By Anna Low-Beer, U.S. PIRG
Coming on the heels of newly released emails showing Monsanto pressured Environmental Protection Agency officials to declare glyphosate is not a carcinogen, the USDA’s testing of glyphosate residues in food has coincidentally been put on hold. The USDA had announced last year that it would begin testing food for glyphosate starting in April 2017. Now that the time has come, the agency has changed its tune.
When the USDA previously tested food for glyphosate in 2011, over 90 percent of crops tested contained glyphosate. This is concerning, yet the agency has claimed that because glyphosate is so safe, testing would be a waste of time. This argument echoes Monsanto’s claim that testing for glyphosate residues in food would be a “misuse of valuable resources.” The assumption that glyphosate is safe ignores numerous scientific studies pointing to its health risks, which range from cancer to liver disease.
Despite these risks, no federal agency is currently testing food for glyphosate. The FDA’s glyphosate testing program was suspended last year after a chemist found glyphosate in honey and oatmeal, including infant oat cereal.
In the case of glyphosate, there is no guarantee of safety. The World Health Organization’s cancer arm regards glyphosate as a probable carcinogen, and some scientists on EPA’s Scientific Advisory Panel announced last week that the evidence indicates that glyphosate is a carcinogen. The USDA tests for a broad range of pesticides regularly, so the mere fact that it will not test for glyphosate is unsettling. The USDA is charged with protecting our food from pesticide residue — it must do its job. That means glyphosate residue in our food and drink, and its potential effects on our health, cannot be ignored.