Glyphosate and AMPA

Glyphosate is a non-selective systemic herbicide developed in the 1970s to target and eradicate all plant types, including grasses, perennials and woody plants. The sodium salt form is used to regulate plant growth and help ripen some crops. A strong enough dose will kill the entire plant - for potato farmers this can affect both main crops and subsequent crops.

Sophisticated analytical technique

RPS laboratories can test potatoes for both glyphosate and AMPA together. The presence of AMPA is indicative that glyphosate has been used, even if it's no longer detectable. Using highly sensitive analytical instruments, we analyse for glyphosate and AMPA down to 10ug/kg (10 parts per billion).

We've developed a sophisticated analytical technique that can detect glyphosate in pulses, grains and cereals to 10µg/kg (10 times lower than the current EU MRL). This method is UKAS accredited.

Glyphosate

Glyphosate is used worldwide, accounting for over half of all non-selective herbicide sales. Glyphosate is highly adsorbent, especially by acidic soils and those with a high organic content. Because glyphosate is so tightly bound to soil, little is transferred by rain or irrigation - one estimate showed less than two percent of the applied chemical is lost to runoff. The herbicide can however move when attached to soil particles in erosion run-off. Photodecomposition plays only a minor role in environmental breakdown and therefore glyphosate is not  readily destroyed by light.

Once exposed to glyphosate, a plant will convert the glyphosate to the non-herbicidal chemical AMPA. As a result of using it as a foliar desiccant in potato crops, glyphosate is passed from mother to daughter tubers, thus contaminating seed crops - which is often not  realised until the subsequent crop fails.

The MRL for glyphosate in lentils in the USA is 5mg/kg, and in Canada it is 4mg/kg. In Europe it is 0.1mg/ kg. Thus, lentils are considered safe for consumption in the USA and Canada, but deemed unsafe in Europe. Lentil growers and shippers are sponsoring a request to the EU to raise the MRL to 10mg/kg, however, until such time as this is agreed, shipments of US and Canadian lentils into Europe will have to conform to the current 0.1mg/kg MRL.

Pulses are broadly classified as dried beans and peas, chickpeas and lentils. Cereals commonly include maize, rice, wheat and barley. The Maximum residue limits (MRLs) for pesticides used in growing and storing pulses and cereals vary between product types and also from country to country. 

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