USDA Avoids Analyzing Glyphosate Residues on Food for Annual Report

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News Release

For Immediate Release: Monday, January 11, 2016
For More Information Contact: Carey Gillam, Research Director (913) 526-6190, carey@usrtk.org

USDA Avoids Analyzing Glyphosate Residues on Food for Annual Report

Consumer advocacy group U.S. Right to Know criticized the U.S. Department of Agriculture today for issuing an annual pesticide residue report that avoided any evaluation of residues from glyphosate, a top-selling herbicide important to corporate agricultural companies, but one that has been linked to cancer.

The USDA’s annual pesticide data program summary includes information that the USDA states is to “assure consumers that the food they feed their families is safe.” The program annually tests a wide variety of domestic and imported foods to gather data to determine if pesticide exposure through food is within government-set safety standards. The USDA program typically tests for several hundred different pesticides each year, and the government says it specifically looks at foods most likely to be consumed by children and infants.

But despite consumer demands for the inclusion of glyphosate, the USDA data continues to exclude testing for that pesticide. Only once in the history of the 24-year program has the agency conducted tests for glyphosate residues. Those tests, in 2011, were limited to 300 soybean samples and found that 271 of the samples had glyphosate residues.

Glyphosate-based herbicides are the most widely used weed-killing pesticides in the world, and use of glyphosate has skyrocketed in the United States since the introduction 20 years ago of crops genetically engineered to tolerate treatments of glyphosate. Monsanto Co. is one of the chief purveyors of the herbicide through its glyphosate-based Roundup brand. Many key food crops are sprayed directly with glyphosate, including corn, soybeans, sugar beets, canola and even in some cases, wheat, though wheat has not been genetically engineered as glyphosate-tolerant.

Consumer fears about glyphosate residues on food have mounted as studies have found glyphosate in air, and water samples, and after cancer scientists working for a unit of the World Health Organization determined there was sufficient evidence to classify glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic to humans.”

“It is a scandal that USDA tests for hundreds of pesticide residues but not glyphosate, which is among the most widely used chemicals on our food crops,” said Gary Ruskin, co-director of U.S. Right to Know. “Consumers want to know how much glyphosate is in our food.  Why won’t the USDA tell us? This looks like yet another giant favor from our federal government to Monsanto. It’s past time for Congress to investigate why the Obama administration is bestowing these sweetheart favors to Monsanto and the agrichemical industry.”

U.S. Right to Know is a nonprofit organization that investigates the risks associated with the corporate food system, and the food industry’s practices and influence on public policy. We promote the free market principle of transparency – in the marketplace and in politics – as crucial to building a better, healthier food system.

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