Today, an alarmist email from the anti-biotech activist group Moms Across America popped into my inbox touting a new study that supposedly shows "Widespread Contamination of Glyphosate Weedkiller in California Wine." Glyphosate, popularly known as Roundup, is used to kill weeds in fields planted with modern biotech crop varieties that have been engineered to resist it. Last year, the ridiculously precautionary International Agency for Research on Cancer associated with the World Health Organization ruled, over and against the bulk of scientific evidence, that the herbicide is a "probable" human carcinogen.
In November, the highly cautious European Food Safety Authority rejected the IARC's ruling and issued its own evaluation that determined that "glyphosate is unlikely to pose a carcinogenic hazard to humans and the evidence does not support classification with regard to its carcinogenic potential."
Now comes Moms Across America with its alarmist headline based on testing 10 wines it sent to laboratory in St. Louis, MO. What did they find?
On March 16th, 2015 Moms Across America received the results from an anonymous supporter which commissioned Microbe Inotech Lab of St. Louis, Missouri that show all ten of the wines tested positive for the chemical glyphosate, the declared "active" ingredient in Roundup weedkiller and 700 other glyphosate-based herbicides. The highest level of glyphosate detected was up to 28.4 times higher than the other wines at 18.74 ppb from a 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon from a conventional, chemically farmed vineyard. The lowest level was from a biodynamic and organic vineyard, 2013 Syrah which has never been sprayed according to the owner, with a level of .659 ppb. An organic wine from 2012 mixed red wine grapes, had 0.913 ppb of glyphosate.
Parts per billion! Really! We're all gonna die! But seriously folks, let's compare these findings with the Environmental Protection Agency's incredibly stringent glyphosate tolerances for various food and feed crops. The agency doesn't set a threshold for wine, so let's take its threshold for grapes. The EPA's safe level for glyphosate on grapes is 0.2 parts per million (ppm). So how does the Moms Across America's finding compare?
The highest level of detection is 10-times lower than the EPA's safety threshold for grapes. The lowest detection was more than 3,000-times lower than EPA's threshold.
The Moms Across America then suggest that the organic growers will lose business if customers find out that there is an infinitesmial amount of pesticide in their wines. Organic a process standard which certifies nothing about the nutrition of the product; only that it was grown in certain specified ways.
The final stupidity of the Moms Across America attack on glyphosate is that the IARC has definitely determined that the consumption of alcohol, including that found in organically produced wines, is "carcinogenic to humans."
Disclosure: I own some shares of Monsanto, maybe 100 or so, that I bought with my own money. I probably should have sold them a couple of years back. Sigh.