Honeybee and consumer's exposure and risk characterisation to glyphosate-based herbicide (GBH) and its degradation product (AMPA): Residues in beebread, wax, and honey.


Research Unit of Epidemiology and Risk Analysis Applied to Veterinary Sciences (UREAR-ULiège), Fundamental and Applied Research for Animal and Health (FARAH) Center, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Liège, Quartier Vallée 2, Avenue de Cureghem 7A, B42, 4000 Liège (Sart-Tilman), Belgium. Electronic address: [Email]


In order to assess bee and human exposure to residues of glyphosate-based herbicide (GBH) and its main degradation products aminomethylphosphonic acid (AMPA) and to characterise the risk posed by these substances, we analysed 3 different bee matrices; beebread (N = 81), wax (N = 100) and 10-paired samples of wax/honey collected in 2016/2017 from 379 Belgian apiaries. A high-performance liquid chromatography-electrospray ionisation tandem mass spectrometry (HPLC-ESI-MS-MS) was used as analytical method. Limit of quantification and detection (LOQ and LOD) for GBH residues and AMPA in the 3 matrices was respectively of 10 ng g-1 and 1 ng g-1. In beebread, 81.5% of the samples showed a residue concentration > LOQ and 9.9% of the samples a residue concentration < LOQ (detection without quantification); no significant difference in detection rate was found between the north and the south of the country. Glyphosate was detected in beeswax less frequently than in beebread (i.e. 26% >LOQ versus 81.5% >LOQ). The maximum GBH residues and AMPA concentration found in beebread (respectively 700 ng g-1 and 250 ng g-1) led to sub-lethal exposure to bees. The Hazard Quotient (HQ) for beebread and beeswax (7 and 3.2, respectively) were far below the "safety" oral and contact thresholds for bees. For human health, the highest exposure to GBH residues in pollen corresponded to 0.312% and 0.187% of the ADI and of the ARfD respectively and, to 0.002% and to 0.001% for beeswax. No transfer of glyphosate from wax to honey was detected. Considering our results and the available regulatory data on the glyphosate molecule considered solely, not including the adjuvants in GBH formulation, the consumption of these three contaminated matrices would not be a food safety issue. Nonetheless, caution should be taken in the interpretation of the results as new studies indicate possible glyphosate/GBH residues toxicity below regulatory limits and at chronic sub-lethal doses.


Aminomethylphosphonic acid,Apis mellifera,Hazard quotient,Herbicide,Toxicity,glyphosate-based herbicide (GBH),

OUR Recent Articles