Pesticide residues found on food produced in the United States, as collected from 2014 food samples, do not pose a food safety risk to the American public, according to the USDA’s annual Pesticide Data Program report.
The data, which tested for pesticides in 10,619 samples of food, focused mostly on fresh and processed samples of fruit and vegetables (approximately 8,500) but also tested samples of rice, oats, salmon, and infant formula. Samples were taken from California, Colorado, Florida, Maryland, Michigan, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Texas, and Washington.
Out of the more than 10,000 tested samples, .36 percent were found to contain pesticide levels that were above the tolerance levels set by the Environmental Protection Agency. The remaining samples, which made up more than 99 percent of the products tested, were found to contain pesticide residues that were at or lower than the EPA’s tolerance levels.
Importantly, the USDA did not conduct testing for residues from glyphosate, a broad-spectrum herbicide used widely in American agriculture, which may be most recognized as the active ingredient in Roundup, a line of products from Monsanto.
The decision not to test for glyphosate, which has been named a probable carcinogen to humans by the World Health Organization, was criticized by consumer advocacy group U.S. Right to Know, which pointed out that “many key food crops are sprayed directly with glyphosate, including corn, soybeans, sugar beets, canola and even in some cases, wheat, though wheat has not been genetically engineered as glyphosate-tolerant.”
According to the USDA, testing for broad-spectrum pesticides such as glyphosate would require funding that the agency currently lacks.