Glyphosate herbicide was found in “significant levels” in Mississippi as part of a U.S. Geological Survey Office (USGS) project, and the findings have been submitted to the Environmental Protection Agency to be used as part of the agency’s evaluation of the registration of glyphosate.
The EPA is reviewing the registration for glyphosate and the data gathered by the U.S. Geological Survey has been submitted to the EPA. Reportedly the EPA has set a deadline of 2015 for determining if glyphosate use at recent volumes establishes a health hazard or if its use should be limited or the drastic step of rescinding its registration. Another report says the U.S. EPA is working closely with regulators in Canada as they also assess the long-term safety and potential for limiting use.
News organizations and activist groups reported the general aspects of the Mississippi glyphosate levels, but did not provide exact data. The Environmental Working Group was quick to express how the survey shows the hazards of glyphosate because it is a synthetic chemical too widely dispersed in the environment.
"It is out there in significant levels. It is out there consistently," Paul Capel, environmental chemist and head of the agricultural chemicals team at the USGS, told Reuters News Service. The USGS is part of the U.S. Department of Interior.
Capel said more tests are needed to determine how harmful glyphosate might be to people and animals, although glyphosate has been used without reported health hazards since its introduction as Roundup herbicide in 1974 by Monsanto Company.
Capel said glyphosate was found in every stream sample examined in Mississippi in a two-year period and in most air samples taken. All herbicides go through extensive toxicology and health testing before they can be registered, which includes some form of inhalation testing.
It appears USGS is suggesting more analysis of health implications, which was not any part of the original USGS survey responsibility. The survey was designed to “determine exposure."
Similar environmental exposure sampling was done in Iowa, but survey results didn’t find the same extreme degree of exposure. Iowa and Mississippi were selected as representative of north and south states with high levels of glyphosate use.
USGS reports that glyphosate use today has increased eight times or more than the 1992 use because about 11,000 tons of product were used in 1992 and 88,000 tons were already being used by 2007, the latest year of confirmed data.