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

Posted on Apr 6 2014 - 4:19am by Sustainable Pulse
  • 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.

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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 , Russian, Chinese

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:



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.

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About the Author

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22 Comments so far. Feel free to join this conversation.

  1. Christine Robitaille April 7, 2014 at 20:04 - Reply

    Big applause from me to have gone beyond what anyone else told you Zen that you could not test yourself or your children and taken this superb initiative! I hope this gets a HUGE ‘snowball effect’ to raise the public outcry even more – especially, at this crucial time when so many bills are before state legislations for banning GMOs, labelling GMOs, banning glyphosate and demanding that chemicals are deemed safe before being approved – I hope this shall add more ‘fire’ under the seats of politicians! I think this is going to make some serious ‘waves’ across the USA and the media ought to cover this BIG TIME!

    I agree that a bigger study is warranted here and more moms ought to enrol toward this and people ought to send the funding to Moms Across America toward this aim.

    Fantastic initiative by Moms Across America! Coming from a group which is not made of scientists, this is indeed a superb initiative! Keep up the great job! Bravo! Applause!

    Men… step up to the plate – support your wives – the mothers of the children of America! Join your voice to theirs and become a force to be reckoned with toward positive change for our food chain! The future of humanity depends on things like this!

    • George Richart April 15, 2014 at 19:44 - Reply

      After being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes related to weight gain, research on possible contributing factors to this burgeoning epidemic uncovered a direct connection to Glyphosate ingestion. Conclusions can be drawn that in addition to the obvious Breast Milk dangers, it’s becoming undeniably apparent that damage to the human Micro-biota as a direct result of Glyphosate ingestion could very well be the root cause of many of our health challenges. More than ever imagined. This should and will become a major issue in the near future and my belief is that we must call on our scientific community to help us help ourselves instead of relying on the Government to step in. A movement should be called for to test all our food, and quickly eliminate offenders from the chain. The ability to perform simple tests for the presence of Glyphosate should be demanded. If we wait for Monsanto or the EPA, it will be years. I want to know if it is present in my food and water now. Suggestions welcome.

  2. Yvonne Morgan April 8, 2014 at 02:51 - Reply

    I most definitely support a banand I don’t even hsve children.

  3. Jen April 8, 2014 at 05:55 - Reply

    I noticed one of the links under notes for the editors is for the GMOanswer website. I was under the impression that Monsanto funds that website-can anyone confirm?


    • Momma Bear April 8, 2014 at 08:27 - Reply

      Jen, if you click on the link you can see why they included it. I think it was included because it references the claim that glyphosate doesn’t bioaccumulate. Since the majority of these mothers are actively avoiding GMOs and eating organic, then either it does or our “clean” food is also contaminated. This is my assumption, anyhow.

    • Russ April 8, 2014 at 10:04 - Reply

      Yes, that’s a cartel propaganda site. But proving them wrong even according to their own threadbare premises would be especially compelling to any honest person.

      Needless to say it never phases the hacks themselves for a second. Disprove one of their lies and they simply drop it and jump to another, usually totally unrelated lie. It’s an example of their fundamentalist mindset.

      • Kurt April 10, 2014 at 03:43 - Reply

        Why did they just test women that eat organic? Could this test have detected something that is already in the environment? Glyphosate does come from the earth in the first place correct? Why didn’t they do a more proper test of more women in different categories. I would like to see a more well done study and not one that has subjects that are all members of organisations that are all anti gmo. Just my opinion. I just occasionally come across these types of sites and think propaganda just as Russ thinks propaganda in the opposite angle. I tend to disagree with everything on this site in fact.

        • Russ April 10, 2014 at 10:28 - Reply

          They did the kind of test they could afford, with volunteers from among their own constituency, and it’s telling indeed that even among health-conscious eaters there’s still such a high level of glyphosate residue.

          But you do bring up the excellent point that Monsanto and the US government have such vast resources that it would cost them relative pennies to perform real safety studies on glyphosate as well as GMOs. It would cost them relative pennies to do science the way it’s supposed to be done and replicate the Seralini and Pusztai studies if they really thought these were flawed, instead of just shouting them down and censoring them. This is an implicit acknowledgement on Monsanto’s part that these studies are valid, and that replicating them would give similar results.

          So you’re right, Kurt. The fact that Monsanto demurs from safety testing its products, and that governments don’t perform or require such testing, is proof that they fear what the results would be. It’s proof that the corporations and governments believe scientific testing would find these products to be unsafe for human health.

        • Susan April 12, 2014 at 01:36 - Reply

          Zen Honeycutt was able to find ONE lab who was willing to test volunteers for glyphosate and for a very reasonable price. She posted it on the website and it was all voluntary. I was one on the volunteers who bought the kit and submitted samples. And yes, my results shown this poison in my system. We all want independent and more scientific studies, but not only they are very expensive, but labs and scientists decline to do it so Monsanto doesn’t destroy their careers or businesses. That’s way it is important to get involved, to educate everybody we have contact with, because the goverment is not going to protect us from these greedy corporations. We have to save ourselves.

  4. Noreen April 10, 2014 at 00:03 - Reply

    how and where can we test the level of this herbicide in our bodies? who provides testing for this and can give us our results?

    • JerryJerry April 10, 2014 at 19:32 - Reply

      Microbe Inotech Labs in Saint Louis.
      $110 for a pee test…not too sure why they would run an ELISA on such a small molecule

  5. Sheryl McCumsey April 11, 2014 at 20:26 - Reply

    I have been asking my federal government for the studies done on this herbicide repeatedly and so far only “references” to three of which the most recent was done 26 years ago. I have found many studies to indicate this herbicide is doing a great deal of harm. Pressure should be enormous on government to come “clean” and protect us as they are paid to do. We can expect our economy to collapse under the damage being done by industry to human health and the environment. They are not doing business in a responsible manner and we foot the bill for all the “cleanups.” Only until the public is outraged enough at these issues will we see a change. Wake up everyone!

  6. Joy April 12, 2014 at 22:42 - Reply

    The question that comes to mind is the following. How can I detox the accumulative glyphosate in my body before I have a child? I am not sure if it must be a chemical specific detox to achieve the desired effects. I am not sure that this chemical can be avoided but I am thinking that it would be important to have a regime to “clean up” as can be done with heavy metals, ect.

  7. JC Lincoln April 14, 2014 at 07:14 - Reply

    Destroy Monsanto !

  8. JC Lincoln April 14, 2014 at 07:24 - Reply

    Herbal Cleanses can help take out many of these accumulated poisons. Also things like kelp and other seaweed products. But it’s just as important to stop taking in these poisons. The absolute best way to do that (beyond buying ‘organic’, of course) is to use a ‘Fruit & Vegetable Washer’. I have one, it uses ozone, rapid agitation of the water, and I use a special liquid soap. You can find these on ebay. I wouldn’t be without mine. You simply CAN NOT clean as well as these machines do, especially things like broccoli, cauliflower, Anything, even grapes.

    • Leslie April 16, 2014 at 23:53 - Reply

      What do you mean by a machine to clean fruits/veggies? What would I look under to make sure it’s not just a scam?

  9. Jacqueline April 20, 2014 at 02:45 - Reply

    Hi Leslie, I have done a long search this year in order to find my “Ozone” Machine, read up about Ozone and its use for our health it goes beyond the beautician uses and my Ozone Sterilizer it sterilizes my vegetables, fruits and food in general and it also has a function to sterilizer the air.
    Unfortunately I am not in the USA and the machine I have does not sell there, but go for it, do a research because it does really a good job, and read also about ozone-therapy in Europe it is more well spread the use of Ozone to treat the health than in America I guess.

    Another thing everyone should be aware of is that we “consume” poison even by the time we are having our shower, therefore, a water purifier for the whole house plus shower (can be expensive, but there are good and cheaper options on the international market) is a must have in our home, for the ones who wishes to avoid as more as possible the poisons of this modern world.

    The best type of water for our body is an Alkaline type of water, the purifier can not contain any plastic parts, needs to be Hexagonal Alkaline Ionized (the ion is what takes the water into our cells) alkaline because as older as we get as more acid our body turns and as a child we have an alkaline body, and also because our body is about 65% to 85% of water depending on the age.
    Think of your body as an aquarium, if a fish gets sick in a fish tank and you treat the fish and do not treat the water the fish will be continuing to swim in dirty water until it dies.
    The same with us, we are an walking aquarium, therefore treats also the water you have in your body, plus treating the water the aliments/food you consume you will be putting less poison into your body and therefore, supporting it to work on its best functions 🙂

    Good luck on your searches 😉

  10. Andrew May 11, 2014 at 10:42 - Reply

    Sample size was 10 people out of 150 million women.. it is not a normal curve.. a sample size of ten cannot be used to apply such results to the whole population.. this experiment can;t conclude that with ten people… you at least need 30.. and the more, you have, the closer you represent the real population.
    Not believing anything from sample size of ten with haphazard selection, at that…

    Always read the actual studies.. 10 people….

    • Bruce May 18, 2014 at 11:04 - Reply

      Andrew, only 3 with excessive levels in 150 million is almost meaningless, right? But what’s much more significant is, the sample was only 10, suggesting that 30 percent of 150 million or 50million are over the limit, but as you say it was hardly representative. Your right, the sample may have been terribly skewed, maybe to the high side, or maybe the low. Maybe instead of 3 it was 4or 5 or even 6 (remember out of ten)
      As I read your comments, I thought about ecologists approximating the size of a potentially infinite population of fish in a river. They captured 30, or 50 or a hundred fish, marked them and released them. Two days later they go back and catch another 30 or 50 or 100 fish, and count how many of those fish are marked, and then predict with high confidence the size of the population of fish.
      So whether it’s 1 in ten, or 5 in 10, there are millions of people with higher than acceptable levels of this material. So Andrew, BE SMART about what you say, or quit being intentionally vague, or misleading. I suspect, there’s maybe a serious problem here, and certainly worthy of serious scrutiny.
      P.S. “Haphazard” selection, suggests “Randomness”, something valued in sample testing, so I suggest Your selection of the word “haphazard” was not well selected in this instance.
      My heart goes out to those with disease, or diminished health, regardless of the cause.

  11. Joe wander May 24, 2014 at 17:20 - Reply

    What is the.MDL for that assay? Is the method standardized so the n can be increased with results from other labs?

  12. Joe Wander May 27, 2014 at 07:52 - Reply

    Rather than rail against Monsanto and GMOs, you should focus on a real target that you have a chance of reaching. La Leche League might be the ally of choice to expand the n for this report, and might bring in data for less-finicky eaters. The question about the method detection limit speaks to the significance of the three numbers: if the MDL is 1 ppm the effect is less than if it’s 50 ppm—at an MDL of 1 the three might be outliers but at an MDL of 50 the suggestion is that there are additional values of concern that reported as nondetects.

    Data in hand suggest that the Roundup-resistant GMOs may provide a dietary source of glyphosate. Focus on that and leave the global campaign against GMOs—which these data will not win for you—for another day. Two paths forward appear clear: 1. recruit LLL mothers to jack up the number of samples (the suggested 30 would be a good goal), and 2. submit samples of a Roundup-resistant fruit or vegetable for glyphosate testing. The latter would be grounds to ask for a recall … and as a science fair project should get national attention.

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