Sad News: USDA Dumps Plans to Test Foods for Glyphosate Herbicide
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has quietly scrapped plans to start testing food for glyphosate, the primary component of the Monsanto-made herbicide RoundUp.
The agency announced last year that it would begin testing food for glyphosate beginning in April 2017. In late 2016, data released by the USDA showed varying levels of pesticides, fungicides, and weed-killers in 85% of foods it sampled through its Pesticide Data Program. One sample of strawberries tested positive for 20 different pesticides.  
The USDA spent the last year coordinating with the EPA and the FDA in preparation to start testing corn syrup samples for glyphosate residues on April 1, according to internal documents obtained through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests.
Those documents show that since January 26 of this year, the glyphosate testing plan was still progressing. But when asked about the program, a USDA spokesperson said no glyphosate residue testing would be conducted this year. 
The USDA’s partnership with the EPA on glyphosate testing is notable because an EPA official was recently accused of helping Monsanto “kill” a study linking the chemical to cancer. 
The plan called for the USDA to collect and test 315 samples of corn syrup from various locations in the U.S. from April through August. The products were also supposed to be tested for the AMPA metabolite. AMPA (aminomethylphosphonic acid) is created as glyphosate breaks down. The residue comes saddled with its own safety concerns.
The USDA spokesperson, who did not wish to be named, said the plan had been replaced with one that samples and tests honey, which he said “covers over 100 different pesticides.” But honey will not be tested specifically for glyphosate residues, the spokesperson said, because it requires a different methodology.
The agency routinely tests for pesticides in food production, but not for glyphosate, and this stance has garnered the USDA much harsh criticism in recent years – as well it should. Glyphosate use has skyrocketed over the last 20 years, and so has the marketing of glyphosate-resistant crops.
Additionally, when the USDA last tested for the glyphosate and AMPA in 2011, they were found in 271 out of 300 soybean samples. At the time, the department said the levels were considerably lower than its established maximum residue level.
Currently, no federal agency is testing for glyphosate. The FDA’s testing program came to a halt last year after a chemist found glyphosate in honey and oatmeal, including infant oat cereal.
 U.S. PIRG
 Bloomberg News
|Julie Fidler is a freelance writer, legal blogger, and the author of Adventures in Holy Matrimony: For Better or the Absolute Worst. She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and two ridiculously spoiled cats. She occasionally pontificates on her blog.