamination.
Many people, for example, choose gluten free alternatives to wheat, thinking that it is a healthy choice, but the grains, nuts, and seeds that make up most gluten free products are heavily contaminated with glyphosate as well.
Unfortunately, a Non-GMO label on a food or supplement product does not mean that it is free of glyphosate contamination. Of the 26 foods tested that made Non-GMO claims, 18 tested positive for glyphosate, including 2 of the top 5 foods with the highest levels of glyphosate contamination. The levels found in Non-GMO labeled food ranged from 12 ppb to 1,040 ppb.
It is not without a pinch of irony that some of the highest levels of glyphosate are found in foods marketed as Non-GMO, which means they do not contain genetically engineered ingredients, since consumers buy these products to avoid Monsanto’s (now Bayer’s) GMO ingredients but are now exposed to high levels of their bestselling weedkiller instead.
With this major test sampling completed, we found that organic foods were significantly less likely to be contaminated with glyphosate and at much lower levels than either conventionally produced foods or foods certified as Non-GMO.
Of 23 organic foods tested, only 5 were found to contain glyphosate residues and their range, from 13 ppb to 54 ppb, while still deeply concerning, is significantly lower than other foods.
My own company, Healthy Traditions, began testing all of the food we sell for the presence of glyphosate back in 2014, when we did our own testing and investigation and found that most of our certified organic grains that we were selling at the time were contaminated with glyphosate.
We were shocked to learn that the National Organic Program for USDA organic certification allows for smaller amounts of glyphosate to be present even in foods certified organic.
So we mostly abandoned the USDA Organic program, and started testing all of our food ourselves, practicing strict batch control so that we could trace each batch back to the producer.
We now do our own testing for glyphosate, and also for GMOs, as many foods advertised as being free from GMOs also contain small amounts of GMO DNA, especially American corn.
If we receive a test back that has a positive result for glyphosate or GMOs, we won’t sell it, no matter how small the amount.
A “little bit” of poison is still poison.
The Detox Project report addressed the reason why there should be no “safe limit” of glyphosate in any foods.
It is first important to understand how the ‘safe’ level of any toxic chemical is set. Currently the U.S. EPA sets a Reference Dose (RfD), which is known as the Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI) in Europe, by taking the lowest no observed adverse effect level (NOAEL) from animal studies and dividing it by 100.
For glyphosate the current RfD in the U.S is 1.75 milligrams / kilogram of bodyweight / per day or 1.75 mg / kg bw / day. It may not surprise our readers to know that the ADI in Europe is more than 5x less at 0.3 mg/kg bw /day, even though the regulators there base their ADI on the same industry studies as in the U.S. – Do you feel safe yet?
The big problem is that both the RfD in the U.S. and the ADI in the EU have already been proven to be far too high by independent peer-reviewed studies.
- In the pilot phase of the most comprehensive study ever done on glyphosate and glyphosatebased herbicides – the Global Glyphosate Study – it was shown that glyphosate-based herbicides cause genotoxicity, alteration of the intestinal microbiome as well as reproductive and developmental effects in both male and female rats, at the currently considered safe level in the U.S. of 1.75 mg / kg bw / day.
- Other peer-reviewed studies have also shown change in gene function and DNA Damage at the 1.75 mg /kg bw /day level.
This would normally mean that the EPA’s current RfD safe level should be reduced by at least 100x. However, even that may not be enough of a reduction, as in smaller non-comprehensive peer-reviewed studies, levels that are lower than 0.1 mg/kg have been shown to cause serious kidney and liver damage in rats.
Currently, we do not know the full effects on our health of glyphosate exposure at very low levels and we thus must follow the precautionary principle and ban the product from being sold immediately. It is simply not yet possible to set a safe level for glyphosate exposure and anyone who attempts to do so is bending the science.
The best we can do for now is to avoid foods and drinks that have levels over the internationally recognized reliable limit of detection for glyphosate in laboratories of 0.01 mg/kg (10 ppb), which can be done by consuming brands that are certified Glyphosate Residue Free.
In March 2015, the world’s leading cancer experts at the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) found that glyphosate was linked to cancer in humans. Since then, dozens of independent studies published in peer reviewed journals have found that glyphosate can have multiple negative health impacts including harm to beneficial gut bacteria, birth defects, infertility, reproductive issues such as miscarriages, shorter pregnancies, increased infant mortality, and certain cancers.
To put these glyphosate residue level results in perspective, the latest peer reviewed scientific research shows that: Roundup can cause liver and kidney damage in rats at levels as low as 0.05 parts per billion (ppb) and at 0.1 ppb glyphosate has been found to alter the gene function of over 4,000 genes in the livers and kidneys of rats.
In addition, peer-reviewed studies have also found that 0.1 ppb can cause severe organ damage in rats and that levels as low as 10 ppb can cause oxidative stress and have toxic effects on the livers of fish. Additional peer-reviewed research has found damage to the livers and kidneys of rats at 700 ppb, which the EPA considers the allowable level of glyphosate in U.S. drinking water.
Read the full report here.
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