A new investigation reveals that some wines and beers out in the market have been detected with hints of an agricultural chemical used for killing weeds. The chemical mentioned in the report is called glyphosate, which has been initially connected with cancer despite some scientists who claim that there is insufficient evidence. Scientists have gathered 20 types of wine and beer for lab testing, including big name brands such as Budweiser, Coors, and Sutter Home. The levels of glyphosate discovered were much lower in these products versus earlier tests of various food products. There’s a gradual increase of foods that have a modicum of the chemical known for being used in the production of a weed killer.
In 2018, The EWG (Environmental Working Group), a non-profit org, made tests on brands such as Kellogg’s, Quaker, and General Mills items such as Cheerios, and Lucky Charms, and found glyphosate in them. It’s arguably the world’s most popular agricultural pesticide. After that, a new study showed many beer brands and wines in the market to have glyphosate, which some scientists claim can cause cancer.
A judge ruled in favor of a complainant in August 2018, who accused Roundup, a known herbicide made by Monsanto (now consolidated with Bayer), of causing his cancer. The product contains glyphosate as an ingredient. The court made the company pay $289 million as a damage settlement. (the damages were later on cut down to $78.6 million). The complainant, a groundskeeper, is just among many plaintiffs who have stepped forward with identical claims. As these court cases advance, scientists continue to study how ingesting foods that contain traces of glyphosate could put people at risk.
Twenty alcoholic beverages were tested in February by the US PIRG (US Public Interest Research Group) and they’ve discovered 19 of the drinks to contain glyphosate. Results also showed that the percentage of the chemical in every bottle differed. This report could give rise to negative consequences for big brands like Coors, Budweiser, and Sutter Home, but it should be noted that it’s the dose of a chemical that makes it lethal.
Does Glyphosate Cause Cancer?
The World Health Organization’s (WHO) International Agency for Research on Cancer published a report that described the herbicide as potentially “carcinogenic in humans”. This has been the main point of concern among consumers. This was further studied by Reuters who they found out that many parts of the published document were edited by IARC, proving it incongruent with its conclusion.
A Harvard professor told the Business Insider that the IARC is a credible institution whose various studies have helped many cancer researchers worldwide. Still, some scientific organizations counter that glyphosate shouldn’t be categorized as carcinogenic. Among the organizations that dissent with IARC’s conclusion is the European Commission, Environmental Protection Agency, Pest Management Regulatory Agency of Canada, and the WHO’s International Program on Chemical Safety; all claiming that glyphosate doesn’t pose as a threat to public health. Glyphosate, just like all other chemicals, can become harmful when taken in excess. But the question now is how much of it is unsafe to ingest.
The EPA cites that for an adult weighing 154 lbs, 140 mg taken daily is considered harmless; further stating that the limits of the chemical vary depending on the food. This limit is higher than what was set by the Environment Working Group that says we shouldn’t consume more than 0.01 mg of glyphosate per day. This quantity of consumption translates to a one in a million chance of developing cancer in children, and the risk drops much more among adults. The Journal of Epidemiology and Public Health ran a story in 2017 that called for the EPA’s need to update its findings. They discovered sufficient evidence that proved EPA’s standards for safety against glyphosate were outdated and might be inefficient in protecting the public health as well as the environment.
What About Beer and Wine
New studies have concluded that wine and beer contain much smaller hints of glyphosate compared to the cereals, overnight oats, and cookies tested by the EWG. So far, in the tests conducted by the US PIRG, Sutter Home merlot came up on top of the list for having the most amount of glyphosate, which is merely over 50 parts/billion. In comparison to other products, Quaker Overnight Oats have more than 1,000 parts/billion, which is about twenty times more glyphosate.
Bayer’s toxicologist spoke with USA Today and said that an adult weighing 125 lbs would have to ingest 308 gallons of wine (Sutter Home merlot) every day for the rest of one’s life to ultimately reach the limit set by the EPA. Other wine brands have lower contents of the chemical such as Beringer Estates Moscato and Barefoot Cabernet Sauvignon. Beers like Budweiser, Miller Lite, Corona Extra, Heineken, Guinness Draught, and Coors light, were found to have even lesser traces of it.
One of the primary issues with glyphosate content in Quaker Oats products and Cheerios is that these food items are often eaten by kids. A report by the US PIRG reveals that drinks for adults have even smaller levels of glyphosate. Those who prepared the report noted that their discoveries weren’t dangerous. Further studies could help them come up with new safety issues. For now, they say that it is enough that consumers should be well informed of the minimal risk attached to taking in glyphosate in wine and beer.