World’s #1 Herbicide Discovered in U.S. Mothers’ Breast Milk

World’s #1 Herbicide Discovered in U.S. Mothers’ Breast Milk

Written by Sustainable Pulse This article originally appeared on

  • Pilot study shows build-up of glyphosate herbicide in Mothers’ bodies
  • Urine testing shows glyphosate levels over 10 times higher than in Europe
  • Initial testing shows Monsanto and Global regulatory bodies are wrong regarding bio-accumulation of glyphosate, leading to serious public health concerns
  • Testing commissioners urge USDA and EPA to place temporary ban on all use of Glyphosate-based herbicides to protect public health, until further more comprehensive testing of glyphosate in breast milk is completed.

 In the first ever testing on glyphosate herbicide in the breast milk of American women, Moms Across America and Sustainable Pulse have found ‘high’ levels in 3 out of the 10 samples tested. The shocking results point to glyphosate levels building up in women’s bodies over a period of time, which has until now been refuted by both global regulatory authorities and the biotech industry.

The levels found in the breast milk testing of 76 ug/l to 166 ug/l are 760 to 1600 times higher than the European Drinking Water Directive allows for individual pesticides. They are however less than the 700 ug/l maximum contaminant level (MCL) for glyphosate in the U.S., which was decided upon by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) based on the now seemingly false premise that glyphosate was not bio-accumulative.

Glyphosate-containing herbicides are the top-selling herbicides in the world and are sold under trademarks such as Monsanto’s ‘Roundup’. Monsanto’s sales of Roundup jumped 73 percent to $371 million in 2013 because of its increasing use on genetically engineered crops (GE Crops).

The glyphosate testing (1) commissioned by Moms Across America and Sustainable Pulse also analyzed 35 urine samples and 21 drinking water samples from across the US and found levels in urine that were over 10 times higher than those found in a similar survey done in the EU by Friends of the Earth Europe in 2013.

The initial testing that has been completed at Microbe Inotech Labs, St. Louis, Missouri, is not meant to be a full scientific study. Instead it was set up to inspire and initiate full peer-reviewed scientific studies on glyphosate, by regulatory bodies and independent scientists worldwide.

Other language versions of press release: Spanish, French, RussianChinese

The initial testing was done using ELISA tests and due to a high minimum detection level in breast milk and urine, it is possible that even those samples which tested negative contained ‘worrying’ levels of glyphosate.

Moms Across America Founder and Director, Zen Honeycutt, stated Monday, “When I was told by several doctors and labs that I could not test my own or my children’s urine for the most widely used herbicide in the world over a year ago, I became determined to find a way. Parents and citizens deserve the ability to be able to take care of themselves and their families by finding out if herbicides could be impacting their health. The purpose of this glyphosate testing project is to shed light upon the presence of glyphosate in our water, children’s bodies and mother’s breast milk, hopefully inspiring further scientific studies to support the world in being a healthy, safe place to live.

“The mothers tested are mostly familiar with GMOs and glyphosate. Most of them have been trying to avoid GMOs and glyphosate for several months to two years, so the levels of mothers who are not aware of GMOs and glyphosate may be much higher,” Honeycutt concluded.

High Glyphosate Levels – Danger for Infants?

There is currently no regulatory limit for the amount of glyphosate in breast milk anywhere in the world. However, the EPA has set a legally enforceable maximum contaminant level (MCL) for glyphosate of 700 ug/l in drinking water, which is 7,000 times higher than the MCL in Europe.

Monsanto and regulatory bodies worldwide have based all of their regulations on the assumption that glyphosate is not bio-accumulative. Senior Monsanto scientist, Dan Goldstein, even recently stated (2), “If ingested, glyphosate is excreted rapidly, does not accumulate in body fat or tissues, and does not undergo metabolism in humans. Rather, it is excreted unchanged in the urine.”

The discovery of levels of glyphosate in breast milk that are much higher than any reported results for urine samples is a source of concern to both the general public and government regulators worldwide, as the data suggests that glyphosate is bio-accumulative; building up in people’s bodies over a period of time.

Earth Open Source Research Director Claire Robinson said, “Regulators and industry always say it is the dose that makes the poison, and even the increasing levels of glyphosate currently found in food and feed and the environment are not a problem. However, that argument only holds true if glyphosate doesn’t build up in the human body and is excreted as fast as we take it in. These breast milk results suggest glyphosate may bio-accumulate. That means that our body tissues might be exposed to higher levels than the so-called safe levels set by regulators. So the regulations are not protecting us.”

From a total of 10 samples sent in by Mothers from states across the U.S., 3 women had detectable levels of glyphosate in their breast milk. The highest glyphosate level was detected in a mother from Florida (166 ug/l) and the other two mothers with ‘positive’ results were from Virginia (76 ug/l) and Oregon (99 ug/l).

Dr Angelika Hilbeck, senior scientist at the Institute of Integrative Biology in Zurich, stated, “If confirmed in a full investigation, it seems that glyphosate has become a ubiquitous chemical in terms of presence and persistence. This data also offers a first indication of potential accumulation in the human body, giving newborns a substantial dose of synthetic chemicals as a ‘gift’ for their start into life, with unknown consequences. This is reckless and irresponsible conduct in a democratic society, which still has a living memory of previous reckless chemical contaminations, such as DDT. It seems we either did not learn, or we have forgotten, our lessons from Rachel Carson! (3)”

Jessica M. from Virginia, one of the mothers who tested positive for glyphosate in her breast milk, said, “It is frightening to see any glyphosate in my body, especially in my breast milk that will then contaminate my son’s growing body. It’s particularly upsetting to test positive for glyphosate because I go to great lengths to eat organic and GMO free. I do not consume any meats or seafood and only very rarely eat dairy. This really shows me, and should show others, just how pervasive this toxin is in our food system.”

Honeycutt added, “Moms Across America feels very strongly that breast milk should still be the number one choice for mothers and certainly preferred over GMO soy formula ingredients. We just urge all mothers to eat as organic as possible, especially avoiding meat, dairy, oils and grains that are sprayed with glyphosate at harvest as a drying agent.”

“What we have found encouraging is that the women who have been eating organic and non-GMO very strictly, for several months to two years, did not find detectable levels of glyphosate in their breast milk.”

Why Are Glyphosate Levels in Urine Higher than in Europe?

In 2013 people in 18 countries across Europe were found to have traces of glyphosate in their urine by a test commissioned by Friends of The Earth Europe (4). The maximum levels of glyphosate found in the tests ranged from 0.16 ug/l in Switzerland to 1.82 ug/l in Latvia.

Shockingly, the new US testing by Moms Across America and Sustainable Pulse found maximum glyphosate levels in urine over 10 times higher than those found in Europe.

From the 35 samples received from across the U.S., 13 samples were above the minimum detectable level. The three highest levels were all found in women, with the highest in Oregon (18.8 ug/l). Other positive results were found in samples from the states of California, Washington, Maryland, Colorado and Hawaii.

Experts point to the GE Crop industry as being to blame for the results in both breast milk and urine, due to the amount of glyphosate used on ‘Roundup-Ready GE Crops’ in the U.S.

The U.S. has a high percentage of its farmland controlled by the GE crops industry, with many varieties of GE soybeans, GE corn, GE cotton and others, whereas Europe has only allowed one GE Crop – Monsanto’s MON810 maize – which is still not grown in most EU states due to health and environmental concerns.

A 2012 study published by Washington State University (5) research professor Charles Benbrook found that the use of glyphosate in the production of three genetically modified herbicide-tolerant crops – cotton, soybeans and corn – has increased. Benbrook’s analysis was the first peer-reviewed, published estimate of the impacts of genetically engineered (GE) herbicide-resistant (HT) crops on pesticide use.

“Most genetically engineered soybeans now moving through trade channels worldwide contain 2 ppm to over 10 ppm of glyphosate plus its major metabolite, AMPA. These are extraordinarily high residues that raise concerns, given that many people are exposed to glyphosate through drinking water, the air, and a variety of foods. I am particularly worried by exposures during pregnancy and through the first years of a child’s life, when the risk of harm to developing organ systems is greatest. More research is urgently needed on glyphosate’s capacity to disrupt normal development,” Benbrook stated.

Glyphosate in U.S. Drinking Water

In this initial testing phase 21 samples of drinking water were tested for glyphosate from across the U.S.

13 of the samples contained glyphosate levels of between 0.085 ug/l and 0.33 ug/l. This is well below the levels found in both urine and breast milk but is still cause for concern, as the European (EU) maximum allowed level for glyphosate in drinking water is 0.1 ug/l.

Regulatory Bodies Urged to Act – Further Testing Needed

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) and other regulatory bodies around the world are being urged to act following the release of this initial testing data, to prevent what is a dangerous public health situation.

Sustainable Pulse Director Henry Rowlands stated, “Regulatory bodies and governments worldwide need to act fast to ban all glyphosate-based herbicides as a temporary measure, while further long-term testing is completed by both them and independent scientists. This is the only way that they can regain the trust and protect the health of mothers, infants and the general public as a whole.”

“It was a huge mistake by both the U.S. government and the biotech industry to promote and release products without long-term independent studies. What we are now looking at with glyphosate-based herbicides is a similar situation to what we all faced in the 20th Century with PCBs, DDT and Agent Orange,” Rowlands concluded.

Due to testing results and skyrocketing health issues, as a matter of precaution, Moms Across America calls for a cease and desist of the practice of spraying glyphosate on GE foods and as a drying agent on food crops, increasing the consumption of glyphosate in our food, including but not limited to, wheat, corn, soy, sugar, rice, dry peas and beans and tea. The EPA lists over 160 foods with allowable levels of glyphosate that are unacceptable to mothers.

Moms Across America and Sustainable Pulse are also calling for:

  • Adequate long-term independent testing to ensure that glyphosate herbicide formulations as sold and used are not persistent, bio-accumulative or toxic. This testing must include the outcomes most relevant to children’s health.
  • The U.S. Congress should supply funding for urgently needed long-term independent research on glyphosate herbicide formulations, including their health effects, how they get into the human body, and current levels of accumulation in people, animals and the environment. Studies performed for regulatory authorisation up until now have only tested the isolated ingredient glyphosate, not the complete formulations as sold and used, even though the formulations have been found in many studies to be much more toxic than the isolated ingredient. Also these studies are funded by the agrochemical industry, i.e. they are not independent. Finally, they are kept secret under commercial confidentiality rules, so cannot be scrutinised by independent scientists and the public.

PCB Similarities

This case of finding high levels of glyphosate in breast milk is a re-run of the Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) scandal in the 1970s (6), which ended up in the toxic chemical compound’s production being banned by the U.S. Congress in 1979.

Before the ban Monsanto, the only North American producer, had marketed PCBs under the trade name Aroclor from 1930 to 1977 and had insisted that it was not toxic.

It was not until levels of PCBs in breast milk were found to be 10 times those in blood, obtained from residents in the Osaka Prefecture of Japan (7), that the toxicity of PCBs was questioned by regulators, leading to the 1979 ban.

According to the EPA, PCBs, which were widely used for over 40 years as dielectric and coolant fluids, have now been shown to cause cancer in humans.

Is it not time that regulators learned lessons from past mistakes?

Notes for Editors:


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Zen Honeycutt, Founder and Director of Moms Across America,,
[email protected], Skype: zen.honeycutt. Moms Across America is presented by the non profit CA State Grange and is a national coalition of unstoppable Moms. “Empowered Moms, Healthy Kids.”

Henry Rowlands, Director, Sustainable Pulse, [email protected], Skype: henry.rowlands
Sustainable Pulse ( ) is owned and maintained by a group of concerned citizens and scientists.
Sustainable Pulse provides the general public with the latest global news on GMOs, Sustainable Food and Sustainable Agriculture from our network of worldwide sources.

Sustainable Pulse is owned and maintained by a group of concerned citizens and scientists. Sustainable Pulse provides the general public with the latest global news on GMOs, Sustainable Food and Sustainable Agriculture from our network of worldwide sources. Learn more.


  1. Don’t forget that other ignored components of herbicide such as ethoxylated tallowamine are hundreds of times more toxic than Glyphosate. The problem is very very serious and serious consequences will ensue. However, most University academics from whom we should be able to seek guidance will not admit to the problem.

    • I’m curious where you came up with those toxicity numbers. Polyethoxalated tallow amines (POEA) have never been shown to be ‘highly’ toxic in the studies I have read. POEA is used as a surfactant in Round-Up. In other words, it’s a wetting/sticker agaet. It’s been shown to break down in the environment within 7 days. Rat studies show the LD50 at about 5gms+/kg. A quite high dose. Of course, we’re not sure if it is cumulative. My thoughts after working with surfactants for a number of years is that it should not be cumulative. The World would be a lot dirtier without surfactants. They are the major components of soaps and detergents.

      1. Gary L. Diamond and Patrick R. Durkin February 6, 1997 Effects of Surfactants on the Toxicitiy of Glyphosate, with Specific Reference to RODEO Report submitted to Leslie Rubin, COTR, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). Biotechnology, Biologics and Environmental Protection, Environmental Analysis and Documentation, United States Department of Agriculture

      • With all due respect for your scientific training, I’d prefer plain old dirt over some chemical that has never been in the food chain and could lead to dire problems in the future. I fear that the tons of toxins that have been dumped on our farmland and elsewhere are contaminating our food and our selves to the extent that no one knows what the ultimate consequences will be. The rise in cancers is troubling, and probably connected to our stupidity in regard to chemical ag. I suspect that our progeny (if we have any) will curse us for irresponsible, greedy fools and worse as they try to deal with our toxic, radioactive, genetically modified legacy we will leave them.

    • These chemicals are also causing Tremendous Destruction and death to wildlife and nature. Not just toxicity but incredible loss of habitat food and shelter for wildlife caused by these huge monocultures millions of acres

  2. Thank you Ocean. This is expected, but still shocking news. As a former Researcher in the chemical industry (non food related), I have personally seen the drive to profits at all cost. One only has to look at the closely related and highly ‘regulated’ drug industry to get a better grasp of the fraudulent practices that those industries perpetrate. For example drug maker ,GlaxoSmithKline was fined for criminal and civil wrongdoings over 3 billion dollars by the US alone. This fine was for ‘bribing’ Doctors, lies about self administered clinical trials. Those lies caused a drug they manufactured, Avandia, to cause heart attacks and strokes to over 100,000 people in this US alone. I wonder why we don’t have some of the GSK officers sitting in a prison? Actually, the 3 billion in fines and reparation is little more than an inconvenience. GSK made several times that in profits alone. What chance do we humans have against the criminal juggernaut that is the GEO manufacturers? Their habit of lining the pockets of any politician they can and their infiltration of numerous Govt. Regulatory Agencies is staggering.

    I find it profoundly disturbing that very few clinical trials, none actually, have been done to study the long term effects of glyphosate on humans or the environment that we live in.

    Thank you again Ocean and of course John. Your dissemination of the truth is very much appreciated. I personally will make sure my friends and acquaintances receive links to this disturbing article.

  3. Glyphosate is often combined with chitin or chitosan which is also used as a drying agent in grain crops. Chitin as a substance is a warning to our body and to plants that pathogens have entered and should be attacked. This is what leads to inflammation–our own bodies trying to protect themselves against the phantom pathogens presented by glyphosate and chitin. Our body tries to store chitin in various available places in the body where it will not do harm but eventually it runs out of storage places and we become very sick.
    Chitin is also used as a pelletizer for herbicides, not only glyphosate but many others. It is also used as a paper coating, fabric finish and way too many other uses that are causing it to proliferate in our environment.

  4. I’m a bee keeper, environmental engineer and chemist who’s been literally speaking out against neonics and also have done about 20 speaking engagements to try to get this product banned. In speaking on this subject, I have met and spoken to farmers who are very disconcerted about glyphosate and the damage that’s been done to their land and crops. Like neonics, a public outcry needs to be voiced against glyphosate and a call for both products to be banned in North America! We seem to be unable to do this while other countries have been successful….maybe, as nations, they care more about their health and their environment. Don’t know but it seems that way!

  5. Glyphosate is pervasive, it’s very much like agent orange and like agent orange it is bio-accumulative. Today, anencephaly, encephalocele and spina bifida is seen in the offspring of Vietnam veterans, Vietnamese and Cambodians who were exposed to this combination of two defoliants, 2,4,5-T and 2,4-D.

  6. You do not need to be a Rocket Scientist to know for sure that if you eat food that has been dosed with herbicide and pesticide it will end up in every part of your body and then in every part of your baby’s body if you are breast feeding. I don’t know why this seems to be such a shock to you or anybody for that matter. The only way for this to NOT happen is to only eat organic food and to drink pure filtered water, even then you will have all the toxins that you breathe in or shower in, eg Chlorine or fluoride) in your body, remember to steer velar of any toothpaste, mouthwash etc with fluoride or sodium lauryl sulphate and this includes baby wipes, most of them are toxic. We cannot be pristine now days, but we CAN try. JAC

  7. JAC, I agree with your comments whole-heartedly. I am a Food Scientist, and this type of situation is absolutely disgusting and CEO’s of these conglomerates need to be sincerely dealt with (and their respective governments). It is poison, and they are allowed to slowly poison human-beings and our planet, so in these circumstances the poisoning continues long after we are gone. All for a profit. I cringe for our children.
    JAC, is absolutely correct, do yourself and your family, friends and the planet a favour – buy Organic.
    We currently now have over 70,000 registered or allowable Food Chemicals that are introduced into our foods, so, again, we are not protected by our governments, once again, the mighty dollar reigns supreme. These chemicals have not ever been exposed to exhaustive testing and the final possible health problems I would be suggesting will be a mile-long.
    Unfortunately guys, this type of scary information is going to just keep on occurring unless…………

  8. My message to my congressional representative and senators: Dangers in
    Our Food Supply


    Modified Organisms (GMO) are a danger to everybody. Already in 2014, 33 new GE food labeling bills were
    introduced in 19 states, with an Oregon ballot initiative also on target for
    November 2014, bringing the total number of active bills and ballot initiatives
    to 65 across 26 states.

    Please introduce a bill that requires food labeling of GMO
    food in Idaho.


    80 percent of all antibiotics sold in the United States are used
    not on humans but on animals — most of which aren’t even sick. Healthy cows,
    pigs, and chickens are routinely fed antibiotics to make them grow faster and
    prevent disease on crowded and unsanitary industrial farms.

    Bacteria Use

    thurigiensis is a danger to everybody and has shown to occur in 90% of mothers’
    blood and in 80% of their umbilical cords.
    Please force the USDA and other government agencies to stop the use of
    this bacterium in all GMO applications.

    Influence on Government

    Please stop
    this influence on congress and on federal agencies. USDA is just one example of agencies
    influenced by industry and not by science.


    Please stop
    the occurrence of pesticides in our food supply.


    information is readily available. Please
    get in touch with me if you need further information.

  9. Currently
    the US supports the use of genetically modified foods even though GMOs are dangerous
    to the human body. The US needs to ban GM foods like most of Europe. When
    it comes to making GM crops, the process is unpredictable and takes lots of
    tampering with to ensure that harmful toxins and proteins weren’t released in
    the process. Michael
    Taylor the individual who approved GM foods for the FDA, was Monsanto’s most recent vice
    president therefore it was a biased decision to even approve GM crops.

    consumers need to decide what type of produce will be put onto the shelves in your local store, not Monsanto.

  10. Just like with all chemical (or natural, for that matter) products, it’s not about if the product is present or not, but if it is present in quantities that can be actually harmful. No need to panic if there are trace amounts of pesticides present, you will consume those even if you forget to wash an apple before eating it.

  11. We all need to be aware and proactive and support people that champion safe practices and ethical business models-and contribute to organizations that safeguard our planet –

  12. A friend of mine who is a farmer in an alfalfa hay raising area, told us that when neighboring hay farmers want to change crops, They spray their alfalfa field with roundup and wait a couple days for the roundup to get to the root. Then they cut the alfalfa and bale it up for cattle feed. The root of the alfalfa dies and then they can plant something else. That roundup contaminated hay is then fed to milk or beef cows and their milk or meat is passed on to humans. What a disaster!

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