Back in February of this year, FDA announced that it would begin testing foods for glyphosate residues. By way of background, glyphosate is the active ingredient in popular garden weed killers and is reported to be the most-used agricultural chemical in the world. Some environmental groups have called for a ban on the use of this substance in agriculture.  The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has labeled this herbicide as “probably carcinogenic to humans,” although the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) disputes that conclusion. In the United States, FDA has not routinely tested foods for the presence of glyphosate, in spite of a U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) recommendation that the Agency improve its testing methods and be more transparent with the public regarding the limitations of its analytical testing.

In media reports last week, FDA confirmed that the Agency’s testing for residues of glyphosate has been put on hold.  The FDA’s residue testing for glyphosate was part of a broader herbicides analysis program which commenced earlier this year.  According to media reports, FDA’s glyphosate testing has been somewhat challenging as there has been some disagreement regarding testing methodology. When glyphosate testing resumes (at a date to be determined), testing is slated to be significantly expanded.  In the meantime, FDA has said that preliminary results showed no violations of legal tolerance levels allowed for glyphosate in the foods tested.

To be sure, glyphosate will continue to be the subject of controversy – both here at home and abroad.