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February 2019

Popular wines

Traces of Bayer’s chemical weedkiller found in popular wines and beers

A chemical used to kill weeds could be in your favorite wine or beer.

According to a new report from the US Public Research Group (USPIRG) Education Fund, traces of glyphosate, the active ingredient in Bayer’s Roundup herbicide, a weedkiller, appear in wine and beer. The herbicide belonged to Monsanto before the company was bought by German Bayer AG.

The USPIRG tested 20 products – five wines and 15 beers – and found traces of the carcinogen in 19 of them. Wines tested included Beringer, Barefoot and Sutter Home and beers included Budweiser BUD,
-2.02%,
COORS TAP,
-1.99%,
Miller Lite, Sam Adams SAM,
-0.82%,
Samuel Smith Bio and Nouvelle Belgique.

The highest levels of glyphosate were found in St. Helena, Calif.-Based Sutter Home wine ($ 5.99 per bottle), which contained 51 parts per billion, according to the report. The widely available brand is sold at Target TGT,
-3.00%,
Walmart WMT,
-0.75%
and convenience stores.

Organic wines and beers contained the chemical

Beringer Founders’ Estate Moscato ($ 5.99) contained 42.6 ppb; and Barefoot Cabernet Sauvignon ($ 5.99) contained 36.3 ppb. Conventional beer brands including Coors TAP,
-1.99%
($ 5.79 per pack of six); China’s second-largest brewery, Tsingtao ($ 7.89 per six-pack); and Miller Lite ($ 8.99 per six pack) all showed glyphosate levels above 25 ppb.

“The minute traces of glyphosate that may be present in wine from use on vineyard weeds are well within the safety level established by the US Environmental Protection Agency.”


– – Jim Caudill, spokesperson for Beringer wines

Although glyphosate is not allowed in organic farming, several organic products were contaminated, according to the report, including Samuel Smith Organic Cider ($ 14.99), which contained 3.5 ppb; and Inkarri Estate organic wine ($ 12.98), which contained 5.2 ppb; and Frey Organic Natural White Wine ($ 9.99), which contained 4.8.

An organic beer brand, Peak Organic IPA ($ 10.99 per six-pack) contained no detectable levels of glyphosate, according to the report.

Three of the companies whose drinks were tested responded to MarketWatch’s requests for comment. The Beringer wine label has recognized the potential for “trace” herbicides to appear in their wine. “Glyphosate is an approved herbicide widely used by farmers around the world,” Beringer spokesperson Jim Caudill said. “The minute traces of glyphosate that may be present in wine from use on vineyard weeds are well below the level of safety established by the US Environmental Protection Agency.”

A spokesperson for Inkarri said the winery stopped using glyphosate in 2012 when it converted to organic farming methods. But studies show the chemical can linger in soil for more than 20 years, said Juan Pelizzatti, managing partner of Natural Merchants, producer of Inkarri. “We do not use glyphosate on any of our vineyards and strongly support the global ban on glyphosate because we understand that it causes systemic contamination that is very difficult to control, jeopardizing the freedom of choice and the health of the global community. “said Pelizzatti. noted.

A spokesperson for the Beer Institute, a national trade association, told MarketWatch: “Our members work with farmers who go to great lengths to grow their crops sustainably and safely… The most recent federal test results have showed the use of glyphosate by farmers. falls well below federal limits. As the report itself says, the benchmarked glyphosate levels “are below EPA risk tolerances for beverages.”

William Reeves, toxicologist for Bayer BAYRY,
-1.20%,
said in a statement that glyphosate does not cause cancer. (Monsanto was acquired by Bayer in 2018.) “Claims that glyphosate harms gut bacteria and stimulates the growth of breast cancer cells are also false,” he said. “These claims have been evaluated in security reviews in the United States and Europe and have been found not to be supported by reliable data.” He cited studies that talk about the safety of glyphosate and Bayer’s own information on the use of the chemical.

He added: “The United States Environmental Protection Agency sets daily exposure limits at least 100 times lower than levels that have no negative effects in safety studies. The levels sometimes found in foods are not even close to any level of concern. Nothing in the ppb figures published by US PIRG demonstrates any safety concerns associated with the products tested. All reported levels are well below limits established by the EPA to protect human health.

Glyphosate is allowed in food and drink

A certain amount of glyphosate is allowed in foods and beverages under U.S. environmental law, and none of the beers and wines tested by the USPIRG were left with it. But that doesn’t mean they’re necessarily completely safe for human consumption, the USPIRG noted.

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

But a wine lover should drink plenty of wine for the herbicide to affect their health, according to an expert. “An adult would have to drink 2,500 glasses of wine a day containing the highest level of glyphosate measured every day for 70 years just to meet the US EPA’s preliminary level of health concern,” Carl Winter, professor of toxicology food at the University of California at Davis, reportedly posted on a blog by the Wine Institute, a wine industry advocacy group.

Glyphosate has been linked to cancer

The World Health Organization has linked glyphosate – widely used by landscapers and farmers around the world and sold for consumers in home gardening – to cancer in recent years. It should be noted that glyphosate is allowed in vineyards, where it is used to destroy weeds. Although it is not sprayed on grapes or vines, traces of glyphosate can be found in wine from its use on weeds, according to the Wine Institute.

Last August, glyphosate was found in dozens of popular oatmeal breakfast foods, such as Cheerios toasted whole oat cereal and old-fashioned Quaker oats, according to a report from the non-profit environmental working group. The makers of the foods tested by the EWG said they were following US government safety guidelines and ignored the group’s findings. “Our products are safe and undoubtedly meet regulatory safety levels,” a General Mills representative told Fox Business at the time.

That same month, a California jury ordered Monsanto to pay $ 289 million in damages to a man dying of cancer who said he was exposed to the pesticide while working as a school groundskeeper in the origin of the disease. Bayer, the owner of Monsanto, has denied any claims that Roundup or glyphosate causes cancer. Bayer said at the time it would repeal the verdict, Reuters reported.


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