Glyphosate residues present in breast milk
A report entitled “Glyphosate testing report: Findings in American Mothers’ Breast Milk, Urine and Water” has caused concern in the US and has led to some groups calling for glyphosate to be banned.
However, it is important to look closely at how this information was obtained and place its reported results in the appropriate context.
Recent advances in diagnostic technology (particularly analytical chemistry) mean that it is now possible to detect even minuscule levels of substances which can be present in our bodies. However, the results of such tests must then be analysed alongside and compared with the levels of exposure which can actually cause us harm.
Care should be taken when analysing, interpreting and discussing the results of bio-monitoring surveys - especially when the selection of individuals, the methods of sampling and data handling and specific validation methods have not been disclosed.
In this particular report, levels of glyphosate residues the authors claim were present in a minority of samples were well below the Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI) values. ADIs are set by authorities such as the World Health Organisation (WHO) and represent an amount which is considered safe for consumption on a daily basis over a long period of time, without incurring any significant risk to health.
In fact, actual levels from other exposure studies concerning glyphosate have shown to be well below the established ADI limits. For example, The Farm Family Exposure Study (Acquavella et al. 2004) found that none of the exposures determined in farmers or their spouses and children ever approached the ADI.
Therefore, to the best of our knowledge, the reported levels of glyphosate detected in breast milk are not a cause for concern.
Last update: 26 June 2015