USDA drops plan to test for glyphosate residues in our food supply
(NaturalHealth365) It’s official – the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has jettisoned plans to test for glyphosate residue in the United States food supply, according to The Huffington Post.
In a related issue: Monsanto – glyphosate’s manufacturer – has recently been accused of colluding with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to suppress data on the herbicide’s toxic effects.
So, the question remains: Could these two events be connected?..
The USDA says “April Fools’!” on glyphosate testing
According to documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, the USDA had been collaborating with the EPA and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on a plan to test 315 samples of corn syrup from around the nation for glyphosate residue, beginning on April 1 and ending August 31.
But the April 1st start date – April Fools’ Day – turned out to be prophetic. In late March, a USDA spokesperson announced that glyphosate residue testing would not be performed this year after all.
Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup weed killer, was classified as a “probable carcinogen” by the World Health Organization in 2015. It is widely used along with seeds that are marketed as “Roundup Ready,” meaning they have been genetically engineered to withstand its toxic properties.
In addition to this toxic herbicide ingredient, researchers were supposed to test for a metabolite of AMPA, known as aminomethylphosphonic acid. AMPA is a byproduct of the breakdown of glyphosate – which experts say may present potential health hazards of its own.
A ‘sweet’ change of plans has the biotech industry jumping for joy
The Huffington Post quotes a USDA spokesperson as saying that honey – in a “more efficient use of resources” – would be tested instead. Testing of honey will supposedly encompass testing for 100 different pesticides – but glyphosate is not among them. Glyphosate residue testing involves a different process than the screening used for honey.
Although both the USDA and the FDA routinely tests for pesticides used in food production, they do not routinely test for glyphosate, maintaining that the process is too expensive and too inefficient.
Due to this laxity and failure to test regularly for glyphosate, the Government Accountability Office criticized both the USDA and the FDA in 2014.
Confusion, inconsistency and indecision reign over glyphosate testing
There has been an erratic, stop-and-start quality to glyphosate testing over the years. Last year, as part of a “special assignment,” the FDA performed glyphosate testing on corn, soy, eggs and milk. They found that 271 of 300 soybean samples contained glyphosate, with numbers coming in at (barely) under the legal tolerance, also known as the Maximum Residue Level.
This FDA testing was suspended in November of 2016, with the agency saying that methods needed to be validated before the program could be resumed. The FDA is now involved in a “glyphosate collaboration” involving multiple labs.
An FDA spokeswoman, Megan McSeveney, said that the special assignment would be restarted once the collaboration was completed and approved by quality control reviewers. But when that will occur is anyone’s guess.
Not sweet news: Honey has already shown glyphosate residue
The decision to not test honey for glyphosate is baffling, considering that glyphosate residues have been found in honey. A 2014 Boston University study had found glyphosate residue in both organic and conventionally farmed honey – making the honey technically illegal, due to the fact that there are no food tolerances set for the presence of glyphosate in honey.
In fact, right before the suspension of the FDA testing, the environmental group Beyond Pesticides had joined forces with the Organic Consumers Association to sue the Sioux Honey Association over its deceptive labeling of honey as “pure,” “100 percent pure” and “natural” – despite the presence of glyphosate.
Serious health questions remain about the USDA decision
The abandonment of the glyphosate testing plan seems to be suspiciously timed. Monsanto – which has tried to suppress evidence that glyphosate causes cancer – is currently being sued by hundreds of people, who say their exposure to glyphosate caused them to develop non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Documents obtained by the plaintiffs’ lawyers show that Monsanto may have colluded with officials at the EPA to obtain favorable safety assessments. To his credit, Congressman Ted Lieu (D.-Calif.) recently called for the Department of Justice to investigate Monsanto’s actions – and the potential misconduct of EPA employees.
It will be interesting to see what facts emerge.
You can take action to eliminate toxic glyphosate from our environment
Beyond Pesticides supports local advocacy efforts to reduce and eliminate the need for glyphosate and other toxic synthetic herbicides. You can visit Beyond Pesticide’s Tools for Change webpage here.
Naturally, you should avoid using toxic synthetic herbicides on your lawn or garden. You can also purchase foods that are certified organic – these are guaranteed to be free of glyphosate, other synthetic pesticides, and GMOs.
Bottom line: The lack of testing for glyphosate – in light of the known adverse effects – is not only baffling but infuriating. On second thought, considering the backstory of Monsanto’s alleged influence over the EPA, maybe just infuriating.