A recent study conducted by the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey found glyphosate in roughly 80% of urine samples from U.S. adults and children. The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, a unit of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, analyzed 2,310 urine samples of U.S. residents and identified the herbicide in 1,885 of those samples. This study is one of many in recent years that emphasizes the extent to which glyphosate permeates the lives and bodies of Americans.

Study Finds Glyphosate Across Most Participants

The CDC created the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey to assess the health and nutrition of Americans through a series of studies. Recently, the CDC program examined urine samples collected between 2013 and 2014. These samples were intended to represent the American population, and over one-third of the participants were kids between the ages of 6 and 18. The investigation revealed that 1,885 of those tested contained detectable levels of glyphosate, the active ingredient in the popular weedkiller, Roundup. Farmers spray nearly 200 million pounds of Roundup on fields annually, and researchers speculate that people are regularly exposed to the herbicide through the food supply.

Glyphosate in the Human Diet

Humans may consume glyphosate in their daily diet. Researchers have found trace amounts of glyphosate in popular cereals, baby formula, organic beers and wines, and hummus. Glyphosate is the most widely-used herbicide in the United States, and its popularity spiked after the introduction of genetically modified “Roundup Ready” crops. In a previous urine study performed in 2017, the Univesity of California San Diego School of Medicine compared urine samples of a Southern California community taken between 1993 to 1996 and from 2014 to 2016. Researchers found that very few participants had detectable levels of glyphosate in their urine before the introduction of genetically modified foods. However, after the development of and reliance on “Roundup Ready” crops, approximately 70% of the original participants had detectable levels of glyphosate in their urine.

The Debate Continues

While the presence of glyphosate in Americans cannot be disputed, Bayer and certain agencies argue whether the herbicide is dangerous. In 2015 World Health Organization classified glyphosate as a probable human carcinogen, but the EPA asserts that the herbicide is “not likely” to cause cancer. Meanwhile, the U.S. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry released an analysis that linked glyphosate exposure to the development of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Bayer claims glyphosate poses no threat to human health, but starting in 2023, the company will replace glyphosate in Roundup for residential use. Glyphosate will remain an active ingredient in Roundup products for commercial and farm use.