The Strategist

A Potentially Dangerous Pesticide Found in German Beer

02/25/2016 - 14:17

Munich Environmental Institute tested 14 popular brands of beer in Germany and found a pesticide glyphosate in all of them. According to the institute, it can be dangerous to human health, since glyphosate refers to "probably carcinogenic to humans" according to the WHO classification of substances. Other experts believe that the risk is exaggerated, since glyphosate’s content in the beer is too small.

On Thursday, Munich Environmental Institute published a study according to which many popular varieties of German beer contained the herbicide glyphosate. The Institute has tested 14 popular brands of German beer - Oettinger Pils, Bitburger Pils, Krombacher Pils, Beck`s Pils, Paulaner Weißbier, Veltins Pilsener, Hasseroder Pils, Radeberger Pilsner, Warsteiner Pils, Hasseroder Pils, Radeberger Pilsner, Erdinger Weißbier, Augustiner Helles and Franziskaner Weißbier. The scientists have found residues of the potentially dangerous substance in all the beverages. The content of glyphosate in different beers differs from 0.46 g/l to 29.7 g/l. Thus, according to the Institute, the worst cases exceeds glyphosate allowance (0.1 g/l) 300 times, the best - almost five times. "All kinds of the tested beer contained the pesticide glyphosate. Thus, the Law on beer purity may become a farce in its 500th anniversary since its adoption,"- said the biologist Sofia Guttenberger of the Munich Environmental Institute. The beer purity law was adopted in Bavaria in 1516, and states that only three ingredients can be used in the manufacture of beer – those are water, barley and hops.

Glyphosate is a widely used herbicide, one of its trade names "Roundup" (produced by Monsanto biotechnology company, also known for its genetically modified seeds). According to the Munich institute, glyphosate is the most commonly used pesticide in Germany. The German farmers apply 5,4 thousand tons annually year across the country. According to experts, glyphosate can be dangerous to human health: The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates it as a mutagenic and "probably carcinogenic to humans" substance.

However, not everyone shares the Munich institute’s concerns. For example, the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) does not assume that traces of glyphosate in beer can be a threat to human health. "An adult should drink thousand liters of beer a day to get dangerous dose of glyphosate," - said the BfR.  

Munich Environmental Institute was created in 1986, after the Chernobyl accident. According to the German newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung, Institute can hardly be called "an independent research organization." According to the newspaper, the institution, traditionally speaking, inter alia, against nuclear energy and genetic engineering is "an organization with political interests."


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