We're about to find out how much weed killer is really in our food
We're about to find out how much weed killer we've been eating all this time. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has announced it will start testing food for residues of glyphosate, an herbicide commonly used on U.S. crops. This announcement follows growing concern about the weed killer, most notably World Health Organization cancer experts' declaration that glyphosate is probably a human carcinogen.
It's about darn time. Recently private testing by other organizations showed herbicide residue in foods like cereal, flour, baby formula and soy sauce. And in 2014, the U.S. Government Accountability Office called out the FDA for neglecting to conduct its own tests. The FDA says it wasn't testing because it was too difficult and expensive, hurdles it believes it has now resolved.
Why does it matter that the FDA tests for glyphosate when other organizations have been? As a government agency, the FDA's testing carries more weight within the food industry and with leaders around the country. The results could ultimately influence everything from farming standards to labeling in grocery stores.
Here's what we know about the FDA's plans to test for glyphosate residue in food:
- The testing will begin sometime in 2016, though the FDA isn't giving more specifics about exactly when.
- Foods to be tested include soybeans, milk, corn, eggs and "other potential foods."
- The FDA does test for pesticide residue in some foods, but not specifically for glyphosate.
- According to the GAO, glyphosate is the most widely used agricultural pesticide. It's the active ingredient in Roundup, the most widely used herbicide in the world.
The agribusiness Monsanto (which makes about $5 billion a year on glyphosate) insists it's perfectly safe to use on crops grown for human consumption. But more and more scientists and organizations are beginning to disagree — and it's starting to worry ordinary people like you and me.
Imagine what will happen if the FDA's testing confirms what everyone else's testing has shown — that glyphosate is lurking in some of the most common foods we eat every single day. Demand for organic food could rise. You might start seeing "grown without the use of glyphosate" on food labels. Who knows? The weed killer could eventually be phased out altogether.
With more people than ever paying closer attention to what's going into our food, this new decision by the FDA could change the way we eat. That is, if we keep paying attention and caring.
Tell us what you think about this news. Would the FDA's testing results change the way you eat?