Most people don't realize how quickly many pesticide levels decrease in our bodies after switching to eating organic foods. Studies find significantly lower levels in a few weeks for many pesticides, but in the case of glyphosate - it's within days!
This is significant because each year more health harms are being linked with glyphosate exposure, such as cancer, shorter pregnancies, disruption of the gut microbiome, cancer, kidney toxicity, and liver inflammation.
Glyphosate (found in Roundup) is the most widely used herbicide (weed killer) in the world. Millions of pounds are used each year in the US, typically for weed control in outdoor areas, as well as on genetically modified crops (e.g., corn, soybeans, canola), and frequently right before harvest on conventional crops (e.g., wheat, oats, barley).
Food is the primary source of glyphosate exposure. Many non-organic foods (especially wheat, oats, barley, soybeans, legumes) contain glyphosate residues. Glyphosate is even found in breakfast cereals Organic food does not contain glyphosate - it's use is not allowed in organic food production.
Researchers first tested the urine of people eating a totally non-organic diet, and then when eating an all organic diet. There was a 70% reduction in glyphosate and its metabolite AMPA within 3 days. Children had significantly higher levels of glyphosate and AMPA than adults in their urine in both the non-organic and organic phases of the study.
Bottom line: Eat as many organic foods as possible. And don't use glyphosate (Roundup) on your property.
Eating an organic diet rapidly and significantly reduces exposure to glyphosate—the world's most widely-used weed killer, which has been linked to cancer, hormone disruption and other harmful impacts, according to a new study.
Authored by researchers at the Health Research Institute and the nonprofit organizations Commonweal Institute and Friends of the Earth, the study measured glyphosate and its main breakdown product, aminomethyl phosphonic acid (AMPA) in the urine of 16 people (seven adults and nine children) from four demographically and geographically diverse families. Researchers tested participants' urine for glyphosate and AMPA over six days on a conventional diet, followed by six days on an all-organic diet, and found average reductions of more than 70 percent in both the adults and children.
These reductions were achieved after just three days on the organic diet, which is in line with animal studies showing most glyphosate leaves the body after five to seven days, though a smaller amount remains in and is eliminated more slowly from bone and bone marrow.
Glyphosate use has risen dramatically since 1996 when the first genetically-modified (GMO) "Roundup Ready" crops were introduced. Some 280 million pounds of glyphosate are sprayed each year in the U.S., on approximately 298 million acres of cropland, largely for GMO corn, cotton and soybeans. Another 26 million pounds are sprayed on public parks, rights of way and in gardens.
The researchers found glyphosate and AMPA in 94 and 97 percent, respectively, of the urine samples tested. A total of 158 urine samples were collected, which allowed the researchers to find statistical significance in the results even though the study group was small.
Children had significantly higher levels of glyphosate and AMPA in their urine than adults during both the conventional and organic diet phases of the study.
Glyphosate levels in children were about five times higher (1.27 nanograms per milliliter (ng/ml) versus 0.26 ng/ml in adults during the conventional phase, and 0.46 ng/ml in children versus 0.09 ng/ml in adults during the organic phase).
Klein said she's uncertain why the children had higher exposures. "Maybe they're exposed at schools, or they're rolling around in the grass at city parks" where glyphosate is commonly used, she said. Kids also have more exposure per pound of body weight, and they might metabolize the herbicide differently than adults, she said.
Emerging science links glyphosate to non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, hormone disruption, kidney disease, changes in the gut biome, and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. In 2015, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) concluded that glyphosate is a probable carcinogen, and an international group of scientists later concurred with that finding. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, however, continues to assert the herbicide poses no public health risk.
Excerpt from the original study, from Environmental Reseach: Organic diet intervention significantly reduces urinary glyphosate levels in U.S. children and adults
Although much more needs to be learned regarding the health impacts associated with chronic dietary exposure to specific pesticides, longitudinal diet intervention studies have identified statistically significant improvements in health outcomes linked to diet modification. For instance, an investigation of nearly 70,000 adults reported that increased frequency of organic food consumption was correlated with reduced incidence of various types of cancer (Baudry et al., 2018). Other studies have reported decreased risk of diabetes (Sun et al., 2018) and improved fertility treatment outcomes (Chiu et al., 2018) associated with higher frequency of organic food consumption.
Diet interventions have provided consistent evidence that an organic diet reduces exposure to pesticides.