There have been many independent tests on a variety of American food products in recent years that have found residue levels of glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup weed killer. The nonprofit groups behind these tests are Food Democracy New and The Detox Project. They recently released a report that detailed their disturbing findings. The groups are demanding regulatory and corporate action to address serious consumer safety concerns.
The report found that glyphosate was found in crackers, cookies, cold cereals and chips that are commonly eaten by adults and children. The testing was done at an FDA-registered lab Anresco. It used liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry. This is a method that is broadly considered by scientists and regulators ao the most reliable to detect glyphosate residue.
This announcement came as FDA has been struggling with its efforts to determine how much of the herbicide could be present in some foods. Although FDA does regularly test foods for other pesticides, it has never done tests for glyphosate until 2018.
Anresco Tests Done on Common Foods
The tests performed by Anresco were performed on 29 foods that are most often on our grocery store shelves. The report found glyphosate residues in the following:
- General Mills Cheerios at 1,125.3 parts per billion
- Kashi soft-baked oatmeal dark chocolate cookies at 275.57 ppb
- Ritz Crackers at 270.24 ppb
Various levels were found in Special K Cereal by Kellog’s, as well as Triscuit Crackers and several other popular packaged foods. The report stated that for some findings, the amounts were only rough estimates at best and might not be a proper representation of the sample. None of the food companies gave any comment about the findings.
According to Dave Murphy, executive director of Food Democracy Now!, such a high level of glyphosate found in Doritos, Cheerios, Oreos and Stacy’s Pita Chips should alarm the public and should be a wake-up call to parents who want to keep their children safe and healthy and away from toxic food.
The EPA has established a maximum residue limit or MFL, also called a tolerance, for residues of pesticides on basic food commodities, such as soybeans and corn. MRLs for glyphosate will vary depending upon the type of commodity. Finished food products like the ones tested at Anresco could contain ingredients from many commodities.
The nonprofits that did the report stated that serious concerns about glyphosate come as research indicates that Roundup may cause a number of health problems including kidney and liver damage in rats at a low level of .05 ppb. Other studies have shown that levels of 10 ppb can have a toxic effect on fish livers.
A molecular geneticist in the UK stated after the release of the report that higher evidence from more independent peer-reviewed clinical studies from around the globe shows that ingesting this herbicide can result in many serious diseases. Thus, it is important that EPA regulators should reconsider the levels of glyphosate in Americans’ food and try to limit their exposure to this chemical in as many humans as possible.
Scientist Michael Antoniou added that the data collected by this glyphosate food testing research is timely and offers valuable information for consumers, scientists and elected officials to evaluate how toxic glyphosate is in common foods.
The groups that sponsored the study blasted US regulators for setting an acceptable daily intake (ADI) for glyphosate at a higher level than many other nations consider safe. The US has established the ADI for glyphosate at 1.75 milligrams per kilo of weight for each day. The EU has set it at .3. The EPA should set ADI from all water and food sources that is 100 times lower than the levels that have been shown to cause no effect in tests on animals. But critics argue that EPA has been influenced the agricultural and chemical companies.
The groups added that the US government should do an investigation into harmful effects of glyphosate on human health and the environment, as well as relationships between US regulators and the agrichemical industry that has long insisted upon the safety of the chemical.
Murphy stated that it is time for the EPA to cease playing politics with food and to put the well being of Americans above profits of agriculture and chemical companies, such as Monsanto.
Monsanto Denies Safety Problems
Monsanto has argued over the years that there are no real safety concerns about glyphosate when it is used as it is supposed to be used. The company adds that toxicological studies in animals have shown that the chemical does not lead to cancer, birth defects, damage to DNA, immune system problems or reproductive problems. The company also argues that any residues of the chemical in various foods are too little to harm humans.
The USDA and FDA have mostly sided with Monsanto about the safety of glyphosate. They cite the chemical’s proven safety record to justify for not including the chemical residue testing in different yearly programs that do tests on thousands of food products for hundreds of other pesticides. The lack of regular government monitoring of glyphosate had made it difficult for regulators or consumers to determine which levels of glyphosate are in our foods, and this has raised questions about how safe the chemical is.
Glyphosate Widely Used
A big reason that glyphosate residue is in so many food products is that it is used so widely in the production of food. Glyphosate is sprayed on many crops that have been genetically engineered to tolerate the chemical. These include corn, soybeans, canola and sugar beets. Glyphosate also is sprayed right onto many conventional crops before the harvest, such as oats, wheat, and barley. Altogether, glyphosate is used in some way in the production of a minimum of 70 food crops, the EPA states. Even the growers of spinach use glyphosate. Some of the other crops in which glyphosate is used are on grapes, rice, and almonds.
The groups that released the aforementioned report want a permanent ban on the use of the chemical as a drying agent pre-harvest because of dangerous residue levels.
- Not Just for Corn and Soy – A Look At Glyphosate Use in Food Crops. (2016). Retrieved from https://usrtk.org/pesticides/not-just-for-corn-and-soy-a-look-at-glyphosate-use-in-food-crops/
- Alarming Levels of Glyphosate Found in Popular American Foods (2015). Retrieved from https://www.ecowatch.com/monsanto-glyphosate-cheerios-2093130379.html