Organic Diet Study on Glyphosate



Study Summary

New study shows levels of glyphosate (aka Roundup) in families’ bodies drop dramatically after one week of eating organic


A new peer-reviewed study found that levels of the pesticide glyphosate in participants’ bodies dropped an average of 70% after six days on an organic diet. Glyphosate is the main chemical ingredient in Bayer’s (BAYRY) Roundup®, the world’s most widely used pesticide.

The study, published in Environmental Research, is part of a comprehensive scientific analysis showing that an organic diet rapidly and dramatically reduces exposure to toxic pesticides, including glyphosate, organophosphates, pyrethroids, neonicotinoids and 2,4-D.

This is the first study to look at how an organic diet affects exposure to glyphosate. Despite the widespread use of this pesticide, very few studies have evaluated the extent and amount of human exposure. The researchers found glyphosate in all of the study participants, including children as young as four. Strikingly, the average level of glyphosate in children was approximately five times higher than in adults.


Given the rapid drop after participants switched to an organic diet, this study indicates that for the general population, diet is a primary way they’re exposed to glyphosate.

Glyphosate is the most widely used pesticide in the world

In the United State, over 280 million pounds of glyphosate are applied to farm fields annually. On average, 84% is used on genetically engineered “Roundup Ready” soybeans, corn, and cotton. However, it’s also approved for use on over 100 other crops.

Glyphosate is linked to a range of health problems

Decades of data shows that pesticides can disrupt and derail the healthy functioning of our bodies. Glyphosate is classified as a probable human carcinogen by the World Health Organization and has been linked to high rates of kidney disease in farming communities and to shortened pregnancy in a cohort of women in the Midwest. Animal studies and bioassays link glyphosate and its formulations to endocrine disruption, DNA damage, decreased sperm function, disruption of the gut microbiome, and fatty liver disease.

Small exposures matter

While pesticide food residues often fall below levels that regulators consider safe, U.S. regulations have not kept pace with the latest science. They ignore the compounding effects of our daily exposures to a toxic soup of pesticides and other industrial chemicals. Regulators also set one “safe” level for all of us, failing to reflect that we can have higher risk at different times in our lives, including in utero and as children. In addition, we now know that incredibly small amounts of certain chemicals can disrupt our hormone systems. These endocrine disruptors can scramble, block or mimic critical cellular mechanisms in our bodies, increasing risk of cancers, learning disabilities, birth defects, obesity, diabetes, and reproductive disorders. Along with glyphosate, over 50 pesticides are associated with endocrine disruption.

Government failure to regulate glyphosate has led to increasing exposure

Glyphosate was flagged as a potential carcinogen as far back as 1983 by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), yet use of the chemical has grown exponentially since with the market dominated by Monsanto — purchased by Bayer in 2018. An extensive set of internal company documents uncovered by a spate of high profile lawsuits reveal how Monsanto’s influence over the EPA succeeded in suppressing health concerns.

Rather than restricting use, since the 1990s, the EPA has raised the legal threshold for residues on some foods up to 300-fold. And unlike other commonly used pesticides, the government has failed to test for glyphosate on food and in our bodies.


This inadequate regulation has led to a dramatic increase in exposure. Research shows that the percent of the U.S. population with detectable levels of glyphosate in their bodies increased from 12 percent in the mid-1970s to 70 percent by 2014. The new study suggests even more widespread exposure, finding glyphosate in all participants.

Make organic for all

Despite ever-growing demand for organic food, the U.S. government continues to favor the profits of the pesticide industry over our health, spending billions of our taxpayer dollars to prop up pesticide-intensive farming while organic programs and research are woefully underfunded. This misdirection of public dollars makes pesticide-laden food the norm and is a significant reason why many people across the country still don’t have access to, or can’t afford, organic food.

We should not have to “shop our way out” of exposures to toxic pesticides. We all have the right to food that is free of toxic pesticides. People living in farm communities should have the right to be free of exposure to toxic pesticides, starting with the children who live and go to school near farm fields where pesticides are sprayed and farmers and farmworkers who are exposed daily. And the way we farm should protect rather than harm the biodiversity, soil and water that sustain all life.

Elected officials must protect the health of people and the planet and stand up to corporate influence. And the food industry has a responsibility to consumers, the environment and society at large. Together, we can demand government and corporations step up to create a healthier world for all people.

Citation

Fagan, John, Larry Bohlen, Sharyle Patton, Kendra Klein. 2020. Organic Diet Intervention Significantly Reduces Urinary Glyphosate Levels in U.S. Children and Adults. Environmental Research.


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