SOT Spotlight: Q&A with Fian Louie

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What is the title of your presentation?

Determining dietary exposure to glyphosate resulting from recommended U.S. diets.

What was the scope of your research?

Glyphosate residues have been detected in varying concentrations in foods in all major food categories. While the effects of diet or dietary styles on general health and wellness, especially as they relate to different life stages, have been investigated, no studies have determined the glyphosate exposure risk related to following specific dietary styles, in which diet as a whole has been considered rather than the effects of its individual components. The objective of the current study, then, was to systematically evaluate and estimate the total dietary glyphosate intake range associated with dietary styles commonly followed in the U.S., and to determine possible human health risks associated with these exposures. Total dietary glyphosate intake was estimated based on three healthy eating patterns specified for the general population, as prescribed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), including the Healthy US-Style Eating Pattern, the Healthy Mediterranean-Style Eating Pattern, and the Healthy Vegetarian Eating Pattern.

What did you find?

Dietary style has limited influence on glyphosate intake. Dietary exposure to glyphosate is primarily driven by ingesting particular high residue foods. Glyphosate market survey results suggest that glyphosate residue levels are highly variable, particularly in grains and legumes. However, each food group for all diets contained foods with no detectable glyphosate, suggesting that some individuals may have minimal, if any, dietary exposure to glyphosate. The cancer risk from glyphosate exposure from common dietary styles is therefore unlikely to be of concern to the general consumer who consumes a well-balanced diet comprised of a variety of foods.

What are the next steps/what other research is needed?

Our results can inform future research efforts to further assess high residue foods and the wide variability in residue levels. Although this study is specific to adults, further research is also warranted to understand the influence of dietary style on glyphosate ingestion in infants. The recently published 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans from the HHS/USDA provide dietary recommendations for infants from birth to age two, thus expanding the potential for dietary analyses on glyphosate intake in infants.