Wine is just made from grapes, right?
Well, the answer is a little more complicated than that.
These ingredients aren’t much of a problem, but there is a little extra something you’ll never see on the label: glyphosate.
That’s right, the main ingredient in Monsanto’s toxic Roundup herbicide has been found in all 10 wine sample tested by Moms Across America and Sustainable Pulse. Even organic and biodynamic products tested positive for the chemical.
Syrah, coming from a biodynamic and organic orchard that was apparently never sprayed with pesticides, was found to contain .659 ppb while another organic wine contained .913pb. In comparison, a 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon contained 18.74 ppb of glyphosate.
Glyphosate doses as low as .1 ppb annihilate beneficial gut bacteria while regular exposure can cause breast cancer, destroy nerve cells, damage the kidneys and liver. In pregnant and fertile women, the substance destroys the placenta and can lead to future birth defects and miscarriages.
In a similar study to the one mentioned above, Decanter magazine reports that 90% of the wine they tested contained traces of at least one pesticide. This is not only alarming for consumers, but also for the farmers applying the treatment.
Not everyone agrees, though.
Jennifer Putnam, the Executive Director of Napa Valley Grape Growers, insisted that she’s skeptical of the study but that “…nobody’s more interested in a healthy environment of the vineyard than [the growers]”. She warns that “If you do away with the tool of being able to use glyphosate, we go back to a lot more labor and we go back to shovel work”.
Other groups in favor of GMO farming, including Monsanto toxicologist Dr. Donna Farmer, insist that wine doesn’t contain significant levels of glyphosate. Dr. Farmer even said, “A person, say a 150-pound person would have to drink around 8,000 regularly sized bottles of wine in one day to meet the allowable daily intake for glyphosate.”
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency explains that it’s safe for a 150-pound person to consume up to 120 milligrams (a teaspoon) of glyphosate a day. Considering that glyphosate is present in nearly all conventionally grown foods and has begun to contaminate water sources and organic soil, it’s no surprise that we’re facing increasing allergies, inflammatory disease, and digestive conditions linked to the chemical.
Long-Term Exposure To Glyphosate
These ever-increasing sources of exposure are worrisome. Dr. Michael Antoniou of Kings College in London explains that “There is an increasing body of evidence that levels of glyphosate exposure below regulatory set safety limits anywhere in the world given enough time can result in potentially serious disease.”
Health Concerns Over Glyphosate
Since its inception in 1974, America has used over 1.8 million tons of glyphosate. Worldwide, 9.4 million tons have been sprayed on crops to date (4).
It wasn’t until March 2015 that the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer declared the substance as “probably carcinogenic to humans”.
Although glyphosate is mainly used as an herbicide, it is actually patented as an antibiotic (6). This may be part of the reason why the substance has so much impact on human health. It’s believed that the excessive use of the chemical is also contributing to widespread antibiotic resistance.
Other known health effects include:
- Wiping out beneficial gut bacteria
- Chronic inflammation
- Leaky gut
- Cell death (7)
- Breast cancer (8)
- Hormone disruption (9)
- Reproductive problems
- Birth defects (10)
- Neurotoxicity (11)
- Oxidative damage
Research is proving time and time again that glyphosate is dangerous, but it’s not the only ingredient in Roundup that’s toxic. The International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health writes (12):
“Pesticide formulations contain declared active ingredients and co-formulants presented as inert and confidential compounds. We tested the endocrine disruption of co-formulants in six glyphosate-based herbicides (GBH) … All co-formulants and formulations were comparably cytotoxic [toxic to living cells] well below the agricultural dilution of 1 percent (18 to 2000 times for co-formulants, 8 to 141 times for formulations).
… It was demonstrated for the first time that endocrine disruption by GBH could not only be due to the declared active ingredient but also to co-formulants.
These results could explain numerous in vivo results with GBHs not seen with G [glyphosate] alone; moreover, they challenge the relevance of the acceptable daily intake (ADI) value for GBHs exposures, currently calculated from toxicity tests of the declared active ingredient alone.”
The European Union is still on the fence on whether or not to renew a 15-year license for the legal use of the chemical. Although the renewal has been rejected twice, the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) will study health concerns claims for the next year before revisiting the issue (13).
It’s important to understand that the chemical is inherently toxic. It’s so harmful that it actually kills the crops it’s sprayed on, which explains in part why it’s so effective in killing unwanted weeds. Many claim that crops are genetically engineered to improve taste and hardiness, but one of the main reasons why modern crops are engineered is so that they survive exposure to the chemical.
Monsanto has so much influence in the matter of legislation that despite mounting evidence against glyphosate, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency now allows fifty times more glyphosate on corn crops than it did in 1996. The agency has also increased what’s considered as safe in terms of glyphosate contamination by 17 times.
In their press release, Moms Against America Glyphosate insists that the product doesn’t just end up in the food we eat; it actually stays in our bodies. The chemical has even been found in human breast milk (14).
How Does It End Up In Wine?
Quite simply, glyphosate is used on nearly every crop grown conventionally around the world.
In this specific case, glyphosate isn’t sprayed directly on the wine or fruits of grape plants, but rather on the soil in between each row of plants. Despite their attempts to keep the substance off the crops, testing shows that grapes, as well as grape products, are nearly always contaminated.
Worse yet, contaminated soil can retain chemicals for up to 20 years after being first applied.
Not Just The Wine
Other alcoholic drinks have also come under fire for their glyphosate content, particularly German beer.
The Munich Environmental Institute found the substance in higher doses than the 0.1 microgram limit allowed in drinking water in of the 14 best-selling German beers (15).
American beer has not yet been tested, but German beer is subject to“Das Reinheitsgebot”, a food purity law that limits the ingredients in beer to only water, barley, yeast, and hops (16).
“In contrast to our colleagues abroad, German brewers don’t use artificial flavours, enzymes or preservatives,” explains Hans-Georg Eils, president of the German Brewers’ Federation (17).
Beer enthusiasts argue that traces of glyphosate in beer directly infringe upon this law (18).
Organic vs Non-Organic Wine
Although you may think that having a glass of wine won’t do you much harm, consider this: In 2010 alone, more than 400,000 pounds of Roundup (which contains high levels of glyphosate) were used in wineries (19).
By now you know that while organic wine may contain traces of glyphosate through exposure to contaminated soil and water, they are much healthier options than conventional wine.
Another main difference between the two is that conventional wine can legally contain hundreds of chemicals, including natural and artificial flavoring agents. On the other hand, organic wine can only contain 70 chemicals, including naturally-occurring acids, salts, enzymes, and more. In organic wine, the chemicals used cannot have negative effects on the environment or on human health.
Glyphosate isn’t all you have to worry about; some of the other ingredients in the roundup and other herbicides are just as bad as glyphosate or worsen the effects of this chemical. Current FDA guidelines only require pesticide companies to test the safety the active ingredient, not necessarily the other ingredients, making it difficult to know exactly what’s ending up in your glass and on your plate.
Other chemical traces in conventional wine include unsafe quantities of pesticides like azoxystrobin, dimethoate, pyrimethanil as well as 6 different common fungicides in quantities exceeding government-set safe levels.
Needless to say, if you’re going to indulge, make it organic. You may also want to detox your body from any possible contamination and replenish your gut bacteria.