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 proteins that 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 hit when 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.