Denmark, the UK and Portugal have the highest detection frequency
A new research study from the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre and two Dutch laboratories shows that 45% of Europe’s topsoil contains glyphosate residues, demonstrating the over-reliance of the EU agricultural model on this harmful herbicide. Contrary to manufacturers’ claims, glyphosate persists in soils, not only affecting soil fertility and crop quality, but also posing risks to human and environmental health.
The research study by the Dutch University of Wageningen and Rikilt laboratories, jointly with the JRC, reveals that among 317 EU soil samples of arable land, 42% contained AMPA, the most toxic metabolite of glyphosate, while glyphosate was found in 21% of the soils; 18% of the samples had both. The study was conducted in six crop systems in 11 EU member states comprising soils under different geographical and climatic conditions.
Denmark, the UK and Portugal are the worst in this spectrum, with the highest detection frequency, while Italy and Greece seem to be the ones using less glyphosate on their crops. However, and most notably, these two molecules could be found in every tested member state. All tested crops presented glyphosate and AMPA residues. By far the worst case was that of Portuguese vineyards.
The results prove that the accumulation and persistence of glyphosate in soil is underestimated by European authorities, as is the harm it may cause to environmental ecosystems. The concentrations of glyphosate and AMPA found in the study have been shown to be toxic to soil organisms such as earthworms, beneficial bacteria, and fungi. Glyphosate has also been found to weaken plants’ natural defences, making them susceptible to pathogens. These substances are adsorbed by soil particles and are not immobile, but can travel through wind or rainfall, leading to air pollution and exposure through the atmosphere as well as contamination of surface and ground waters. The application of fertilisers may also release some of the glyphosate and AMPA bound in particles, making it directly bioavailable for uptake by plants and organisms.
Angeliki Lyssimachou, PAN Europe’s ecotoxicologist said: “This study clearly contradicts the predictions of European authorities that glyphosate does not persist in the environment. In fact European agriculture is highly reliant on a toxic substance that is not even properly regulated in the EU, putting everyone at risk. Policy makers must stop the use of these harmful chemicals in the production of our food. It is more than time to implement all existing non-chemical alternatives to herbicides.”
Henriette Christensen, PAN Europe’s agriculture policy officer added, “Over the last years, a growing body of evidence shows that soil health is one of the main drivers of growing healthy crops that will resist to pest attacks. Glyphosate destroys soil health and leads to more pesticide uses. Our farmers must leave this vicious circle.”
 Silva V, Montanarella L, Jones A, Fernández-Ugalde O, Mol HGJ, Ritsema CJ. 2017. Distribution of glyphosate and aminomethylphosphonic acid (AMPA) in agricultural topsoils of the European Union. Sci Total Environm. Available online 15 October 2017. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0048969717327973
 Glyphosate Task Force, Fate of glyphosate in the environment http://www.glyphosate.eu/environmental-fate-and-behaviour-glyphosate
 Dominguez et al. 2016. Toxicity of AMPA to the earthworm Eisenia andrei Bouché, 1972 in tropical artificial soil. Scientific Reports 6, Article number: 19731. https://www.nature.com/articles/srep19731
 Aristilde et al. 2017. Glyphosate-Induced Specific and Widespread Perturbations in the Metabolome of Soil Pseudomonas Species. Front. Environ. Sci., 20 June. https://doi.org/10.3389/fenvs.2017.00034
 Poirier et al. 2017. Proteomic analysis of the soil filamentous fungus Aspergillus nidulans exposed to a Roundup formulation at a dose causing no macroscopic effect: a functional study. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/28940012/
 Johal and Huber, 2009. Glyphosate effects on diseases of plants. European Journal of Agronomy 31(3):144-152.
 Munira et al, 2016. Phosphate fertilizer impacts on glyphosate sorption by soil. Chemosphere 153:471-7. doi: 10.1016/j.chemosphere.2016.03.028
Source: PAN Europe http://www.pan-europe.info/press-releases/2017/10/press-release-new-study-glyphosate-persists-and-european-top-soils-are