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Glyphosate and AMPA Screen

Glyphosate and AMPA Screen

The Safe Soil UK Glyphosate and AMPA Screen covers the popular though increasingly controversial herbicide that is used extensively across the United Kingdom. Aminomethylphosphonic acid (AMPA) is the primary degradation product of glyphosate and has a similar chemical structure.


It is applied to the leaves in order to kill both broadleaf plants and grasses. Glyphosate is a non-selective herbicide, meaning it will kill most plants by preventing them from making certain proteins that are necessary for growth. Glyphosate stops the shikimic acid pathway, which is crucial for plants and some micro organisms.


It is worth noting that commercial herbicides containing glyphosate include many other chemicals to make them considerably more toxic. Indeed, a study published in 2017 identified arsenic, chromium, lead and nickel among other constituents in these products. Read the study in full here. The Safe Soil UK Basic Metals Screen includes all of these with our report also including maximum human health thresholds for the heavy metals covered.


Although a handful of councils have banned the use of glyphosate to control weeds, the vast majority still use it on our pavements, road verges and parks. Millions of home gardeners also use products containing glyphosate. And of course it is pervasive in agriculture. According to the Soil Association, 60 percent of wholemeal bread contains traces of glyphosate. Some studies have suggested that it can also wreak havoc among micro organisms in soil and may also impact earthworms. 


Growing unease over possible health risks

In recent years, products containing glyphosate have come under increasing scrutiny as a result of studies linking it with many adverse health effects. 


One United Nations study found that glyphosate was “probably carcinogenic” though the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has said that glyphosate was unlikely to cause cancer in humans.


Nevertheless, in 2019, an American jury found that a glyphosate-based product was a “substantial factor” in causing a man’s cancer. And in 2020, the chemical firm Bayer greed to pay up to $10.9bn (£8.8bn) to settle cancer claims linked to its Roundup weedkiller. The glyphosate-based product has attracted about 125,000 lawsuits over its potentially carcinogenic effects. Roundup was originally launched more than 40 years ago by a company called Monsanto, which was bought by Bayer in 2018. Bayer denies any wrongdoing.


Numerous international agencies, including the European Chemical Agency in addition to Efsa, continue to declare glyphosate as safe, and there are many scientific studies that have found no association with cancer.


But other studies suggest that glyphosate may also affect the body’s endocrine system – giving rise to liver and kidney problems. Its effect on the human gut has also been studied with some suggestion that it may interfere with gut enzymes, something that can cause gastrointestinal disorders, obesity and diabetes. 


According to the US Pesticide Information Centre, pets “may be at risk if they touch or eat plants that are still wet with spray from products containing glyphosate. Animals exposed to products with glyphosate may drool, vomit, have diarrhea, lose their appetite, or seem sleepy.”


How long will glyphosate remain in soil?

Glyphosate is degraded in soil by microbial organisms - bacteria and fungi. The time required for a 50% reduction of glyphosate in soil ranges from several days to a few weeks and depends largely on environmental conditions that influence microbial activity. Its biggest transformation product is aminomethylphosphonic acid (AMPA), which increases as a result of the glyphosate degradation process. Consequently, AMPA residues persist in soil longer than glyphosate itself.


*Pls note that in the absence of firm health guideline thresholds for these products, the results will include whether either product is present and its concentration but cannot state whether this constitutes a risk or indeed how much of one. Also, the lab work for this screen can take as long as 12 working days, though is often much shorter.


    We will send you a testing kit that includes a labeled soil sample amber jar and instructions on how to take a sample from your growing space. When you're done, place the full jar back in the box that will have a pre-paid postage address label already affixed, seal it and pop the package into a Royal Mail post box or drop it off at a local post office.

    Click here to find your nearest post box location.

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