Sunday, July 07, 2013

EPA Quietly Raises Pesticide (Monsanto's Roundup) Limits In Fruits and Vegetables

The carrots you purchased this morning could contain 25 times the amount of pesticide as carrots you purchased back in April. Sweet potatoes could have 15 times more pesticide. That's because the EPA quietly issued a new rule, effective on May 1, 2013, which raised the allowed levels of the herbicide glyphosate in a number of common foods.

Glyphosate is produced by the Monsanto Corporation. It is the active ingredient in the popular weed killer Roundup. EPA created the new rule in response to a petition it received by Monsanto in May 2012 - Monsanto requested that foods be allowed to be sold with higher levels of glyphosate.

Here's EPA's new rule:

Pesticide Tolerances: Glyphosate, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Final rule
Text version from the Government Printing Office (GPO)

Oilseed crops such as sesame, flax, and mustard have also been affected:
"In addition, upon approval of the new tolerance for “Oilseed Crops, Group 20 at 40 ppm” under “New Tolerances”, delete tolerances for borage, seed, crambe, seed, jojoba, seed, lesquerella, seed, meadowfoam, seed, mustard, seed and sesame, seed all at 0.1 ppm; flax, seed at 4.0 ppm; flax, meal at 8.0 ppm; canola, seed and rapeseed, seed at 20 ppm; cotton, undelinted seed at 40 ppm and safflower, seed and Sunflower, seed at 85 ppm; which will be included under the “Oilseed Crops, Group 20 at 40 ppm”."
- Petitions Filed for Residues of Pesticide Chemicals in or on Various Commodities
So, mustard seed and flax seed used to have a limit of 0.1 ppm. As of May 1 that limit was raised to 40 ppm. That's 400 times the original limit!

Laura Sesana did a great job reporting this yesterday:
Epa Raises Levels Of Glyphosate Residue Allowed In Food, Washington Times, 5 July 2013

She cites an EPA Factsheet on Glyphosate, which says:
"Glyphosate has the potential to cause the following health effects from long-term exposures at levels above the MCL: kidney damage, reproductive effects."
Recall that Roundup is an endocrine disrupter (ED) (See: Glyphosate-Based Herbicides Are Toxic And Endocrine Disruptors In Human Cell Lines, Toxocology, 2009), as is BPA in plastic bottles and a host of other industrial chemicals we're regularly exposed to. The study I just cited observed endocrine disruption in human cells from a dose of 0.5 ppm (of Roundup R400 which contains 400 g/l of glyphosate). For relativity's sake, carrots used to be limited to 0.2 ppm glyphosate, as of May 1 they can contain 5.0 ppm. As an ED, Roundup disrupts the activity of enzymes (such as aromatase) involved in sex hormone production (e.g. testosterone, estrogens).

Here's a table of glyphosate limits in a variety of foods. It's current as of July 3, 2013. Note that higher ppm limits for carrots and sweet potatoes have already been recorded.

Glyphosate; tolerances for residues, Government Printing Office


Bix said...

This is a disgrace. Limits weren't raised to protect the environment. ("Environmental Protection Agency"!) Higher pesticide residues don't improve public health. They were raised so pesticide manufacturers, in this case Monsanto, and food producers can profit.

Bix said...

Did you see GMOs anywhere in this post? There are none. This has nothing to do with GMOs.

Bix said...

Also note the exceptionally high pesticide load allowed in animal and livestock feed. Is this why people who eat a lot of animal food have been measured to have high serum POP levels? (POP: persistent organic pollutants, of which pesticides are one.)

Ebba Morc said...

Why is it that any post mentioning Monsanto attracts Anonymous's flaming comments. Curious how they all sound the same. I've read very similar comments on other blogs.

Angela and Melinda said...

Immigrants and other low-wage workers forced to spend long hours daily in fields of GMO crops, with their resistance to heavily toxic pesticides and herbicides, are dying in quite unusually high numbers from kidney & liver failure (the organs that do the filtering out of toxins from your body). And yes, I agree w/ Bix on the POPs.
Additionally, there's no way to know now whether GMOs & GEOs are harmful or not, as they haven't been around for a sufficient period of time to do long-terms studies of their effects on health.
Ebba, I wonder if the comments are generated by a Monsanto bot....

Bix said...

I'm curious what Monsanto's motive was a year ago ... in requesting higher limits. Was it that farmers were, of necessity, spraying more Roundup to get rid of more weeds? Resistant weeds? Superweeds? Was it alternatively a foreshadowing ... do they have plans to genetically engineer vegetables to, say, resist Roundup? "Roundup Ready" In which case they would probably contain more herbicide since the plant can be sprayed directly. I'm curious...

Angela and Melinda said...

Yes, I think it is the issue of superweeds, just like "superbugs" in hospitals. Good point Bix. But here's something else about the GMO foods themselves, though I'm not knowledgeable enough to attest to the scientific veracity of it:

Unknown said...

Hi! I just saw that you quoted me and said really nice things about my article! Thanks so much! -Laura Sesana

Bix said...

I loved your article. I loved that you dug into it.

I'm so disappointed with mainstream journalism that they don't elevate these stories to the top, if they report on them at all!

Angela and Melinda said...

I'll bet you that Anonymous is a guy I recently unfriended on FB, Sean R b/c every time I posted on GMOs or Monsanto, he'd flame me too, claiming science has "proven" that GMOS are safe. Faugh! They haven't been around long enough to determine long-term effects.