The agricultural practice of food crop desiccation with toxic chemicals is a public health issue. Glyphosate desiccation is generating much scrutiny and companies have begun sourcing glyphosate-free crops. This is welcome, but we believe a single-chemical focus could be an exercise in greenwashing. Though glyphosate desiccation is widespread, other equally or more dangerous herbicides such as paraquat, diquat and glufosinate may be used.
The most recent U.S. data (2016) shows paraquat use rose nearly 200% to 14 million pounds since 2009. But USDA doesn’t include glyphosate or paraquat in annual testing of pesticide residues in food. Why? HRI Labs detected paraquat in beans, peas and lentils, likely from pre-harvest desiccation. Our project will investigate the prevalence of desiccant chemicals (glyphosate, paraquat, diquat and glufosinate) in whole and processed foods and use the resulting report to pressure the food industry to end the practice of chemical desiccation of food crops.