CFIA report to weigh in on glyphosate debate

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency is about to release a report that could change the public perception of glyphosate.

Since 2015, CFIA scientists have been testing food for residues of glyphosate, a product best known by the Roundup brand name, although other brands and generic exist. It is the most popular herbicide in the world.

In 2016, the CFIA said it was planning to test a long list of foods and commodities, including juices, grains, grain products, beans, peas, lentils, soybean products and barley.

Before these tests, the CFIA had not monitored food for residues of the herbicide.

In an email, the agency said it would release an executive summary of the report in a food safety testing bulletin in about a month.

“The executive summary will provide context to what that report means for the health and safety of consumers. An email notification will also be sent to subscribers of the CFIA’s Reports on Food Safety Testing.”

The report could generate a great deal of media attention in Canada because glyphosate is one of the most controversial agricultural chemicals in Europe and America.

Last year, the European Union came close to banning it because of a scientific report from the World Health Organization (WHO).

In March of 2015, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), a WHO division, concluded that glyphosate is “probably carcinogenic” to humans.

The IARC decision rocked the scientific status quo around glyphosate, as previous studies and most toxicologists had concluded that it’s not carcinogenic.

The IARC report spawned countless lawsuits in the U.S., with environmental groups suing companies over glyphosate residues in foods like granola bars and honey.

Related story: Glyphosate residue in honey raises concerns

California may soon require that glyphosate products carry a label saying it’s a cancer threat, because of the IARC ruling.

Environmental groups are waiting on the CFIA report because it could alter the public debate in Canada.

“Naturally, we welcome the Canadian Food Inspection Agency publishing data on glyphosate contamination levels in food. People have a right to know what risks they’re taking when they go food shopping,” said Eoin Dubsky, from SumOfUs, a global group dedicated to curbing the power of corporations.

“Publicly revealing glyphosate contamination levels in food could also help producers and brands think over their relationship to glyphosate and hopefully we’ll hear smarter food industry players committing to cut the toxic stuff and regain consumer trust.”

The CFIA report comes at a time when IARC and the credibility of its study are under attack.

The European Food Safety Authority, the United Nations World Health Organization, Health Canada, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency have studied the risk and said the herbicide doesn’t cause cancer.

In mid-March, the European Chemicals Agency, said direct contact can cause eye damage and chronic exposure poses a risk to aquatic life but it said glyphosate isn’t carcinogenic to humans.

“The available scientific evidence did not meet the criteria… to classify glyphosate for specific target organ toxicity, or as a carcinogen, as a mutagen or for reproductive toxicity.”

Contact robert.arnason@producer.com

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