A special interest group called the Environmental Working Group (EWG) is again publicizing misleading information about pesticide residues in food. The EWG is a leader in spreading misinformation about pesticides, vaccines, and other topics. The EWG is perhaps best known for their annual “Dirty Dozen” list, which has been widely criticized and debunked by the science community, farmers, and others (see this report by Huffington Post and this perspective by UC Davis researcher Carl Winter).

Today, the EWG issued a press release announcing they detected trace amounts of glyphosate in some food items. It is not uncommon to find trace amounts of pesticides in food since some food is grown using pesticides, which protect crops from insects, disease, and weeds. Importantly, these levels are not even remotely close to any level of concern. Regulatory authorities have strict rules when it comes to pesticide residues. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), for example, sets daily exposure limits at least 100 times below levels shown to have no negative effect in safety studies. Click here for more details about the EPA’s process.

Even at the highest level reported by the EWG (1,300 ppb), an adult would have to eat 118 pounds of the food item every day for the rest of their life to reach the EPA’s limit. Of course, nobody eats close to that much food! Using oatmeal as an example, 118 pounds would equal 228 servings or 3,658 percent of the daily recommended intake of fiber. These numbers translate to 9 ½ servings every hour without sleep for a person’s entire life.

The EWG also makes false claims about glyphosate safety to further scare people. The reality is that glyphosate has a more than 40-year history of safe use. Over those four decades, researchers have conducted more than 800 scientific studies and reviews that prove glyphosate is safe for use. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Joint FAO/WHO Meeting on Pesticide Residues (JMPR) both recently reaffirmed glyphosate does not cause cancer. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other regulatory authorities in Europe, Canada, Japan, Australia, Korea, and elsewhere routinely review all approved pesticide products and have consistently reaffirmed that glyphosate does not cause cancer. Click here for Monsanto’s statement on the recent jury opinion.

People and organizations with different perspectives should absolutely be part of the discussion about food and agriculture. But, the EWG and some other activist groups opposed to modern agriculture are fearmongering rather than contributing useful and accurate information to the conversation. The result is unwarranted fear and confusion. This latest publicity campaign by the EWG will no doubt causes some people to worry—for no reason at all.