The FDA Has Detected Carcinogenic Agents from Weedkillers in Consumer Food Samples
MARYLAND — July 4, 2018
While the results of the study have not yet been released, it is reported that a common weedkiller which has been shown to have carcinogenic properties was found in an array of commonly consumed foods such as breast milk, honey, cereal, wheat flour, soy sauce, infant formula, and numerous other consumables.
The study itself is totaled at around $5 million dollars. An FDA spokesman said that despite the findings, they had not found illegal levels of substances in corn, soy, milk or eggs. The products which were documented to harbor the chemical at illegal levels were dismissed by the FDA, who claimed that the tests were not a part of its glyphosate residue “Special assignment”. The study attempted to trace samples for residue of glyphosate, the active ingredient in hundreds of widely used herbicide products, over the past two years.
The FDA also admitted that it was difficult finding any food that does not carry at least some traces of the pesticide.
“I have brought wheat crackers, granola cereal and corn meal from home and there’s a fair amount in all of them,” FDA chemist Richard Thompson wrote to colleagues. Thompson, who works at an FDA regional laboratory in Arkansas, wrote that broccoli was the only food he had “on hand” that he found to be totally glyphosate-free.
“People care about what contaminants are in their food. If there is scientific information about these residues in the food, the FDA should release it,” said Tracey Woodruff, a professor at the University Of California San Francisco School Of Medicine, who also took part in a study. “It helps people make informed decisions. Taxpayers paid for the government to do this work, they should get to see the information.”
This is not the first study of its kind to produce such startling results. In 2016, FDA chemist Narong Chamkasem found glyphosate in numerous samples of honey. The FDA temporarily suspended testing after those findings, and Chamkasem’s lab was “reassigned to other programs”, as FDA documents show.
"Pesticide exposure through diet is considered a potential health risk. Regulators, Monsanto and agrochemical industry interests say pesticide residues in food are not harmful if they are under legal limits. But many scientists dispute that, saying prolonged dietary exposure to combinations of pesticides can be harmful", they explained in a public statement.
Toxicologist Linda Birnbaum, who is the director of the US National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), also stated that "current regulatory analysis of pesticide dangers does not account for low levels of dietary exposures."
“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.
The findings upset consumer groups and the Government Accountability Office (GAO) who criticized the government agency, some claiming that the FDA is withholding important information concerning consumer health.
"The study should have been conducted much earlier. But instead we used glyphosate for over 40 years in food production" said GAO representatives.
The US Department of Agriculture was set to start its own testing process for glyphosate residues in 2017, but dropped the plan.
The FDA’s official findings will likely be released later this year or early in 2019, as a part of its 2016 annual residue report.
Glyphosate is the active ingredient in Roundup, the most widely used herbicide in the world, a brand owned by the agricultural giant Monsanto. It is most commonly used by US farmers as a herbicide. The weedkiller is sprayed directly over some crops, including corn, soybeans, wheat and oats.
Some experts say that several studies have linked glyphosate to human health ailments, including non-Hodgkin lymphoma and kidney and liver problems. Because glyphosate is so pervasive in the environment, even trace amounts can be harmful due to extended exposure. The study was conducted with the support of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).