More Bad News for Honey as U.S. Seeks to Get Handle on Glyphosate Residues in Food

Huntington Post    By Carey Gillam   Novembere 2, 2016

Testing for residues of an herbicide developed by Monsanto Co. that has been linked to cancer has turned up high levels in honey from the key farm state of Iowa, adding to concerns about contamination that have triggered at least two lawsuits against honey industry players and prompted scrutiny by regulators.

The Food and Drug Administration began glyphosate residue testing in a small number of foods earlier this year after the International Agency for Research on Cancer classified glyphosate as a probable human carcinogen in March 2015. The “special assignment,” as the FDA refers to the testing project, is the first time the FDA has ever looked for glyphosate residues in food, though it annually tests foods for numerous other pesticides.

Research by FDA chemist Narong Chamkasem and John Vargo, a chemist at the University of Iowa, shows that residues of glyphosate - the chief ingredient in Monsanto’s branded Roundup herbicide - have been detected at 653 parts per billion, more than 10 times the limit of 50 ppb allowed in the European Union. Other samples tested detected glyphosate residues in honey samples at levels from the low 20s ppb to 123 parts per billion ppb. Some samples had none or only trace amounts below levels of quantification. Previous reports had disclosed glyphosate residues in honey detected as high as 107 ppb. The collaborative work was part of an effort within FDA to establish and validate testing methodology for glyphosate residues.

“According to recent reports, there has been a dramatic increase in the usage of these herbicides, which are of risk to both human health and the environment,” Chamkasem and Vargo stated in their laboratory bulletin.

Because there is no legal tolerance level for glyphosate in honey in the United States, any amount could technically be considered a violation, according to statements made in FDA internal emails, obtained through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests.

The Environmental Protection Agency may soon move to set a tolerance, however. The agency has set tolerance levels for glyphosate residues in many foods the EPA expects might contain residues of the weed killer. When residue levels are detected above the tolerance levels, enforcement action can be taken against the food producer.

“EPA is evaluating the necessity of establishing tolerances for inadvertent residues of pesticides in honey,” the agency said in a statement. The EPA also said there was no reason for consumers to be concerned about the residue in honey. “EPA has examined the glyphosate residue levels found in honey and has determined that glyphosate residues at those levels do not raise a concern for consumers,” the agency said.

Despite the reassurances, at least two lawsuits have been filed over the issue. The Organic Consumers Association and the Beyond Pesticides nonprofit group filed suit Nov. 1 against the Sioux Honey Association Cooperative, a large Iowa-based group of bee keepers who produce the nationally known brand Sue Bee Honey. Sue Bee bills itself as “America’s Honey,” but the lawsuit alleges that the labeling and advertising of Sue Bee products as “Pure,” “100% Pure,” “Natural,” and “All-natural” is “false, misleading, and deceptive.” Some of the glyphosate residues detected in the FDA tests were found in the Sue Bee brand, according to the FDA documents obtained through FOIA requests.

The claims are similar to another lawsuit, which seeks class action status, that was filed against Sioux Honey Association in late September in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York.

Quaker Oats was sued earlier this year on a similar claim regarding glyphosate residues. The FDA has also found glyphosate residues in oatmeal, including several types of infant oat cereal.

Considering corn is a key crop in Iowa, and most of the U.S. corn crop is genetically modified to tolerate being sprayed directly with glyphosate, it is not necessarily surprising that glyphosate residues are showing up in honey in Iowa and other farm states. Honey bees naturally migrate from field to field and plant to plant, so can become contaminated by the pesticide easily and then transfer pesticide residues to their honey, according to bee industry leaders.

“It’s a chemical intrusion, a chemical trespass into our product,” said Darren Cox, president of the American Honey Producers Association. “We have really no way of controlling it. I don’t see an area for us to put our bees. We can’t put them in the middle of the desert. They need to be able to forage in ag areas. There are no ag areas free of this product.”

Sioux Honey Association President David Allibone said no one from the FDA has communicated with his group about the chemical residues found in honey, and he said he could not discuss the issue further because of the litigation.

The lawsuit filed Tuesday acknowledges the difficulties beekeepers face. They “are often the victims of, and have little recourse against, contamination of their hives caused by pesticide applications in the fields where bees forage,” the lawsuit states.

The glyphosate residues showing up in food are surprising and worrisome, according to dietitian Mitzi Dulan, a nationally known nutrition and wellness expert.

“I think more testing should be done so that we are armed with the knowledge and then we can decide what we want to put into our bodies,” Dulan said. “I do believe in minimizing pesticide exposures whenever possible.”

Jay Feldman, executive director of Beyond Pesticides, said regulators need to do more to address the issue.

“Until U.S. regulatory agencies prohibit Monsanto and other manufacturers of glyphosate from selling pesticides that end up in the food supply, we need to protect consumers by demanding truth and transparency in labeling,” Feldman said.

No Wonder! 11 Billion Pounds of Glyphosate Have Been Applied in the Last 10 Years

CATCH THE BUZZ    February 5, 2016

(Note on CSBA FB Post: This article will provide some food for thought. The CSBA understands the need for farmers to treat their crops. We also recognize that the mass usage of chemicals is not good for the environment or for bees. We hope that the agricultural, chemical and honeybee industries can work together to find a solution that benefits us all.)

Some 71.6% of the total volume of glyphosate sprayed worldwide over the 40 years to 2014 has been sprayed in just the last 10 years, a new report says.

That means over that last decade, 6.1 billion kg (11.24 billion lbs.) of glyphosate have been applied.

Washington State research professor Charles M. Benbrook says in a study published in the journal Environmental Sciences Europe, the data confirms there has been a dramatic increase in the total volume of glyphosate applied to crops across the world.

Benbrook is well-known in organic circles and was previously chief science consultant for The Organic Center, executive director for the Board on Agriculture of the National Academy of Sciences, and executive director of the Subcommittee of the House Committee on Agriculture in Washington, D.C,

His new paper says that globally, glyphosate use has risen almost 15-fold since Roundup Ready, genetically modified, glyphosate-tolerant crops were introduced in 1996.

“This research reveals that Monsanto’s glyphosate now is the most heavily used weed-killer in history, and use is sky-rocketing,” UK-based Soil Association policy director Peter Melchett says.

“This huge increase in chemical spraying is what we can expect if GM crops are ever grown in England,” Melchett says. “As well as being identified as a probable human carcinogen, the research notes that recent studies have made the connection between glyphosate exposure and a number of serious health effects as well as cancer, including the degeneration of the liver and kidney, as well as non-Hodgkin lymphoma.”

He says the new research questions the safety of using glyphosate on crops destined for people to eat just before they are harvested – “a growing practice in the UK, which must end.”

The association says glyphosate is used in public parks and other urban areas to kill weeds, and in the last year for which government figures are available, nearly a third of UK cereals, wheat and barley, were sprayed with glyphosate – a little more than one million hectares (2.47 million acres).

The Soil Association is calling for a UK ban on the use of glyphosate sprayed on UK wheat as a pre-harvest weed killer and to kill any unripe corn to speed harvests.

The association says its analysis of government data from last year revealed glyphosate use in UK farming has increased by 400% in the last 20 years.

It says glyphosate is one of the three pesticides regularly found in routine testing of British bread – appearing in up to 30% of samples tested by a Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs committee on pesticide residues in food.

The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer concluded that glyphosate is probably carcinogenic to humans.

Benbrook’s paper says there were about 1.4 billion hectares of actively farmed, arable cropland worldwide in 2014. Across this land mass, there were an estimated 747 million kg (1.64 billion Lbs.) of agricultural applications of glyphosate.

“If this volume of glyphosate had been applied evenly, about 0.53 kg of glyphosate could have been sprayed on every hectare of cropland on the planet (0.47 lbs./acre),” it says.

“The average rate of glyphosate applications per hectare per crop year during 2014 fell in the range of 1.5 kg to 2.0 kg per hectare. (.68 lb. to .9 lb./acre)”

The paper says genetically engineered, herbicide-tolerant crops now account for about 56% of global glyphosate use.

“In the U.S., no pesticide has come remotely close to such intensive and widespread use,” it says. “Given that glyphosate is moderately persistent and mobile, levels in surface and groundwater will be likely to rise in step with use, and this will increase the diversity of potential routes of animal and human exposure.”

Global agricultural use of glyphosate mushroomed following adoption of GE-HT crops in 1996. The total volume applied by farmers rose 14.6-fold, from 51 million kg (113 million lbs.) in 1995 to 747 million kg (1.65 billion lbs.) in 2014.

In this same time period, agricultural use of glyphosate in the U.S. rose 9.1-fold.

In the U.S. soybean sector, the average number of glyphosate applications rose from 1.1 per crop year in 1996 to 1.52 in 2014, while the one-time rate of application rose from 0.7 kg/hectare (0.63 lbs./acre) to 1.1 kg/ha (0.98 lb./acre) in the same period.

The average two applications in recent years on winter wheat could include a pre- or at-plant spray, an application during a summer fallow period, and/or a late-season application intended to speed up harvest operations.

The average rate per crop year – the single most important indicator of the intensity of glyphosate use – rose a dramatic 4.4-fold from 0.47 kg/ha (1,16 lbs./acre) in 1993 to 2.08 kg/ha (5.13 lbs./acre) in 2012.

“Harvest-aid uses of glyphosate have become increasingly common since the mid-2000s in U.S. northern-tier states on wheat, barley, edible beans, and a few other crops, as well as in much of northern Europe,” the report says.

Because such applications occur within days of harvest, they result in much higher residues in the harvested foodstuffs.

“To cover such residues, Monsanto and other glyphosate registrants have requested, and generally been granted, substantial increases in glyphosate tolerance levels in several crops, as well as in the animal forages derived from such crops,” the report says.

There was a 2,000-fold increase in the glyphosate tolerance on dry alfalfa hay and silage from 1993 to 2014, an increase made necessary by the approval and planting of GE-HT alfalfa.

The report says while levels of glyphosate in the air, water, and food remain well below acceptable daily intakes set by regulatory bodies around the world. a growing body of literature points to possible, adverse environmental, ecological, and human health consequences following exposure to glyphosate/

“The upward trend in glyphosate use has, and will likely continue to contribute to incremental increases in environmental loadings and human exposures to glyphosate, its major metabolite aminomethylphosphonic acid (AMPA), and various surfactants and adjuvants used in formulating end-use glyphosate-based herbicides,” it says.


Glyphosate Cleared as Danger to Honey Bees

Genetic Literacy Project    By  Andrew Porterfield         October 14, 2015

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion and analysis. 

In September, researchers from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service and Mississippi State University reported that they tested 42 commonly used pesticides in a more realistic field setting on cotton row crops. They essentially mimicked a situation where an adult bee in a cotton field accidentally gets sprayed. Furthermore, the researchers used pesticides that were in the actual commercial formulations that would be used by farmers in their fields. This is an important distinction because most previous research tested the active ingredients only, which did not include other chemicals that influence the distribution, absorption, and overall exposure of the pesticides to plants and bees. Their work appears in the Journal of Economic Entomology.

Using a modified spray tower to simulate field spray conditions, the researchers found that 26 pesticides, including many (but not all) neonicotinoids, organophosphates, and pyrethroids killed nearly all of the bees that came into contact with the test pesticide sprays. However, seven pesticides, including glyphosate and one neonicotinoid (acetamiprid), killed practically no bees in the tests.

The new data show that a number of pesticides are available, including the neonicotinoid acetamiprid, that could be used to control tarnished plant bugs, stink bugs, aphids, and mites, without causing much (if any) harm to bees. It also calls into question some regulatory measures that focus only on neonicotinoids, since organophosphates, pyrethroids, and carbamates together comprise the 26 commercial pesticides that pose a significant threat to honey bees. Also significant was the low-toxicity ranking of glyphosate, the world’s most-used pesticide, which has been targeted for its use on fields with genetically modified “Roundup-ready” crops that can resist the herbicide.

Read full, original post: Study Finds Glyphosate and Acetamiprid to Have Relatively Low Toxicity for Honey Bees

Pennsylvania Researchers    February 12, 2015
Researchers from Abraxis LLC and Boston University have further confirmed that the world’s most used herbicide – glyphosate – is widespread in food products around the globe. The researchers tested honey, pancake and corn syrup, soy sauce, soy milk and tofu purchased in the Philadelphia, US metropolitan area.

Find the full published survey here

Samples of honey (sixty nine), pancake and corn syrup (twenty six), soy sauce (twenty eight), soy milk (eleven), and tofu (twenty) purchased in the Philadelphia, US metropolitan area in 2014 were analyzed for glyphosate residue using ELISA testing.

The minimum limit of quantification (LOQ) of the method were determined for honey, pancake syrup, and corn syrup to be 15 ppb; soy sauce, soy milk, and tofu 75 ppb. This means that even if the results were negative for some products they could have...

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