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Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro

Representing the 3rd District of Connecticut

DeLauro, House Dems Urge USDA to Include Tests for Glyphosate in Pesticide Residue Monitoring Program

January 28, 2019
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC (January 28, 2019)Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (CT-03) today led a letter of 31 House Democrats calling for the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Sonny Perdue to include testing for glyphosate in the annual Pesticide Data Program, USDA’s national pesticide residue monitoring program. Glyphosate is the active ingredient in Roundup, the popular weed killer marketed by Bayer (formerly Monsanto). A recent independent study commissioned by the Environmental Working Group detected glyphosate in dozens of oat-based cereal and snack foods marketed to children. Glyphosate is currently undergoing registration review by the Environmental Protection Agency and has previously been classified as a Group 2A Carcinogen by the World Health Organization.

Under the Trump Administration, USDA has abandoned previous plans to begin glyphosate residue testing. In October 2014, a United States Government Accountability Office (GAO) report criticized pesticide residue monitoring programs at both USDA and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). GAO made nine recommendations, one of which called on the agencies to report which pesticides were not tested for and the potential effect of not testing for those pesticides. To date, these recommendations have not been implemented. Recently, FDA has undertaken limited testing of glyphosate residue in common foods.

“We write to express our concern regarding glyphosate residues in commonly consumed foods and to urge the Department of Agriculture to include tests for glyphosate in its annual pesticide residue monitoring programs,” wrote the Members. “Like the FDA, the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service maintains the Pesticide Data Program, a national pesticide residue monitoring program and database. However, unlike the FDA, the USDA has abandoned previous plans to include glyphosate residue in its annual program.”

“The omission of glyphosate residue testing and monitoring from the USDA’s Pesticide Data Program is irresponsible and undermines our ability to ensure the safest possible food supply for all American consumers,” continued the Members. “Therefore, we urge you to include testing for glyphosate residues in next year’s Pesticide Data Program and remain committed to working with you to provide the necessary resources to do so.”

DeLauro is a senior Democrat on the Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee, which has jurisdiction over funding and oversight of the USDA.

Below is the full text of the letter:

 

Dear Secretary Perdue:

We write to express our concern regarding glyphosate residues in commonly consumed foods and to urge the Department of Agriculture (USDA) to include tests for glyphosate in its annual pesticide residue monitoring programs.

As you know, glyphosate is the active ingredient in Roundup, a popular agrochemical marketed by Bayer (formerly Monsanto). Registered as both an herbicide and pesticide, it is widely used throughout agriculture production, from fruit and vegetable production to row crops like corn, soybeans, and wheat.

Glyphosate’s impact on human health and the environment has long been the center of controversy, and the product is currently undergoing registration review by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). In 2015, a Working Group formed by the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer found glyphosate to be “probably carcinogenic to humans,” and classified it as a Group 2A Carcinogen. 

As a result, considerable public interest has arisen as to what levels of glyphosate residues, if any, are present in commonly consumed foods. Recent testing by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) discovered detectable levels of the herbicide in more than a dozen popular children’s breakfast foods, including granola, cereals, and instant oats. Similarly, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which began including tests for glyphosate in its annual “Pesticide Residue Monitoring Program” in 2016, found detectable glyphosate levels in 63.1% of corn samples and 67.0% of soybean samples. Just as concerning, the same analysis found that glyphosate was the fourth most prevalent pesticide residue found on human foods.

Like the FDA, the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service maintains the Pesticide Data Program (PDP), a national pesticide residue monitoring program and database. However, unlike the FDA, the USDA has abandoned previous plans to include glyphosate residue in its annual program. In fact, to our knowledge, the only time the USDA has comprehensively studied glyphosate residue occurred in 2011 at the request of the EPA. With respected to that onetime study, the Government Accountability Office discovered that the “USDA detected glyphosate residues in about 90 percent of the 300 soybean samples and the glyphosate metabolite in over 95 percent of the samples.”

The omission of glyphosate residue testing and monitoring from the USDA’s Pesticide Data Program is irresponsible and undermines our ability to ensure the safest possible food supply for all American consumers. Therefore, we urge you to include testing for glyphosate residues in next year’s Pesticide Data Program and remain committed to working with you to provide the necessary resources to do so.

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