Glyphosate-Free Wine: Wind Down the RoundUp
Most consumers consider their food and beverages safe to enjoy and eat and drink. When stories emerge where that isn’t the case, it obviously causes a lot of distrust, panic, and resentment.
“Glyphosate” and “Roundup” have been popping up in searches and news feeds with more frequency, linking it to cancer among humans (and other serious ailments). High levels of the chemical have been found in cereals and energy bars, and wine and beer. But how did a weed killer end up in our food and beverages? And more importantly, how can you avoid it?
What is Glyphosate (aka Roundup)?
According to the National Pesticide Information Center, Glyphosate is an herbicide. It is applied to the leaves of plants to kill both broadleaf plants and grasses. The sodium salt form of glyphosate is used to regulate plant growth and ripen fruit.
The active ingredient in Roundup is glyphosate. It is a non-selective herbicide, and that means it will kill most plants. It prevents plants from making certain proteinsthat are needed for plant growth, thus killing the plant.
A Quick History of Roundup
The history of glyphosate is long and worth reading. To summarize, Monsanto (American agrochemical and agricultural biotechnology corporation) owned the patent for Roundup’s active ingredient (glyphosate). In the early and mid-90’s, they started creating genetically modified crops (like soybeans) that were resistant to Roundup and called them “Roundup Ready” crops. Farmers were encouraged to buy these seeds and the accompanying Roundup.
By 2007, Glyphosate usage was more than double of the second most used pesticide (Atrazine). In over 10 years, glyphosate-based herbicides were the most heavily applied herbicides in the United States. And it only continued to grow, becoming the most used weed killer in history.
Why Glyphosate is a Health Concern
There are a myriad of diseases and disorders linked to glyphosate including Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma, ALS, ADHD, liver disease, reproductive issues, and more.
In 2015, The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic to humans” (PDF). The IARC continues to defend that decision despite ongoing attacks from Monsanto.
Specifically pertaining to our digestive health, in 2010, Monsanto patented glyphosate as an antibiotic in the United States. This patent led to major concerns about possible harm being caused by glyphosate killing beneficial gut bacteria which causes immune system damage. If the beneficial gut bacteria is killed (the healthy stuff) the can cause the overgrowth of the pathogenic bacteria (dysbiosis) and that is linked to a long list of diseases and disorders.
Disruptions in the microbiome can allow outside factors or even pathogenic members of the microbiome to take hold in the gut environment. Cells can come apart and allows the normally tight junction in the gut walls to loosen, causing leaky gut/hyper-permeable intestines.
When that is the case, undigested food, chemicals, bacteria, etc. can get into the bloodstream causing an immune response as well as many other things; cancer, heart disease, autism, inflammation, allergies, obesity, hormonal imbalance, and colitis.
Glyphosate/Roundup In the News
Earlier this year, a landmark decision was made in a trial between a former school groundskeeper (Dewayne Johnson) and Monsanto, one of the biggest pesticide and GMO seed manufacturers in the United States. Mr Johnson suffers from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and the verdict ruled it was caused by Monsanto’s glyphosate-based weedkiller Roundup which Mr Johnson used regularly in his job. The judge determined Monsanto owed Mr. Johnson $78M in damages. The company Bayer had recently purchased Monsanto and took a big financial hitwhen the verdict was announced.
Currently, there are about 4,000 other lawsuits in the United States claiming Roundup sickened them.
How to Avoid Glyphosate in Food
It’s important to understand that glyphosate isn’t just on the outside of plants—it is absorbed into plants. Glyphosate contamination cannot be removed by washing, and it isn’t broken down by cooking or baking.
Look for USDA Organic labels mean that no herbicides, pesticides, or insecticides were sprayed directly on the plants. But, be aware that due to Roundup use being so prevalent, that the herbicide may contaminate food that isn’t directly sprayed, including organic crops (more on that in a bit).
The Non-GMO Project Verified label means that a product doesn’t contain GMOs, which is helpful information to know, but won’t tell you whether the product is free of glyphosate.
Glyphosate Residue Free certification verifies that products do not contain glyphosate down to government-recognized (FDA) limits of detection (LODs) for food products (usually 10 ppb).
A third party accredited laboratory will test products to make sure they do not contain glyphosate residues.
Unfortunately, because Roundup is so prevalent, shocking stories keep emerging about where glyphosate is found in the food we eat. This study shows a list of common kid’s breakfast cereals that ALL contained levels of glyphosate.
Is Glyphosate in Wine?
Yes, glyphosate is found in most wines, even wines that are certified organic. Earlier in 2018, it was reported that 100% of California wines contain glyphosate.
Fortunately, in October of 2018, SmartVine, the first certified glyphosate-free California wine was released.
The founder of SmartVine spent months testing the grapes in biodynamic and organic vineyards throughout the state of California, only to find the soil still contained trace amounts of glyphosate. Because RoundUp use is so prevalent, even vineyards that have not used Roundup in 5+ years, still have trace amounts of glyphosate in the soil and/or the chemical is blowing over from nearby fields.
Finally, she found the only vineyard that produced grapes certified glyphosate-free in California, and SmartVine was born.
Why We Care
We believe that a passion for health and fitness can coexist with a really great glass of wine; creating a healthier product and planet to live in. While we are not the experts on everything, we hope you learned a bit from this article and continue to do your own research as well.
SmartVine is committed to bringing healthier options when it comes to wine… one glass at a time.
Do You Know What Is Lurking In Your Wine?
Most people drink a glass of wine to help them relax after a long day, or to enjoy with a really great meal. Wine, in moderation, should make you feel good, but have you ever experienced the opposite from just one glass of wine? It hardly seems fair. Most people chalk it up to alcohol levels, or dehydration, but other factors could be contributing to that feeling of, well,… ickiness.
When looking at a label on a bottle of wine, it appears to contain only grapes. You can also see the varietals, the alcohol percentage, and if it contains sulfites. Most consumers don’t realize that a lot of other chemicals and ingredients come into contact with grapes, the soil they’re grown in, and during the winemaking process. And, depending on how the wine is made and where it is harvested, there’s a high probability there are trace amounts of pesticides in the bottle. That is also NOT listed on the label.
It’s time to understand a couple of items – both intentionally (and unintentionally) added to wines:
Maybe these words sound vaguely familiar, but how do they affect our bodies? Why are they found in wine in the first place? And, most importantly, are there alternatives?
Many ingredients that are added to wine in the fermentation process are not required by law to be on the label. And this regulatory pass allows many winemakers to slip unsatisfactory items into wine; fish bladders, sulfur dioxide (more on that below), animal gelatin, and velcorin.
What is Velcorin?
Velcorin (dimethyl dicarbonate (DMDC)) is used in killing yeasts and living bacteria in wine, soda, and sports drinks. It is added as an easy solution to filter wine. When Velcorin is added, this liquid chemical simply “kills off” any unwanted bacteria or yeast, without potentially losing gallons of wine that would be lost in a chemical-free filtering process.
It is an increasingly controversial ingredient and is considered toxic material and hazardous the first 4 hours it is added to liquid. Only a professional is allowed to handle the ingredient, and companies are not required by law to indicate if they’ve used it.
Is Velcorin Safe?
Velcorin in high doses is lethal. It is odorless and can be absorbed through the skin, eyes, and nose. If wine is ingested where Velcorin is just added (within 24 hours) it can be dangerous. After that 24 hour time period, Velcorin in small doses is considered safe to consume. If that leaves you feeling uneasy, or wanting an alternative, there are options.
How Can I Find A Wine That Is Velcorin Free?
It can be hard to find wines without Velcorin, but they do exist. Many winemakers use clay or diatomaceous earth to filter their wines. These ingredients act almost like a sand to capture large organisms in the wine, and filter them out. Typically, this filtration method is used by vegan wine making companies and you can learn more here.
What are Pesticides?
A broader term for any substance used to kill plants, insects, fungus, small rodents, or bacteria. In wine making, common pesticides are herbicides; the most prevalent being Roundup.
For a wine to be considered organic, it cannot be grown with the use of artificial chemical fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides, and fungicides.
Glyphosate/Roundup in Wine
Roundup is the most used herbicide in the world. The active ingredient in Roundup is Glyphosate. Due its widespread use, traces of Glyphosate have been found in everything from our water, to food, to hair, to urine, and more. Study up on the 10 Things You Need to Know About Glyphosate; it’s worth your time.
Until late 2018, it was widely believed that there wasn’t a single vineyard in California that was glyphosate free. One wine company (out of ALL California wines) was recently certified Glyphosate Free. Learn more about their process and why this was so important here.
The good news is yes, there are alternatives in wine that do NOT contain pesticides and velcorin. They might not be as prevalent, but they are out there. The more consumers research and speak out about what they want in their wine, the more apt the wine business is to change their practices. Together, we can change the wine industry.