Under pressure from health and environmental groups, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reportedly will begin testing food for residues of the herbicide glyphosate, best known under as Monsanto’s Roundup.
This is first time that a government agency will routinely test for glyphosate residue in food. The Government Accountability Office released a report critical of the FDA for failing even to note its failure to test for glyphosate in its annual pesticide residue report, EcoWatch reports.
Glyphosate has been linked to liver and kidney problems, birth defects, and it potentially disrupts the proper functioning of hormones, Environmental Health News reports. In 2015, the World Health Organization (WHO) classified glyphosate as a probable human carcinogen.
Private companies, academic researchers, and consumer groups have recently undertaken testing for glyphosate in food, and there are reports that the herbicide has been detected in breast milk, honey, cereal, wheat flour, soy sauce, infant formula, and other foods, according to Civil Eats.
Dr. Nathan Donley, a scientist with the Center for Biological Diversity, said it is “shocking” that FDA testing for Roundup in food has taken so long, according to EcoWatch. 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 a report published this month in Environmental Health, a group of scientists called for inclusion of glyphosate-based herbicides in toxicology testing programs such as the U.S. National Toxicology Program and for bio monitoring 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 examine 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 recently wrote to Gina McCarthy, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), expressing concern about Enlist Duo, a pesticide that combines glyphosate and 2,4-D. The legislators are concerned about potential negative health and environmental impacts.
Monsanto is currently in a legal battle with California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment’s decision to list glyphosate as a carcinogen under California’s Proposition 65. 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 the decision denied the company 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,” according to Law360.