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Organic diet ‘reduces glyphosate’ exposure

An organic diet can rapidly reduce the amount of glyphosate within the body after only six days, a new peer-reviewed study has found.

The study, published this week in the journal of Environmental Research and funded by Friends of the Earth, tracked the level of glyphosate, a common herbicide and the main active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup weedkiller, after participants switched to an organic diet.

Scientists analysed urine samples from four racially and geographically diverse American families for five days on a non-organic diet and for five days on an organic diet, with a total of 16 participants and 158 urine samples.

They found the levels of glyphosate reduced by 70 per cent in the urine samples within six days, while levels of aminomethyl phosphonic acid, the chemical that glyphosate breaks down into, reduced by 77 per cent.

On a non-organic diet, researchers found glyphosate in 100 per cent of the participants, including children aged four, and found that the average level of glyphosate in children was approximately five times higher than in adults.

It builds on similar research, including a study in 2019, that is looking at the positive effect on organic food on glyphosate exposure and concludes that, for most people, the food they eat is a primary way they are exposed to the chemical.

Despite the small sample, the findings are described as “striking” due to the short space of time the organic diet took to have an effect.

“It’s striking that levels of this toxic pesticide dropped so dramatically after less than a week. Given our results and related studies on how an organic diet rapidly reduces pesticide exposure, we could expect to see similar reductions in glyphosate levels in most Americans if they switched to an organic diet,” said study co-author and senior staff scientist at Friends of the Earth, Kendra Klein.

Organic diet
An organic diet has been linked to reduced glyphosate exposure. 

“The reduction in glyphosate and AMPA levels was rapid, dropping to baseline within three days,” the report conclusion stated. “This study demonstrates that diet is a primary source of glyphosate exposure and that shifting to an organic diet is an effective way to reduce body burden of glyphosate and its main metabolite, AMPA.

"This research adds to a growing body of literature indicating that an organic diet may reduce exposure to a range of pesticides in children and adults.”

Glyphosate is used extensively on GM corn and soy in the US and globally on various arable crops that are grown non-organically, as well as in landscaping and home gardens.

Klein said: “We urgently need our elected leaders to make healthy organic food the norm for everyone by passing policies that support farmers to shift from pesticide-intensive to organic farming.”

Another co-author, Sharyle Patton, said: “Research shows that communities of color are at higher risk of serious complications and death from coronavirus as a result of already suffering from higher rates of diet-related diseases. Now more than ever, we need public policies that ensure that all communities have access to healthy, organic food.”

The study was done by scientists at Friends of the Earth, the Health Research Institute and the Commonweal Institute.

The study did not look at the health impacts of glyphosate, but research has linked the chemical to a range of health problems. Glyphosate is classified as a “probable human carcinogen” by the World Health Organization and has been linked to high rates of kidney disease in farming communities and endocrine disruption.

A series of high-profile court cases in 2019 linked non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma to use of Roundup, resulting in over $180 million in pay-outs, with thousands of additional cases pending.

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