EPA May Require Testing For Roundup Herbicide Residue Due To Cancer Concerns

Federal regulators may soon require testing to see if residue from the active ingredient in Roundup weed killer is making its way into food. The possible testing comes following recent concerns that the herbicide may cause cancer.

Officials with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said the agency may require sampling to detect residue from glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, in the future. A final determination would be based on information gathered from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Pesticide Data Program.

In the agency’s last review, glyphosate was determined to be fairly safe. However, in March, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) labeled the weedkiller chemical a “probable carcinogen.”

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IARC is the World Health Organization’s (WHO) cancer research division. The group released a report last month in the medical journal The Lancet Oncology, identifying five pesticides and herbicides as probably cancer-causing agents. The chemicals cited in the report include glyphosate, tetrachlorvinphos, parathion, malathion, and diazinon.

The list was compiled by 17 experts from 11 different countries.

The determination by IARC outraged officials at Monsanto, the makers of Roundup, the most popular herbicide in the world. Monsanto officials called IARC’s determination “junk science” that was conducted based on an anti-Monsanto agenda.

The EPA has only previously tested for glyphosate in 2011, when it found 271 out of 300 soybean samples had glyphosate residue. However, all the tests indicated that the residue was below the EPA’s tolerance level of 20 parts per million. That tolerance level was set before the drug was declared a possible carcinogen.

Concerns regarding the safety of Roundup prompted a special EPA meeting last year to discuss the safety of glyphosate. The EPA heard from scientists, environmentalists and concerned mothers regarding the potential side effects of Roundup to decide on whether to place further restriction on the chemical, a decision is expected this year.

A study published by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) last year revealed pesticide residue is found in half of all food in the U.S. More than 8,500 samples of fruit, vegetables, infant formula, butter, salmon, groundwater and drinking water were tested for the study. Half contained detectable levels of pesticide residue, however 23 samples exceeded EPA safe tolerance limits.

Weed killers are commonly detected in the air, food and water near areas that have been sprayed, according to the report.


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