The Grapevine

Cancer-Linked Weed Killer Found In Popular Beer And Wine In The Market

The U.S. Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) has released a new report showing that 19 out of 20 brands of popular beer and wine contained the main chemical used in the cancer-linked Roundup weed killer, CBS News reported Monday.

The chemical called glyphosate was found highest in Sutter Home Merlot with 51 parts per billion (ppb), followed by Beringer Estates Moscato and Barefoot Cabernet Sauvignon. Glyphosate also appeared at 49 ppb in Tsingtao beer; between 25 and 30 ppb in Corona, Miller Lite and Budweiser; and nearly 20 ppb in Guinness and Heineken.

Kara Cook-Schultz, PIRG toxics program director, said that such levels are far below limits to be potentially harmful in humans. However, she noted that the findings are still alarming due to the significant presence of the weed killer in consumer products, as well as in nature. 

“If we're finding this level of glyphosate in wine and beer, even when we know the makers aren't using glyphosate, that to me indicates there's glyphosate in a lot of other products,” Cook-Schultz said.

Among the tested products, PIRG did not find any traces of the chemical in Peak Beer. However, PIRG said that some organic brands that are not supposed to use most chemicals in food production also had glyphosate. But Cook-Schultz explained that it occurs because glyphosate is so prevalent in the environment that it is now hard to avoid, leading to high exposure of ingredients used in products.

“I suspect they're not using glyphosate,” she said of the organic producers. 

Roundup is produced by agrochemical company Monsanto. The company started manufacturing the product in the 1970s, which has been a widely used herbicide in the U.S. for nearly 20 years. 

The California state government sets 160 parts per million of glyphosate as an acceptable level to consume products with such chemical, far lower than what PIRG found in the beer and wine it studied. However, state officials and other health experts warned that glyphosate is considered as a “probable carcinogen” or cancer-causing product. 

Following the study by PIRG, Monsanto’s spokesperson said that the report was “misleading.”

“The reality is that regulatory authorities have strict rules when it comes to pesticide residues,” said company toxicologist William Reeves. “The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency sets daily exposure limits at least 100 times below levels shown to have no negative effect in safety studies,” he added. 

Over the past year, nonprofit and advocacy groups have also been discovering glyphosate presence in other widely used products, such as cereals, snack bars and ice cream.