US study finds rise in human glyphosate levels

Activists demonstrate in favor of a glyphosate ban by the European Union in Brussels on July 19, 2017. A US has study found that
Activists demonstrate in favor of a glyphosate ban by the European Union in Brussels on July 19, 2017. A US has study found that the controversial chemical found in herbicides markedly increased in bodies of a sample population

Levels of glyphosate, a controversial chemical found in herbicides, markedly increased in the bodies of a sample population over two decades, a study published Tuesday in a US medical journal said.

The increase dated from the introduction of genetically-modified -tolerant crops in the United States in 1994.

The findings published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) came as the European Commission proposed on Tuesday to renew the license for glyphosate for a shorter than usual five to seven years.

That decision by the EU's executive arm followed a growing uproar over the alleged danger of its use.

Researchers compared the levels of glyphosate in the urine of 100 people living in California. It covered a 23-year period starting from 1993, the year before the introduction of genetically-modified crops tolerant to Roundup.

Glyphosate-containing Roundup, produced by US agro giant Monsanto, is one of the world's most widely-used weedkillers.

"Prior to the introduction of , very few people had detectable levels of glyphosate," said Paul Mills, of the University of California at San Diego School of Medicine, the study's principal author.

Among the study group, detectable amounts increased from an average of 0.20 micrograms per liter in 1993-1996 to an average of 0.44 micrograms in 2014-2016.

These figures are far from the daily limit of 1.75 milligrams per kilogram set by the US Environmental Protection Agency, and the even stricter limit of 0.3 milligrams per kilogram in the European Union.

"Our exposure to these chemicals has increased significantly over the years but most people are unaware that they are consuming them through their diet," Mills said.

Roundup was initially used on genetically modified soy and corn, but it is also sprayed on a substantial portion of wheat and oats grown in the US, he said.

In July, California listed glyphosate as carcinogenic, and the World Health Organization International Agency for Research on Cancer called it "probably carcinogenic" in 2015.

There are few human studies on the effects of glyphosate, but research on animals demonstrated that chronic exposure can have adverse effects, said Mills.

Along with the European Commission's proposal on Tuesday, the European Parliament approved a non-binding resolution calling for the chemical to be banned by 2022.

Glyphosate critics, led by environmental activist group Greenpeace, are calling for an outright ban in Europe. On Monday activists handed the EU a petition signed by more than 1.3 million people backing such a move.

Monsanto maintains that glyphosate "meets or exceeds all requirements" for full license renewal in Europe, and says the renewal procedure has in "many respects been hijacked by populism."

© 2017 AFP

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Oct 25, 2017
I was horrified years ago the first time I read about GMO crops being rinsed with Roundup. The literature I could obtain on Roundup from the local farm cooperative touted it as a wonder pesticide. I said to myself, We are moving in totally the wrong direction here... Have avoided soybeans and derivative products as much as possible ever since. Couldn't avoid it all, but glad I tried...

Oct 26, 2017
Just a technicality - Roundup is a herbicide, not a pesticide. One essentially deals with plants, and the other with insects.

Oct 31, 2017
The problem is with how the data is interpreted by people with an agenda. Glyphosate causes cancer in animals who are exposed to extreme amounts over long periods of time. That's not the case with humans and there are lots of other chemicals that are far more dangerous that occur in trace amount in humans, like mercury. People carry traces of all kinds of dangerous chemicals like Strontium 90 from atomic testing. It's everywhere and there is nothing we can do about it. But, no one has found that it causes any particular problems. Our bodies tolerate a certain amount of chemicals because they just exist in our environment. The pollution we breath alone contributes far more toxic materials to our bodies than we get from Roundup. With it, farmers would have a much more difficult time producing food for the masses and people seem to really like cheap eating. So, the alarmist just needed something to justify their existence. If you don't like Roundup, grow your own food. Good luck.

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