Over-the-counter cough syrups and cough drops only mask symptoms, and that means your cough could return at any time. Instead of hoping for the best, you can use holistic treatments that target the underlying cause of even the worst coughs.
Here are five of the best home remedies for cough:
- Essential oils
- Raw honey
- Marshmallow root
- Proper hydration
- Immune-boosting foods
Cough management requires a practical, comprehensive approach, and we'll show you how to beat your cough with these at-home treatments.
How Coughing Works
Have you ever wondered what's actually going on inside the body when you make that awful coughing sound?
Here's what's really happening:
- You take a gasp of air.
- The glottis covers the windpipe.
- The respiratory muscles contract.
- Pressure builds in the airway.
- The glottis bursts open and…you cough!
What Causes Coughing?
Coughing happens when you need to expel an irritant or cope with symptoms of a respiratory infection.
Acute coughing is coughing that lasts less than three weeks. This includes brief coughing fits and reactions to short-term respiratory infections. Acute coughs are typically "dry," meaning there's no mucus in the airway.
Chronic coughing, however, is coughing that lasts eight weeks or longer and requires professional medical intervention. These coughs are typically "wet" and are characterized by heavy phlegm and mucus production as a response to inflammation in the lungs.
Common causes of chronic cough include:
- Viral infections (bronchitis, pneumonia, cold, flu)
- GERD (acid reflux disease)
- Pulmonary fibrosis
- Sinus infection (due to persistent nasal drip)
Chronic coughing may also be caused by a reaction to certain medications like ACE inhibitors and beta-blockers, which can irritate nerve endings in the throat.
5 Home Remedies for Cough
From therapeutic essential oils to immune-boosting foods, here are five of the top natural remedies for cough:
1. Essential Oils
Essential oils are extracted from the roots, stems, flowers, and leaves of various medicinal plants. Most essential oils have a broad spectrum of antibacterial, antiviral, antimicrobial, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory properties, all of which can be ideal for fighting infection and treating the underlying causes of coughing.
Research suggests that these three essential oils can have many benefits, including the reduction in frequency of coughs, relief from scratchy throats and congestion, as well as reduced inflammation and mucus production.
How to Use Essential Oils for Cough
You can add a few drops of essential oil to any hot shower, which will incorporate the oil with the steam and open up your sinuses for less irritation and coughing. Additionally, you can make your own essential oil vapor rub by mixing 1-2 drops of essential oil with half a teaspoon of coconut or MCT oil. Apply this DIY vapor rub to the chest and back of the neck for fast-acting relief.
2. Raw Honey
Raw honey's immune-boosting antioxidants and antimicrobial effects are perfect when it comes to finding a home remedy for coughing. According to a 2011 meta-analysis, researchers think that raw honey may treat coughs by reducing inflammation and relieving irritation.
In a 2007 study published in The Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, honey was tested against the cough-suppressing medication dextromethorphan in children with nighttime coughing. The honey group experienced a greater reduction in coughing than the dextromethorphan group.
To make your own DIY honey elixir, mix 1-2 teaspoons of raw honey in a cup of warm water with a few drops of lemon juice. However, if you are trying to alleviate coughing in children, you should not give raw honey to any child under one year of age due to the risk of infant botulism.
3. Marshmallow Root
Marshmallow root extract has long been used in Germany as a main ingredient in natural cough remedies. It has a high mucilage content, which eases coughing by coating the throat with a thick, gluey substance.
One small study found that an herbal cough medicine containing marshmallow root, thyme, and ivy can effectively relieve coughing caused by respiratory tract infections in humans after just 12 days of treatment.
In a 2018 study published in the journal Complementary Medicine Research, consumers reported on the efficacy of marshmallow root syrup as a treatment for irritative cough. The majority of participants reported a significant reduction in dry cough symptoms within 10 minutes of administration.
4. Gargle Salt Water
This simple, natural remedy for coughing is great for soothing a sore throat as well. Gargling salt water has been shown to reduce respiratory infections up to 40 percent, and can lessen the need to cough by reducing phlegm and mucus in the throat.
Mix a teaspoon of salt with 8oz of hot water. Stir the mixture until the salt has fully dissolved. Make sure the water isn't too hot, then take a swig of the salt water and gargle for 15 to 30 seconds. After this, you can spit out the salt water, and repeat three times a day.
5. Eat Right
Eating immune-boosting foods can be extremely beneficial in preventing and fighting off a cough, and here are some of the best foods for supporting immunity, reducing inflammation, and thinning mucus:
- Probiotic foods: If you get frequent, recurring coughs, you may be more susceptible to illness due to a weakened gut lining. Probiotics like kombucha, coconut kefir, apple cider vinegar, sauerkraut, and kimchi can reinforce the gut lining and fortify the immune system.
- Bone broth: Drinking hot bone broth made from chicken or beef cartilage can thin the mucus and help repair the gut lining with collagen.
- Ginger root: Ginger contains powerful anti-inflammatory compounds like zingibain and may relax the muscles in the upper airway that control coughing.
- Stay Hydrated: This may seem like a no-brainer, but in order to be fully cough-resistant, you'll have to drink plenty of fluids. Studies show that staying hydrated is essential to the treatment of coughs, and it may also soften mucosal secretions and help clear the airway.
Other Helpful Tips for Relieving a Cough at Home
As you seek to use home remedies for cough relief, you'll also want to avoid pro-inflammatory foods like gluten, sugar, soda, fruit juice, dairy, hydrogenated oils, and processed foods.
If your nasal passages are congested, irritation from nasal drip can make your cough worse. If this is the case, you may want to try using a neti pot, which can flush out irritants and thin the mucus.
If you experience persistent coughing for longer than eight weeks, we recommend seeing a doctor for medical advice and treatment. At-home remedies are a great way to alleviate common cold or flu symptoms, but more serious complications may arise that require professional treatment.
Justin Fowler-Lindner, a former EMT turned freelance writer, spends his days popping supplements and soaking up the sun in tropical destinations around the world.
Perhaps you like to add a few drops honey to your tea or drizzle it over yogurt for a bit of sweetness. But did you know that consuming high-quality products, like the best Manuka honey on the market, can also improve your health?
Manuka honey, produced from the nectar collected by bees from the Manuka tree, holds antibacterial properties, and as far back as 1392 has been used to help heal wounds and assist in improving overall health.
In the late 1900s, a doctor in New Zealand discovered why Manuka honey is an effective healer: Honey contains natural hydrogen peroxide. In some honey, the hydrogen peroxide is destroyed when the honey is subject to heat or light outside the hive. But it stays intact in Manuka honey, making it effective against strains of bacteria like Staphylococcus aureus, the MRSA superbug.
As you can tell, Manuka honey is not like regular honey. Therefore, when you look at a product that claims to contain Manuka honey, it's important to check for such compounds that come from the Manuka plant such as:
- Methylglyoxal (MGO): This is an antibacterial compound found in Manuka honey and is used to heal wounds, soothe sore throats, and prevent tooth decay.
- Dihydroxyacetone (DHA): This compound found in the nectar of Manuka tree flowers converts into MGO during the production of honey, but it may still be listed on Manuka honey supplements.
- Leptosperin: This compound is a naturally occurring chemical found in Manuka tree plants and is important because it is only found in Manuka honey and a few close relatives, so it's presence indicates a Manuka honey product's authenticity.
You can ensure such compounds are in the Manuka honey product you purchase if it is an authentic Manuka honey with Unique Manuka Factor Honey Association (UMF) certification. If you see a UMF stamp on a product, it means it has been produced by one of the 100+ beekeepers, producers, and exporters it licenses to indicate the strength of the hydrogen peroxide compounds.
UMF also uses grading systems to reveal the quantity of Manuka honey compounds in a product. These grading systems include the label claim that it is authentic Manuka honey. The second grade is a number that shows how much of DHA, MGO, and Leptosperin a product contains. A higher score indicates better quality. Try to choose a product with at least a score of 10, but a UMF rating of 15 or more would be even more high quality.
Also, the K Factor 16™ can tell you if a product contains a high amount of bee pollen and if it's from the Manuka plant. It indicates a pollen count of 70% or higher, purity, live enzymes, and a product containing the compound DHA.
Finally, the symbol MGO will tell you if a product contains a potent level of the compound methylglyoxal which indicates if a product has a good level of antibacterial activity. An MGO level of 400 to 550+ indicates a very high antibacterial activity.
Each product featured here has been independently selected by the writer. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.
We rate this Manuka Health product as the best Manuka honey on the market. This Manuka honey comes in many different levels of potency and may help support healing through its potent antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.
- 100% pure New Zealand Manuka honey
- MGO 400+
- Independent quality testing in an ISO17025 accredited laboratory
- Traceable from beehive to shelf
- Raw and unpasteurized
- Only 45 calories per tablespoon
Kiva Raw Manuka honey has a high UMF and MGO level, making it full of powerful antioxidants and antibacterial compounds. In turn, this product can help boost your immune system and reduce inflammation.
- UMF 15+ certified
- MGO 514+
- Harvested from New Zealand
- Independently tested, verified, and traceable
- Raw and unpasteurized
The distinction "monofloral" is important because it indicates honey that comes from the nectar of one flower, whereas multiflora could specify that it either comes from the nectar of multiple types of flowers or is blended with other honey products. Multiflora therefore may indicate the health-benefiting Manuka compounds are less potent.
Wedderspoon's product is authentic Manuka honey made in New Zealand and is raw and unpasteurized, which preserves its antioxidant properties. The authenticity gives it an earthy, caramelized flavor that is delicious on its own or in your favorite beverage, making it one of the best Manuka honey supplements around.
- Made in New Zealand
- Non-GMO Project Verified
- K Factor 16
- Raw and unpasteurized monofloral Manuka honey
- Traceable from hive to home
- 70 calories per tablespoon
- Free of antibiotics, glyphosate, and pesticides
- SQF level 3 facility to certify safety standards
What You Need to Know to Find the Best Manuka Honey
The Manuka bush is indigenous to New Zealand, so you should look for Manuka honey from New Zealand to help ensure an authentic product. Also, it's important to choose a Manuka honey product that is raw and unpasteurized to preserve the anti-inflammatory properties and other nutrients found in the bee pollen.
Some products also come from Australia. Australian Leptospermum scoparium plants may even be more active than those in New Zealand when it comes to antimicrobial properties.
Either way, high-grade Manuka honey is available from both places if you want to take honey for its medicinal properties or use it as a sweetener.
Benefits of Manuka Honey
Manuka honey is well-known for its ability to help improve wound healing due to its antibacterial properties. Additionally, this honey can also boost the immune system due to its anti-inflammatory properties.
A 2017 study shows that Manuka honey can stop the growth of bacteria and enhance wound healing and tissue repair by boosting immune health. Manuka honey can also help those with sore throats as it can not only coat the throat and soothe it, but can also fight off inflammation and bacteria leading to a sore throat.
Cons of Manuka Honey
There are no dosing restrictions on honey bee products in general, however, any type of honey should not be used by infants or those allergic or sensitive to bee pollen. Pediatricians recommend children under 12 months of age should not be given honey because it may contain spores of bacteria that could cause botulism, which can lead to paralysis. Studies show though that for most people, Manuka honey of UMF 20+ is generally safe to consume. A UMF 10+ may be a good place to start, too.
Just like with any dietary supplement product, you should make sure that the product has undergone independent lab tests for purity and potency. If a product is independently tested, or third-party tested, you can ensure that what is on the label is what is in the product you're purchasing. An SQF certification can also indicate safety testing has been done on the product.
If you have questions about UMF certifications or the extraction process—how the Manuka flowers are processed—the brand should make this information available. You can also find kosher superfoods with light brand research.
FAQ: Best Manuka Honey
Why would you take Manuka honey?
You would use Manuka honey if you feel you are getting sick often or having trouble with wounds healing properly. You should never replace any prescribed medicines with Manuka honey, but you can use it as a supplement to your current treatments for health issues. Always be sure to talk with your healthcare provider before starting any new dietary supplement regimen.
Is it worth your money?
If Manuka honey helps reduce your sick days from work or improves your quality of life, then it's worth the money. Also, if Manuka honey helps you have a stronger immune system or better healing wounds, then the money you spend on it will be well worth feeling better inside and out.
Who is best for?Manuka honey is best for anyone who wants an extra boost in their immune health. There are many quality Manuka honey brands out there, but if you use the tips above, you can choose a high-quality product that can help you reap Manuka health benefits.
Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD is a registered dietitian, freelance writer, health editor, and founder of LighttrackNutrition.com. She has been a registered dietitian with the Commission on Dietetic Registration since 2010 and has over a decade of experience in the nutrition and dietetics industry. Staci has graduate degrees in Biology, Human Nutrition, and Nutrition and Education from New York University, the Columbia University Institute of Human Nutrition, and Teacher's College, Columbia University, respectively. She has treated thousands of patients across many wellness arenas such as weight management, fitness, long-term care, rehab, and bariatric nutrition. Also, since 2011 Staci has also been applying her health and wellness knowledge to writing and editing for such websites as CDiabetes, Anirva, and Casa de Sante, to name a few. She has also been a featured expert in such online publications as Shape.com, ThisisInsider.com, and Eat This Not That.
- 6 Vegan Alternatives to Honey - EcoWatch ›
- Should You Mix Apple Cider Vinegar and Honey? - EcoWatch ›
Each product featured here has been independently selected by the writer. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.
The bright patterns and recognizable designs of Waterlust's activewear aren't just for show. In fact, they're meant to promote the conversation around sustainability and give back to the ocean science and conservation community.
Each design is paired with a research lab, nonprofit, or education organization that has high intellectual merit and the potential to move the needle in its respective field. For each product sold, Waterlust donates 10% of profits to these conservation partners.
Eye-Catching Designs Made from Recycled Plastic Bottles
waterlust.com / @abamabam
The company sells a range of eco-friendly items like leggings, rash guards, and board shorts that are made using recycled post-consumer plastic bottles. There are currently 16 causes represented by distinct marine-life patterns, from whale shark research and invasive lionfish removal to sockeye salmon monitoring and abalone restoration.
One such organization is Get Inspired, a nonprofit that specializes in ocean restoration and environmental education. Get Inspired founder, marine biologist Nancy Caruso, says supporting on-the-ground efforts is one thing that sets Waterlust apart, like their apparel line that supports Get Inspired abalone restoration programs.
"All of us [conservation partners] are doing something," Caruso said. "We're not putting up exhibits and talking about it — although that is important — we're in the field."
Waterlust not only helps its conservation partners financially so they can continue their important work. It also helps them get the word out about what they're doing, whether that's through social media spotlights, photo and video projects, or the informative note card that comes with each piece of apparel.
"They're doing their part for sure, pushing the information out across all of their channels, and I think that's what makes them so interesting," Caruso said.
And then there are the clothes, which speak for themselves.
Advocate Apparel to Start Conversations About Conservation
waterlust.com / @oceanraysphotography
Waterlust's concept of "advocate apparel" encourages people to see getting dressed every day as an opportunity to not only express their individuality and style, but also to advance the conversation around marine science. By infusing science into clothing, people can visually represent species and ecosystems in need of advocacy — something that, more often than not, leads to a teaching moment.
"When people wear Waterlust gear, it's just a matter of time before somebody asks them about the bright, funky designs," said Waterlust's CEO, Patrick Rynne. "That moment is incredibly special, because it creates an intimate opportunity for the wearer to share what they've learned with another."
The idea for the company came to Rynne when he was a Ph.D. student in marine science.
"I was surrounded by incredible people that were discovering fascinating things but noticed that often their work wasn't reaching the general public in creative and engaging ways," he said. "That seemed like a missed opportunity with big implications."
Waterlust initially focused on conventional media, like film and photography, to promote ocean science, but the team quickly realized engagement on social media didn't translate to action or even knowledge sharing offscreen.
Rynne also saw the "in one ear, out the other" issue in the classroom — if students didn't repeatedly engage with the topics they learned, they'd quickly forget them.
"We decided that if we truly wanted to achieve our goal of bringing science into people's lives and have it stick, it would need to be through a process that is frequently repeated, fun, and functional," Rynne said. "That's when we thought about clothing."
Support Marine Research and Sustainability in Style
To date, Waterlust has sold tens of thousands of pieces of apparel in over 100 countries, and the interactions its products have sparked have had clear implications for furthering science communication.
For Caruso alone, it's led to opportunities to share her abalone restoration methods with communities far and wide.
"It moves my small little world of what I'm doing here in Orange County, California, across the entire globe," she said. "That's one of the beautiful things about our partnership."
Check out all of the different eco-conscious apparel options available from Waterlust to help promote ocean conservation.
Melissa Smith is an avid writer, scuba diver, backpacker, and all-around outdoor enthusiast. She graduated from the University of Florida with degrees in journalism and sustainable studies. Before joining EcoWatch, Melissa worked as the managing editor of Scuba Diving magazine and the communications manager of The Ocean Agency, a non-profit that's featured in the Emmy award-winning documentary Chasing Coral.
For one year Rob Greenfield grew and foraged all of his own food. No grocery stores, no restaurants, no going to a bar for a drink, not even medicines from the pharmacy.
Literally everything that passed Greenfield's lips in the last year was something he either grew in his gardens or he went out into nature and harvested. He hopes his journey will inspire others to live with more happiness, health and sustainability.
Rob Greenfield Wants to Inspire People to Question Their Food
For some time, Greenfield had been wrestling with the question: is it possible to step away from our globalised industrialised food system, from all the destruction that it causes to the world, to other species, to other people, and step away from that and actually produce all of his own food? So he decided to find out if it was possible.
Well, one year later and Greenfield is happy to announce that he still here and he is healthier than when he started, and happier that he did it.
Another element of the experiment is that he wants to inspire people to question their food. Where does it come from? How does it get to them? What is the impact it has on the Earth, other species and ultimately themselves?
Greenfield displays "TOO MUCH HONEY" on day 357 of growing and foraging 100 percent of his food. Rob Greenfield / Facebook
And if they question it and they don't like the answers that they find, then Greenfield hopes they'll change those answers. That they'll change the way they are eating to be in a way that is more beneficial to the Earth, to our communities and to ourselves.
When Greenfield arrived in Orlando, he had no land or gardens of his own, so he had to walk around the community talking to people and ask if they would be interested in him turning their front lawn into a garden. Over a period of six months he made six small gardens around the neighborhood. The deal was that the owners could eat as much food as they wanted from the garden. Now the project is over, however all the gardens are still producing more food.
Rob has "grown over 100 different foods and foraged over 200." Rob Greenfield / Facebook
Greenfield put a lot of thought and effort into this 12 month project. Prior to the year, he began growing and learning how to forage for 10 months. He looked into everything; where he'd get his calories, fats, protein and nutrients.
He grew some 100 different foods in his garden and foraged a further 200 different foods: a variety of over 300 foods, which is extremely diverse by anybody's standards. With salt from the ocean, coconuts from the beach, caught fish, and a variety of herbs from his garden, Greenfield's diet for the 12-months was balanced, healthy, fresh, seasonal, tasty, plastic-free, pesticide-free, and above all, eye-opening.
He will be doing a lot of traveling over the next year so he won't have a garden, but says everywhere he goes he will still seek out locally produced food. Of course he will have to buy food, but he says it's about buying unpackaged foods that don't leave trash behind for future generations.
What I'm driven by… Is living a life where I can wake up and feel good about my life, and I can go to bed and feel good about my life, and where I can hopefully die many years from now and know that my life was honest. It was genuine. I knew my actions and how they affected the world. I want to live a life of truth. But beyond that, I want to spread the truth. I want other people to wake up and I want him to live lives of truth as well.
And that's so that we're living fairly, you know, in a world where we have so much. I think it makes sense for everybody to have enough, not have food systems where in one country we are wasting half of our food and another place people are literally starving today.
I think our society's advanced enough where we can take care of each other. Let's take care of each other. Let's take care of our earth.
Rob shares fresh honey, fruits and veggies from his garden with neighbors. Rob Greenfield / Facebook
Reposted with permission from BrightVibes.
Last Thursday, the same day the $63 billion acquisition closed, a beekeeping cooperative in northern France filed a legal complaint against the German chemical giant after the controversial weedkiller was detected in honey produced by one of its members, AFP reported.
Famille Michaud, one of France's largest honey marketers, found the chemical in three batches supplied by one of its members, according to Jean-Marie Camus, the head of the 200-member beekeeping union, L'Abeille de l'Aisne.
"They systematically analyze the honey shipments they receive, and they found glyphosate," Camus told AFP.
Vincent Michaud, president of Famille Michaud, confirmed to AFP that "we regularly detect foreign substances, including glyphosate." He noted that if glyphosate is found, the supplier's entire shipment is rejected.
The supplier of the tainted honey lives near an area of field crops, including rapeseed, beets and sunflowers, Emmanuel Ludot, a lawyer for the cooperative, explained to AFP.
"But you also can't forget the weekend gardeners who often tend to use Roundup," he added, referring to Monsanto's widely used glyphosate-based herbicide brand.
Honey Bees Attracted to Glyphosate and a Common Fungicide https://t.co/gZcSA22Mtf @helpthebees @vanishingbees @bpncamp— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1515887108.0
The initiators of the legal complaint hope their action will open an investigation that will determine the percentage of glyphosate in honey batches and whether the contamination could lead to any health consequences for consumers.
"It's also a matter of knowing how widespread this might be. Famille Michaud tells me this isn't an isolated case," Ludot said.
In 2015, the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer classified the substance as "probably carcinogenic," although Monsanto and other scientific panels, including the European Food Safety Authority, disagree.
In November, a majority of European Union member states voted to renew the license for the product for five years. French President Emmanuel Macron, however, has vowed to ban glyphosate within three years.
Bayer told French publication Le Figaro that it was informed about the legal complaint by the press and "no judicial information has been notified to date."
Monsanto faces more than 2,000 lawsuits in the U.S. alone over Roundup cancer claims. As German newspaper Handelsblatt Global noted, "Bayer is pointing to studies that suggest glyphosate is safe, but this will likely not spare Monsanto, and therefore Bayer, incalculable costs in terms of financial resources and time spent on legal proceedings."
Bayer, whose mega-merger with Monsanto has created the world's largest seed and chemical company, will retire the St. Louis-based corporation's 117-year-old name.
"Bayer will remain the company name. Monsanto will no longer be a company name. The acquired products will retain their brand names and become part of the Bayer portfolio," the firm announced.
Critics have dubbed the purchase as a "merger from hell," over fears that the integrated company will use its dominance in one product to push sales of other products.
By Katherine Wei
We all love to eat. And increasingly, our cultural conversation centers around food—the cultivation of refined taste buds, the methods of concocting the most delectable blends of flavors, the ways in which it can influence our health and longevity, and the countless TV shows and books that are borne of people's foodie fascinations. However, there's one aspect we as consumers pay perhaps too little heed: the production of food before it reaches markets and grocery store shelves. We don't directly experience this aspect of food, and as a result, it's shrouded in mystery, and often, confusion.
Netflix's recent documentary series, Rotten, tells the true and sometimes gruesome story of what goes on behind the scenes of global food production—and the pitfalls that accompany the widespread lack of awareness of how and where commonly consumed foods are sourced. The docuseries is produced by Zero Point Zero, the production company behind Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations and Parts Unknown, and consists of six hour-long episodes, each of which centers around a specific type of food. They feature those at the frontlines of food production (beekeepers, garlic sources, peanut farmers, etc.); those laboring to reduce the dangers of food-induced allergies (restaurant owners and hospital researchers); as well as lawyers, detectives and prosecutors, who explain exactly how food production gets entangled with the law.
It is difficult to pin down a moral to the frankly appetite-suppressing series. While we recommend watching the show, know that it might trigger some panic around food consumption—episodes trigger dark queries (Should we stop dining out altogether considering restaurants lie about catering to food allergies? Are bottles of fake honey mixed in with the real ones at my grocery store? Am I aiding and abetting forced labor in Chinese prisons when I add garlic to my pasta sauce?). However, the experts and producers featured in this true crime-esque series leave many of the common and pressing questions unanswered. So, Sierra turned to food production experts. Read on to learn more about the issues presented in Rotten, and to glean some easy ways to stay informed, and combat potential food production pitfalls.
Rotten's first episode, Lawyers, Guns and Honey, digs deep into problems beyond the well-documented disappearance of bees and bee colonies. The crew visits honey importers throughout the United States, and a German lab, to discuss the history of cheap honey that's been diluted with sugar or artificial sweeteners before being shipped to the U.S. The crew talks to prosecutors who busted one nefarious German honey importer, and to importers about how they test samples for "honey adulteration."
The first solution for protecting oneself from such adulteration is a no-brainer: get in touch with your favorite honey production company and ask where their honey is imported from. Know that labels that claim origin in Asian countries like Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Taiwan, Singapore and Indonesia are likely to be fake. These countries often act as middlemen to China, which "launders" its fake honey in nearby countries before shipping it on to the United States.
Too many brands to grill? Never fear, check out the National Honey Board, which educates consumers, chefs, honey retailers and honey farmers about the production of quality honey. NHB also has a locating service for local honey farms throughout the U.S., making it easy for consumers to find a farm that sells honey produced by its own bee colonies. Another quick tip? Look for a True Honey Source label on the jar you're about to buy. THS allows consumers to track their honey all the way back through the supply chain to its country of origin, and the beekeeper that harvested it.
Zero Point Zero
Episode Two, The Peanut Problem, discusses the precipitous rise in food allergy cases in the United States. According to Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, food allergy prevalence among children increased 50 percent from 1997 to 2011, and the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology last October announced a 21 percent increase in peanut allergies in children since 2010. This episode is not about food production scandals so much as the plight that befalls America's peanut farmers as peanut sales drop. It also chronicles the perils that ensue when a restaurant ignores the needs of customers with peanut allergies (people have died from such negligence).
The Peanut Problem explains that while scientists have been unable to determine the cause of the skyrocketing numbers, restaurateurs are necessarily stepping up their game to allergen-proof their dishes, and schools and communities are educating one another on the complex and sometimes lethal nature of food allergies. The best resources to educate yourself on food allergies, locate your local immunologists and connect with fellow advocates for food allergy awareness? Food Allergy Research and Education and the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. These organizations also provide grants that fund allergy research projects. Seeking truly allergy-friendly restaurants in the U.S.? AllergyEats is essentially the Yelp of the food allergy community. Users can tweak the search filters according to specific allergies.
Zero Point Zero
Humans consume almost 50 billion pounds of garlic every year, and the global garlic industry rakes in $40 billion in annual revenue. Garlic Breath tells the story of how the world's garlic industry is monopolized by a small number of powerful companies—and serves as an especially prescient wake-up call for shoppers unaware of where their food comes from.
Most of the garlic we buy is from China, where many prisoners are forced to peel garlic behind bars, working up to 16 hours a day—often until their fingernails fall off. Also unsettling? The show reveals that many leading garlic companies have found out a way to game the system under the protection of the Fresh Garlic Producers' Association.
So what's a garlic lover to do? Start peeling your own cloves. Around 60 percent of the garlic Americans consume from China is pre-peeled, likely thanks to illegal forced labor, so it's best to buy unpeeled cloves directly from small garlic farms or farmers' markets. The U.S. Department of Labor maintains an up-to-date list of "goods believed to produced by child labor or forced labor and their source countries." It's a good place to start, but if you're concerned that the DOL's list may not always be current, you can always check this website to determine the whereabouts of your local farmer's market.
Zero Point Zero
Episode 4, Big Bird, might give you pause before buying another broiler chicken from your local grocery store chain outlet. The story begins with those behind America's massive chicken production operation: the chicken "growers," whose control over their farms has in recent years been largely stripped away thanks to corporate giants like Perdue, Pilgrim's Pride, Sanderson Farms and Tyson. These corporate poultry companies have growers sign contracts to raise birds supplied by "Big Chicken." While the companies provide feed and medication, the growers build their own farms and otherwise finance the whole operation.
The chickens are contractually raised in ways these corporations deem efficient (but not necessarily humane), and the process is also fashioned into a tournament system that pits growers against one another for bonuses awarded to those who manage to raise the heaviest birds using the least feed. Chickens never see the light of day (this keeps them inactive and plump), and growers at the bottom of the competitive pack wind up losing money as a form of punishment. This is a system curved to solely benefit the corporations.
In 2012, chicken surpassed beef as the most consumed meat in the United States, due to its cheaper price point and mass production efficiency. Not only has chicken production moved beyond traditional poultry farms, but it's now in the reins of a few major corporations in Brazil, the U.S., Thailand and China—some of which have been bribing their local governments to look the other way as they expand their less-than-humane operations to multiply bird reproduction, and then slaughter them, assembly-line style. The result of such mass production? Broiler chickens come cheap at supermarkets—around $7 each.
Some farmers have ducked out of this system to raise chickens on their own terms, in hopes of keeping the corporate giants from dominating the global chicken market. But one should be prepared to spend much more on ethically raised chicken. Chickens from one farm featured on Rotten (where they're shown enjoying free space to roam freely) are sold for three times the aforementioned supermarket price. Concerned consumers might start by learning more about the industry lingo decorating meat and egg labels in the grocery store, and learning to tell the marketing terms (neither "natural" nor "cage-free," for instance, means chickens had humane living conditions) apart from standardized, informational labels (Certified Humane, Animal Welfare Approved).
You could also reach out to farms that sell their own poultry through Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs. The U.S. Department of Agriculture provides a local foods directory through which consumers can seek out farms that offer "regular deliveries of locally-grown farm products." LocalHarvest and EatWild are other websites that provide growing databases for local farms in every state, and even other countries.
In Milk Money, dairy farmers inform viewers that small American family-owned dairy farms might disappear from the market in just 10 years. In the last 40 years, Americans' milk consumption has decreased by about 33 percent. Since 2000, around 30,000 dairy farms in the U.S. have sold their cows and closed down. Rotten explains that the government no longer invests money to keep dairy prices stable, and that U.S. dairy farms have had to adapt to fluctuating global milk prices and exporting standards ever since the World Trade Organization opened American dairy markets up to the world. As a result, today's milk prices are set by a government-created formula that fluctuates along with commodity markets, and is impossible for farmers to predict.
Farmers are trying to remedy their losses by focusing on products that bring higher profits than "table milk," aka pasteurized milk. Organic milk from cows that are raised according to USDA Organic standards and graze freely rakes in twice the revenue of table milk, but it's a pricey transition for small traditional farmers. Instead, some are turning to raw, unpasteurized milk, a controversial product sold at nearly three times the price of regular milk.
Milk Money covers the heated debate between supporters and naysayers of raw milk. Studies have shown that raw milk reduces chances of asthma, eczema, allergies and nasal infections in children, but many public health officials consider milk straight from the cow a vector for disease. This episode examines the notorious history of raw milk consumption, which can lead to illness and death, and introduces those advocating for farmers to stop selling unpasteurized milk for the profit.
While there is no conclusive crime-solving in Milk Money, it highlights one common consumer mistake: the belief that one should "try everything once" in a quest to cure children's health problems. The best course of action? Seeking doctors and immunologists who are familiar with their health conditions and can give well-reasoned advice regarding raw milk remedies. Concerned milk drinkers should also get in the habit of checking dairy products' labels; if the word "pasteurized" is missing, it's possible that raw milk is an ingredient. And while it's generally safe to buy from local sources, you might want to confirm with your farmers' market milk sellers that their products are pasteurized. They should have proof of this. Here's a list of states that ban the sale and consumption of raw milk.
America's fish consumption has doubled in the past five decades. While fishermen have long extolled the ocean as the perfect food source (it grows your food, and the supply seems endless) the series' finale, Cod Is Dead, exposes a phenomenon with which Rotten viewers have become familiar: the crash of a food production industry caused by dwindling supplies, or corrupted exploitation. In short, domestic fisheries are suffering because the ocean's fish population has been dropping over the past few decades. We're specifically talking about "groundfish"—including cod, halibut and flounder—which dwell near the ocean's bottom, and which have long been popular catches with domestic fisheries on the East Coast.
This episode also moves beyond the dangers of overfishing by exposing fishing tycoon Carlos Rafael, who is infamous for selling fish under the table to dealers, falsifying fish quota, consolidating fishing permits, and exploiting the catch share system. Designed by the Environmental Defense Fund, the catch share system exists to ensure that fishermen get a fixed percentage of the fish they catch (to reduce overfishing). Because the system is not monitored, Rafael has been able to get more than his share of fish and profits. With Rafael currently sentenced to 46 months in jail, however, the imbalance within New England's fishing scene might bounce back to normal. But what should continue to concern consumers is the question of whether or not we are eating more fish than we can afford to.
Scientists have been saying the ocean supply will crash, while fishermen are arguing that they cannot afford to fish less. So, the government has stepped in to regulate seafood prices, and has begun importing more fish to keep pace with the rise in the country's seafood consumption. As of now, 94 percent of Americans eat fish from foreign countries. These are shipments that have been frozen, thawed for cheap processing, and frozen again for shipping. Many such products do not come with labels detailing the travels seafood has made before landing in your grocery basket. If this is of concern, try to shop at stores that clearly label their seafood, indicating origins and where the fish was processed, or buy your fish directly from fish markets that source seafood from the nearest fisheries. Seafood processors and government regulators commonly use QR codes and barcodes to trace seafood. Look for such stickers on your supermarket salmon fillets—they'll help you figure out whether your grocery store keeps track of where its seafood is sourced.
As Rotten repeatedly shows, food is intimately tied to trade, politics, power—susceptible to both market forces and criminal subterfuge. And the global corporate food industry relies, at least in part, on consumers' ignorance. The overarching moral of the series? Check your food labels carefully, and whenever possible, buy locally.
Reposted with permission from our media associate SIERRA Magazine.
- Food Retailers Fail to Protect Bees From Toxic Pesticides ›
- Those Little Produce Stickers? They're a Big Waste Problem ›
- 5 Must-Watch Documentaries for a More Sustainable Planet - EcoWatch ›
By Jessica Corbett
Raising further concerns about the global food production system, a new study found that bees worldwide are being widely exposed to dangerous agricultural chemicals, with 75 percent of honey samples from six continents testing positive for pesticides known to harm pollinators.
"What this shows is the magnitude of the contamination," the study's lead author, Edward Mitchell, a biology professor at the University of Neuchatel in Switzerland, told the Denver Post. He said there were "relatively few places where we did not find any" contaminated samples.
For the study, published in the journal Science, Mitchell's team of researchers examined nearly 200 samples for the five most commonly used neonicotinoid pesticides or neonics.
- in North America, 86 percent of samples from contained one or more neonicotinoid;
- in Asia, 80 percent;
- in Europe (where there is a partial ban), 79 percent;
- in Africa 73 percent;
- in and around Australia, 71 percent;
- and in South America, 57 percent.
Although researchers believe the measured concentrations of neonicotinoids in the tested honey samples are not enough to harm humans, they warn that "a significant detrimental effect on bees is likely for a substantial proportion of the analyzed samples, as adult bees rely on honey for food, including during periods of overwintering or seasons without blossoming flowers."
Study co-author Alexandre Aebi, also from the University of Neuchatel in Switzerland, told BBC News that humans "would have to eat an awful lot of honey and other contaminated products to see an effect," but he thinks "it's a warning and it is a call for a precautionary principle."
Aebi said that he and the other researchers are especially concerned that so many samples contained two or more neonicotinoids. Nearly half of all the honey samples showed more than two types of neonics, and 10 percent had four or more. Overall, more than a third of the samples featured pesticides at levels known to harm bees.
When pollinators such as bees consume pollen and nectar that contains neonicotinoids, they have been shown to experience learning and memory problems, which can interfere with their ability to gather food. The impact can be so severe that it jeopardizes the health of the entire hive.
"The increasingly documented sublethal effects of neonicotinoid pesticides at environmentally relevant concentrations on bees," the researchers note, "include growth disorders, reduced efficiency of the immune system, neurological and cognitive disorders, respiratory and reproductive function, queen survival, foraging efficiency," and decreased homing capacity.
"It is definitely scary for honeybees and other bees and useful insects," Aebi said. "We have up to five molecules in one single sample. From a risk assessment point of view, the evaluation of the risk is made from one single compound in one test organism. So the cocktail is not tested. Mixed effects should be taken seriously."
The impact on bees of continuing to use these pesticides is expected to have widespread consequences.
"In 2014, a global assessment of neonicotinoids concluded that their widespread use was putting the global food production system at risk," the Guardian noted on Thursday. An updated assessment that is slated to appear in the journal Environmental Science and Pollution Research found even stronger evidence that the insecticides are harmful, and reportedly concludes: "The consequences are far reaching and cannot be ignored any longer."
Reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.
By Corey Binns
Dressed in a white beekeeping suit, Zack Strong tried to ignore the honeybees buzzing around his hood as he pounded fence posts into late summer's rock-hard ground about 20 miles southwest of Columbus, Montana. The native Montanan and advocate for the Natural Resources Defense Council's (NRDC) Land and Wildlife program had made the trip from his home in Bozeman to these endless, rolling plains stretching north and east of the towering Beartooth Mountains to resolve a conflict between a storied pair of rivals, bees and bears. Black bears had recently bothered bee yards in this area, jeopardizing business for local apiarists in the nation's second-largest honey-producing state.
As anyone familiar with Winnie the Pooh will know—and as Dr. Alex Few, a biologist with U.S. Department of Agriculture's Wildlife Services, will attest to—conflicts between honeybees and bears are not new. Both black and grizzly bears love honey and will also eat bees and their larvae. But now that bear populations are expanding, conflicts are cropping up in new areas, Few noted.
Luckily, because bee yards are fairly compact, usually comprising 40 or fewer beehive boxes, electric fencing provides fairly simple and inexpensive protection. And as Strong pointed out, not only do the fences keep business buzzing—they are also "keeping bears alive and out of trouble."
Building five electric fences in two days to protect commercial honeybee yards from intruding bears requires a dedicated team. On this particular occasion, Strong was joined by NRDC field technician Josh Ross, NRDC environmental fellow Angela Hessenius, and an experienced crew from Defenders of Wildlife, Montana honey producer Sunshine Apiary, and USDA Wildlife Services. Together they installed posts and stretched wire in 90-degree heat, until the sun set behind the mountains and a cooling thunderstorm rolled in.
Sunshine's owners, Patty and Lance Sundberg, welcomed the help on their property. "Most beekeepers love wildlife, but, unfortunately, when a bear becomes a problem, they do not go away," Patty said. The Sundbergs have had their apiary since 1980 and say they've seen bears encroaching into new territory over the past decade. They plan to continue building some 5 to 10 new fences a year—an investment of its own, Patty noted, but a worthwhile one given that each bear bandit costs Sunshine up to $8,000 in lost damages. The Sundbergs' own expertise in bear behavior also helped inform the conservationists' fence design, since, over the years, they've seen what works and what doesn't.
NRDC wildlife advocate Zack Strong and Sunshine Apiary staff member Buddy DeHaven pound posts to anchor an electric fence.Alex Few / USDA Wildlife Services
Why Montana is seeing an uptick in reports of Pooh bears getting caught with their paws in the honey pot is a mystery. Strong said expanding grizzly bear populations may be displacing black bears into new and less familiar habitats. Eventually, Yellowstone-area grizzlies (which were recently removed from the federal list of threatened and endangered species) might also expand into this project area, Strong said. So while the bee fences were added mainly in response to recent black bear conflicts, they can also serve as a deterrent for grizzlies.
In fact, in 2010 Defenders of Wildlife launched its Electric Fence Incentive Program primarily as a grizzly bear conservation tool. Since then, the group has built more than 280 electric fence projects to safeguard chicken coops, fruit trees, gardens, small livestock and bees, primarily on private lands.
People resorting to lethal methods—guns, poisons, and traps—to resolve conflicts with wildlife pose one of the greatest obstacles to grizzly bear recovery, said Russ Talmo, Rockies and Plains program associate at Defenders of Wildlife. As an incentive to participate, the program subsidizes the cost of electric fences (up to a maximum of $500) and provides technical assistance to landowners and producers interested in adding them to their properties. The program appears to be working toward its goal of not just reducing conflicts, said Talmo, but also "fostering greater tolerance for bears on the landscape."
Over their two days of pounding T-posts and moving fence panels on the Montana plains, the team of wildlife advocates and apiarists bonded. "It felt like a bunch of friends coming together for a weekend work project, like building a neighbor's barn," Few said.
A permanent electrified panel fence protects one of Sunshine Apiary's bee yards from bears in South Central, Montana.NRDC
In recent years, NRDC and Wildlife Services have partnered on related projects, including installing electric fencing called fladry to protect cattle and sheep from bears and wolves in the northern Rockies. The organizations have had differences in the past regarding predator control practices, so their united efforts are meaningful, said Strong. "I hope and believe that our collaborations will continue and expand in Montana and beyond," he added.
Montana's diverse and abundant wildlife is one of the things that make the state special, Strong said, even though it can present challenges. By supporting projects that mitigate wildlife conflicts, NRDC can help foster win-win solutions, good for businesses and communities, and for wildlife and natural landscapes, too.
Strong counts hundreds of bee yards in bear country throughout Montana that still lack bear-proof fencing. There are plenty of posts left to pound into the ground. "But with every fence we build, we create a more bear-friendly landscape," he said. His hope is that as the fences build up a record of success, more and more honey producers will be interested in partnering—making better neighbors out of the bears and the bees, and Montanans, too.
Corey Binns is a science and health writer based in Northern California. Her work has appeared in publications such as Popular Science, Marie Claire, TODAY.com, Scientific American Mind, Psychology Today, Women's Health, the New York Times, and msnbc.com. Binns was also named Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Health Journalism Fellow by the Association of Health Care Journalists in 2009.
By Carey Gillam
Residues of the main ingredient in Monsanto's flagship herbicide Roundup has been found in honey in the key farm state of Iowa.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) began glyphosate residue testing in a small number of foods earlier this year after the International Agency for Research on Cancer classified glyphosate as a probable human carcinogen in March 2015. The "special assignment," as the FDA refers to the testing project, is the first time the FDA has ever looked for glyphosate residues in food, though it annually tests foods for numerous other pesticides.
Research by FDA chemist Narong Chamkasem and John Vargo, a chemist at the University of Iowa, shows that residues of glyphosate have been detected at 653 parts per billion (ppb), more than 10 times the limit of 50 ppb allowed in the European Union. Other samples tested detected glyphosate residues in honey samples at levels from the low 20s ppb to more than 123 parts per billion ppb. Some samples had none or only trace amounts below levels of quantification. Previous reports had disclosed glyphosate residues in honey detected as high as 107 ppb. The collaborative work was part of an effort within the FDA to establish and validate testing methodology for glyphosate residues.
"According to recent reports, there has been a dramatic increase in the usage of these herbicides, which are of risk to both human health and the environment," Chamkasem and Vargo stated in their laboratory bulletin.
Because there is no legal tolerance level for glyphosate in honey in the U.S., any amount could technically be considered a violation, according to statements made in FDA internal emails, obtained through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) may soon move to set a tolerance, however. The agency has set tolerance levels for glyphosate residues in many foods the EPA expects might contain residues of the weed killer. When residue levels are detected above the tolerance levels, enforcement action can be taken against the food producer.
"EPA is evaluating the necessity of establishing tolerances for inadvertent residues of pesticides in honey," the agency said in a statement. "EPA has examined the glyphosate residue levels found in honey and has determined that glyphosate residues at those levels do not raise a concern for consumers."
Despite these reassurances by the EPA, at least two lawsuits have been filed over this issue. The Organic Consumers Association and Beyond Pesticides filed suit Tuesday against the Sioux Honey Association Cooperative, a large Iowa-based group of bee keepers who produce the nationally known brand Sue Bee Honey.
Sue Bee bills itself as "America's Honey," but the lawsuit alleges that the labeling and advertising of Sue Bee Products as "Pure," "100% Pure," "Natural" and "All-natural" is "false, misleading and deceptive." Some of the glyphosate residues detected in the FDA tests were found in the Sue Bee brand, according to the FDA documents obtained through FOIA requests.
Lawsuit Filed Against Sioux Honey Over ‘100% Pure’ & ‘Natural’ Labels on Products Contaminated with #Glyphosate… https://t.co/HTpLLeS3vc— GMWatch (@GMWatch)1478097449.0
The claims are similar to another lawsuit, which seeks class action status, that was filed against Sioux Honey Association in late September in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York.
Quaker Oats was sued earlier this year on a similar claim regarding glyphosate residues. The FDA has also found glyphosate residues in oatmeal, including several types of infant oat cereal.
FDA Tests Confirm Baby Foods Contain Residues of Glyphosate via @EcoWatch https://t.co/BlI1M7UNf4— Mark Hyman, M.D. (@Mark Hyman, M.D.)1475598525.0
Considering corn is the key crop grown in Iowa and most of the U.S. corn crop is genetically modified to tolerate being sprayed directly with glyphosate, it is not surprising that glyphosate residues are showing up in honey in Iowa and other farm states.
"It's a chemical intrusion, a chemical trespass into our product," said Darren Cox, president of the American Honey Producers Association. "We have really no way of controlling it. I don't see an area for us to put our bees. We can't put them in the middle of the desert. They need to be able to forage in ag areas. There are no ag areas free of this product."
Sioux Honey Association President David Allibone said no one from the FDA has communicated with his group about the chemical residues found in honey and he said he could not discuss the issue further because of the litigation.
The lawsuit filed Tuesday acknowledges the difficulties beekeepers face. They "are often the victims of and have little recourse against, contamination of their hives caused by pesticide applications in the fields where bees forage," the lawsuit states.
The glyphosate residues showing up in food are surprising and worrisome, according to dietitian Mitzi Dulan, a nationally known nutrition and wellness expert.
"I think more testing should be done so that we are armed with the knowledge and then we can decide what we want to put into our bodies," Dulan said. "I do believe in minimizing pesticide exposures whenever possible."
Jay Feldman, executive director of Beyond Pesticides, a plaintiff in the lawsuit filed yesterday, said regulators need to do more to address the issue.
"Until U.S. regulatory agencies prohibit Monsanto and other manufacturers of glyphosate from selling pesticides that end up in the food supply, we need to protect consumers by demanding truth and transparency in labeling," Feldman said.
By Carey Gillam
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which is quietly starting to test U.S. foods for traces of glyphosate, has found residues of the cancer-linked pesticide in a variety of oat products, including plain and flavored oat cereals for babies.
Data compiled by an FDA chemist and presented to other chemists at a meeting in July in Florida showed residues of glyphosate in several types of infant oat cereal, including banana strawberry- and banana-flavored varieties. Glyphosate was also detected in "cinnamon spice" instant oatmeal, "maple brown sugar" instant oatmeal and "peach and cream" instant oatmeal products. In the sample results shared in the presentation, levels ranged from nothing detected in several organic oat products to 1.67 parts per million in non-organic varieties.
Glyphosate is the active ingredient in Monsanto's Roundup, the most heavily used weed killer in the world. Concerns about glyphosate residues in food spiked after the World Health Organization in 2015 said a team of international cancer experts determined glyphosate is a probable human carcinogen. Other scientists have raised concerns about how heavy use of glyphosate is impacting human health and the environment.
IARC Scientist Reaffirms #Glyphosate's Link to #Cancer as #Monsanto's Requests to Dismiss Lawsuits Denied https://t.co/UsSBjCnsjm @Neilyoung— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1467807677.0
The EPA maintains that the chemical is "not likely" to cause cancer, and has established tolerance levels for glyphosate residues in oats and many other foods. The levels found by the FDA in oats fall within those allowed tolerances, which for oats is set by the EPA at 30 ppm. In the European Union, the tolerance for glyphosate in oats is 20 ppm.
Monsanto, which derives close to a third of its $15 billion in annual revenues from glyphosate-based products, has helped guide the EPA in setting tolerance levels for glyphosate in food, and in 2013 requested and received higher tolerances for many foods. The company has developed genetically engineered crops designed to be sprayed directly with glyphosate. Corn, soybeans, canola and sugar beets are genetically engineered to withstand being sprayed with glyphosate.
Oats are not genetically engineered. But Monsanto has encouraged farmers to spray oats and other non-genetically modified crops directly with its glyphosate-based Roundup herbicide shortly before harvest. The practice can help dry down and even out the maturity of the crop.
"A preharvest weed control application is an excellent management strategy to not only control perennial weeds, but to facilitate harvest management and get a head start on next year's crop," Monsanto's "pre-harvest staging guide" says.
Great "?": Why is #Glyphosate sprayed on crops right before harvest? @nongmoreport @EcoWatch https://t.co/RMHFyFZNwy https://t.co/LJHv7PkL2X— FoodPrint (@FoodPrint)1458069314.0
In Canada, which is among the world's largest oat producers and is a major supplier of oats to the U.S., Monsanto marketing materials tout the benefits of glyphosate on oat fields: "Pre-harvest application of Roundup WeatherMAX and Roundup Transorb HC are registered for application on all oat varieties—including milling oats destined for human consumption."
Glyphosate is also used by U.S. oat farmers. The EPA estimates that about 100,000 pounds of glyphosate are used annually in production of U.S. oats.
Glyphosate is also used on wheat shortly before harvest. A division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture known as the Grain Inspection, Packers & Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) has been testing wheat for glyphosate residues for years for export purposes and have detected the residues in more than 40 percent of hundreds of wheat samples examined in fiscal 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012.
Even though the FDA annually examines foods for residues of many other types of pesticides, it has skipped testing for glyphosate residues for decades. It was only in February of this year that the agency said it would start some glyphosate residue analysis. That came after many independent researchers started conducting their own testing and found glyphosate in an array of food products, including flour, cereal and oatmeal.
Monsanto and U.S. regulators have said glyphosate levels in food are too low to translate to any health problems in humans. But critics say such assurances are meaningless unless the government actually routinely measures those levels as it does with other pesticides.
And some do not believe any level of glyphosate is safe in food. Earlier this year, Taiwan recalled more than 130,000 pounds of oat supplies after detecting glyphosate residues.
Taiwan Recalls Quaker Oats Products Imported From U.S. After Detecting #Glyphosate https://t.co/UodKlOkPP4 @EcoWatch https://t.co/GxluB4V8fO— GMWatch (@GMWatch)1464445799.0
And, San Francisco resident Danielle Cooper filed a lawsuit in May 2016 seeking class action status against the Quaker Oats Co. after glyphosate residues were found in that company's oat products, which are used by millions of consumers. Cooper said she expected the oat products, which have been labeled as "100% Natural," to be pesticide free. "Glyphosate is a dangerous substance, the presence and dangers of which should be disclosed," the lawsuit states.
Quaker Oats has said any trace amounts of glyphosate found in its products are safe, and it stands by the quality of its products.
Quaker Oats Accused of Being 'Deceptive and Misleading' After Glyphosate Detected in Oatmeal https://t.co/CtZ7HW7ifb @pesticideaction— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1462311619.0
EPA, FDA Drop the Ball on Honey
In addition to oats, the FDA tested earlier this year samples of U.S. honey for glyphosate residues and found all of the samples contained glyphosate, and some of the honey showed residue levels double the limit allowed in the European Union, according to documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request. There is no legal tolerance level for glyphosate in honey in the U.S., so any amount is problematic legally.
Despite internal discussions about a need to pursue action after the honey findings in January, the FDA did not notify the honey companies involved that their products were found to be contaminated with glyphosate residues, nor did it notify the public.
#FDA Finds #Glyphosate in #Honey https://t.co/MEZ32oQirW @USRightToKnow @garyruskin @nongmoreport @FoodDemocracy @ewg @markhymanmd @nutiva— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1473948659.0
The FDA has also tested corn, soy, eggs and milk in recent months, and has not found any levels that exceed legal tolerance.
"These preliminary results showed no pesticide residue violations for glyphosate in all four commodities tested," FDA spokeswoman Megan McSeveney said. "However, the special assignment is ongoing and all results must go through the FDA's quality control process to be verified. The tests on honey were not considered part of the official special assignment.
"Dr. Narong Chamkasem, an FDA research chemist based in Atlanta, tested 19 samples of honey as part of a research project that he individually conducted."
The glyphosate residue testing by the FDA may be headed for a slowdown. Sources say there is talk of closing the FDA's Atlanta laboratory that has conducted the pesticide residue tests and shifting the work to other facilities around the country. The FDA would not comment on this.
Both European and U.S. regulators are evaluating glyphosate impacts for risks to humans and the environment. The EPA is holding four days of meetings in mid-October with an advisory panel to discuss cancer research pertaining to glyphosate, and debate is ongoing over whether or not the team of international scientists who last year declared it a probable human carcinogen were right nor not.
Aaron Blair, the chairman of the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) working group that classified glyphosate as probably carcinogenic to humans, said that the science on glyphosate is still evolving. He said that it is common for it to take years, sometimes decades, for industry and regulators to accept certain research findings and for scientists to reach consensus. He likened glyphosate to formaldehyde, which many years ago was also classified by IARC as "probably carcinogenic" to humans before it was later accepted to be carcinogenic.
"There is not a single example of IARC being wrong, showing something is a probable carcinogen and then later it is proven not to be," Blair said.
Carey Gillam is the research director for U.S. Right to Know.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has found residues of the weed killer glyphosate in samples of U.S. honey, according to documents obtained by the consumer advocacy group U.S. Right to Know through a Freedom of Information Act request. Some samples showed residue levels double the legally allowed limit in the European Union.
There is no legal tolerance level for glyphosate in honey in the U.S., so any amount of detectable glyphosate in honey could technically be considered illegal. Some of the honey tested by the FDA had glyphosate residues at 107 parts per billion, well more than the 50 parts per billion set as a maximum allowed in the European Union, the documents state.
Records obtained from the FDA, as well as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, by U.S. Right to Know detail a range of revelations about the federal government's efforts to get a handle on rising concerns about glyphosate. In addition to honey, the records show government residue experts discussing the prevalence of glyphosate found in soybean samples and the belief that there could be a lot of "violation for glyphosate" residue levels in U.S. crops.
Glyphosate, the key ingredient in Monsanto's Roundup herbicide, is the most widely used herbicide in the world and concerns about glyphosate residues in food increased after the World Health Organization in 2015 said its cancer experts determined glyphosate is a probable human carcinogen. Other international scientists have raised concerns about how heavy use of glyphosate is impacting human health and the environment.
IARC Scientist Reaffirms #Glyphosate's Link to #Cancer as #Monsanto's Requests to Dismiss Lawsuits Denied https://t.co/UsSBjCnsjm @Neilyoung— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1467807677.0
Even though the FDA annually examines foods for residues of many pesticides, it has declined to test for glyphosate residues for decades. It was only in February of this year that the agency said it would start some limited testing for glyphosate residues. That came after many independent researchers started conducting their own testing on various foods two years ago, finding glyphosate in an array of products, including flour, cereal and oatmeal.