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Background: Consumption of an organic diet reduces exposure to a range of agricultural pesticides. Only three studies have examined the effect of an organic diet intervention on exposure to the herbicide glyphosate, the most heavily used agricultural chemical in the world. Despite its widespread use, the primary sources of glyphosate exposure in humans are poorly understood.

Objective: Our objective was to examine the effect of an organic diet intervention on urinary glyphosate concentrations among pregnant individuals.

Methods: We conducted a 2-wk randomized crossover trial in which 39 pregnant participants living near (≤ 0.5 km) or far (> 0.5 km) from agricultural fields received a 1-wk supply of conventional groceries and 1 wk of organic groceries, randomized to order. We collected daily first morning void urine samples and analyzed composite samples from each week for glyphosate. We examined differences in urinary glyphosate concentrations between the conventional week and the organic week among all participants and stratified by residential proximity to an agricultural field.

Results: Median specific gravity–adjusted glyphosate concentrations were 0.19 microgram per liter 0.19 μg/L and 0.16 μg/L during the conventional and organic weeks, respectively. We observed modest decreases in urinary glyphosate concentrations from the conventional to organic week among far-field participants, but no difference among near-field participants. In secondary analyses excluding participants who did not meet a priori criteria of compliance with the intervention, we observed significant decreases in urinary glyphosate concentrations, particularly among far-field participants (p < 0.01–0.02, depending on exclusion criteria).

Discussion: This trial is the first to examine the effect of an organic diet intervention on glyphosate among people living near and far from agricultural fields. Our results suggest that diet is an important contributor to glyphosate exposure in people living > 0.5 km from agricultural fields; for people living near crops, agriculture may be a dominant exposure source during the pesticide spray season.


This publication is a companion of:

Connolly, A. & Koch, H.M. (2023). Invited Perspective: The Continuing Debate—Is Glyphosate a Problem, and Can an Organic Diet Protect Us from Exposures? Environmental Health Perspectives, 131(7), 071304.

Copyright Statement

This document was originally published in Environmental Health Perspectives by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. Copyright restrictions may apply.