While that is a slight exaggeration - unless smeared on at least 2 cm thick, hummus isn't likely to kill many weeds, but what isn't an exaggeration and isn't funny, is that the concentration levels of glyphosate in non-organic hummus are almost certainly higher than you would like. Which is not to say that any level of glyphosate in food is ok.
Glyphosate is creeping further and further into our food chain at pretty much the same rate as the number of lawsuits faced by the chemical owner, Bayer. Monsanto sold Roundup to Bayer last year along with 9,000 lawsuits in the USA alone - most from mostly former gardeners and agricultural workers who doused themselves in the stuff on a daily basis and now have cancers like non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
A study by three US universities concluded in September 2019, reported a 41% increased relative risk of developing non-Hodgkin lymphoma in people with particularly high exposures to glyphosate-based herbicides, like those spraying it.
Most people aren't aware that Roundup (glyphosate) is often used in the production of crops, and even when not used there, it is often sprayed on crops like wheat and pulses just before harvest to 'dry' them. It is allowed by law to be sprayed on wheat, canola, chickpeas, faba beans, lentils, mung beans, field peas, adzuki beans, cow peas, lupins, pigeon peas, vetch and soybeans.
EWG recently tested 37 chickpea and chickpea-based products and nearly 90 percent had detectable levels of glyphosate. One-third of the 27 non-organic hummus samples exceeded EWG’s health-based benchmark (160 parts per billion, or ppb) for daily consumption, based on a 60-gram serving of hummus (about four tablespoons). The hummus product with the highest level of glyphosate had more than 2,000 ppb - nearly 15 times as much glyphosate as EWG’s benchmark. One of two tests from a sample of conventional dry chickpeas exceeded even the Environmental Protection Agency’s too-permissive legal standard.
Most contained glyphosate, but at much lower levels than their non-organic counterparts. All but two were below EWG scientists’ health-based benchmark, although one dry chickpea sample had the highest average level of all samples. Glyphosate use is not permitted on organic crops, so these samples may have been contaminated by the chemical drifting from nearby conventional crop fields, where it was likely sprayed as a pre-harvest drying agent.
The ABC's Four Corners aired a program in late 2018 on the corporate tactics of chemical company Monsanto and raised questions over whether Monsanto interfered or attempted to interfere with the regulator in the United States, the Environmental Protection Authority. At the time, the Shadow Minister for Agriculture Joel Fitzgibbon said the program raised issues around the APVMA, which is primarily funded by the chemical companies it regulates.
In the end, you can spend hours going around in chemical circles following the murky trail of regulation, funding, lawsuits and people dying. You don't have to be a scientist or a chemical regulator to be fairly certain that where there is big money at stake and also people dying, that there is a problem.
In the end, if you want to save yourself a pile of time, argument and tension, simply buy organic chickpeas and chickpea products where you can and completely avoid imported products, where you don't know the country laws and practices.
Common chickpea products are hummus, falafels, a whole range of chickpea chips, biscuits, puffs, breads and fries. Chickpeas are sometimes referred to by their American name, Garbanzo beans.
Images: Unsplash | Anastasiia Rozumna / Nicholas Barbaros / Markus Winkler / Anton Illep