What Is Glyphosate?

Last Update: July 5, 2024

Glyphosate is a popular topic in the wellness space right now. If you’re unsure what foods glyphosate is found in or how you can avoid it, read on. We recently sat down with Henry Rowlands, director of The Detox Project, to discuss the ins and outs of glyphosate.

The Detox Project aims to enable “the public to find out what levels of glyphosate and other pesticides are in their bodies and in their food.” It provides testing services for individuals, Glyphosate Residue Free certification for brands, and herbicide-free recommendations for gardeners and farmers.

With the help of The Detox Project, Thrive Market launched Certified Glyphosate Residue Free as the latest value on our site. You can now use it as a filter to shop the brands—such as Megafood, Prima, RE Botanicals, and Wedderspoon—that have gone through the certification process with The Detox Project.

Understanding What Glyphosate Is

Glyphosate is one of the most-used weedkillers in the world and is the active ingredient in popular herbicides such as Roundup. In 2012, the global glyphosate herbicides market was valued at $5.46 billion and is expected to reach $12.54 billion by 2024.

What Is Glyphosate Used For?

Glyphosate is commonly sprayed on genetically modified crops. Ninety-four percent of the soybeans and more than 80% of the corn and cotton grown in the United States are glyphosate-tolerant, which means they’re designed to be sprayed with it. Some Non-GMO crops such as oats, wheat, lentils, and beans are often also sprayed with glyphosate as a pre-harvest drying agent.

Why should we educate ourselves on glyphosate and the dangers of pesticides?

Glyphosate was classified as ‘probably carcinogenic to humans’ by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) in 2015. Glyphosate is also a patented chelating agent, which means it binds vital nutrients, and is a patented antibiotic.

Walk us through some of the latest research to give our readers a sense of how widespread this issue is.

Two research projects from the U.S. and Japan have given us a greater understanding of the levels of glyphosate that the public is exposed to.
In a unique public testing project carried out by a laboratory at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF), glyphosate was discovered in 93% of urine samples during the early phase of the testing in 2015.

This year a testing project involving 23 members of the Japanese Parliament, shocked the country after it was revealed that many of the politicians had long-term exposure to glyphosate.

What is Glyphosate Residue Free certification?

Glyphosate Residue Free certification verifies that a food or supplement product does not contain the world’s most-used herbicide.

To be certified Glyphosate Residue Free, a product must have no glyphosate residues down to government-recognized limits of detection (LODs) for food, commodity, and supplement samples (usually 0.01 ppm), and lower levels than default government Maximum Residue Limits (MRLs) in the European Union and Japan, which are the strictest MRLs in the world.

Describe the certification process.

Brands that decide to certify their products as Glyphosate Residue Free have to test their products at least three times a year with third-party laboratories that use gold-standard testing methods. The Detox Project also performs spot checks on products with ingredients that have a high-risk of glyphosate contamination. The certification process involves a strong auditing protocol that is designed to make sure that the certification meets the demands of consumers for glyphosate-free food and supplements.

How many brands and retailers have you worked with so far?

50 brands have had more than 1,000 products certified. The Glyphosate Residue Free certified boom has begun and the number of certified brands has risen very fast over the last six months. Thrive Market was actually the first retailer to include the Glyphosate Residue Free certification value on its site and we’re excited to have more retailers follow suit.

Let’s talk about The Detox Project. When was it established and what inspired you to launch it?

The Detox Project was launched in 2015 with the aim of creating transparency in the food industry on the subject of toxic chemicals and also with the aim of enabling the public to find out what levels of glyphosate and other pesticides are in their bodies and in their food.

I personally come from a farming background and was a journalist covering subjects surrounding agriculture, the environment, and law. It was during my time researching articles that I realized there was a massive lack of transparency regarding daily toxic chemical exposure, from our environment and in our diet.

What services do you provide for individuals, families, and businesses?

The Detox Project is a testing, certification, and solutions platform. We provide individuals and families with the ability to test themselves for long-term exposure to glyphosate and other pesticides, using innovative hair testing. Finding out our long-term exposure is vitally important when trying to discover which chemicals are possibly causing us harm.

For brands, alongside Glyphosate Residue Free certification, we also provide consulting services with the aim of reducing the levels of pesticides in their supply chains. The amount of consulting we do on this subject for both small and large brands in the U.S. has exploded in the last year, which must mean that at last many brands are taking this subject very seriously.
An important part of our work is also to support solutions—alternatives to chemical herbicides for gardeners and farmers alike. The alternatives, such as electric and foam weeding technologies, require long-term investment and we aim to create the connections needed for this to happen.

Where are you hoping to take the business in 2020?

Glyphosate Residue Free certification will remain our main focus as we aim to educate more and more people about the harm being caused by this ubiquitous herbicide, and the importance of choosing glyphosate-free products.

We will also continue to develop and promote innovative ways for the public to easily and affordably discover the levels of toxic chemicals in their food and in their bodies.

Why is it important for more companies to learn about glyphosate, and thereby educate their consumers on its potential dangers?

Glyphosate is becoming a regular talking point at dinner tables around the world, it is therefore vital that brands stay on top of the issue. Glyphosate is the base of the current unsustainable agricultural system. Brands can become the messengers of change if they make sure they have a deep understanding of the issues surrounding this toxic chemical.

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Lily Comba

Lily Comba has never met a baked good she didn't like. When she's not baking, you'll find her writing, taking a Pilates class, or collaborating with the editorial and social team as a Senior Content Writer at Thrive Market.

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