Glyphosate pesticide in beer and wine

Test results and future solutions

Most of us take it for granted that the food and drinks we buy from the store are not putting our health at risk.

Pesticides

Report

However, new research from public health groups and scientists from the past several years indicates that food and drinks are contaminated with glyphosate, the main ingredient in the weed killer Roundup. This is a potential health problem because in 2015 the World Health Organization found that glyphosate is a probable carcinogen, and in 2017, the state of California agreed.

Notable findings

Sutter Home wine
1 slide
Organic products
2 slide
Conventional brands
3 slide
Peak beer
4 slide

This news has far-reaching impacts. In 2018, a jury in California found that Roundup was a major cause of a man’s cancer, and awarded him $78 million in damages. Thousands of other people, mostly farmers, are now alleging that their incurable cancers may have been caused by Roundup. And in January 2019, France banned the use of Roundup, citing it as a “serious risk” to human health. Other countries in the EU are considering similar bans.

Glyphosate use by year

Glyphosate use by year
U.S. Geological Survey | TPIN
Despite these risks, the use of Roundup is growing at such a rapid pace that there is enough Roundup sprayed every year to spray nearly half a pound of glyphosate on every cultivated acre of land in the world.

Roundup in our food, beverages, and water

To explore how much Roundup we’re drinking, U.S. PIRG tested beer and wine for glyphosate/Roundup. As we’ve confirmed in this study, Roundup is found in beer and wine. This confirms past studies on the topic, which found that glyphosate is found in almost all adult beverages. For example, in 2016, beer testing in Germany also revealed residues of glyphosate in every single sample tested, even in independent beers. After that study was released, German brewers managed to severely limit the amount of glyphosate used in brewing, and saw marked improvement in a 2017 follow-up study. A study from 2018 in Latvia came to similar conclusions as the original German study, finding glyphosate in all products tested.

We tested 20 products: Five wines and 15 beers. The wine brands tested included Beringer, Barefoot and Sutter Home. Beer brands tested included Budweiser, Coors, Miller Lite, Sam Adams, Samuel Smith Organic and New Belgium.

Brewers do not want glyphosate used on barley or any raw brewing material, and the barley grower organizations have also come out strongly against glyphosate. The Brewers Association
Certifies small independent and craft beers, opposes glyphosate use in their beer.

Low levels of glyphosate can be problematic

While these levels of glyphosate are below EPA risk tolerances for beverages, it is possible that even low levels of glyphosate can be problematic. For example, in one study, scientists found that 1 part per trillion of glyphosate has the potential to stimulate the growth of breast cancer cells and disrupt the endocrine system.

Our recommendation

Based on our findings, glyphosate is found in most beers and wine sold in the U.S. Due to glyphosate’s many health risks and its ubiquitous nature in our food, water and alcohol, the use of glyphosate in the U.S. should be banned unless and until it can be proven safe.

NMPIRG Education Fund

Take the next step to help support our work.

Using the time-tested tools of investigative research, media exposés, grassroots organizing, advocacy and litigation, NMPIRG Education Fund, a project of U.S. PIRG Education Fund, a 501(c)(3) organization, stands up to powerful interests and delivers concrete results. But we need your support to keep our work going strong.

As threats to the public interest grow, our work becomes more important every day. Every contribution powers our research, fuels our advocacy, and sustains our future.

Donate

Topics