Plant poison in urine: majority of Germans contaminated with glyphosate
After only a few days ago glyphosate was reported in beer, an investigation now shows residues of the plant poison in the urine of almost all Germans. The substance is suspected to be carcinogenic. The Federal Institute for Risk Assessment considers the finds to be harmless to health.
Glyphosate in the urine of most Germans
According to a new study, the majority of Germans are contaminated with the controversial weed killer glyphosate. This emerges from a survey by the Heinrich Böll Foundation. Around 2,000 urine samples were evaluated in the study. As reported by the foundation, the glyphosate residues in urine in 75 percent of the test persons with at least 0.5 micrograms per liter are five times as high as the limit value for drinking water with 0.1 micrograms per liter. A total of 99.6 percent of the approximately 2,000 test subjects showed residues.
Plant poison classified as "probably carcinogenic"
The plant toxin glyphosate was classified as "probably carcinogenic" by the World Health Organization (WHO) last year, according to new findings from the international cancer research agency (IARC). The Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) does not see any new health risks in the new findings. The BfR estimates that the values presented for the glyphosate content in urine are harmless to health in both children and adults. "In our opinion, these very low levels can be expected, since glyphosate is an approved active ingredient in plant protection products and consequently residues can be taken up with the food and thus also excreted," said BfR President Professor Dr. Dr. Andreas Hensel.
Further investigations needed
However, Prof. Monika Krüger, who had co-founded the BioCheck-Holzhausen laboratory that carried out the tests, said: “The detected glyphosate concentrations in the urines prove that the test subjects are under considerable strain. For the health significance of these results, further scientific studies must be carried out in order to identify relationships between the exposure to glyphosate from food, drinking water, professional contact etc. and health status and certain diseases in the population. "
Vegetarians and organic eater less stressed
According to the information, men have significantly more urine residues than women. Broken down by age groups, the highest burdens were found for children from 0-9 and children / adolescents from 10-19 years, according to occupational groups, especially among farmers. Meat-eating study participants, so-called mixed foodists, showed higher stress levels than vegetarians and vegans. People who eat organic are less stressed than people who rely on conventional food. However, according to the creators of the study, the samples were so-called single-point determinations and not, for example, urine collected over 24 hours. In addition, the database for children was comparatively small.
Long-term and intensive application of glyphosate
“We are not surprised at the values. They are of a size that we recently found in our own long-term measurement in the urine of 400 students, ”said the President of the Federal Environment Agency, Maria Krautzberger, according to a message from the dpa news agency. In view of the long-term and intensive application of the agent, the discovery of glyphosate in the urine is hardly surprising. “It is important not to consider individual crop protection products in isolation or to focus on individual active ingredients. It is the intensive use of the funds as a whole that is not environmentally sustainable, ”says Krautzberger.
EU wants to decide on further approval
A new glyphosate approval could soon be decided at European level. The EU Commission recently advocated an extension until 2031. Glyphosate is (still) approved as a weed killer in 27 EU countries. The active ingredient has been on the market for around 40 years and is now found in numerous crop protection products. According to dpa, around 5,000 tons of glyphosate end up in German fields every year, which is about 15 percent of the total amount of pesticides. (ad)