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Daily News Blog

13
Feb

Adding to Residue Studies, Report Documents Toxic Pesticides in Common Foods Sold by Major Retailers

(Beyond Pesticides, February 13, 2019) Friends of the Earth (FOE) released a report last week again showing pesticide residues in the food supply. The report, Toxic Secret, found store and name brand foods produced and sold by the top four U.S. food retailers — Kroger (NYSE:KR), Walmart (NYSE: WMT), Costco (NYSE:COST) and Albertsons — contain residues of toxic pesticides linked to a range of serious health and environmental problems. Among the pesticides found is the herbicide glyphosate, confirming residue testing results found in numerous studies. Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, has has been detected in popular foods, including “100% pure” honeyDoritos, Oreos, Goldfish, Ritz CrackersGerman beersCalifornia wines, and UK bread. Glyphosate has been ranked as potentially cancer causing in humans and adversely affects the human gut microbiome. See Residue Testing Find More Glyphosate in Popular Cereals.

The FOE study finds that oat cereals, apples, applesauce, spinach and pinto beans at the retailers contained detectable amounts of glyphosate, organophosphates and neonicotinoids. The average level of glyphosate found in cereal samples (360 parts per billion) was more than twice the level set by scientists at Environmental Working Group for lifetime cancer risk for children. The average level of glyphosate found in pinto beans (509 ppb) was more than 4.5 times the benchmark.*

“Toxic pesticides are showing up in what should be some of the healthiest and most affordable foods supermarkets sell,” said Kendra Klein, PhD, senior staff scientist at Friends of the Earth. “Children, farmworkers and rural communities are routinely exposed to multiple pesticides linked to cancer, learning disabilities and hormone disruption. This is unacceptable. We’re calling on food retailers to get toxic pesticides out of their supply chains and off store shelves and help make organic food available to all Americans.”

Findings of the food testing are significant because of the ubiquity of toxic pesticides found in many different types of non-organic foods children eat on a daily basis. Findings include:

  • Glyphosate, a probable human carcinogen according to the World Health Organization’s cancer research agency, was found on 100% of oat cereal samples and 100% of pinto bean samples tested.
  • Organophosphates, which are so toxic to children’s developing brains that scientists have called for a complete ban, were found in 100% of applesauce samples, 61% of whole apples and 25% of spinach samples, at levels ranging from 0 to 3.31 nmol/g.
  • Neonicotinoids, which the European Union has banned due to robust science linking the chemicals to bee die-offs and which have been linked to endocrine disruption and autism spectrum disorder, were found in 80% of spinach and 73% of applesauce samples ranging from 0 to 0.14 nmol/g.

Brands tested by an independent laboratory included Great Value (Walmart), Kroger (Kroger), Signature Kitchens and Signature Select (Albertsons/Safeway). Kroger, Walmart, Albertsons and Costco control over one third of all food and beverage sales in the U.S. Toxics Action Center and over 100 organizations are urging these companies and all food retailers to phase-out toxic pesticides in their supply chains and increase offerings of domestic organic foods, which are produced without these and many other toxic synthetic pesticides.

FOE and the groups releasing the report are calling on Congress to pass Rep. Velazquez’s bill H.R. 230 to ban the organophosphate pesticide chlorpyrifos. See Help Get Neurotoxic Pesticides, Chlorpyrifos, Out of Agriculture. The report details additional actions state and federal governments could take to eliminate the use of neonicotinoids, glyphosate and organophosphates, incentivize transition to organic production and direct public dollars to purchase certified organic food and beverages.

The groups that joined with FOE in releasing the report include Beyond Toxics, CATA-El Comite de Apoyo a Los Trabajadores Agricolas, Ecology Center, Environment Texas, Friends of the Earth, Grassroots Environmental Education, Maryland Pesticide Education Network, Northwest Center for Alternatives to Pesticides, Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association, People and Pollinators Action Network, Pesticide Action Network North America, Toxic Free North Carolina, and Turner Environmental Law Center.

Beyond the ingestion of toxic pesticide residues, our food choices have a direct effect on the health of our environment and those who grow and harvest what we eat.  That’s why food labeled organic is the right choice. In addition to serious health questions linked to actual residues of toxic pesticides on the food we eat, our food buying decisions support or reject hazardous agricultural practices, protection of farmworkers and farm families, and stewardship of the earth. It is important to eat organic food –nurtured in a system of food production, handling and certification that rejects hazardous synthetic chemicals. USDA organic certification is the only system of food labeling that is subject to independent public review and oversight, assuring consumers that toxic, synthetic pesticides used in conventional agriculture are replaced by management practices focused on soil biology, biodiversity, and plant health. This eliminates commonly used toxic chemicals in the production and processing of food that is not labeled organic–pesticides that contaminate our water and air, hurt biodiversity, harm farmworkers, and kill bees, birds, fish and other wildlife. See Eating with a Conscience.

* Environmental Working Group determined that a one-in-a-million cancer risk would be posed by ingestion of 0.01 milligrams of glyphosate per day. To reach this maximum dose, one would have to eat a single 60-gram serving of oat cereal with a glyphosate level of 160 parts per billion (ppb) or a 90 gram serving of pinto beans with a glyphosate level of 110 ppb. The highest residue level from a cereal product sample (931 ppb, purchased from Walmart) would result in an estimated 58 µg/day glyphosate exposure, which is nearly six times greater than EWG’s health benchmark. The highest residue level from a pinto bean product sample (1,849 ppb, purchased from Albertson’s) would result in an estimated 168 µg/day glyphosate, which is nearly 17 times greater.

All unattributed positions and opinions in this piece are those of Beyond Pesticides.

Source: Friends of the Earth

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