The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has plans to begin testing food for glyphosate residues. Glyphosate—the major brand is Monsanto’s Roundup—is the world’s most widely used herbicide.
This is first time that a U.S. agency will routinely test for glyphosate residue in food. The Government Accountability Office released a report faulting the FDA for failing even to disclose its failure to test for glyphosate in its annual pesticide residue report.
In 2015, the World Health Organization (WHO) classified glyphosate as a probable human carcinogen. Glyphosate has also been named as a leading cause of massive decline in monarch butterflies, according to the environmental news web site EcoWatch.
Private companies, academic researchers, and consumer groups have recently undertaken their own testing, and there are reports that they have detected glyphosate residues in breast milk, honey, cereal, wheat flour, soy sauce, and infant formula, according to Civil Eats.
Dr. Nathan Donley, a scientist with the Center for Biological Diversity, said of the proposed FDA testing, “It’s shocking that it’s taken so long, but we’re glad it’s finally going to happen.” Donley said, “More and more scientists are raising concerns about the effects of glyphosate on human health and the environment. With about 1.7 billion pounds of this pesticide used each year worldwide, the FDA’s data is badly needed to facilitate long-overdue conversations about how much of this chemical we should tolerate in our food.”
In an article published on February 17, 2016 in Environmental Health, a group of scientists called for inclusion of glyphosate-based herbicides in government-led toxicology testing programs such as the U.S. National Toxicology Program, as well as for bio monitoring as conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The authors pointed to concerns over rapidly increasing use of glyphosate and they urged regulatory agencies to take a fresh look at the real-world impacts of glyphosate and to start monitoring its levels in people and in food. “The alarm bell is ringing loud and clear. The current cavalier use of glyphosate and lax regulation, cannot remain in place,” Donley said. “It’s long past time to start reining in the out-of-control use of this dangerous pesticide in the United States and around the world,” EcoWatch reports.
Thirty-five members of the U.S. House of Representatives sent a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy expressing concerns about the potential negative health and environmental impacts of a pesticide, Enlist Duo, which combines glyphosate and 2,4-D. The EPA is currently reanalyzing its decision to register the dangerous pesticide following a remand order from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.
Monsanto is engaged in a legal battle with the state of California over the state’s move to list glyphosate as a carcinogen under its Proposition 65 law. Under Prop. 65, businesses must post a warning when their operations or products will expose people to any of the chemicals on the list. Monsanto claims it was denied due process and that the California environmental body “elevated the determination of an ad hoc committee of an unelected, foreign body, which answers to no United States official (let alone any California state official), over the conclusions of its own scientific experts,” Law360 reports.