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February 24, 2018

030 Glyphosate in Breast Milk and Wine?

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Recent unpublished reports are popping up on the internet that suggest that the herbicide glyphosate is showing up at dangerous levels in a variety of places.  These range from breast milk, to beer, to wine, to potato chips.   There are a number of laboratories and kit manufacturers that are excited to provide a means for such analysis.  In the hands of the untrained, such kits and data are nothing more than in invitation for misinterpretation or misuse.

In this week’s podcast we talk to two experts that routinely measure rare compounds.  Dr. Shelley McGuire discusses her findings as a lactation specialist, describing the results in her recent paper on glyphosate in breast milk.  Dr. Thomas Colquhoun speaks about the methods and kits, along with what the alleged findings in wine really mean.

Twitter @mcguiresmiguire

Thomas Colquhoun’s website


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4 Comments on 030 Glyphosate in Breast Milk and Wine?

  1. There is one singular thing that annoys me about GM crops.
    The lack of availability for my garden. Yes, they’re theoretically available for consumers at consumer quantities via specialized branding, however here in the real world, the anti-GMO idiots have caused many seed sellers to abandon sales of the GM seeds.
    That’s pretty much the only annoyance that I have about GM foods.

    As for reading trace amounts of chemicals, I was pleasantly astonished today to read my TSH levels measured at 0.007 uIU/ml, a level not all that long ago that would be undetectable.
    Yes, I have hyperthyroidism, my immune system took a dislike to my thyroid and attacked it, my thyroid reciprocated. That left me caught in the middle.
    Anti-thyroid hormone drugs are finally working, even if they’re being a fair bit hard on my liver. Plus one other drug, I’ll have to give up my whiskey for quite a while, lest I end up with liver failure.
    Oh well.
    Testing for traces can be cool, when it’s evidence based science based. 🙂
    Not Google search based, Google Scholar perhaps, but evidence based science is required!

    Oh, the BS of the week is that glyphosate is an antibiotic, using the patent application and word salad plus walls of text. That pooped up on Dr Folta’s page this week.
    As one of the claimed organisms was e. coli, my response was somewhat tongue in cheek, but predicting the extinction of e. coli in all agricultural areas. As that isn’t true, well, obviously e. coli has other ways to acquire amino acids. No knowledge and text walls meets knowledge, no knowledge loses.
    The individual also kept going on about 1 – 2 mg/kg body burden, I offered to drink 2 mg/kg of glyphosate if the individual or group paid for blood and urine testing, as well as stool culturing. No taker, just repetition of the claims.

    As for “organic” vs commercial produce being “better”, I suspect we’d find zero benefit, save if the “organic” came from an individual’s garden. I’ve long had my own veggie and spice garden, I pick for peak ripeness and freshness, whereas a product in the market is picked for shelf stability and hence, isn’t quite ripe usually. That’s the only real difference.

    As for ELIZA, it’s an excellent test – for proteins. For chemicals, not so much. Rapid testing is frequently done with Western Blot, a positive followed with ELIZA. Mass spectrometry isn’t exactly great for proteins, but excellent for many, many chemicals. Granted, I’ve goobered it down a lot.
    But, as with any other “novel test”, the very first question that I have always asked is, “Where is the peer review?”. Having went through peer reviews many times, I’ve come to know intimately, peers love to savage shoddy work. As I also love to do. Do shoddy work, do unreproducable results work, get my butt handed to me and rightfully so.
    My thought on “organic wine has glyphosate”, my first thought is cross-reaction with an innocuous compound. Try a different test. Rule out non-organic. Find the error. Indeed, if it can’t be reproduced, it goes into the circular file.

    For the record, I’ll likely come up with glyphosate in my urine. I’ve sprayed weeds and smoked a cigarette afterward before washing my hands. Lousy practice, but it is what it is. :/

    Full disclosure: I’m a former special forces medic and currently am an information security professional. No electrons were harmed in this message, only annoyed electrons went into this message.
    I’m also an annoyed home gardener, who can’t get GM seeds for love, honor or money.

    • Thanks for your thoughtful message. Best of wishes with your health. You’re right on about the ELISA and its limitations. Here you have people that want to believe something and then find a test that can be used without proper controls to give them the answer they want. It is reading tea leaves. Someone of faith may see Jesus in the well. These are all sad discussions to have when we should be celebrating safe, affordable food, and getting the seeds to every corner of the globe.

  2. Just want to tell you that I have learned so much from listening to your interviews! I am a micro-scale farmer in Zone 4, selling at farmers’ markets. So far I’ve been keeping a low profile about my opinion of the anti-GMO wackos, but hearing your experiences, and those of your guests, really makes my blood boil! I would like to foster science literacy among my customers, but I haven’t yet figured out how to do it – farmers’ markets are not a bastion of informed rhetoric. We’ll see, maybe this summer will provide an opportunity.

    I also want to commend you on choosing to interview as many women as you do. My daughter is an undergrad very looking at pursuing a career in science, perhaps in genetics. I’m not sure I can convince her to listen to this podcast (podcasts are not cool enough for 20 year olds 😉 ) but I have dropped a few names of people whom you’ve interviewed and she has been very interested. Thank you for pointing out role models for our young women scientists!

    • Ellen, I hope your daughter is thinking about graduate school, and if she is, think about University of Florida! We’re right up there with the best of them. She would be most welcome.

      And best wishes to you and for your efforts. Please reach out if I can ever be of service. kevin

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