Glyphosate: FDA Plan to Measure Weed Killer Residues on Food
U.S. Food and Drug Administration declared that it plans to start testing for glyphosate residues in soybeans, corn, milk and eggs among other potential foods as concerns about the popular herbicide mount around the world. Though the FDA has responsibility for food safety and for routinely measuring for pesticide residues on certain foods, the agency has not routinely looked for glyphosate in its pesticide chemical residue monitoring regulatory program in the past.
Glyphosate is the chief ingredient in Roundup weed killer, made by Monsanto Co., and is also the active ingredient in hundreds of herbicide products sold around the world. It is the most widely used herbicide globally, and its use has surged in the United States with the spread of genetically engineered crops that have been designed to tolerate being sprayed with glyphosate. But concerns about the chemical’s impact on human health and on the environment have been growing, and in March 2015 the World Health Organization’s cancer experts classified glyphosate as a probable human carcinogen.
“The FDA move is a good first step, but the testing must be thorough and widespread,” said Gary Ruskin, co-director of U.S. Right to Know. “USDA also should get on board.”
The U.S. Department of Agriculture conducts its own annual testing of foods for pesticide residues through a “pesticide data program,” that typically tests for several hundred different pesticides each year. But only once in the history of the 24-year program has the agency conducted tests for glyphosate residues. Those tests, in 2011, were limited to 300 soybean samples and found that 271 of the samples had glyphosate residues.