Europe: Is your food tested for glyphosate (Roundup)?

Untitled_009There is not very much testing being done on glyphosate. Most is meant to be voluntary.  But, apparently, only 5 countries have been commonly test for glyphosate ‘on a voluntary basis’.  I know the UK does as I understand the language enough to ask them (see below). So that makes 4 countries out of 27, with a total population of nearly 500 million citizens.

Yet the most commonly sprayed herbicide is not tested?.. mainly.  Different countries use different words to label differently, their food residue testing departments.  So it is pretty tricky to track down.

EFSA says:  glyphosate is an analyte which requires specific analytical equipment, in 2009 it was not analysed by many Member States, However, as glyphosate has been included in the EU coordinated programme as from 2010 onwards, I assume all Member States have made specific efforts to comply with the obligations to monitor food for glyphosate. “

But the obligations aren’t very onerous.

This information comes from “The 2009 European Union Report on Pesticide Residues in Food” EFSA Journal 2011;9(11):2430:

Within this report glyphosate is only referred to in 2 appendices, III and IV:

Appendix_III_2009 EU_Pesticides Report. Page 316.    Cereals:  Lists 462 tests sought, 42 residues found, (which were 9.1% of samples with quantifiable residues), Lower Confidence Limit: 6.8, Upper Confidence Limit 12.1. Number of countries testing, and not included in the EU testing program.

Appendix IV – Results of the Dietary Exposure Calculations – lists chemicals that are considered hazardous.  Glyphosate is not considered hazardous, (based on outdated science). The chemicals listed go straight from Fosthiazate to hexachlorobenzene.  No glyphosate there!

I have emailed EFSA, the European Food Safety Authority repeatedly, to ask which 4 countries test for glyphosate,  and no-one knows or will tell me which are the 4 countries. A mystery. Maybe Norway is another as there is one reference to a company….

There is an exciting little report called: “COMMISSION IMPLEMENTING REGULATION (EU) No 788/2012 of 31 August 2012 concerning a coordinated multiannual control programme of the Union for 2013, 2014 and 2015 to ensure compliance with maximum residue levels of pesticides and to assess the consumer exposure to pesticide residues in and on food of plant and animal origin”

It has 2 parts:

PART A Pesticide/product combinations to be monitored in/on commodities of plant origin

Page 235/14: For glyphosate:   It tells you that in the European Union, glyphosate will “be analysed in 2013 on rye/oats; in 2014 on wheat flour and 2015 on wheat.

In the rest of the commodities it is to be analysed on voluntary basis. And as discussed above in the last European Union Report in 2009, only 5 countries did so. For the most commonly used pesticide in the world.

Part B: Pesticide/product combinations to be monitored in/on commodities of animal origin:    For glufosinate-ammonium and glyphosate:

2013: No testing required

2014: (f) Poultry meat, liver (bovine and other ruminants, swine and poultry).

2015:  No testing required

Page 235/20:  Glyphosate:  To be analysed on voluntary basis in 2014. Not relevant for commodities listed in 2013/2015.

So let’s be clear here, it is the vital organs that Europeans love that accumulate the most glyphosate, and they aren’t necessarily being checked? Thankfully liver is.  Marrow, kidneys, brains, red meat for how many years, is untested. And then only by a small proportion of European countries. The animals that this meat comes from are now being fed glyphosate (Roundup Ready) tolerant corn and soy. Desiccation (late harvest sprays up to seven days before harvest) has resulted in massively increased residue levels in animal feed. There are no labelling provisions to advise consumers that the meat is fed Roundup Ready corn or soy (otherwise known as a regulatory loophole).

United Kingdom:

Quoted from a nice lady in the UK government: “Our annual reports are a straightforward overview, technical detail appears in our detailed quarterly reports.  For each food, in detailed quarterly reports we publish the full details of which pesticides they were tested for.  However, the fact that a food was not tested for glyphosate in the past does not mean it won’t be tested for it in the future.  You can see which reports contain results for each food on this page and as I said each set of results includes a full list of all pesticides we looked for in each food.”

In the EU pesticides are reassessed every 12 years.  The last time was 2000 (which came out as the 2004 paper, as far as I understand).  The next time should be this year, 2012, and there is a new directive Regulation 1107/2009, that would test glyphosate more rigorously. Based on what independent science is finding in regards to glyphosate, this change would result in more rigorous standards, and I bet, a fair chance changing the residue testing to make the most commonly used pesticide in the world, become tested on our food before it goes into our mouths.

The lax testing you see above is based on the last pesticide assessment in 2000, with all studies selected by agrichemical companies.

Unless people speak up, EFSA will revert to the old easier Directive 91/414 that does not take into account modern science and the knowledge we now have.

And if EU citizens do not speak up, the next time for reassessment will be 2030, based on the requirements of the old Directive 91/414

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