Non-GMO does NOT mean free of pesticides

Image removed.Many foods, both for humans and for domestic animals, are marketed as not containing any genetically modified organisms (GMO). The food has met the Standard of the Non-GMO Project.

Most GMO in Canada is Roundup Ready™, i.e. meant to be sprayed with Monsanto's (now Bayer's) Roundup®, whose weed-killing active ingredient is glyphosate, contained now in hundreds of other similar pesticide products.

So if a grain or pulse isn't GMO, it's not sprayed with glyphosate, right?

Not so. In August of 2014 an article in The Western Producer advised, "80 percent mature heads ideal time for pre-harvest glyphosate". It recommended that the wheat farmer sample the heads of the upcoming crop before harvest, and when they are 80% physiologically mature, spray the crop with glyphosate so it will be well dried at harvest. Glyphosate is a desiccant, as well as a herbicide.

Wheat is not a GMO in Canada. Indeed no GMO wheat is grown commercially anywhere, although field trials are being conducted in several countries. Yet wheat is being sprayed with glyphosate prior to harvest. No other grains are GMO either, yet oats, barley and sorghum, to list a few, are often dried using glyphosate prior to harvest. And it's a herbicide, so it's also used to kill weeds in preparation for seeding. So it's in the ground as the plant grows.

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Grains aren't the only crops subjected to this treatment. Lentils, peas, potatoes and sunflowers are some of the many crops weeded with glyphosate prior to sowing, and later dried with this desiccant.

This situation is changing, so any reports on glyphosate amounts used in agriculture will inevitably be soon out of date. Some grain processors are beginning to refuse crops with with pre-harvest glyphosate. Bayer, now the owner of Monsanto which brought glyphosate to market in 1974, is having to make enormous payments to resolve lawsuits claiming damages from the weedkiller. Farmers' decisions regarding its use will obviously be affected by these evolving conditions.

But the bottom line for consumers is whether it shows up in food. And there is ample evidence that it is there. In 2017 CBC reported that nearly a third of food samples in Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) testing contain glyphosate residues, and that levels of herbicide even exceeded acceptable limits in 1.3% of all foods and 3.9% of grains among 3,188 foods tested. Those numbers are on the rise.