Traces of weedkiller found in humans

Vegetables

Tests conducted by Medical Laboratory Bremen for Friends of the Earth found that people in 18 countries across Europe had traces of the weed killer glyphosate in their urine.

The findings raise concerns about increasing levels of exposure to weed killers. Farmers are likely to use more glyphosate if the EU relaxes controls on growing genetically modified (GM) crops.

Despite its widespread use, there is currently little monitoring of glyphosate in food, water or the wider environment. This is the first time tests have been carried out across Europe for the presence of the weed killer in humans.

Glyphosate is used on many genetically modified crops. 14 new GM crops designed to be resistant to glyphosate are currently waiting for approval to be grown in Europe. Approval of these crops would inevitably lead to a further increase of glyphosate spraying in the EU.

The biggest producer of glyphosate is Monsanto which sells it under the brand name 'Roundup'.

Friends of the Earth Europe tested 8 to 12 people living in cities in each countries and found traces in every country. These results show that this weed killer is being widely overused and that governments across Europe must increase monitoring and bring in urgent measures to cut weedkiller use. This includes rejecting any genetically modified crops that would increase the use of glyphosate.

All the volunteers who provided samples live in cities, and none had handled or used glyphosate products.

Percentage of samples tested found to be positive

  • Malta 90%
  • Great Britain 70%
  • Germany 70%
  • Poland 70%
  • Netherlands 63%
  • Czech Republic 60%
  • Belgium 55%
  • Latvia 55%
  • Cyprus 50%
  • Croatia 40%
  • Spain 40%
  • France 30%
  • Hungary 30%
  • Austria 20%
  • Georgia 20%
  • Switzerland 17%
  • Bulgaria 10%
  • Macedonia 10%