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FDA Finds Roundup Residues in American Honey

September 16, 2016 — Honey collected in several locations in the United States has tested positive for Roundup (glyphosate) residues by the FDA.

Glyphosate is sprayed on most acres of soybeans, cotton, corn, and alfalfa grown in the United States. The bees are carrying glyphosate back to their hives after visiting fields that have been sprayed.

In January 2016, FDA chemist Narong Chamkasem tested about 10 samples of honey. All of the samples tested positive for glyphosate, and some had twice the 50 parts per billion (ppb) limit set in the European Union (EU).

He also complained about having trouble finding “blank” honey without glyphosate to use as a control. According to the test results (PDF):

  • Carmichael’s Honey (Youngsville, Louisiana) — 107 ppb
  • Leighton’s Orange Blossom Honey (Haines City, Florida) — 22 ppb
  • Sue Bee Honey (Sioux City, Iowa) — 41 ppb

The documents were published by U.S. Right to Know, a consumer advocacy group that filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the FDA.

There is no legal tolerance level for glyphosate in the U.S., so any amount detected in honey is technically illegal. However, the FDA said in an email (PDF) that residues are “not a safety threat” because the EPA has concluded that glyphosate is “almost non-toxic” to people and animals.

Not everyone agrees with the EPA. Last year, the World Health Organization’s cancer agency re-classified glyphosate as a “probable human carcinogen” based on several studies around the world linking exposures among farmworkers with non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

It was only in February that the FDA announced it would start testing foods for glyphosate. The decision came after the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) criticized the FDA. Independent researchers have found glyphosate in oatmeal, bagels, organic eggs, potatoes, and more.

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