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FDA to Begin Testing Food for a Monsanto-Made Herbicide

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The herbicide 'probably' causes cancer, according to the WHO.

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The Food and Drug Administration is cracking down on the use of a widely used weed killer, reports Civil Eats. The government agency will begin testing for testing certain foods for residues of glyphosate, which has been found to be a probable human carcinogen.

Last March, cancer experts at the World Health Organization concluded the herbicide "probably" causes cancer, in part because of a 1985 study on mice. Agrochemical giant Monsanto is the maker of Roundup, which contains glyphosate, and the company was obviously upset with the declaration. Monsanto's vice president told the New York Times last year the WHO's conclusion was "starkly at odds with every credible scientific body that has examined glyphosate safety." The FDA, having cleared glyphosate in 1985, did not act at the time.

But now, the agency is reversing course. The issue has been labeled as "sensitive," but spokesperson Lauren Sucher told Civil Eats the FDA is moving forward with tests on soybeans, corn, milk, and eggs, "among other potential foods" in Fiscal Year 2016. Monsanto surely isn't happy with this news. Last August, the company launched a "Roundup Ready Plus Challenge," which was meant to "demonstrate effectiveness and value of residual herbicide programs in soybeans."

Monsanto has a dedicated website meant to offer its answer to the question, "Does glyphosate (Roundup) cause cancer?" Various reading materials are offered, but Monsanto answers the question with a quick opening line: "No, glyphosate is not a carcinogen." In a statement provided to Civil Eats, the company remained firm in its stance.

"If FDA does move forward with additional testing in a scientifically rigorous manner, we are confident it will reaffirm the long-standing safety profile of this vital tool used safely and effectively by farmers, landowners and homeowners around the world."

The move is another recent attempt by the FDA to make mass-produced food safer for consumption. In November, the agency announced new "enforceable safety standards" aimed at stemming the tide of foodborne illness outbreaks.