Pesticide drift is exposing rural Texans to dangerous chemicals. But lawmakers are more concerned with how that is eating into Big Ag’s balance sheet.
The House Agricultural Committee unanimously voted to strike several rules that regulate spray from aerial applicators like crop-dusters.
As U.S. regulators continue to dance around the issue of testing foods for residues of glyphosate weed killers, government scientists in Canada have found the pesticide in 197 of 200 samples of honey they examined.
Credit: Mike Mozart/flickr<p><a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/19440049.2019.1577993" target="_blank">The Canadian report</a>, published in a journal <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/action/journalInformation?show=aimsScope&journalCode=tfac20" target="_blank">called Food Additives & Contaminants: Part A,</a> said that glyphosate is currently an active ingredient in 181 herbicides registered for use in Canada and its widespread use has made it commonly found in the environment. </p><p>The study authors pointed out that Canada, like the United States, does not have a legal standard for how much of the herbicide is considered safe in honey. Regulators in different countries set what are referred to as "maximum residue limits" (MRLs) and tell consumers their food is safe if pesticide residues remain below the MRLs. In Europe, the MRL for glyphosate in <a href="http://ec.europa.eu/food/plant/pesticides/eu-pesticides-database/public/?event=pesticide.residue.CurrentMRL&language=EN" target="_blank">honey is 0.05 mg/kg</a>, also expressed as 50 μg/kg. </p><p>The Canadian study authors said that all of the levels they found were below the European limit, though the highest was just barely within the legal limit. Because the residues did not exceed the MRL, they said, "the risk to consumer health appears to be quite low based on the residues detected."</p><p>Several of the residue levels found by the FDA scientist in U.S. honey were above that so-called safe level that applies in the European Union. But the FDA, like the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and EPA, assert that as long as pesticide residues are below the legal MRLs, they are not harmful.</p><p>Many scientists do not agree that MRLs actually are protective of public health, however. </p><p>"People think the standards are protective of public health but they are not," Dr. Philip Landrigan, director of the Global Public Health Program at Boston College, told EHN. "The optimal amount" of pesticide residues in food is "zero," he said. "Remember, many of the people eating honey are children." </p><p>A team of Harvard scientists published <a href="http://www.ask-force.org/web/Organic/Hemler-Organic-Foods-for-Cancer-Preventio-Worth-the-Investment-2018.pdf" target="_blank">a commentary</a> in October stating that more research about potential links between disease and consumption of pesticide residues is "urgently needed" as more than 90 percent of the U.S. population has pesticide residues in their urine and blood. </p><p>The United States has fallen behind Europe, Canada and other countries in testing foods for residues of glyphosate. Though both the FDA and the USDA annually test thousands of food samples for pesticide residues and report the data in reports, both agencies have not included glyphosate in their yearly testing programs. </p><p> In fact, the honey test data gathered by the FDA chemist was never published by the FDA and was not included in the agency's first-ever glyphosate testing data that was released late last year as part of the annual test data report. </p><p>The USDA has similarly balked at testing foods for glyphosate residues for decades. The agency planned to start limited testing in 2017 but <a href="https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/usda-drops-plan-to-test-for-monsanto-weed-killer-in_us_58d2db4ee4b062043ad4af84" target="_blank">dropped the plan</a> with little explanation only a couple of months before testing was to have started. </p>
Scientists found that pregnant women living within a 2,000 meter radius of a highly sprayed area were anywhere from 10% to 16% more likely to have children diagnosed with autism.
Prenatal exposure to common agricultural pesticides is associated with a small to moderately increased risk of autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
More than a year after 17 farmworkers were sicked in a suspected pesticide exposure in Salinas fields, Tanimura & Antle has been issued a proposed fine of $5,000 for failing to immediately take them to medical care when they were ill.