July 7, 2016
Consumer groups have been calling on the U.S. government to test foods for glyphosate residues on behalf of the public, amid a growing body of evidence showing that the chemical is harmful to human health.
Microbiologist Bruce Hemming was hired two years ago to test breast milk samples for residues of glyphosate, a key ingredient in popular weed-killer Roundup. Hemming is the founder of St. Louis-based Microbe Inotech Laboratories and was previously of the opinion that glyphosate was not able to accumulate in the human body.
In fact, Hemming previously worked as a scientist for Monsanto Co., the manufacturer of the popular and toxic herbicide Roundup. Despite his original doubts, Hemming’s lab tests did find residues of glyphosate in the samples of breast milk he received from a small group of mothers.
Food companies, consumer groups and academics have also solicited testing for glyphosate residues, fueled by fears that prevalent use of the pesticide on genetically engineered (GE) crops may be contributing to health problems, as people eat foods containing residues of glyphosate.
Fears have been growing thanks to some recent scientific studies that have revealed health problems tied to glyphosate, as well as data released by the U.S. Department of the Interior which found glyphosate in both water and air samples.
Health concerns regarding glyphosate
Roundup is routinely sprayed on GE crops that have been engineered to be able to tolerate the toxic glyphosate content, such as corn, soy, cotton, canola, sugar beets and alfalfa crops.
However, over recent years concerns have been growing regarding health problems that have been linked with glyphosate, which has started to contaminate the food we eat, water we drink and air we breathe.
People who are suffering with certain conditions have higher levels of glyphosate in their bodies than those who are healthy. The following are some of the conditions that have been associated with glyphosate:
- In farming communities, there is a strong correlation between exposure to glyphosate and ADHD, possibly due to the chemical’s ability to disrupt thyroid hormone functions
- Tests on Roundup in the lab show the same type of oxidative stress and neural cell death observed in Alzheimer’s disease
- Roundup can disrupt the vitamin A-signaling pathway, which is crucial for normal fetal development – causing birth defects
- Researchers found that if either parent has been exposed to glyphosate during the two years before a child’s birth, the chances of that child developing brain cancer doubled
- Glyphosate has been found to induce human breast cancer cell growth via estrogen receptors, causing breast cancer
Consumer groups have been calling for the U.S. government to test foods for glyphosate residues on behalf of the public, in an attempt to establish what levels of glyphosate are common and whether the levels are dangerous. However, so far the requests have been ignored.
This doesn’t seem to be a particularly difficult request either – since 1991 the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has been annually collecting pesticide residue data in its Pesticide Data Program. This testing looks for residues on a range of food products, including baby formula and drinking water.
However, whilst testing occurs for other herbicides, fungicides and insecticides, it seems that the government agency does not test for glyphosate on a regular basis. The USDA claims that it would be too expensive to test for glyphosate residues – however, this seems like a poor excuse considering the costs already approved for the testing of other pesticide residues. It seems that the U.S. government is totally shirking its obligation to provide consumers with clarity over herbicide residues on food, and the associated dangers.