When we think of honey, we think of a basic, sweet, nutritious superfood that is delicious, versatile, and a completely natural product.
The honey bee is an insect marvel with a complex societal structure and architectural expertise. It is also an absolute necessity for human survival, as it is responsible for the natural pollination of food crops.
One of the last foods that you can eat right from the source to the jar without any human processing intervention (other than its physical collection) may no longer be safe to eat.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has quietly revealed that much of the honey sold in markets across the country are contaminated with glyphosate, a toxic herbicide known by its trade name “Roundup”.
The World Health Organization, as the result of hundreds of studies around the world, has declared glyphosate “a probable human carcinogen”. Glyphosate has contaminated essential crops worldwide, including cotton, corn, and soy. The deadly chemical is so omnipresent that it’s even been found in honey.
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A recent FDA report found glyphosate residue in all samples of honey taken from different parts of the country. In 2015, a similar study conducted in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania by Abraxis and Boston University found the same results (1).
Both the FDA and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) conduct routine testing of some pesticide residues in food crops, yet residues of Roundup—the best-selling herbicide in the world—haven’t been tested. The reason given: it is too expensive and is deemed unnecessary.
The FDA and Roundup manufacturer Monsanto have published studies that conclude glyphosate is non-toxic to humans and animals. Research funded by others has found the opposite, with implications leading to cancer, autism, severe allergies, and Alzheimer’s disease.
Recently, Monsanto studies from the 1970s that were classified by the FDA as “trade secrets” have revealed that both institutions knew that Roundup causes cancer in laboratory animals, including rats, mice, fish, frogs, rabbits, and dogs.
Increasing incidences of these conditions in humans over the last 35 years correlate to the widespread use of glyphosate.
A World-Wide Problem
The European Union (EU) has taken a stronger stance regarding Roundup, some countries banning it and the crops genetically modified to withstand it. The EU has even established a tolerance level of 50 ppb (parts per billion) for glyphosate residue in honey. The US has no such restrictions.
Honey was never considered as a food that needed testing because the herbicide isn’t used directly in producing honey (2). The FDA conducted this new study of honey as a “special assignment”, under pressure from the U.S. Government Accountability Office (3). Now the administration is considering imposing a glyphosate residue tolerance level for honey sometime in 2017; it’s expected to be set at over 100 ppb—high enough so that most honey will come under the restriction.
In the Abraxis/Boston University study, 59% of the honey sampled (including 5 organic brands) contained glyphosate levels higher than the EU standard, at a mean of 64 ppb (4). Concentrations in the other samples were at or below 50 ppb.
The full results of the FDA study have not yet been released but a briefing note referencing a 10-sample subset revealed that all contained glyphosate residue (5).
- Carmichael’s Honey: 102 ppb
- Leighton’s Orange Blossom Honey: 22 ppb
- Sue-Bee Honey: 41 ppb
How the weed-killer gets in the honey is simple: honey bees feed on the pollen of plants that have been sprayed with it.
Roundup doesn’t stay exactly where it’s sprayed; wind will carry it quite a long way. The herbicide also soaks into the soil, reaching groundwater to be carried afar in this way as well.
One honey farmer put it this way:
“I don’t understand how I’m supposed to control the level of glyphosate in my honey when I’m not the one using Roundup. It’s all around me. It’s unfair.” (5)
It’s Not Just Honey
Honey is the newest in a long list of foods that have been found to contain glyphosate residue, including:
- Vinegar – distilled from genetically-modified corn and grown using Roundup, representing 90% of the U.S. corn crop.
- High fructose corn syrup – an almost omnipresent sweetener in manufactured foods and toxic in and of itself, this pseudo food is also made from genetically-modified corn and Roundup.
- Soy – over 90% of the soy grown in the US is genetically modified to withstand Roundup.
- Cotton – 96% of the cotton grown in the US is genetically modified and crops are sprayed with Roundup. Tampons and cotton first-aid products have been found to contain glyphosate. This means the poison is actually coming into direct contact with human blood.
- Oats – commercial oats aren’t genetically modified but that doesn’t mean the growers don’t use glyphosate.
Does this mean that all honey is toxic? We hope not. Look for local honey and call the company to find out what’s within 3 miles of the hives. Bees can fly that far in search of food.
This all leads to a much bigger question: if a known toxin and carcinogen has permeated the food supply to the point that basic honey is contaminated, might it be time to ban it altogether?