Pesticides and herbicides sprayed on Californian wine grapes over the decades have been showing up in laboratory studies for several years now. Wine lovers everywhere need to know facts from fiction where toxic chemical contaminants in our food and drink are concerned.
In 2016, a supporter of Moms Across America (whose motto is “We educate and inspire mothers and others CaliforniaWinesPoisonedByMonsantosGlyphosate to transform the food industry and environment, creating healthy communities together.”) submitted samples from ten California wines, from vineyards large and small, to a testing facility called Microbe Infotech Lab in St. Louis, Missouri.
The wines all came from California’s North Coast premium wine-growing region, including vineyards from Napa, Sonoma and Mendocino counties. The wine samples were submitted in two separate groups, the first in September 2015 and the second in February 2016.
Among the wine brands which tested as containing glyphosate were Gallo, Beringer, Mondavi, Barefoot, and Sutter Home.
chemical analysts were shocked by their discovery: “all ten of the wines tested positive for the chemical glyphosate, the declared ‘active’ ingredient in Roundup weedkiller and 700 other glyphosatebased herbicides.”
Each and every conventional and organic wines tested positive for the cancer-causing chemical – although organic wines contained much less:
“The highest level of glyphosate detected was up to 28.4 times higher than the other wines at 18.74 ppb from a 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon from a conventional, chemically farmed vineyard.
“The lowest level was from a biodynamic and organic vineyard, 2013 Syrah, which has never been sprayed according to the owner, with a level of .659 ppb. An organic wine from 2012 mixed red wine grapes, had 0.913 ppb of glyphosate.”
The St. Louis lab report concluded by saying that, although the ten wine tests did not constitute a scientific study, they did offer enough evidence to call for manufacturers who use glyphosate in their products to perform independent testing for glyphosate and co-formulants to ensure the safety and purity of the California wines.
The same holds true for the rest of the world.
How much Big Ag toxic chemical spraying are we really talking about here?
According to a 2014 article published in Environmental Sciences Europe, “farmers sprayed enough glyphosate to apply 0.8 pounds of the chemical to every acre of cultivated cropland in the U.S.”
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reported in 2015 that “barley crops are sprayed with over 600,000 pounds of glyphosate annually, and grapes are sprayed with over 1,500,000 pounds of glyphosate, annually.”
Glyphosate is a toxic chemical found in the popular and effective weed-killer Roundup, introduced to global agriculture in 1974 and made by Monsanto (now Bayer).
How dangerous is exposure to glyphosate?
The EPA’s safety limit for glyphosate is 100 times greater than the amounts found in wine samples tested for its presence. There is no specific EPA limit for allowable levels of glyphosate in wine but glyphosate residues on over 150 different food and feed crops are allowed at levels of 0.2 to 400 ppm (200 to 400,000 ppb).
The fact that the EPA’s “safety range” is so extreme – from 200 to 400,000 – suggests that this organization has no clue about glyphosate toxicity and potential harm to humans and the environment.
The idea that the federal agency in charge of defining safe levels of agricultural poisons is clueless about the actual dangers of long-term exposure, was supported less than a year ago, in October 2018, when a San Francisco, California, jury decided that glyphosate exposure had caused 46-year-old Dewayne Johnson’s non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL), diagnosed in 2014 when the plaintiff was 42 years old.
The court awarded Johnson $289 million in damages because the containers of Roundup had no warning labels about the health risks of direct exposure to the poisonous chemical. The victory set a precedent for other similar lawsuits.
Granted, Johnson’s case was extreme. His duties as a California school system groundskeeper involved regular Roundup use. Once, when a pumping hose broke, his entire body was doused with toxic fluid.
But all chemical toxins eat away at the body’s immune system and vital organs. When the body can’t get rid of ingested toxins, they build up to lethal doses.
Johnson said, in an exclusive interview with Max Goldberg, that “his Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma has taken a real toll, and he has lesions all over his body.” Goldberg went on to offer his opinion about Monsanto, rated in 2013 as the World’s Most Evil Company:
“Needless to say, it is a travesty that people such as Dewayne Johnson have suffered so greatly at the hands of a chemical that should never have been allowed on the market in the first place.”
A report published in February 2019 from the U.S. Public Research Group (USPIRG) Education Fund found trace amounts of glyphosate in wine and beer. Once again, each of the 20 products tested (five wines and 15 beers) tested positive for the carcinogen, with the highest levels of glyphosate found in Sutter Home wine from St. Helena, California, which contained 51 ppb.
Even as beer representatives claim that “an adult would have to drink more than 140 glasses of wine or beer daily before causing a real problem,” such a broad and sweeping statement about every human being’s medical condition seems naive and downright platitudinous, not to mention salted with wishful thinking.
Caveat bibitor: Let the drinker beware.