Study Debunks Presence of Chemical in Breast Milk

But rival researchers aren't buying WSU's claims
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 24, 2015 10:07 AM CDT
Study Debunks Presence of Chemical in Breast Milk
In this Aug. 27, 2014 photo, a lab technician shows a couple of containers of frozen breast milk.   (AP Photo/Silvia Izquierdo)

Scientists say a potentially cancer-causing chemical used in Monsanto's popular herbicide Roundup doesn't pose a risk to babies via a mother's breast milk, despite an earlier study claiming that was in fact the case. Washington State University researchers set out to discover whether glyphosate could be found in breast milk after a Moms Across America-Sustainable Pulse study last year identified traces in three out of 10 breast milk samples, per a press release. WSU lead author Michelle McGuire analyzed breast milk and urine from 41 women in or around Moscow, Idaho, and Pullman, Wash., agricultural areas where glyphosate is often used. Ten said they lived on or next to a farm or ranch and five said they'd mixed or applied glyphosate. However, none of the women's breast milk contained traces of glyphosate, even when detectable but "extremely low" levels were found in urine, researchers say.

Researchers say they found no differences between women who lived on or near farms and those who didn't, or those who ate organic food versus conventionally grown food. "The Moms Across America study flat out got it wrong," says McGuire, who presented her findings at a biology conference yesterday. "The MAA findings are unverified, not consistent with published safety data, and are based off an assay designed to test for glyphosate in water, not breast milk." Some of McGuire's samples were analyzed in Monsanto labs; others were verified at Covance Laboratories, a lab with no links to WSU or Monsanto. MAA and Sustainable Pulse are disputing many of the assertions laid out in the release, writing, for instance, that Covance is "a service contractor for Monsanto on feeding studies with genetically engineered plants." They also cite a month-old German study of 16 women that found 0.210 to 0.432 nanograms of glyphosate per milliliter of breast milk; a maximum 0.100 nanograms is allowed in drinking water, the Local reports. (More breast milk stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.