Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : March 25th 2017 Contents A24 body & soul
guardian.co.tt Saturday, March 25, 2017
Weedkiller safety standards need urgent review
Emerging evidence suggests that
the safety standards for glypho-
sate---a chemicalwidelyusedin com-
mon weed-killers---may be failingto
protect public and environmental
health, suggest experts in an essay published in
the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health.
The standards are based on out of date science, say the
researchers, and may not therefore be able to address the
full complement of potential health hazards associated
with exposure to these chemicals. They call for an urgent
review of these standards.
Earlier this month, the European Chemicals Agency
gave glyphosate the all-clear, concluding that it is not
linked to a heightened risk of cancer in people. This rul-
ing will be used to inform the European Commission's
decision later this year on whether to re-authorise the
use of this chemical.
In the US, glyphosate use has increased rapidly over
the past two decades and it is now the most widely used
weed-killer in the nation. Global estimates suggest that
in 2014 enough glyphosate was used to spray nearly 0.5
kg on every hectare of arable land across the entire planet.
Glyphosate is not only used to kill off weeds before crops
are planted, and to control weed growth afterwards, but
it is also used to speed up the natural drying of seeds be-
fore harvest. Residues have also been found in soybeans,
wheat, barley and many other crops and foods, say the
But most of the science used to support the safety
standards applied in the US was carried out more than
30 years ago, and relatively little of it was subject to peer
review, they point out. More than 1,500 studies have been
published on the chemical over the past decade alone.
"It is incongruous that safety assessments of the most
widely used herbicide on the planet rely largely on fewer
than 300 unpublished, non-peer reviewed studies while
excluding the vast modern literature on glyphosate effects,"
say the experts.
And despite the rapid increase in use, there is no sys-
tematic monitoring system for tracking levels in human
tissue, and few studies have looked at the potential harm
to human health.
But recent animal studies have suggested that glypho-
sate at doses lower than those used to assess risk, may be
linked to heightened risks of liver, kidney, eye and cardi-
ovascular system damage.
Debate continues to rage as to whether glyphosate is
associated with a heightened risk of cancer or whether it
has the potential to disrupt hormone function.
Foods labeled 'healthy' may
hide unhealthy secrets
Food products that claim to be no-fat, no-sug-
ar, low-fat or reduced-salt aren't necessarily
healthier, researchers say.
A recent study study looked at more than 80 mil-
lion food and beverage purchases in the USA from
2008 to 2012. The purchases were made by more than
40,0000 US households.
The researchers found that 13 per cent of food and 35
per cent of beverage products were marketed as having
no, reduced or low levels of sugar, fat or salt. Low-fat
was the most common claim, the researchers saw.
Next were low-calorie, low-sugar and low-sodium.
But many of the products with low-content claims
were less nutritious than regular food and beverage
items, the researchers found.
"In many cases, foods containing low-sugar, low-
fat or low-salt claims had a worse nutritional profile
than those without claims," said lead investigator
Lindsey Smith Taillie. She is a research assistant pro-
fessor in the department of nutrition at theUniversity
of North Carolina's School of Global Public Health.
For example, three reduced-fat Oreos contain four-
and-a-half grams of fat, compared to seven grams in
three regular Oreos. But both cookie types still have
14 grams of sugar per serving.
And while low-fat chocolate milk has a lower fat
content, it has more sugar than plain milk and more
sugar and fat than other beverages.
The findings were published recently in the Journal
of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. (https://
Safety standards for glyphosate---a chemical widely used in common weed-
killers---may be failing to protect public and environmental health.
The researchers call for:
• improved surveillance of the
levels of glyphosate and its metab-
olites in people
• the latest state of the art tests
and technology to be applied to risk assessments of these
chemicals and other combination weed-killers
• further research to track occupational exposures in
agricultural workers, manufacturers, and other vulner-
able groups, such as pregnant women and their children
• evaluations of commercial combination weed-killers
"After a review of all evaluations, we conclude that
the current safety standards are outdated and may fail
to protect public health and the environment," they write.
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