90% of urine samples in Malta showed traces of weed killer
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Tests carried out by Friends of the Earth Malta show that people have traces of the weed killer glyphosate in their bodies. Laboratory tests carried out by the group reveal that 9 out of 10 people’s urine samples in Malta contained traces of glyphosate and came top out of the 18 countries tested.
Friends of the Earth Malta said that the results in Malta are mirrored in results across Europe – with 45% of samples from volunteers in 18 countries found to contain traces of the chemical . “All of the volunteers who gave samples live in urban areas, and none had handled or used glyphosate products in the run up to the tests.”
This is the first time monitoring has been carried out across Europe for the presence of the weed killer in humans.
“Glyphosate is one of the most widely-used weed killers in the world, used by farmers, local government and gardeners, as well as being sprayed extensively on some genetically modified crops imported into Europe for use as animal feed. The biggest producer is Monsanto which sells it under the brand name “Roundup.” Despite its widespread use, its presence in food or water is rarely monitored by governments,” the NGO said.
Martin Galea De Giovanni from Friends of the Earth Malta said, “Most people will be worried to discover that there is weed killer in their bodies and will want to know why it is there and what effects it is having. These results suggest that 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 bodies.
“This is the most used weed killer in Europe and it is surprising that public authorities rarely test our food or water for it. Now that Friends of the Earth Malta has discovered that it is widespread in people’s bodies, it is asking the Maltese Government to immediately step-up their monitoring to make sure we are not being put at risk.”
In Europe, glyphosate is widely used by farmers to clear weeds from fields before planting, or before seeds have germinated. It is also sometimes sprayed on to cereal crops, oilseed rape, maize and sunflowers ahead of harvesting to dry out the crops. It is the most commonly used weed killer on UK arable farms , on 39% of agricultural land in Germany  and levels of glyphosate use in Europe are increasing.
“As for Malta, the latest NSO figures for herbicide use (2007)  show a possible increase in glyphosate usage in Malta (as compared to 2005). The high rates obtained from the Maltese sample demands an even more serious investigation into the source of these herbicides,” the NGO said.
Friends of the Earth Malta concluded, “fourteen glyphosate-resistant genetically modified (GM) crops are currently waiting for approval for cultivation in the European Union. Some estimates suggest that if given the go-ahead, glyphosate use could increase by as much as 800% .” ,
Notes from Friends of The Earth Malta:
 Urine samples were collected from volunteers in Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, France, Georgia, Germany, Hungary, Latvia, Macedonia, Malta, Poland, Spain, Switzerland, The Netherlands, and the UK. Volunteers were all city-dwellers and included vegetarian and non-vegetarian diets.
No two samples were tested from the same household. The samples were analysed by Dr Hoppe at Medizinisches Labor Bremen in Germany (http://www.mlhb.de/). Dr Hoppe can be contacted on tel: 00 49 421 207 20
 See: Garthwaite DG et al (2010) Pesticide Usage Survey Report 235: Arable Crops In The United Kingdom 2010 Food & Environment Research Agency, DEFRA, UK. Table 5.
 Steinmann HH, Dickeduisberg M & Theuvsen L (2012) Uses and benefits of glyphosate in German arable farming Crop Protection Vol 42 pp 164-169
 Plant protection products usage on crops in Malta – 2007 (NSO) http://www.nso.gov.mt/statdoc/document_file.aspx?id=2202.
 See:Benbrook CM (2012) Glyphosate tolerant crops in the EU: a forecast of impacts on herbicide use. Greenpeace International.