Understanding toxicity: Caffeine ’40 times more toxic’ than glyphosate herbicide


[Editor’s note: Alison Bernstein is a neuroscientist who studies the role of epigenetics and environmental exposures in Parkinson’s disease.]

LD50 (Median Lethal Dose): the experimentally determined single acute dose that kills 50% of a population given that dose

RfD (Reference Dose): an estimate of the daily exposure to humans that is likely to be without appreciable risk of deleterious effects throughout the entire lifetime.

RfDs, not LD50s, are the appropriate comparison for chronic toxicity. Using RfDs, how do caffeine and glyphosate compare? Keeping in mind, the LOWER the number, the HIGHER the toxicity.

This means that caffeine is 40 times more toxic than glyphosate. However, this is only a useful number if we know our typical exposures. The exposure numbers above show that we don’t give a second thought to consuming caffeine at levels hundreds of times higher than the oral RfD, but are simultaneously worried about exposures to glyphosate that are 100 times lower than the RfD. In discussions of toxicity, we must use the correct data to back up our points to step outside the cycle of misinformation.

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion, and analysis. Read full, original post: Glyphosate Vs. Caffeine: Acute and Chronic Toxicity Assessments Explained

For more background on the Genetic Literacy Project, read GLP on Wikipedia

  • Gary

    This is such a flawed and misleading illustration of research. It demonstrates that wisdom is a far greater attribute than higher education. There isn’t an MSDS on my organic coffee bean package and I have yet to see a person drink even a few drops of roundup or Glyphosate. Further, I haven’t seen a state label my coffee as toxic or causing cancer. The state of CA recently was given the green light by a judge to label Glyphosate with a probable cancer link. Since we and much of the scientific community can argue endlessly on the safety of Glyphosate, it’s in the best interest of an individual to avoid it completely then to trust a self-testing corporation.

    • Thomas Conners

      Um, look up Prop 65 in California, it basically states that if a chemical has a 1 in 100,000 chance of causing cancer in a person who is exposed to it over a period of 70 years, it has to be labeled. Coffeeshops have to post signs about a possibly cancer causing chemical that show up in brewed coffee, Acrylamide, it’s a by-product of cooking things at high temperatures. As of 2016(last known report) the American Cancer Society, and other world health orgs, still don’t seem to have confirmed it one way or the other.

      Using California as an example to carry your argument isn’t great, as you can sue to have just about anything labeled as “Potentially Cancer causing.”

      • Maia

        Acrylamide is not a coffee product, it’s a cooking product. Coffee can be brewed “cold” which bypasses that problem entirely.

        • Thomas Conners

          You realize when you receive coffee it has already been cooked? Unless you’re buying it and cold brewing it green.. Average roasting temperatures far exceed the required 248 degrees F. It should also be noted that Acrylamide doesn’t appear in foods that have been boiled. It’s formation is believed to be a result of the maillard reaction.

          • Maia

            Very low temp and short time roasting does not appear to create acrylamide. But you know trying to make people afraid of EVEYTHING does not win friends for your “we love glyphosate” campaign.

    • Bruce Norbeck

      “Further, I haven’t seen a state label my coffee as toxic or causing cancer.”

      & after reading the article …. NOW YOU KNOW WHY YOU HAVEN’T SEEN THAT HAPPEN.

      FFS. Please stop posting, if you’re going to be this freekin’ dense.

  • Nick Macaluso

    This article does not address what symptoms are present from exposure beyond the RfD. It could be argued that most people purposefully “expose” themselves to get the symptoms that caffeine produce. “Deleterious effects” of caffeine must further be defined…

  • Maia

    I’ll keep on with my cold brewed organic coffee, thanks.
    NO THANKS to any glyphosate whatsoever.