German scientists have developed a “quick and simple” way to test food and water for glyphosate residues. The researchers from Leipzig University wanted to develop a method of testing that was easier than the costly laboratory methods currently used. So they developed a method that uses the natural reaction of glyphosate in plants, making it highly specific, as well as quick and simple.
The university is currently seeking a patent for the detection method, and is courting companies to take it to the market. The method’s scientific basis will be published in the October 2020 edition of Biosensors and Bioelectronics.
Why do we need this? The answer is: we don’t.
Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Round-Up, has long been a boogeyman for activists. It’s association with genetically modified crops (the first GMOs were resistant to the herbicide) made it a convenient target for those with an agenda against biotechnology. And so they’ve spent years convincing the general public that glyphosate is dangerous.
And to a large extent they succeeded. The first major win was IARC’s–highly questionable–designation of glyphosate as a probable carcinogen. Despite numerous scientific bodies around the world disputing that decision, the designation launched thousands of lawsuits against Monsanto, Round-Up’s original manufacturer. No doubt we’ve all seen advertisements on television and online recruiting new plaintiffs to file suit.
The anti-glyphosate campaigns didn’t end there. There are regularly “reports” from groups like the Environmental Working Group warning consumers about the presence of glyphosate in their food (and asking for a donation). From coffee creamers to breast milk, there’s always another headline.
Of course, what those reports and headlines don’t tell us is that there’s nothing to be worried about. Glyphosate is harmless to humans. More importantly, any glyphosate residue found in foods is so small it’s insignificant. The boogeyman has no teeth!
But soon we’ll have a simple and quick method of testing everything under the sun for glyphosate residue. The results will be meaningless. The harm will be fake. Yet I’m confident there are companies and activist groups prepared to cash in.
So congratulations to the scientists who developed this test. Unfortunately, your time and research has been wasted on something that won’t do anything to improve the lives of millions of people. In fact, it will likely do the opposite.