New Lab Detects Dangerous Herbicide in Food and Soil Samples Around the World

3By Christina Sarich

A newly opened lab can now detect microscopic levels of the herbicide most commonly used in Monsanto’s Roundup — glyphosate — in food and soil samples from all over the world.

Anresco Laboratories in San Francisco just launched and they are using an innovative way to test for pesticide residues. Utilizing a regulatory recognized LC/MS/MS method, available to both non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and commercial companies, Anresco is able to find glyphosate in levels much lower than the standard, ‘high detection’ test rate of 20 parts per billion (ppb) and above.

LC/MS/MS, or liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry, is considered the gold standard for both quantification and semi-quantitative screening of food contaminants, such as pesticide residues. This is meaningful because the technology allows the lab to test for levels as low as 5 ppb, and in some cases, even lower. With many food and soil samples, LC/MS/MS allows for detection and quantification down to 2 ng/g with recoveries between 70 and 90 percent. This translates to 2 nanograms per billion, or comparatively, like finding a needle in a haystack if the needle was a blade of grass and the haystack was an entire solar system.

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Soil samples tested for glyphosate were recently found to have levels that were off the charts, but detecting tiny amounts can help to scientifically prove just how invasive this single herbicide has become.

For example, the journal Ecotoxicology found that commercial formulations of glyphosate were toxic to water fleas (Daphnia magna) at minuscule levels that are well within levels routinely found in the environment.

According to,

Glyphosate has among the highest maximum residue limits for pesticides, with up to 500,000 parts per billion authorized in some GM animal feed. A recent study on 10 batches of GM soybeans from Iowa found glyphosate at an average concentration of 11,900 ppb (maximum of 20,100 ppb). According to even Monsanto, residues levels of up to 5,600 ppb in GM soy represent ‘extreme levels.’

Food for thought — in Europe, maximum glyphosate levels in drinking water are .02 ppb, and one study has declared that the herbicide has estrogenic properties linked to increased incidence of breast cancer in the parts per trillion range.

Additionally, the journal Archives of Toxicology published an alarming study a few years ago, suggesting that Roundup is toxic to human DNA, even when diluted to concentrations 450-fold lower than those used in agricultural applications.

Also to consider, is the fact that many pesticides are toxic beyond their named “active ingredients,” glyphosate among them. In a paper published in the journal, BioMed Research International, scientists argue, “8 formulations out of 9 [tested] were up to one thousand times more toxic than their active principles.”

Here in America, the EPA Allowable Daily Intake (ADI) for glyphosate is set at 1,750 µg (1.75 mg) per kilogram of bodyweight. That’s been scientifically proven to be way too high, but is glyphosate safe at any level? Other research from Cornell says it is bioaccumulative, meaning it collects in our cells over time.

According to Monsanto,

The EPA, which reviews extensive toxicological and environmental data before registering an active ingredient, classifies glyphosate as ‘practically non-toxic.’

This statement doesn’t gel with a massive amount of scientific discourse.

The takeaway? Two key points: glyphosate is toxic at much lower levels than the biotech industry ever revealed, and ‘inert’ doesn’t mean ‘inactive’ or not harmful.

This article (New Lab Detects Dangerous Herbicide in Food and Soil Samples Around the World) is free and open source. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Christina Sarich and If you spot a typo, please email the error and the name of the article to [email protected]. Image credit: Pixabay.

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