Glyphosate is a heavily-used chemical weed killer and has been identified by the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer as a probable human carcinogen in 2015. The State of California also recognizes it as a chemical known to cause cancer.
Glyphosate was introduced onto the market in 1974 and sold for decades by Monsanto, now Bayer, under the brand name RoundUp and is the most widely used herbicide in the U.S., especially on many beans and grains.
It's a very disputed topic as there have been many claims of toxicity in humans and animals. More and more scientists are highlighting the major gaps in the evaluation of glyphosate safety.
The Microbiome & Glyphosate
There has been a lot of public talk about the gut microbiome lately and its importance to our overall health. In the past two decades, various studies have demonstrated links between gut health and the immune system, mental health, mood, endocrine disorders, skin conditions, autoimmune diseases, and cancer.
Numerous studies suggest that exposure to glyphosate could negatively affect the microbes in our gut and therefore could lead to poor health.
A research study conducted by Pere Puigbò, a senior researcher at the University of Turku in Finland, found that 54% of around 101 species of bacteria found in our guts could be damaged or killed if exposed to glyphosate in high enough quantities.
This finding could have far-reaching consequences because the use of RoundUp and other glyphosate-containing weedkillers is so widespread worldwide. The researchers emphasize the significance of examining this further. More studies are needed but the indications are surely suggestive.
There have been lawsuits against Monsanto, now owned by Bayer, for years. The most prominent probably was in 2018 by a school groundskeeper, who has non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and won a case against Monsanto in the US. He had routinely used two different glyphosate formulations in his work. He was awarded $289 million in damages. The jury's verdict didn't address whether RoundUp causes cancer, but the question of whether Monsanto knowingly failed to warn consumers that RoundUp could be harmful. Court documents from the case show the company's efforts to influence scientific research via ghostwriting.
In June 2020, Bayer agreed to pay $8.8 to $9.6 billion to settle over a hundred thousand RoundUp lawsuits and $1.5 billion for any future claims.
Testing by the Environmental Working Group (EWG)
In all of this, one must ask where is the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) if glyphosate is so widespread in our food chain? The federal government seems to look the other way when it comes to testing food for glyphosate. Thankfully the EWG has been heavily involved in food testing. They, amongst other public interest groups, found glyphosate in popular breakfast cereals, hummus and other foods. The most worrisome part for the consumer is shortly before harvest, when glyphosate is sprayed on many beans and grains as a drying agent.
As long as the EPA demonstrates willing blindness and maintains that the chemical is safe, all consumers can do is minimize exposure.
I wrote this exact same sentence in a post about BPA recently. This shows once again that agencies don't always have your best interest in mind when billions of dollars are involved...
How to Avoid Glyphosate?
It's highly recommended to avoid exposure as much as possible to reduce your risk of harmful side affects associated with the chemical.
1. One way to reduce exposure to glyphosate through food products is to look for products that are labeled with the USDA Organic certification label. It has among the most meaningful standards for environmental sustainability including prohibiting synthetic fertilizers and industrial pesticides such as glyphosate.
2. Another label to look for is the Detox Project’s Glyphosate Residue Free. It offers extra assurance that a product does not contain glyphosate. For a list of Glyphosate Residue free – Certified Products click here.
If you are an oat milk lover as I am, Oatly! milk carries the Glyphosate Residue Free certification by The Detox Project. With other oat milks do your research as oats have shown high residue of glyphosate in recent studies.
3. The EWG has a Shoppers Guide to Pesticides in Produce.