But I bet you didn’t see that headline splashed all over websites, featured on the daily news, or used as fundraising bait by activist organizations.
So here’s the scoop. FDA annually tests food samples for pesticide residue. The result is usually the same: the vast majority of residue samples are well below tolerances set by the EPA. The was so much hoopla surrounding glyphosate, the active ingredient in Round-Up, FDA specifically developed a test to detect residue levels. It began using the test in 2016 on soybeans, corn, milk, and eggs and just published the results for FY16.The results weren’t surprising:
Of the 760 corn, soybean, milk, and egg assignment samples tested for glyphosate and glufosinate, 53% had no detectable residues of the pesticides. Further, none of the milk and egg samples had any detectable glyphosate or glufosinate residues, and all the corn and soybean samples that tested positive for the pesticides were below the tolerance levels set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
(Source: FDA, emphasis added.)
In other words, there is literally nothing for anyone to worry about. I should note that FDA plans on expanding this testing to additional commodities in the next report. I anticipate the results will continue to follow the same trend.
The frustrating thing is that these results completely flew under the radar, despite widespread reports of EWG’s ridiculous claims.
You may recall that shortly after Monsanto received an adverse jury verdict in California, EWG (the organization responsible for the ridiculous Dirty Dozen list) conveniently released a report alleging that glyphosate residues were detected in lots of different breakfast foods. The story was so pervasive even some Senators were calling for investigations. EWG’s publicity stunt was also roundly criticized by a number of sources which called its credibility and methodology into question. But it was also widely reported by numerous news sources.
So why haven’t those news sources covered the latest data from FDA with the same vigor?
Obviously because FDA’s data isn’t sexy. No one is going to die from eating an apple at lunch. And it also doesn’t fit a narrative that modern agriculture is dangerous, destructive, and problematic. The FDA’s report doesn’t get clicks so it doesn’t merit mention. So instead they publish a report by an invested, activist organization that’s trying to fundraise rather than publish hard data from a government agency.
And that’s really the problem: people only hear the negative headlines and the scary stuff about agriculture. No one wants to cover the positive news. So it gets buried and the world continues to believe glyphosate is in all of our favorite breakfast foods and we’re all being slowly poisoned.
But we’re not, and that’s the good news. I just wish more people were talking about it.
Activist, fringe groups, ($$$) and the fake news are what’s destroying America. Thanks for being a farmer and using modern proven processes to feed the world.
Donna Hoppe DVM says
I always get a little upset when Round Up is continuously referred to as a “pesticide.” Glyphosate is an herbicide, which means it “kills plants,” not insects. Pesticides are definitely more toxic and require a lot more protective measures when applying.
Eric Bjerregaard says
Herbicides are a subset within the classification of pesticides. So are fungicides, and miticides. Unfortunately politiciancides are not currently legal. But they too are pesticides. 🙂 Some pesticides are necessary as minerals. But toxic at high concentrations. Boron is an example. Caffeine is a very effective insecticide. Yet millions drink it every day,
Tanya Engesser says
Thank you Eric.
I also used to get perturbed by the use of “pesticide” in reference to a weed killer, until I saw someone pointing out that weeds are pest-y plants. Just because they don’t scurry around on little feet, doesn’t mean they aren’t pests.
Thus “pesticides” can be, and is, an umbrella term for: insecticide, fungicide, mildicide, rodenticide, and… herbicides.
Dennis Laughton says
We used to be able to rely on the media to filter out the fake / dishonest information. NOW they are the source.
Jeff Miller says
Thank you, Amanda, for your columns. I appreciate you taking the time to give your insight. Sorely needed today!