Canada increasing residue limits for glyphosate (Roundup) for some foods

Health Canada has proposed increasing the maximum residue limit for glyphosate in certain foods (oat bran, rolled oats, wheat germ, some nuts, dry peas/lentils/beans and a few others). The proposed changes were published in May, and the public comment period ended yesterday (July 20th). Some press outlets started noticing the whole thing on… July 19th, and many haven’t mentioned it at all so far.

It’s unclear where the change comes from. Health Canada says the increase is meant to follow FAO/WHO Codex Alimentarius guidelines and simplify trade. Some don’t agree that this follows those guidelines (apparently, some of the new limits would be higher than the current U.S. or E.U. limits) – or don’t agree with the guidelines altogether. As can be expected, the main people contesting the change are organic farmers and environmentalists.

Still, it feels weird to see an increase in the amount of Roundup allowed in food.

One thing that was mentioned in the press, which I didn’t know about, is dessicating, the practice of spraying glyphosate on some grains shortly before harvesting (1-2 weeks), because dead plants are easier to harvest. Apparently this is practiced in Canada. (This is not necessarily related to the policy change, just a somewhat-disturbing fact that’s mentioned by people who oppose glyphosate in general.)

I’ve used Roundup to get rid of weeds in my paved driveway, it works well. I haven’t tried it as a salad dressing yet.

So, should I worry about this ?

Yes this has already been happening for years. When I owned farmland I found out that crop dusters routinely sprayed round-up in the fall to ensure the wheat crops died & dried at a uniform time, so they harvested a uniform product. The chemical becomes harmless quite fast; we’ve been eating it as a salad dressing for years if not generations already.

Yeah I’d be worried about this. Yet another case of efficiency/profit over health.

My uncle told me you could probably drink a big glass of Roundup and it wouldn’t hurt you none. Hell, it’d probably do you some good.

(He’s a farmer and I’m exaggerating.)

A high percentage of protesters are undoubtedly Toxin-shouters (who think that any amount of a substance deemed to be a Chemical must be bad), and anti-GMOers who have made glyphosate a proxy for genetic modification technology.

There have been numerous scare stories in various media about glyphosate residue in whatever parts per billion turning up in breakfast cereal etc. Nowhere has there been any convincing evidence presented that while sounding yucky this poses any health risk.

I’d prefer that my food and drinking water be absolutely pristine, with zero traces of any pesticide, herbicide, industrial chemicals, aluminum, arsenic and so on. But the only way that’s possible is if I find another planet to live on.

I don’t know how widespread the use of glyphosate in dessicating crops is (many farmers supposedly do not do it) but I’d think agriculture could dispense with that practice, not so much for human safety but to spare the environment the extra exposure to even a low toxicity herbicide and to help delay the inevitable point at which weed resistance makes glyphosate obsolete.

I wouldn’t worry about your oat bran.