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The poisoning of our food supply

EPA pesticide residue review process
EPA pesticide residue review process
Environmental Protection Agency flowchart

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is not protecting our food supply. The FDA takes its orders from congress, and no amount of lobbying by the people has an effect upon the agency. Congress, being heavily lobbied by the chemical industry, has made numerous changes and exceptions to the laws in favor of the chemical companies. The following chronology of events shows that, although the U.S. government has taken steps to ensure the safety of our food supply, there has been an increasing acceptance of poisonous additives to our food. A little here and a little there won't hurt us, right?

1906: The use of poisonous preservatives and dyes in food was one major problem, among others, that lead to the enactment of the Food and Drug Act, passed on June 30, 1906 and signed by Theodore Roosevelt.

1914: The Supreme Court ruled that the burden of proof is on the government to show a relationship between a chemical additive and the harm it allegedly causes in humans. (U.S. v. Lexington Mill and Elevator Company; the mere presence of nitrite residues in bleached flour was not sufficient to render the food illegal.)

1927: The Bureau of Chemistry is split into the Food, Drug, and Insecticide Administration, and the Bureau of Chemistry and Soils.

1930: The name of the Food, Drug, and Insecticide Administration is shortened to Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This is only a guess, but it seems likely that people found the words “food” and “insecticide” unpalatable when put together.

1938: Congress passes the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act which, among other things, provided that safe tolerances be set for “unavoidable poisonous substances.” Apparently, “unavoidable poisonous substances” includes pesticide residues in our food. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, “Section 408 of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act authorizes EPA to set tolerances, or maximum residue limits, for pesticide residues on foods.” and “Some pesticides are exempted from the requirement to have a tolerance. EPA may grant exemptions in cases where the pesticide residues do not pose a dietary risk under reasonably foreseeable circumstances.” Section 408 states that tolerances should be set at levels that balance the need to protect the consumer's health against the need for "an adequate, wholesome and economical food supply." Here we have the first insinuation that it's okay to spray poison on our food, in fact it's wholesome and necessary.

1950: The Delaney Committee (named after New York Congressman Jim Delaney) starts a congressional investigation into the safety of chemicals in foods, eventually resulting in the 1954 Miller Pesticide Amendment and the 1958 Food Additives Amendment.

1954: The Miller Pesticide Amendment is enacted. It outlines the procedure for setting safety limits for pesticide residues on raw agricultural commodities. The EPA is charged with conducting risk/benefit analyses of pesticide use on raw food. We are now firmly entrenched in the notion that spraying poison on our food is somehow safe and beneficial.

1958: The Food Additives Amendment to the 1954 Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act is enacted. It includes the Delaney Clause (section 409). The Delaney clause prohibits the approval of any food additive shown to induce cancer in humans or animals. This was a zero-risk policy that congress has since repeatedly amended to allow for more and more exceptions. In 1996 it was ultimately repealed. “The 'zero–risk' standard, which made no allowances at all, was changed to one of 'reasonable certainty',” as currently determined by the EPA.

1958: The FDA publishes the first list of substances generally recognized as safe (GRAS), initially with nearly 200 substances. The list now contains 498 substances including genetically modified crops.

1962: The Consumer Bill of Rights is proclaimed by President John F. Kennedy in a message to Congress. Included are the right to safety, the right to be informed, the right to choose, and the right to be heard. Those were the days! But we all know what happened to him.

1969: Richard Nixon orders the FDA to review its GRAS list. Apparently, not everything on the list was actually safe (cyclamate, product of Dupont, an artificial sweetener).

1970: The Environmental Protection Agency is established and takes over from FDA in setting pesticide tolerances.

1971: The artificial sweetener saccharin (product of Monsanto), included in FDA's original GRAS list, is removed from the list pending new scientific study.

1977: The Saccharin Study and Labeling Act was passed by Congress to stop the FDA from banning the chemical sweetener. At the same time the act required a warning label stating that it has been found to cause cancer in laboratory animals. This one looks suspiciously like a favor to Monsanto while sidestepping the Delaney clause.

1988: Michael Taylor (current Deputy Commissioner for Foods at the FDA, former lawyer for Monsanto) wrote a paper arguing that the Delaney clause can be interpreted to allow carcinogenic chemicals in food so long as they are present in low amounts presenting minimal risk. Once again we are brainwashed into believing that small amounts of poisons are perfectly permissible.

1992: The FDA lists Genetically Modified Organisms as GRAS. FDA policy states that GMO crops are not even considered additives, rather they are “substantially equivalent” to conventional crops and they need no separate category. Yet the majority of the GMO crops are modified with inbuilt insecticide Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) or for tolerance to direct applications of herbicides.

1996: The Food Quality Protection Act amends the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, eliminating application of the Delaney proviso to pesticides. It is now permissible to have pesticide residues in our food whether they are carcinogenic or not provided that their ill effects occur only after some critical level of exposure is reached. The law also allows the EPA to expedite approval of “low risk” pesticides. Monsanto’s Roundup Glyphosate-based herbicide is on this list. This act requires the EPA to reassess all existing pesticide tolerances. It seems that the majority of the reassessments consist of testing for pesticide residues (see image). If the residues are below the maximum already allowed, the reassessment is complete. If residues exceed or nearly exceed the limit, the EPA either raises the pesticide residue limit based on what is already present (which is what they did last summer for glyphosate), or performs a new risk assessment.

A new risk assessment must take into account any new scientific studies published since the last approval. This is why it was vital to the industry to expunge as many scientific studies as possible from the record. Last year, Dr Richard E. Goodman, a former Monsanto scientist, was appointed to a newly created editorial position in biotechnology at the Elsevier journal, Food and Chemical Toxicology [FCT]. Soon after Goodman’s appointment, a paper by Bélin Poletto Mezzomo challenging the safety of GM crop technology was withdrawn from FCT but was subsequently published in the Journal of Hematology & Thromboembolic Diseases. Approximately six months later (last fall), Gilles-Eric Séralini's paper on the long-term toxic effects of GMOs was retracted from FCT on the grounds that it was “inconclusive.” Such a thing has never before happened in the history of scientific publication. At the exact same time that the Séralini paper was retracted, Anthony Samsel and Stephanie Seneff were asked by their editor at Entropy to withdraw their paper on the toxic effects of glyphosate. Entropy then did an about-face, apologized to Samsel and Seneff and published their policy on controversial papers. We have at least one journal with integrity.

Coincidentally, the European Union (EU) is re-evaluating glyphosate this year. German regulatory authorities act as the registrar on glyphosate in the EU authorization process. They have found no problems with glyphosate and are recommending re-approval, along with a suggestion to the EU that the acceptable daily intake for glyphosate be raised.

1996: The Saccharin Notice Repeal Act repeals the cancer-causing saccharin notice requirements. Another win for Monsanto.

According to the EPA, “As of October 31, 2013, EPA has screened dietary assessments for 296 pesticides or pesticide groupings with tolerance decisions made between August 1996 and the end of Fiscal Year 2010 (September 30, 2010). The Agency has determined that 286 continue to meet the FQPA [Food Quality Protection Act] safety standard...” Two hundred and eighty six poisons can be found in our food but the EPA is “reasonably certain” that the individual tolerance levels are safe. There are approximately 120 exemptions for substances not requiring a tolerance (or maximum residue level) and the GRAS list contains 498 substances, including genetically modified crops. And this is only for food. Have you read the ingredients list on your shampoo?

Is anyone taking into account the cumulative effect of all these chemicals? Under the Food Quality Protection Act, the EPA is supposed to do this but there is no evidence they have done so. They have “developed a framework” and published some “guidelines” and made of list of pesticides that they don't think should be included, but results are not forthcoming. The total amount of chemicals that are now allowed in our food exceeds any reasonable definition of safe, or sane for that matter.

GMOs, with their inbuilt insecticides and herbicide tolerance, along with the practice of crop desiccation with herbicides (glyphosate in particular) has pushed us over the edge of the cliff. But not to worry. If we become ill from these pesticides and herbicides, these same companies are ready and waiting with more chemicals in the form of drugs which will alleviate the symptoms of our poisoning. When we suffer side effects from the drugs, they have more drugs. We have, quite literally, put our lives into their hands.

Thanks to the revolving door between the U.S. regulatory agencies and the chemical companies, vast amounts of chemicals are in our food, air, water, cosmetics and the entire planet. There is an unimaginable amount of money involved in the chemical industry: agricultural, industrial and pharmaceutical. The stakeholders need us to believe in them. They need us to believe they have our best interests at heart. They need us to believe that our government protects us from harm. They need us to believe that we cannot live without them. It is increasingly apparent that we cannot live with them.

We now live in a world where it is considered beneficial and necessary to spray poison all over our food and to add more poison (dye, preservatives, flavor enhancers, etc.) in processing our food. Then we take more poisons to counteract the poisons. Beam me up, Scotty, the inmates are insane.