The Environmental Protection Agency is falling short in its duty to protect Americans from the dangers of glyphosate, the most widely used weed killer in agriculture, according to a scientific review published online yesterday (Feb. 17) in the journal Environmental Health. The agency’s estimates of safe levels of exposure are based on outdated science, and its scientists are not sufficiently monitoring how much glyphosate is getting into food and people.
This one-two punch follows a study earlier this month that tallied the 2.4 billion pounds of glyphosate that American growers have sprayed on crops in the last decade alone. This should give the EPA serious pause as the agency works on reassessing glyphosate’s risks.
The studies should also be a wake-up call to Big Ag groups whose knee-jerk response is to defend glyphosate as necessary to maintain business as usual, no matter how destructive certain practices may be.
The leading environmental health and herbicide experts who conducted the new scientific review concluded that glyphosate, the most heavily used weed killer in the world, is contaminating drinking water, precipitation and the air – especially in agricultural regions.
The authors point out that even though glyphosate was originally touted as relatively short-lived and benign, the toxic weed killer persists in water and soil longer than scientists originally thought, and humans are more at risk of exposure than ever.
Glyphosate is not only a probable human carcinogen; animal studies have also linked it to liver and kidney damage as well as potential disruption of the endocrine system.
The EPA has dropped the ball when it comes to tracking the myriad ways people are exposed to glyphosate, and its estimates of safe exposure levels are outdated. Meanwhile, the Food and Drug Administration is just now starting to test for glyphosate in food.
Growing food should not put the health of consumers or nearby communities at risk of increased exposure to toxic chemicals.