Pesticides in Food

The Truth about Pesticides in Your Food

A widely used weed killer that’s been linked to cancer has turned up  in nearly every common food in the US, according to a new report.

Scientists with the Food and Drug Administration found glyphosate,  which has been used as an herbicide since the 1970s, in everything from  corn to honey, granola, wheat crackers and oatmeal, records showed obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request.

“There’s a fair amount in all of them,” FDA chemist Richard Thompson  wrote to colleagues in a January 2017 email that was among the records.

The FDA has been testing how prevalent glyphosate is in foods for two years but hasn’t released official results.

Linda Birnbaum, a toxicologist and director of the US National  Institute of Environmental Health Services, said even a small exposure  to pesticides can be dangerous.

“Even with low levels of pesticides, we’re exposed to so many, and we  don’t count the fact that we have cumulative exposures,” Birnbaum said.

Thompson, who works out of an FDA laboratory in Arkansas, wrote that  broccoli was the only food that he had “on hand” that didn’t show any  traces of the herbicide.

Another FDA chemist, Narong Chamkasem, found “over-the-tolerance”  levels of glyphosate at 6.5 parts per million in corn, the Guardian  reported. The legal limit is 5.0 parts per million.

But an FDA supervisor wrote to an Environmental Protection Agency  official in an email that the corn was not considered an “official  sample” – meaning that the shocking example wouldn’t be reported to the EPA.

Chamkasem also found traces of glyphosate in honey and oatmeal  products. 

The FDA temporarily suspended testing after those findings and  reassigned Chamkasem’s lab to “other programs,” the report said.

An FDA spokesman said that the agency has not found any illegal levels of glyphosate in corn, soy, milk or eggs – the four  commodities part of its glyphosate “special assignment” — in its  official samples.

The FDA noted that Chamkasem’s results of glyphosate in honey and oatmeal were not part of its assignment.

Farmers are able to kill weeds without destroying their crops thanks to glyphosate, which is found in Monsanto Company’s popular Roundup  brand of weed killer. 

More than 200 million pounds of Roundup are used  each year on fields in the US.

The herbicide is sprayed directly on some crops, including corn,  soybeans, wheat and oats and used by spinach and almond farmers before  growing season.

In December 2017, the EPA concluded that glyphosate “is not likely to be carcinogenic to humans.”

“The agency’s assessment found no other meaningful risks to human  health when the product is used according to the pesticide label,” the  agency said on its website.

Learn More

The EPA protects corporate farming, not you. The agency said that glyphosate “is not likely to be carcinogenic to humans," despite the mountains of evidence to the contrary.

Find out more