According to a media report on Monday, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is considering recommending that the federal government sample food products for glyphosate, the most commonly used herbicide in the world and the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup.
Glyphosate is commonly used on wheat, corn, soybeans, sugar beets and other crops in the U.S. and many other countries. Use of the herbicide has dramatically increased in recent years along with the planting of genetically engineered crops.
While the U.S. government does not specifically test food products for glyphosate residue, it does do testing each year for hundreds of other herbicides and pesticides — along with insecticides, fungicides, and other agricultural chemicals — to make sure residues are not present in food products at levels considered dangerous to human health.
The responsibility for this function is shared between EPA, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
Testing for glyphosate residue has not been systematically done by the federal government so far because the herbicide has been considered safe for use on food crops. However, a recent report from the World Health Organization’s research arm, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, stated that glyphosate is “probably carcinogenic to humans.”
A Monsanto official responded that the WHO report was not based on any new scientific evidence and called the statement about glyphosate potentially causing cancer a “dramatic departure from the conclusion reached by all regulatory agencies around the globe.”
Last fall, EPA approved the registration of Dow Chemical’s Enlist Duo herbicide, a blend of glyphosate and 2,4-D, for use on genetically engineered corn and soybeans. That registration was opposed by numerous groups concerned about the herbicide’s potential effect on human and environmental health.
Reuters reported that, in 2011, USDA did test soybean samples for glysphosate residues and found them in 271 of 300 samples tested. However, the levels found at that time were below the EPA’s tolerance level of 20 parts per million.© Food Safety News