U.S. Breast Milk: Glyphosate-free

10 Aug

Earlier this year I googled pregnancy and pesticides.  Honestly I was curious to see if any other farming ladies had any advice on what and when to stay away from pesticides, what their thoughts were on driving a sprayer, mixing, using PPE (personal protective equipment) and any other ideas I hadn’t thought of.  In the end I came upon some really “out there” opinions.  One of them said that if you live near farming areas you should move, and went on to advise that you should also not live near anyone with a microwave…I quit reading at this point.  There is so much craziness out there about fear of pesticides and exposure it’s very overwhelming.  I ended up not looking any further on Google and enlisted the advice of people who I actually know and used the antique thing called a phone to call them.

After that experience I saw an article hitting my Facebook from Mom’s Across America.  They are a group that, from what I can tell, are out to stop the use of all chemicals in agriculture, and using plenty of fear to get their agenda across.  They had published a study done of a mere 10 women, concluding that yes, glyphosate (main ingredient used in Round-up)  was found in women’s breast milk.  As a mom who did nurse, I saw this article and to be honest, because of the source, took it with a grain of salt.  It was filed away in the back of my brain for a possible blog post in the future.

On July 27th, 2015, Michelle McGuire, a professor and researcher from Washington State University came out with a new study.  One that basically says Mom’s Across America got it wrong, that there was no glyphosate found in the breast milk of mothers in the US.  You can find the article here.  Now there is a lot of scientific talk when you read either conflicting articles, but I’m inclined to believe the findings from WSU for these main reasons.

  1. McGuire points out that the testing done for Moms Across America treated breast milk and water as the same substance.  From what I can read from the testing methods referred to on the Mom’s website, this is correct.  They describe the methods used for breast milk and water as being one in the same.  To me it makes perfect sense that there would and should be a difference in testing methods considering that the formulation itself of those two components are different.  They should then have separate testing methods, methods that were different when McGuire did the research.
  2. The study done first is in regards to only 10 women who were studied.  I couldn’t find out any information on these women or where their tests came from, the website only mentioned that they sent in their samples of urine and breast milk (chain of custody concerns).  I did like however that the study done by WSU used 41 women to study.  I would think that looking at more samples you would get a closer and more accurate picture of what is really going on.
  3. The women that were used in the study for WSU all live in an agricultural area (presumably the highest at risk for glyphosate to be found in them).  Also there was a good mix of those who had used glyphosate in farming, those who ate organic, those who lived on a farm, those who didn’t, etc.  Still there was no sign of glyphosate in their breast milk.

I’m glad that WSU and McGuire took the time to really look into this issue and come up with some more things to think about when it comes to whose study we believe in what has become a war almost of science vs. science.  Sometimes you have to take a step back and see what these studies are really saying, the subjects they use, the methods they use and draw your own opinions from there.  I’m sure that the battle back and forth of funding and who is friends with who along with the inevitable “Monsanto” overreach will be talked about in conjunction with these findings.  But as a walking example of a healthy person who has had plenty of exposure to glyphosate, because I’m a farmer and we use it on our farm for many different reasons, I can tell you that I feel plenty safe around all of these products, and I felt plenty safe nursing my baby too.

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