Active Ingredient in Weedkiller Found in 19 of 20 Top Beer and Wine Brands, Study Says

February 28, 2019 Updated: March 1, 2019

Some of America’s most popular beer and wine contain glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, according to a new report by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (U.S. PIRG).

In a report titled Glyphosate pesticide in beer and wine, U.S. PIRG tested 20 samples of beer, wine and hard cider, including several organic brands. The report found that all but one contained the potentially harmful chemical glyphosate.

Monsanto Co’s Roundup is shown for sale in Encinitas, California, U.S., June 26, 2017. (Reuters/Mike Blake)

The report was issued as a federal court in San Francisco begins hearing arguments over whether Monsanto’s Roundup weed killer causes cancer.

“When you’re having a beer or a glass of wine, the last thing you want to think about is that it includes a potentially dangerous pesticide,” U.S. PIRG Education Fund’s Sara Cooks, the author of the report told USA TODAY. “We found that it is incredibly difficult to avoid the troubling reality that consumers will likely drink glyphosate at every happy hour and backyard barbecue around the country.”

(Illustration by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

A total of 5 wines, 13 beers and 2 hard ciders were examined. The wine brands tested were Barefoot, Beringer, Frey (organic), Inkarri Estates (organic), and Sutter Home. The beer brands were Budweiser, Coors, Corona, Guinness, Heineken, Miller, Peak (organic), Sam Adams, Samuel Smith (organic), Sierra Nevada, Stella Artois, Tsingtao, and New Belgium. Ace Perry Hard Cider and Stella Artois Cidre was also tested.

The report found it particularly concerning that glyphosate was discovered in 3 out of 4 organic alcoholic beverages tested, despite the fact that weed killer products like Roundup has long been prohibited in the making of organic beer and wine.

(OlegDoroshin/Shutterstock)

The amount of glyphosate discovered in the samples ranged as high as 51 parts per billion (ppb) in Sutter Home wine and more than 25 ppb in non-organic beers from Budweiser, Coors, Corona, Miller and Tsingtao. The organic drinks were found to have totals as high as 5.2 ppb.

While these numbers are below the EPA’s risk tolerances for beverages, at least one previous scientific study found that as little as one ppb of glyphosate can stimulate the growth of breast cancer cells and disrupt the endocrine system.

With the findings indicating glyphosate contamination is common in some of the most popular beers and wine, the report recommended that the EPA should “reconsider the safety of glyphosate due to increasing scientific evidence showing that glyphosate is a probable human carcinogen” and “ban the use of glyphosate unless and until it can be proven safe.”

“With a federal court looking at the connection between Roundup and cancer today, we believe this is the perfect time to shine a spotlight on glyphosate,” Cook-Schultz said. “This chemical could prove a true risk to so many Americans’ health, and they should know that it is everywhere—including in many of their favorite drinks.”

Here are the testing results, listed from highest to lowest levels of the pesticide:

Wines:

  • Sutter Home Merlot (2018), US vineyard, 4-pack, 187-ml bottles, 51.4 ppb
  • Beringer’s Founders’ Estate Moscato (2018), US vineyard, 750-ml bottles, 42.6 ppb
  • Barefoot Cabernet Sauvignon (2018), US vineyard, 4-pack, 187-ml bottles, 36.3 ppb
  • Inkarri Malbec: Certified Organic (2016), Argentina, 750-ml bottles, 5.3 ppb
  • Frey Organic Natural (2017), US vineyard, 750-ml bottles, 4.8 ppb

Beers & Hard Ciders:

  • Tsingtao Beer (2017), Chinese beer, 4-pack, 640-ml (21.6-oz) bottles, 49.7 ppb
  • Coors Light (2018), US beer, 6-pack, 500-ml (16.9-oz) cans, 31.1 ppb
  • Miller Lite (2018), US beer, 6-pack, 375-ml (12.7-oz) bottles, 29.8 ppb
  • Budweiser (2018), US beer, 6-pack, 440-ml (14.88-oz) bottles, 27 ppb.
  • Corona Extra (2017), Mexican beer, 6-pack, 355-ml (12-oz) bottles, 25.1 ppb
  • Heineken (2018), Dutch beer, 6-pack, 355-ml (12-oz) bottles, 20.9 ppb
  • Guinness Draught (2018), Irish beer, 4-pack, 440-ml (14.88-oz) bottles, 20.3 ppb
  • Stella Artois (2017), Belgian beer, 6-pack, 355-ml (12-oz) bottles, 18.7 ppb
  • Ace Perry Hard Cider (2018), US cider, 6-pack, 650-ml (22-oz) bottles, 14.5 ppb
  • Sierra Nevada Pale Ale (2018), US beer, 6-pack, 350-ml (11.83-oz) cans, 11.8 ppb
  • New Belgium Fat Tire Amber Ale (2018), US beer, 6-pack, 350-ml (11.83-oz) bottles, 11.2 ppb
  • Sam Adams New England IPA (2018), US beer, 4-pack, 475-ml (16-oz) cans, 11 ppb
  • Stella Artois Cidre (2018), Belgian cider, 6-pack, 355-ml (12-oz) bottles, 9.1 ppb
  • Samuel Smith’s Organic Lager (2017), UK beer, 550-ml (18.6-oz) bottle, 5.7 ppb
  • Peak Organic IPA (2018), US beer, 350-ml (11.83-oz) bottle, no detected level
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