Arsenic in Wine? Michelob Moves to Organic? Why the Alcohol Industry Is Making Changes - Moms Across America

Arsenic in Wine? Michelob Moves to Organic? Why the Alcohol Industry Is Making Changes

New Test Results Show What Popular Beer and Wine Brands Have in Common:

Monsanto’s Roundup



Screen_Shot_2018-03-14_at_2.54.47_PM.pngMarch 15, 2018 , Mission Viejo Ca- It has been a rough few years for the alcohol industry, but change is a-brewing. In 2015, Los Angeles CBS news broke the announcement of a lawsuit against 31 brands of wines for high levels of inorganic arsenic. In 2016, 12 California wines tested were all found to be positive for glyphosate herbicide.  In 2016, beer testing in Germany also revealed residues of glyphosate in every single sample tested, even independent beers. Vinters and brewers alike began noticing the growing demand for organic. Just this week, Anheuser-Busch announced that their brand Michelob has launched a new beer Ultra Pure Gold made with organic wheat. What do these events all have in common?

Monsanto’s Roundup. Screen_Shot_2018-02-27_at_7.07.21_PM.png


How are they connected? If you remember, French scientist Seralini et al released shocking findings in January of 2018 that all the brands of the glyphosate-based Roundup they tested, over a dozen, had high levels of arsenic, over 5x the allowable limit. Roundup used in vineyards and sprayed on grains used in beer as a drying agent is appearing to be one of the major contributing factors of arsenic (and of course, glyphosate) residues in our wine and beer.

Today Moms Across America is releasing new findings of glyphosate in all of the most popular brands of wines in the world, most of which are from the US, and in batch test results in American beer. The findings were at first, confusing. But one thing that was clear was that the beer and wine industries must and in many cases are, moving away from Monsanto’s Roundup in order to avoid contamination by this chemical herbicide, a known neurotoxin, carcinogen, and endocrine disruptor, which causes liver disease. Despite Monsanto’s impassioned appeal of “irreparable harm”, CA federal Judge Shubb allowed glyphosate to remain on the CA Prop 65 carcinogen list in a ruling out just two weeks ago.

So which brands tested positive for glyphosate?

Full lab report can be found here.

Summary of results below:


Brands - Listed in order of popularity.

Type of Wine Chosen by MAA.

Effective Glyphosate Level (ng/ml) PPB Glyphosate + AMPA


Beringer/ California/Chardonnay



Beringer / California/Chardonnay



*Hardy's Whiskers Blake / Australia/Classic Tawny



Hardy's Whiskers Blake / Australia/Classic Tawny



Sutter Home / California/ Chardonnay



Sutter Home / California/ Chardonnay



Yellow tail /Australia/Shiraz



Yellow tail /Australia/Shiraz



Robert Mondavi/ California / Private Selection Merlot



Robert Mondavi/ California / Private Selection Merlot



Gallo Family Vineyard/California/ Pink Moscato wine



Gallo Family Vineyard/California/ Pink Moscato wine



*Concha y Toro / Chile/ Casillero del Diablo/ Cabernet Sauvignon



Concha y Toro / Chile/ Casillero del Diablo/ Cabernet Sauvignon



Barefoot/California/ Moscato



Barefoot/California/ Moscato



Mendoza/Argentina/ Santa Julia Orgánica Malbec



Bonterra /California /  Sauvignon Blanc/ made with organic grapes



*Note: #2 in world popularity is actually Great Wall/China and #7 was Changyu/China however these wines were unable to be sourced in the USA at the time of testing.


Although 12 California wines were previously tested and found to be positive for glyphosate in 2016, the methodology was criticized to be possibly inaccurate and the brand names were not revealed to Moms Across America or the public. Moms Across America followed up by sending the world’s top 8 most popular conventional wines plus two brands of popular organic wines to be tested with the more widely accepted “Gold Standard” testing - HPLC mass spectronomy testing. The results confirmed similar findings to the previous testing conducted with Elisa methodology testing. Two samples from different lots were tested of the same type of wine resulting in levels between .038 ppb to 23.30 ppb of glyphosate in all of the 10 wines. The brands tested and their highest detectable levels were: Beringer - 9.45 ppb, Hardy’s Whiskers Blake,- 4.33 ppb, Sutter Home - 15.80 ppb, Yellow Tail - 10.24 ppb, Robert Mondavi - 4.87 ppb, Gallo Family Vineyard - 23.30 ppb, Conch y Toro - 16.56 ppb, Barefoot - 18.68 ppb, Mendoza (organic) - 3.42 ppb, Bonterra (organic) - .38 ppb.

Many of these brands are on the list of the lawsuit for containing arsenic. It should be noted that only two bottles were tested in the MAA project, and not all of the wines of these brands may be contaminated.

Screen_Shot_2018-03-14_at_3.40.15_PM.pngThe practice of spraying glyphosate-based herbicides between the rows for weed control while the vines are dormant, according to plant pathologist Don Huber PhD., is causing an uptake of glyphosate into the plant, grapes, and present in the wine. The higher than the national average rates of breast cancer in the California wine region show even more reason for considerable concern. Also worrisome is the contamination of organic wine. Organic grape growers do not use glyphosate herbicides but are apparently being affected by either rain, irrigation water or drift, by neighboring vineyards or farms that use glyphosate.

Many grape growers do not use glyphosate herbicides, however. “I haven’t used RoundUp since 1977,” said Phil Coturri, the Sonoma vineyard* manager who was recognized by the Golden Gate Salmon Association for his environmentally-sound viticulture. “You can’t constantly use a product and think that it’s not going to have an effect. Glyphosate is something that’s made to kill.”

Phil LaRocca of LaRocca Vineyards**, who farms organically and has shown a non-detectable level of glyphosate in his wine, has stated, “Grape growers have admitted to me that they use Roundup for cosmetic reasons. It’s not necessary.”

A French study revealed in February of 2018 that the majority of the subjects could taste pesticides and preferred organic wines. Many vineyards are seeing the benefit to making the shift. According to author Pam Strayer of Viewpoint - Wines &Vines:

Screen_Shot_2018-03-14_at_3.45.19_PM.png“Imported organic wines already are making their mark with American consumers. In 2016, organic wine grew 11% by volume; imported organic wines grew 14%, double that of American organic producers at 7%. Foreign organic wine revenues grew more than domestic organic in revenue, generating 14% growth in dollars (versus 9% for domestic).

Stray points out that in comparison, however, Europe is dominating the market of organic wines.

“Spain produces 27% of organically grown wine (versus 14% of the world’s wine overall); France makes 22% (versus 17% overall), and Italy makes 22% (versus 16% overall), according to Agence Bio 2014 and Wine Institute stats. In comparison, the United States makes less than 2% of organic-labeled wine (versus 11% overall).”

If American vineyards see the demand for organic wine and continue the shift to organic, they may gain ground in this booming marketplace and will give many consumers something to celebrate.

Beer brands appear to be listening to American consumers. The beer testing we commissioned; batch testing in large groups yielded surprising results.

Large Conventional beer brands:  Anheuser Busch Busch Light, Coors Light The Silver Bullet Beer, Anheuser Busch Busch Light, Anheuser Busch Natural Ice Lager, Anheuser Busch - Bud Light Platinum beer, Budweiser 'America E Pluribus Unum' beer, Budweiser Bud Light Lager Beer, Anheuser Busch Busch Light, Anheuser Busch  Busch Beer, Anheuser Busch Bud Lite Lime, Coors Brewing Co. Banquet Beer, Anheuser Busch Natural Light Beer, Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer, Coors Brewing Co. Keystone Light Beer, Michelob Ultra Light Beer, Miller Brewing Co. Limited Edition Lite, Miller Brewing Co. High Life, Blue Moon Brewing Co. Belgian White and Belgian-Style Wheat Ale, Leinenkugel's Summer Shandy Weiss Beer.

Independent- Samuel Adams Octoberfest Hearty & Smooth Marzen, Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. Pale Ale Handcrafted Ale, Yuengling Traditional Lager Original Amber Beer.

USDA Organic- Samuel Smith USDA Organic Pale Ale, Eel River Brewing Co. Porter,

Bison Brewing Organic Honey Basil Beer, Green Fog USDA Organic India Pale Ale, Peak Organic Brewing Company USDA Organic India Pale Ale.


Tests by Health Research Institute Laboratories in Iowa.

What do these results mean? The tests indicate that independent beer and organic beers have higher levels of glyphosate than conventional beer. It was presumed that the glyphosate levels in conventional beer companies would be higher than independent or organic beers, but inquiries into the big beer company manufacturing process reveals a possible explanation. Conventional companies tend to use cheaper ingredients which include rice, instead of barley, oats, rye, and wheat. Hulled white rice is expected to have far lower levels of glyphosate residues than whole barley, oats, and malt which have been sprayed with glyphosate as a drying agent just before harvest.

Screen_Shot_2018-03-14_at_3.42.51_PM.pngIndependent and organic beer companies tend to use more expensive ingredients such as barley, oats, rye, and wheat, but these ingredients, because of the practice of spraying glyphosate as a drying agent, which does not wash off, can have much higher levels of glyphosate herbicide residues.

Moms Across America Executive Director Zen Honeycutt states, “Beverages contaminated with a neurotoxic carcinogen, and now we know arsenic too, are contributing to the skyrocketing rates of mental illness, fertility issues, and cancer in America. If manufacturers want to protect the integrity of their brands and support healthy Americans, now is the time to demand that the EPA revokes the license of glyphosate.”

Beer manufacturers are aware of the widespread contamination of glyphosate and are making changes. Michelob, as mentioned earlier, introducing a product made with organic wheat, shows their understanding of the concerns of their consumers.

The Brewers Association, which certifies small independent and craft beers, gave this statement regarding the results, "Brewers do not want glyphosate used on barley or any brewing raw material, and the barley grower organizations have also come out strongly against glyphosate. It is clear that the malting and brewing industries are aligned in their opposition to the use of glyphosate on malting barley. Also, note that products containing glyphosate are not labeled for use on malting barley in the U.S. and as such is prohibited. Our supply chain specialist, Chris Swersey, is well versed in agricultural science, chemistry and strives to keep glyphosate or GMOs out of barley breeding and growing best practices. If there is glyphosate showing up in trace amounts in any beer samples, it is almost certainly coming from use on previous crops grown on the same piece of land." Glyphosate has been shown to remain in the soil for many years, but hope is not lost, new studies also show that removing the herbicides from the soil with mushroom remediation, is possible.

Although glyphosate herbicide proponents will claim that these levels are far below the EPA standards, implying these levels are safe, the EPA allowable residue levels simply are insufficient and do not take into account important studies.

Recent research shows that glyphosate bioaccumulates, therefore any level of glyphosate in our food or drink is of great concern. An alarming study by Thongprakaisang revealed that 1 part per trillion (ppt) has been shown to stimulate the growth of breast cancer. 1 ppt is equivalent to one drop in 20 Olympic sized swimming pools. Other studies reveal that, at very low levels, glyphosate is a neurotoxin, causes birth defects, damage to testes, and increases rates of non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Over 1000 plaintiffs have filed lawsuits against Monsanto, a leading manufacturer of glyphosate.

Screen_Shot_2018-03-14_at_3.48.03_PM.pngThe fact is that we now have evidence to show that around the world, consumers should expect that almost all of their alcoholic drinks, and according to previous testing, orange juice, wheat-based foods, oats, beans, peas, tea, honey, eggs and more will be contaminated with glyphosate herbicides. Glyphosate has been found not only in the majority of foods tested, but in tap water, streams, soil, and rain. It cannot co-exist with organic crops, as studies show that herbicides and pesticides travel for thousands of miles in rain clouds.

This widespread contamination of glyphosate herbicides is impacting not only business decisions, but our population’s health as well.  In America 1 out of 2 males and 1 out of 3 females are expected to get cancer, 1 out of 5 have mental illness, many struggle with infertility, sterility and infant death and our health care costs are crippling. Just this week, a new study revealed that maternal exposure to glyphosate showed significantly higher rates of shortened gestation. Prematurely born babies are at significant risk of infant death. In America, according to the Save the Children report of 2013,  the US has 50% more infant deaths on day one of life than all of the other developed countries combined. Could this be due to the widespread use and contamination of Roundup? Studies point to yes. If American policymakers want to protect current and future generations, and lower the health care costs, eliminating the use of glyphosate herbicides would be a logical step to take.

The EPA is currently accepting comments on the re-registration or denial of the license for glyphosate for another 15 years until April 30, 2018.

*,** Note: The author has not tasted the wine of, nor has MAA been sponsored to mention these vineyards.

Correction: The first two sentences of this article have been corrected to reflect the correct date of release of the news.

Showing 7 reactions

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  • Organic Institute
    @organicinst tweeted link to this page. 2019-02-28 16:01:58 -0500
  • Jennifer Passavant
    commented 2018-06-10 11:30:10 -0400
    The use of copper sulfate as a natural pesticide on organic wines and produce also needs to end as it is a toxic heavy metal and also has major health concerns.
  • pam strayer
    commented 2018-03-29 17:29:20 -0400
    I wish you would also post the REAL danger – which is in the grain based products. They have 1,000 times more glyphosate than an organically grown wines.

    It’s impossible, given that glyphosate is in the air and water, for most organic vintners to go below 1 ppb.

    It’s more responsible to put the risk in context. People should still enjoy wine. They should buy organically grown wines, because obviously they have a LOT less glyphosate since they are NOT allowed to use it.

    But if it’s in the rain and the water, we can’t expect producers to have zero. These limits of detection are very, very low. Labs in California can’t even detect below 5 ppb, for instance.

    Meanwhile Cheerios has 1,125 ppb. Let’s put the risks in context.
  • Robert Angelino
    commented 2018-03-28 13:44:10 -0400
    We were Warned when flocks of birds fell from the sky but the FDA leader the former president of Monsanto lead the flock to tell the Public everything was alright including his bank account. then the courts stepped in and backed Monsanto when their products cross pollinated a farmers crop and he was found guilty and had to pay Monsanto? Take every cent of their profit to pay for the health problems they caused and every cent of their investment also and for god’s sake stop this new GMO Fruit they are trying to release they have already shown they have no proper safety rules in place and they have also shown that they caused the Bee colony problems but they walk without punishment? Government before you have no one left to govern stop these Greedy Cretins.
  • Jon Abrahamson
    commented 2018-03-27 23:50:18 -0400
    Jon and Zen,
    The test strips for glyphosate are the ABRAXIS serological test. They have one for both glyphosate and AMPA, the first degradation product. The reason they were backlogged is that desiccation of the barley with glyphosate for harvest greatly increases the amount of glyphosate in the malt barley grain (the only active physiological ‘sink’ for this systemic chemical to accumulate in). The levels of glyphosate were high enough that glyphosate’s antibiotic activity killed the yeast fermenting the grain for brewing so they were having to test every load brought in for processing. That was three moves back for me so I don’t know the reference, but Howard Viewer probably does if you need one.
  • Joel Sagucom
    commented 2018-03-27 16:27:41 -0400
    I think not only glyphosate but all other pesticide knowned to be a biocide need to be denied a licence.
  • Jon Abrahamson
    commented 2018-03-16 03:42:08 -0400
    I remember Dr. Huber saying something about how toxic the hops were, and killing the yeast in beer.

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