What is your response to the recent study claiming to have found traces of glyphosate in mothers’ breast milk?

Each week, we will answer a question from our readers regarding our operations and community outreach in the State of Hawaii. Submit your question by visiting the contact page. Thanks for reading. Mahalo!

Q: What is your response to the recent study claiming to have found traces of glyphosate in mothers’ breast milk?

  • No proper scientific study was conducted to produce these sample analyses.
  • Comprehensive toxicological studies repeated over the last 40 years have time and again demonstrated that glyphosate is safe.
  • The source of this study is not reliable.

Here at Monsanto Hawaii, we care deeply about our friends, neighbors, keiki and fellow residents and are committed to protecting their health and safety. We are proud of the work we do and are committed to dialogue and transparency. We believe that an open dialogue should be based on well-established scientific facts and understanding and not fear-mongering.

A recent “study” commissioned by the anti-GMO activist group Moms Across America has reported findings that detected trace levels of glyphosate in breast milk. These findings reported the alleged presence of glyphosate in a minority of samples tested, with the alleged levels well below the acceptable Allowable Daily Intakes (ADIs) established by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for glyphosate.

Based on their “study,” the authors make an unfounded call for the immediate ban of glyphosate. Such a ban is not only unwarranted and not science-based; it would also have severe impacts on farmers around the world. For farmers, glyphosate herbicides provide safe, simple, flexible and cost-effective weed control. According to numerous studies as well as Academics Review, exposure to glyphosate has little effect on organisms other than plants because it works to inhibit a plant enzyme that isn’t found in humans, other mammals, birds, fish or insects.

Below are several points to consider in regards to Moms Against America’s unfounded claims:

  • No proper scientific study was conducted to produce these sample analyses.
    • This report was not intended to be a full scientific study. Even in the case of a well-designed and rigorously conducted scientific study, no conclusion is accepted without repetition and independent verification of the study.
    • The alleged results reported in the recent “study” were not validated. Validation is important because breast milk contains many compounds that may interfere with the actual test.
    • Sound scientific studies involve structured sampling, sample integrity procedures, and validation of tests used to measure data.  This “study” had none of these.
  • Comprehensive toxicological studies repeated over the last 40 years have time and again demonstrated that glyphosate is safe.
    • Glyphosate has an excellent human health and environmental profile and a long history of safe use in more than 130 countries. When used according to label directions, these products present no unreasonable risk of adverse effects to human health or the environment. This is confirmed by extensive studies as well by the first-hand experience of millions of farmers and gardeners who have used this product.
    • Comprehensive toxicological studies in animals have demonstrated that glyphosate does not cause cancer, birth defects, mutagenic effects, nervous system effects, endocrine disruption or reproductive problems (U.S. EPA, 1993; Williams et al., 2000; Williams et al., 2012; Kier and Kirkland, 2013); European Commission, 2002; JMPR/WHO, 2004).
    • After a thorough review of all toxicology data available, the EPA concluded that glyphosate should be classified in Category E (“Evidence of Non-carcinogenicity in Humans”), the most favorable category possible (U.S. EPA, 1993).
    • Here’s a useful chart comparing the toxicity of glyphosate (the active ingredient found in Roundup® herbicide) to other common substances, including vinegar, salt, caffeine and vitamin D3.
  • The source of this study is not reliable.
    • The testing was done for and samples were provided by organizations that oppose any use of GM technology in agriculture and have a track record of promoting and endorsing flawed and rejected studies that claim harmful effects of GM crops, while not citing the overwhelming number of studies that point to the safety of the technology.
    • Their track record points to a clear bias on this issue.  It is a bias that goes against the scientific literature and the great preponderance of expert opinion. It also runs counter to nearly 20 years of safe use by millions of farmers on billions of acres of farmed land.

If you’d like to learn more about glyphosate, you can find more information and links to independent third parties at this site.

When it comes to issues as important as the safety of our food, results must be based on quality research that adheres to internationally recognized standards. As always, Monsanto Hawaii remains committed to adhering to these rigorous scientific guidelines as the safety of our products remains our highest priority.