Weed killer found in human urine across Europe

People in 18 countries across Europe have been found to have traces of the weed killer glyphosate in their urine, a study by Friends of the Earth Europe has found.

The findings raise concerns about increasing levels of exposure to glyphosate-based weed killers, commonly used by farmers, public authorities and gardeners across Europe.

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

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

Friends of the Earth Europe's spokesperson Adrian Bebb said: "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.

"Our testing highlights a serious lack of action by public authorities across Europe and indicates that this weed killer is being widely overused.

"Governments need to step-up their monitoring and bring in urgent measures to reduce its use. This includes rejecting any genetically modified crops that would increase the use of glyphosate."

Friends of the Earth Europe is calling on the European Union to urgently investigate how glyphosate is finding its way into people's bodies; to increase the levels of monitoring in the environment and in food and water; and to introduce immediate restrictions on the use of glyphosate.

Friends of the Earth Europe commissioned laboratory tests on urine samples from volunteers in 18 countries across Europe and found that on average 44% of samples contained glyphosate.

The proportion of positive samples varied between countries, with Malta, Germany, the UK and Poland having the most positive tests, and lower levels detected in Macedonia and Switzerland.

All the volunteers who provided samples live in cities, and none had handled or used glyphosate products in the run-up to the tests which were carried out between March and May 2013.

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  • It's a shame that the recent publicity surrounding the concern about the use of Glyphosate doesn't appear to differentiate between it's use on resistant crops and it's use as a general weed killer on non cultivated areas. Common sense suggests to me that it's more likely to enter the human (and animal) body via the consumption of resistant crops than via the water table ?

  • that's if you take the FotE claim at face value, i would want to see such a test replicated before i gave it any credence..........

    FotE would have us back subsistence farming in local communities, using the hoe and horse & cart if they could.

    i always thought glyphosate was broken down bound to soil particles and brikoen down by soil microbes within a few months, so yes, if you're showing it in your body, it's probably through ingestion of sprayed material, i don't ever recall hearing it being absorbed by roots?

  • "Friends of the Earth Europe's spokesperson Adrian Bebb said: "Most people will be worried to discover they may have weed killer in their bodies."
    An emotive statement !! I'm no expert, but has it been shown that minute traces of Glyphosate in the body are actually harmful ? I started smoking 63 years ago so I'm afraid statements that say this or that is either good or bad for you seem a bit pointless.

  • Hi guys, the full laboratory report is available as a .pdf file here;


    In its conclusion, the report says: "The results give a first idea to which extent adults in 18 European countries are exposed to Glyphosate. The regional and individual variations are large. Diet seems to be the main sources of exposure. However, more scientific work is needed to distinguish between different exposure situations."


  • It looks like more research is needed into this, the example of DDT seems to lurk somewhere in the back of my mind.

  • looks like another good product will be banned again

  • "looks like another good product will be banned again"
    I wouldn't have thought we need to be too worried for the foreseeable future. Before it's banned, the powers that be would have to convince Monsanto (who are bound to resist vigorously) and also come up with an alternative that's deemed to be safe (or am I just being naive ?)

  • Fenland Phil said: It looks like more research is needed into this - this is the most up to date info I have found:

    "The way glyphosate works is that it interrupts the shikimate pathway, a metabolic function in plants that allows them to create essential amino acids. When this path is interrupted, the plants die. Human cells don’t have a shikimate pathway so scientists and researchers believed that exposure to glyphosate would be harmless.

    The problem is that bacteria DO have a shikimate pathway and we have millions of good bacteria in our guts – our “gut flora.” These bacteria are essential to our health. Our gut isn’t just responsible for digestion, but also for our immune system. When glyphosate gets in our systems, it wrecks our gut and as a result our immune system."

  • Talk about scary movies !!. So what can we use instead ?

  • PRO

    'Harmful' weedkiller in your bread and cereal bars'

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