Glyphosate types of weed killing chemicals (like Round Up) are extensively used on and around crops we consume. In addition to controlling weeds, glyphosate is now used in some areas to speed up the crop drying process at harvest time. This is especially true in humid climates where drying is slow. The entire crop is sometimes sprayed with glyphosate to kill it just before harvest, thus starting the drying process earlier and more uniformly. Spraying for desiccation just before harvest is most commonly done on oats and wheat, but is also used at times for other grains, soy beans and other oil seeds (canola), potatoes, cotton and alfalfa. Spraying for desiccation at harvest accounts for over 50% of the human glyphosate exposure in the diet, even though it represents only the minority of usage in the field.
Humans show glyphosate in urine lab tests, especially in chronically ill people. Animals like cattle and rabbits show glyphosate in muscle and various organs. The World Health Organization recently proclaimed that glyphosate can cause cancer in humans. Glyphosate can interfere with hormones in the body which is suspected to play a role in chronic illnesses in humans.
The current guidelines for glyphosate toxicity are in need of re-assessment. In some regions, there have been heavily exposed segments of the population, especially when it has shown up in drinking water. Farm workers and rural residents may get relatively higher exposures through the skin as well as through contaminated drinking water.
The best ways to protect yourself is to eat as much ‘organic’ food as possible, filter and/or test drinking water from rural wells, avoid areas that have been or are being sprayed, use appropriate protective clothing, gloves and masks when using chemicals.
Kruger et al. Detection of glyphosate residues in animals and humans. J Environ Anal Toxicol 2014; 4:2.
Myers et al. Conerns over use of hlyphosate-based hrbicides and risks associated with exosures: a consensus statement. Environmental Health 2016; 15:19.