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Beyond the Rows is a Monsanto Company blog focused on one of the world’s most important industries, agriculture. Monsanto employees write about Monsanto’s business, the agriculture industry, and the farmer.
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Glyphosate Residues: What Do We Know From Existing Data?

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You might have seen recent media reports that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is preparing to conduct testing on glyphosate residues in certain foods. We are confident that if FDA does move forward with this testing in a scientifically rigorous way, it will reaffirm the safe use of glyphosate as a vital tool effectively used by farmers, landowners and homeowners around the world.

Glyphosate is one of the most extensively studied agricultural products on the market, and the library of glyphosate data includes residue studies. In the United States, the EPA sets what is known as a tolerance, or maximum amount allowed, for all pesticide residues on food commodities.

The EPA also sets what is known as an Acceptable Daily Intake, or ADI, for every pesticide. The ADI represents the amount of pesticide a person could consume over a lifetime without an unacceptable health risk.  The ADI is an extremely conservative figure, and it is set at least 100 times lower than levels that have been demonstrated to cause adverse effects in animal studies.

So, what do the existing residue data show about glyphosate? In 2013, the EPA found that all glyphosate exposures through food and water sources were no more than 13 percent of the ADI. And that was based on a highly conservative assumption that all crops were treated with glyphosate and carried the maximum tolerance level.

In 2012, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) examined 635 samples of various foods for glyphosate residues. Only 77 of the samples, or 12.2 percent, contained detectable glyphosate residues – and none of those samples exceeded of the maximum allowable level.

When it comes to controlling weeds, bugs and other pests, farmers have a broad range of tools at their disposal. Pesticides like glyphosate are one option in the farmer’s toolbox.  Farmers use these tools with great precision – making sure they apply the right pesticide in the right amount at the right time. Label instructions and enforcement help ensure that farmers use these tools properly.

As consumers ourselves, we care about the quality and safety of the food we provide for our families and for yours. We are confident any additional residue testing conducted on glyphosate will reaffirm its 40-year history of safe use.

Here are some additional resources about glyphosate, residues and pesticides in general:

  • Click here to read a blog post by a Monsanto toxicologist on the topic of pesticide residues.
  • Click here for information about glyphosate on Monsanto.com.
  • Click here to learn more about how the EPA regulates pesticides.
  • Click here for an EPA report from May 2013 showing glyphosate levels far below ADI.
  • Click here for data from EFSA’s 2012 study on pesticide residues.

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