September 23, 2014

EPA Raises Glyphosate Concentrations on Food Crops

Crop Spraying PesticidesLast week the EPA let Monsanto raise the allowable concentrations of glyphosate on food crops, animal feed, and edible oils. The new regulation lets farmers use more of the chemical, which is the active ingredient in the herbicide Roundup.

Under the new regulation, forage and hay teff can contain up to 100 ppm (100,000 ppb) glyphosate; oilseed crops can contain up to 40 ppm (40,000 ppb) glyphosate, and root crops such as potatoes and beets can contain 6000 ppb glyphosate. Fruits can have concentrations from 200 ppb to 500 ppb glyphosate. These numbers are magnitudes higher than the levels some scientists believe are carcinogenic.

The EPA has classified glyphosate as a Class D carcinogen, which means it either does not cause cancer in human beings or that its cancer-causing potential is unknown. But in 2009, a study conducted at the Indian Institute of Toxicology Research found that glyphosate “has tumor promoting potential in skin carcinogenesis.” An EPA Fact Sheet that is part of the Safe Drinking Water Act states that glyphosate can cause lung congestion after acute exposure above the minimum containment level (MCL) of 0.7 mg/L. That is the equivalent of 0.7 ppm (or 700 ppb). In addition, the EPA says that long term exposure to glyphosate above the MCL causes kidney damage and reproductive effects.

In April, Food Poisoning Bulletin reported on a new study from MIT that showed glyphosate residue has been found on food. That study also found that glyphosate can induce disease in human beings because our gut bacteria, which play an important part in immunity, contain the shikimate pathway, which glyphosate disrupts. Chemical manufacturers have previously claimed that glyphosate is not toxic to human beings because, as mammals, we do not have the shikimate pathway.

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