Last year information began coming out about amounts of glyphosate being found in many common foods that people eat on a daily basis. Scientific studies released throughout 2018 discovered traces of the active ingredient in the herbicide Roundup in almost every food product tested. This past week, the United States Public Interest Research Group (USPIRG) Education Fund released an alarming report. It turns out that many common commercial brands of beer and wine contain traces of glyphosate – including those that are labeled “organic.”
Despite the fact that products that are certified as organic cannot contain any herbicides whatsoever, the USPIRG assessment found amounts of glyphosate of as much as 5.2 parts per billion (ppb) in all but one of the organic beers and wines tested. One reason is that traces of glyphosate can remain in the soil for as long as two decades – so even if food crops are grown “organically” in a given field, if glyphosate was ever used in that location, it could still cause contamination.
The problem affects the most popular commercial brands of beer sold in the U.S., including Budweiser and Coors. Glyphosate was also found in Miller and Sam Adams products. Among wines, a bottle of Sutter Home, a discount brand commonly sold through “big box” retailers such as Walmart, was found to contain 51 ppb.
The problem of glyphosate contamination in beer and wine has not been confined to the U.S. The herbicide has been found in Tsingtao, a popular Chinese import. A 2016 study by the Munich Environmental Institute even discovered traces of glyphosate in German beers. This came as a major shock in a country that for centuries has had the strictest beer brewing purity laws in the world.
Despite overwhelming evidence that even small amounts of glyphosate can cause cancer, the chemical continues to have its defenders and apologists. Bayer AG, which acquired the rights to Roundup when it bought Monsanto last year, continues to promote the product as “safe and effective” on its corporate website. Among the “evidence” they use to support its claims are “more than 800 rigorous studies submitted to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and European and other regulators.” Of course, Bayer fails to mention that many of those studies were funded by Monsanto.
Glyphosate also has its defenders in the beer and wine industry. A spokesperson for Beringer Wines said that “the minuscule trace amounts of glyphosate that may be present in wine from use on vineyard weeds are well within the safe level” established by the EPA. Even the German Brewer' Association called the Munich study “not credible.”
Although the levels of glyphosate found in the products tested were below the amounts allowed under EPA regulations, the report notes that “even low levels of glyphosate can be problematic.” It cites one study finding that even as little as 1 part per trillion could “stimulate the growth of breast cancer cells and disrupt the endocrine system.”