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Europe is neither GMO-free nor glyphosate-free

Glyphosate in urine, Europe
Glyphosate in urine, Europe
Friends of the Earth Europe

People seem to think that Europeans don't have exposure to GMOs or glyphosate, therefore their health statistics could be used as a control for comparison to the U.S. Such is not the case.

It is true that some European countries have banned the growing of all GMO crops (Bulgaria, Italy & Switzerland). Some European countries have banned the growing of some GMO crops (Germany--ban on cultivation of maize MON 810, Austria--ban on cultivation of maize MON 810, MON 863 and T25, Hungary-- ban on cultivation of maize MON 810 & BASF potato, Luxembourg-- ban on cultivation of maize MON 810 & BASF potato, France--ban on cultivation of maize MON 810, Greece--ban on cultivation of maize MON 810). It is true that most European countries require labelling of food containing GMOs (not including animals and animal products where the animals were fed GMO feed).

This is not the same as being GMO-free, as is commonly assumed here in the U.S.

In addition, the practice of spraying grains and dried legumes with glyphosate as a pre-harvest desiccant has spread to Europe. The Monsanto document, The agronomic benefits of glyphosate in Europe outlines uses from pre and post-harvest weed control, crop desiccation, roadside and aquatic weed control. In 2004 glyphosate was used to treat 13% of the wheat in the United Kingdom (UK) and by 2006, 94% of UK growers used glyphosate on 40% of cereal and 80% of oilseed crops for weed control or harvest management. According to a 2012 report on glyphosate residues in food in the UK, residues as high as 1.1 parts per million [ppm] were detected in whole wheat flour. Lesser residues were detected in a wide range of breads. Residues of 0.6 ppm were found in dried lentils and peas, 2.7 ppm in dried beans, and 11 ppm in dried chickpeas.

Glyphosate has been detected in the urine of city dwellers all over Europe. Urine samples were collected from volunteers in Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, France, Georgia, Germany, Hungary, Latvia, Macedonia, Malta, Poland, Spain, Switzerland, The Netherlands, and the UK. A total of 80/182 samples tested were found to contain glyphosate. Says Adrian Bebb of Friends of the Earth Europe, "Most people will be worried to discover they may have weed killer in their bodies. We tested people living in cities in 18 countries and found traces in every country. These results suggest we are being exposed to glyphosate in our everyday lives, yet we don't know where it is coming from, how widespread it is in the environment, or what it is doing to our health.” Their exposure must be through the food or the water.

The European Union (EU) is re-evaluating glyphosate this year. German regulatory authorities act as the registrar on glyphosate in the EU authorization process. They have found no problems with glyphosate and are recommending re-approval, along with a suggestion to the EU that the acceptable daily intake for glyphosate be raised.

The UK, like the U.S., has declared a war on weeds with glyphosate as the weapon of choice. According to Dr. Rosemary Mason, “The level of glyphosate in one Welsh river draining from areas of Japanese knotweed spraying was 190 parts per trillion (ppt) and local tap water was 30 ppt.”

Glyphosate and GMOs have spread across the planet like a plague. There may not be a control group. Certainly not in Europe.