Crackers, granola and cereal one Food and Drug Administration official brought from his home tested positive for a widely used chemical linked to cancer in 2017 — but the results were never made public, according to a report.
A freedom of information request from The Guardian revealed that chemist Richard Thompson told his colleagues about the test in an internal FDA email from last January when he found glyphosate residue on his food products.
The results have yet to be released.
Glyphosate is the active ingredient in hundreds of herbicides, like Roundup, used in food production across the country. More than 200 million pounds of the weedkiller are used annually, according to the nonprofit U.S. Right to Know.
"I have brought wheat crackers, granola cereal and corn meal from home and there's a fair amount in all of them," Thompson wrote in the email, noting that broccoli yielded the only negative result.
The email is one of many from the FDA that prove the agency has been actively trying to determine how much glyphosate is actually in the food that Americans are consuming.
The administration is responsible for keeping track of pesticide levels used on food to ensure illegally high quantities aren't being sprayed. The International Agency for Research on Cancer deemed glyphosate a potential human carcinogen in 2015.
"People care about what contaminants are in their food," University of California San Francisco School of Medicine professor Tracey Woodruff told The Guardian. "If there is scientific information about these residues in the food, the FDA should release it. It helps people make informed decisions. Taxpayers paid for the government to do this work, they should get to see the information."
A separate FDA email from chemist Narong Chamkasem found an "over-the-tolerance" lever of glyphosate in samples of corn he tested at 6.5 parts per million — the limit is 5.0. Typically, illegal limits are reported to the Environmental Protection Agency but an FDA supervisor on the email wrote to an EPA official that the corn wasn't an "official sample."
Some scientists argue that pesticides are harmful when they're consumed regularly, over a prolonged period of time, even when they're under the legal limits.
"Even with low levels of pesticides, we're exposed to so many and we don't count the fact that we have cumulative exposures," director of the U.S. National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, toxicologist Linda Birnbaum, said.
The makers of Roundup — Monsanto — are currently engaged in a legal battle that will go to court in June. The company is trying to block allegations that glyphosate causes cancer from being released in court.
An official study of the FDA's findings is expected to come later this year or in early 2019 as part of the 2016 residue report — research that's released about every two years.