Glyphosate – what’s your level of exposure?

ANH-USA staff underwent testing for glyphosate exposure, and the results were shocking! Action Alert!

Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide, is a toxic chemical that is becoming virtually ubiquitous in the modern world. Exposure to this chemical is associated with a number of health concerns, including cancer. A number of alarming reports also suggest that the chemical accumulates in the body, which can be of concern to those whose bodies cannot detoxify properly. ANH staff took a glyphosate urine test to see what kinds of exposures are possible given various lifestyle choices.

Human exposure to glyphosate has increased by 500% since the introduction of genetically modified crops. Glyphosate is traditionally sprayed on genetically modified soy, corn, canola, sorghum, alfalfa, sugar beets, and cotton but it is also sprayed—sometimes right before harvest—on a substantial portion of wheat and oats grown in the US. Glyphosate is also sprayed on a wide variety of non-GMO crops such as almonds, rice, cherries, avocados, and apples.

Humans can be exposed to glyphosate in any number of ways, including eating foods on which it was sprayed or living near agricultural areas or golf courses where the sprayed herbicide can drift and contaminate people’s homes. There are also concerns that glyphosate is contaminating some organic cropsOur own testing found that glyphosate residues were widely distributed in a variety of breakfast foods like bagels, cereals, and eggs. It’s contaminating our air and water: in the 2007 growing season, glyphosate (or its degradation product, aminomethylphosphonic acid) was found in 75 percent of air and rain samples in the Mississippi Delta agricultural region. Other testing found glyphosate in 13 of 21 drinking water samples.

Due to the myriad health problems linked to glyphosate exposure, including cancer, and the ubiquity of this chemical, ANH staff decided to get tested using Health Research Institute Laboratories’ urine test for glyphosate. Note that reference levels for glyphosate exposure in the European Union (EU) are significantly lower than in the US, presumably because many countries in the EU have banned genetically modified crops.

We received a wide range of results:

Staff member #1 had very low levels, which made sense because, as they put it, they “avoid wheat and most grains like the plague,” drink only filtered water, and eat all organic food. Our guess is that the only way they could have been exposed is through cross-contamination of organic crops, and perhaps they are excreting slower than normal because of known single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) that compromise their detoxification pathways.

Staff member #2 had glyphosate levels above the European average but just below HRI Labs’ average. They report that they eat mostly organic food, though cheat often. They are not gluten free, but have been trying to limit consumption of wheat. They also live in a highly agricultural area, meaning that glyphosate sprayed on nearby farms could be drifting to residential areas, as we know to be the case elsewhere.

Staff member #3 had high levels of glyphosate. They report eating gluten/wheat and not so many organic foods—although they are starting now!

Staff member #4 had low levels of glyphosate. They are not strictly gluten or wheat free, but don’t eat many grains. They eat mostly organic, but also eat out at restaurants fairly often and tend not to pay close attention to whether an establishment offers organic food.

Staff member #5 had high levels of glyphosate. They are mostly grain free, mostly gluten and wheat free, and dairy free. They buy organic groceries, but also order a lot of takeout from restaurants. They don’t eat any processed foods.

Staff member #6 had low levels of glyphosate. They eat a good amount of organic foods, and almost no processed foods. They eat gluten and wheat, but almost always homemade, whole foods (for instance, they bake their own bread from organic flour).

Staff member #7 had high levels of glyphosate. They are pescatarian, but do not eat organic foods very often. They are not wheat or gluten free. They suspect their high level is associated with the breakfast foods they eat—bagels, oats, cereals, etc.

It’s hard to draw strong conclusions from such a small sample size. There could be many explanations for the presence or absence of glyphosate in an individual. Someone with a great detox system might be able to regularly eat wheat without accumulating high levels of glyphosate; someone with a somewhat compromised detox system might avoid all wheat products and eat all organic, but still have detectable glyphosate levels (like Staffer #1). This testing shows that it is a good idea to get a handle on our individual SNPs and put in place detoxification support if those pathways are compromised due to our genetics or lifestyle. Detoxification is a complicated process (this article has more information). For example, there are two phases of liver detoxification, and if phase 1 is accelerated while phase 2 is still impaired, the individual can become very sick. For these reasons, it is best done under the supervision of an integrative doctor (for help finding a practitioner in your area, use our Practitioner Finder).

As we often say at ANH, it all boils down to the individual—there is no one-size-fits all prescription.

The government’s failure to properly regulate the spread of herbicides, like Roundup, further underscores the need for consumers to take matters into their own hands and get tested (we used this one). But we shouldn’t stop holding federal officials accountable. To protect our health, and the health of future generations, we must ban glyphosate.

Action Alert! Write to the EPA and tell them to ban glyphosate, and copy Congress, which oversees the EPA. 



What We Believe and What We Do

The Alliance for Natural Health USA (ANH-USA) is committed to sustainable health, the recognition that true health requires a proactive and preventive approach that focuses on a nutrient-rich diet, proper supplementation, and limiting our exposure to toxic substances. A system that is single-mindedly focused on “treating” sick people with expensive drugs, rather than maintaining healthy people, is neither practical nor economically sustainable.

ANH-USA is part of an international organization dedicated to promoting natural and sustainable health—and, in particular, consumer freedom of choice in healthcare—through good science and good law:

  • Since our founding in 1992, we have worked to shift the conventional medical paradigm from an exclusive focus on surgery, drugs, and other conventional techniques to an integrative approach incorporating functional foods, dietary supplements, and lifestyle changes. We believe this is the way to improve health and extend lives while reducing the costs of healthcare back to a sustainable level.
  • Sustainable health also applies the environmental ethic of conservation to our bodies. It urges us to live as nature intended us to live. Diet, nutritional supplements, exercise, and the avoidance of toxins are especially important tools in building and maintaining health.
  • Sustainable health is also about financial sustainability. Ever higher healthcare costs lead directly to higher unemployment and lower standards of living, both of which lead to more illness.
  • Today, preventive medicine is too often defined as taking more and more drugs at an earlier and earlier age, even in childhood. The concept of sustainable health is real preventive medicine and will dramatically reduce healthcare costs.

To this end, ANH-USA actively engages in legal initiatives, standing against forces that would limit your access to safe and effective dietary supplements, complementary therapies, and integrative medicines. We lobby Congress and state legislatures, act as a government watchdog, file comments on proposed rulemakings, and educate the public, the media, and other decision-makers.

Our most important tools:

  • A strong grassroots member base that is ready to act on a minute’s notice. ANH-USA is fortunate to have a dynamic, fast growing member base that collectively presents a unified front and demands their collective voice be heard. Thank you, members!
  • Effective lobbying. ANH-USA monitors legislation and regulatory activity on the state, federal, and international levels daily. Staying apprised of the domestic and global pulse on integrative medicine assists greatly in developing policy to advance integrative medicine.
  • Litigation. The court system has a role in protecting integrative medicine and a consumers’ right to choose. When it is required, ANH intervenes, through legal action, to protect the rights of the public.
  • Strategic coalitions. Collaboration is the most effective means to further a cause. ANH-USA has been highly effective in building long-term relationships with outside groups, members on the Hill, medical societies, and consumers from all walks of life.
  • Timely education campaigns. The timely launch of public educational campaigns is key to increasing support and recognition of key issues while furthering our overall cause.

Working closely with the media. Media can be a friend or a foe and whichever it may be, media is imperative to quickly disseminate a message. ANH-USA works collaboratively with the media to increase coverage of important natural health-related issues.

(Source:; May 3, 2018;
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