Consumer Groups Initiate Private Glyphosate Testing in US

Story at-a-glance

  • Glyphosate—the active ingredient in Monsanto’s herbicide Roundup—has been reclassified as a Class 2 A “probable carcinogen.” Roundup has also been found to boost antibiotic resistance
  • In response to growing public concern about the toxicity of glyphosate, US regulators may start testing for glyphosate residues on food in the near future
  • The Organic Consumers Association, in cooperation with the Feed the World Project, has launched the world’s first glyphosate testing for the general public


This is an older article that may not reflect Dr. Mercola’s current view on this topic. Use our search engine to find Dr. Mercola’s latest position on any health topic.

By Dr. Mercola

In late March, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), a division of the World Health Organization (WHO), determined that glyphosate—the active ingredient in Monsanto's herbicide Roundup—is a Class 2 A "probable carcinogen."1,2,3

This determination is nothing short of devastating to Monsanto and other chemical technology companies that rule our food supply, and recent "astroturf" attack on Dr. Oz reveals just how desperate they are to quell rising concerns.

Not only is the IARC considered the global gold standard for carcinogenicity studies, it's also one of the research agencies from which the California agency of environmental hazards gets its data to declare carcinogens under Prop 65.

So, eventually, foods containing glyphosate will likely have to carry a Prop 65 cancer warning label to be sold in California.

And since glyphosate cannot be washed off and can remain stable in foods for over a year,4 a Prop 65 label would likely have to be applied to most non-organic processed foods. It's no great surprise then that Monsanto wants the IARC to retract its findings.5

The House of Cards Is Falling Apart...

It may be too late to rehabilitate the image of Roundup, however, as mounting scientific evidence has revealed that glyphosate causes harm through a number of different mechanisms that were previously unknown—both in isolation and in formulated combinations.

Not only has glyphosate been deemed carcinogenic, recent research6,7,8,9 also reveals that the Roundup formulation boosts antibiotic resistance by turning on a specific set of genes in the bacterium. This primes it to become more readily resistant to antibiotics.

Roundup was shown to increase the antibiotic-resistance of E. coli and salmonella specifically—bacteria responsible for many cases of foodborne illness—and this switch-on was found to occur at the typical levels of exposure associated with agricultural and residential application.

A 2013 paper10 published in Insect Conservation and Diversity also links the monarchs' decline to the increased use of glyphosate, in conjunction with increased planting of genetically modified (GM) glyphosate-tolerant corn and soybeans.

US Regulators May Soon Test for Glyphosate Residues in Food

At present, foods are not tested for glyphosate residues, as the chemical was assumed safe. That may soon change however.

In response to growing public concern about the toxicity of glyphosate—nearly a billion pounds of which is doused on fields and lawns each year11.12—the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently announced that US regulators may start testing for glyphosate residues on food in the near future.13,14,15

Health Canada has also announced it will update Roundup's label directions to reduce human and environmental exposure.16 Glyphosate is most heavily applied on genetically engineered (GE) corn, soybeans, and sugar beets, but it's also commonly used to desiccate conventional (non-GMO but non-organic) wheat and protect other conventional crops from weeds.

Ever since the inception of genetically modified organisms (GMO), the use of glyphosate has dramatically risen,17 as has glyphosate-related diseases.

Unfortunately, while it's good that US regulators may begin testing for the chemical, it's important to remember that current allowable limits may be set too far high to protect your health, so unless that's revised as well, you may be lulled into a false sense of security, but at least it's a step in the right direction...

The EPA raised the allowable limits for glyphosate in food in 2013. Limits for root and tuber vegetables (with the exception of sugar) were raised from 0.2 parts per million (ppm) to 6.0 ppm.

As reported by Reuters,18 glyphosate was only tested once, in 2011, at which time 271 out of 300 food samples were found to have residues. But while all of them fell below the EPA's tolerance level of 20 ppm, with residue levels going as high as 18.5 ppm, researchers have documented malformations in frog and chicken embryos starting as low as 2.03 ppm of glyphosate.19

And, as reported by the Institute for Science in Society,20 the allowable glyphosate limit in oilseed crops (except for canola and soy) was raised to 40 ppm, which is 100,000 times the amount needed to induce cancer in breast cells.

Advocacy Group Offers Testing for Glyphosate in US

A number of organizations have been sampling foods, human urine, and breast milk in an effort to determine just how pervasive glyphosate residues might be. Now, the Organic Consumers Association (OCA) has joined forces with the Feed the World Project, launching the world's first glyphosate testing for the general public.21,22,23,24

As reported by the OCA:

"The project, with specific focus on women and children in the US, is offering the first-ever validated public LC/MS/MS glyphosate testing for urine, water, and soon breast milk.

'For decades now, the public has been exposed, unknowingly and against their will, to glyphosate, despite mounting evidence that this key active ingredient in Monsanto's Roundup herbicide is harmful to human health and the environment,' said Ronnie Cummins, OCA's international director.

'Monsanto has been given a free pass to expose the public to this dangerous chemical, because individuals, until now, been unable to go to their doctor's office or local water testing company to find out if the chemical has accumulated in their bodies, or is present in their drinking water.

The testing OCA, Feed the World, and many other organizations will begin offering today [April 22] will allow everyone who wants to know whether or not, and to what extent, they personally have been exposed to glyphosate.

We expect that once the public learns how widespread the exposure has been...—in the context of the recent report from the World Health Organization that glyphosate is a probable human carcinogen—public pressure will eventually force governments worldwide to finally ban Roundup.'"

Cost is an issue, of course, and one idea might be to use crowdfunding resources to pool and share the cost. For example, if 50 people in one city want to know if their tap water contains glyphosate, they could join forces and share the cost for one single test rather than running 50. If you have other ideas for sharing cost, feel free to share them in the Vital Votes comment section below.

In Midst of Shifting Tide, Journal Editors with Biotech Bias Have Been Quietly Removed

After scientists expressed their outrage over the retraction of the first-ever lifetime feeding study assessing the health risks of genetically engineered (GE) Roundup Ready corn, two of the journal's editors have been quietly removed.

The study in question was originally published in Reed Elsevier's peer-reviewed journal, Food and Chemical Toxicology. The two-year long study25 led by Gilles-Eric Séralini revealed shocking health effects, including massive tumors and early death (see featured video above). Shortly after its publication, the journal created a brand new editorial position, associate editor for Biotechnology, which was filled by Richard Goodman,26 a former Monsanto scientist.

Then, in November 2013, the journal's pro-biotech Editor-in-Chief, A. Wallace Hayes retracted the study, saying its findings were inconclusive and therefore "did not meet scientific standards." 27,28,29,30 This was shocking to many in the scientific community, as inconclusiveness of findings is not a valid ground for retraction according to the guidelines for scientific retractions set out by the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE).31 In order to qualify for retraction, there must be errors or misrepresentation of data, and none were found in the Séralini study, despite a year-long review.

Séralini's paper was later re-published with open access in the Springer Group journal Environmental Sciences Europe.32 Then, in March of this year, Goodman was removed from the editorial board of Food and Chemical Toxicology journal,33 and Hayes was replaced by José L. Domingo, who has published papers showing that GE crops have questionable safety.

The Séralini retraction smelled to high heaven of industry interference and conflicts of interest, and as mentioned, Monsanto is now trying to bury the IARC's report on glyphosate as well. Everywhere Monsanto goes, it uses strong-arm tactics to get its way, which alone should tell you something. In 2012, Monsanto even promised the EU would feel pain lest it gets more lenient on GMOs, and the infrastructure34 they've built up to infiltrate and manipulate the US government is impressive.

Recent Astroturfing Efforts Reveal How GMO Industry Manipulates Public Opinion

Dr. Oz Fights Back: His Exclusive Reaction to His Critics, originally aired on 4/23/2015.

Monsanto has also built up an intricate system designed to manipulate public and scientific opinion, using false front organizations like the Science Media Center,35 the American Council for Science and Health (ACSH), and well-known industry shills like Dr. Henry Miller—the latter of which recently demonstrated how astroturfing works when he attacked Dr. Oz under the guise of being a concerned physician, demanding Dr. Oz be fired for his "relentless opposition to the genetic engineering of food crops."36

Groups and "experts" like these are not independent by any stretch of the imagination. They're created and installed by the industry, yet promoted as independent, with the mission to mislead people—including lazy reporters—about GMO issues.

Another new front group for the GMO industry is the Genetic Expert News Service (GENeS),37 set up to regurgitate industry propaganda. The website GMO Answers38 is another, and, according to Nation of Change,39 a Monsanto employee recently admitted the company indeed has "an entire department dedicated to 'debunking' science which disagreed with theirs."

So-called astroturfing techniques are used to discredit the opposition and create the false appearance of scientific consensus on a particular issue. It refers to the effort on the part of special interests, whether corporate or political, to surreptitiously sway public opinion by making it appear as though there's a grassroots effort for or against a particular agenda, when in reality such a groundswell of public opinion might not exist.

Hallmark signs of astroturfing include using key language—words such as crank, crack, nutty, pseudo, conspiracy, and other language that's effective with the public to try to make you dismiss an argument they don't like.

Another hallmark of an Astroturf campaign is attacking those who are questioning authority, such as reporters who are exposing the truth, whistleblowers who dare to step forward, and people asking tough questions. They also inject themselves into social media discussions, pretending to be "regular people," when in fact they have a very clearly defined agenda to steer the conversation.

In February, US Right To Know posted a series of press releases40,41,42,43 "outing" the Grocery Manufacturers Association's new lobbying firm, Ketchum, hired to combat GMO labeling. The firm even created a video in which it bragged about using these kinds of propaganda tactics to double the positive GMO messages found online. Ketchum also created the GMO Answers website, in which professors at public universities answer GMO questions from the public—supposedly without remuneration from the industry.

What You Need to Know About Dr. Oz' Critics

Dr. Henry Miller—who is now calling for Columbia University to fire Dr. Oz—has a long history of defending toxic chemicals,44 from DDT to cigarettes—hardly a paragon of virtue when it comes to the safety of toxins, yet he's portrayed as representing a group of "independent experts" that just cannot bear you being misled and worked up about the nonexistent hazards by the likes of Dr. Oz...

During the 2012 GMO labeling campaign in California, Dr. Miller was also caught misrepresenting himself as a Stanford professor opposing GMO labeling, when in fact he is not a Stanford professor.45 The TV ad had to be pulled off the air because of it. Dr. Gilbert Ross also co-signed the complaint letter against Dr. Oz, and the media has conveniently failed to address the fact that Ross was stripped of his medical license in New York and spent time in federal prison for Medicaid fraud—hardly a person more trustworthy than Dr. Oz, if you ask me...

It may well be a sign of hubris, placing these well-established shills up front and center at this time. Monsanto believes it cannot be brought down, and that they have the public thoroughly fooled, but in this case, it's really easy to trace the attack on Oz right back to the front door of the chemical technology industry.

Dr. Oz has also done a great job going on the offensive; along with Elisabeth Leamy exposing46 the ties to big industry of the doctors calling for his termination. It's quite evident that Dr. Miller et al. and the ACSH are part of an astroturf campaign designed to dissuade people from expressing and sharing concerns that hurt the industry's bottom-line.

Why Glyphosate Contamination Is a Valid Concern

The chemical technology industry, led by Monsanto, is responsible for a crisis in both human and environmental health, and they're fighting tooth and nail to keep up appearances that all is well. This is understandable when you consider that they stand to lose just about everything. They can't stay in business unless toxic chemicals remain the norm and the hazards minimized. But the fact is that if you're eating foods contaminated with glyphosate, you're compromising your health in a number of ways, as this chemical:

  • Acts as an antibiotic (glyphosate is in fact patented as an antibiotic); preferentially affecting beneficial bacteria, allowing pathogens to overgrow
  • Inhibits enzymes that detoxify chemical compounds. This appears to be one of the previously hidden mechanisms of harm, because by inhibiting these enzymes, glyphosate enhances the damaging effects of chemicals and environmental toxins you may be exposed to
  • Readily promotes antibiotic resistance by activating certain genes in the bacteria, as demonstrated in the study mentioned earlier
  • Decimates your microflora and its ability to produce essential amino acids like tryptophan that converts to serotonin, an important neurotransmitter, 90 percent of which is produced in your gut

According to Joseph E. Pizzorno,47 founding president of Bastyr University and former advisor to President Clinton on complementary and alternative medicines, toxins in the modern food supply are now "a major contributor to, and in some cases the cause of, virtually all chronic diseases." Dr. David Bellinger, a professor of Neurology at Harvard Medical School has expressed similar concerns. According to his estimates, Americans have lost a total of 16.9 million IQ points due to exposure to organophosphate pesticides.48

Pizzorno also points out that our modern food supply (most of which is heavily processed) also hampers your body's detoxification process as a result of being deficient in key nutrients. In addition to that, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has admitted49 that, conversely to what researchers originally thought, the vast majority of diseases do NOT appear to have a genetic origin. Rather the majority—90 percent in fact—are the result of environmental causes, which includes exposure to pesticides and other diet-related toxins.

Monsanto's Toxic Legacies Live On

Astroturf agents like Henry Miller want you to think that scientists are exasperated because "no one believes in science anymore." Nothing could be further from the truth. Industry shills, like Miller, are upset because more and more people refuse to accept the industry's manipulated science. That's what the real argument is about. Monsanto has consistently lied and covered up toxicity issues—about PCBs,50,51 Agent Orange,52 and dioxins—yet we're supposed to believe they've now mastered non-toxic pesticides and genetic engineering of food?

In 2002, Monsanto was found guilty of decades of "outrageous acts of pollution" in the town of Anniston, Alabama. Monsanto dumped PCBs into the local river, and documents revealed the company knew about the severity of the pollution problem for at least three decades, but decided it wasn't worth going through "expensive extremes" to limit its toxic discharges.

Now, San Diego is suing Monsanto for polluting the Coronado Bay with PCBs.53 Residents in Nitro, West Virginia are also suing Monsanto in a class-action lawsuit over carcinogenic dioxins, which they claim the company spewed all over the city over the course of 20 years.

In light of its toxic legacies, it's truly ironic that Monsanto now proclaims to be a leader in sustainable agriculture. For a rundown on Monsanto's checkered history, check out this Waking Times' article54 from last year. Reuters55 also recently ran a heartbreaking photojournalism piece on Monsanto's Agent Orange legacy. According to the Vietnam Association of Victims of Agent Orange/Dioxin (VAVA), more than 3 million Vietnamese suffer from lethal diseases caused by Agent Orange exposure.

The same company responsible for this human suffering is now in charge of our food supply, and wants you to "rest easy" and leave the science and regulations to them, because they're "science-based" and "sustainable." The charade has gone on long enough, and it really is time to hold the industry accountable, and to bar known toxins like glyphosate from the food supply.

+ Sources and References

By continuing to browse our site you agree to our use of cookies, revised Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.