Although the U.S. Department of Agriculture's stance is that pesticide residue on food is safe, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently announced it will start testing certain foods specifically for glyphosate residue, according to Civil Eats.
Last year, the World Health Organization released a report saying that glyphosate is probably carcinogenic in humans. The chemical is the active ingredient in Roundup, a weedkiller that many genetically modified seeds are created to withstand. Because the plants grown from these seeds have Roundup on them in unknown amounts, the residue left behind from glyphosate is also unknown. And, as recent testing has shown, traces of glyphosate are showing up in foods that are not sprayed with Roundup.
Glyphosate in strange places
The Alliance for Natural Health-USA recently released the results of tests on popular breakfast foods. Glyphosate was found in 11 of 24 samples tested. It would be expected that foods made with GMO corn or soy would have residue, but the study found that some foods, even some organic options, have traces of the pesticide.
Organic eggs were found to have glyphosate in them. GMO grain is not permitted to be fed to chickens whose eggs are labeled organic, so the glyphosate is not coming from the feed. The study concluded that glyphosate builds up in the tissue of animals. The logical assumption is that it probably builds up in the tissue of humans, too.
Glyphosate is also turning up in organic and biodynamic California wines, according to EcoWatch. Whether through drift or some other method, this pesticide is ending up where it's not intended to be.
A reason to label GMOs
The problems with glyphosate is one reason I support GMO labeling. I'm not anti-GMO, nor am I pro-GMO. It may be that genetically modified foods, if grown or raised in an organic environment, are no different for our health than their non-GMO counterparts. I don't know if they are or not — and I'm not sure anyone really does. I don't believe they've been around long enough or tested enough for us to know.
Of course, GMOs aren't created so they can be grown or raised like non-GMOs in an organic environment. They're modified to have traits that some people find desirable like not browning, as in the case of some GMO apples, or being able to withstand weedkillers.
Take GMO corn, for instance. The odds are that a food made with GMO corn didn't come from GMO corn that was grown organically but from GMO corn that had unknown amounts of glyphosate used on it. That's why the GMO labeling matters. If consumers want to avoid glyphosate, the food packaging should be clear if there's a chance the food contains residue of the probably-carcinogenic chemical.
40 years later, the FDA looks into it
The fact that the FDA is choosing to test certain foods for glyphosate — soybeans, corn, milk and eggs, for example — is a sign that the FDA has concerns about the residue left behind and what impact that could have on humans. In the past, the FDA has tested for other pesticides but has said glyphosate testing was unnecessary because the chemical was safe and testing was too expensive.
Since 1974, U.S. farmers have used more than 3.5 billion pounds of glyphosate on crops, and since GMO crops were introduced in 1996, the amount used on crops has grown 15-fold, according to Robyn O'Brien.com.
I'd say it's about time the FDA looked into it.