Glyphosate and AMPA

Glyphosate is a non-selective systemic herbicide developed in the 1970s and is effective in killing all  plant types, including grasses, perennials and woody plants. It is absorbed through the plants leaves and  soft stalk tissue and is transported to all parts of the plant. If the dose is strong enough the plant will  die over a period of 5-15 days, and as the herbicide is transported throughout the plant, no part will  survive. For potato farmers this can affect both main crops and subsequent seed crops.

Sophisticated analytical technique

RPS’ laboratory can test potatoes for both glyphosate and AMPA together.The presence of AMPA is indicative that  glyphosate has been used, even if glyphosate is no longer detected. Using highly sensitive analytical instrumentations,  RPS can analyse for glyphosate and AMPA down to 10ug/kg (10 parts per billion).

RPS’ have developed a sophisticated analytical technique that can detect glyphosate in pulses, grains and cereals down  to 10µg/kg (10 times lower than the current EU MRL).This method is UKAS accredited. In addition to glyphosate, the  method also detects AMPA, which is the principal metabolite of glyphosate in both plants and the environment.

Glyphosate

Glyphosate is used worldwide, accounting for over half of all  nonselective herbicide sales. Glyphosate is highly adsorbed on  most soils especially acidic soils and those with high organic  contact.The compound is so strongly attracted to the soil that  little is expected to leach from the applied area. Because  glyphosate is so tightly bound to the soil, little is transferred by  rain or irrigation water. 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 attempt to withstand  the attack by converting the glyphosate to the non-herbicidal  chemical AMPA. As a result of using glyphosate as a foliar  desiccant in potato crops, glyphosate can be passed from  mother to daughter tubers, thus contaminating seed crops.The fact that a seed potato is contaminated 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  considered perfectly safe for consumption in the USA and  Canada are deemed unsafe in Europe. Whilst lentil growers  and shippers are sponsoring a request to the EU to raise the  MRL to 10mg/kg, 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.

The pulses are broadly classified as containing dried beans, dried  peas, chickpeas and lentils. Cereals commonly include maize, rice,  wheat and barley. Maximum residue limits (MRLs) exist for  pesticides used in growing and the storing of pulses and cereals.  These limits vary between product types and also from country  to country.Therefore what is deemed safe for consumption in  one country may be regarded as unsafe in another.

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