If people in the agriculture, food and beverage space are wondering "what's the next big thing," it may be the risk of glyphosate exposure.
Glyphosate is a herbicide used on crops such as corn and soy. It is also used as a pre-harvest drying agent or desiccant on oats, wheat and barley. According to The Detox Project -- a research and certification platform that encourages transparency in the food and supplement industries on the subject of toxic chemicals -- it is sprayed on over 70 different crops from almonds and apples to rice and sunflowers. While this use can create exposure to the ultimate consumers of these products, the EPA has stated that "these trace amounts are not of concern for the consumer."
That proposition is being challenged in a report recently released by The Detox Project that contends the pre-harvest spraying of glyphosate-based weed-killers is “leading to the mass contamination of essential foods that form the base of our diet.” Indeed, the report contends that some of the highest levels of glyphosate are found in foods marketed as non-GMO, "whole wheat" and "whole grain."
This has caused some regions to begin the process of phasing out the use of glyphosate for pre-harvest desiccation. It has also lead to numerous lawsuits against Monsanto/Bayer (the maker of Roundup, which contains glyphosate) and against companies like General Mills, Quaker Oats and Florida's Natural Growers over glyphosate residues. So far, many of the Roundup cases have been successful. But the cases over glyphosate residues have all been dismissed on the grounds that reasonable consumers would not be surprised to find trace levels of pesticides in their food that are well below government thresholds. But The Detox Project believes those government thresholds are not low enough, asserting "[i]t is simply not yet possible to set a safe level for glyphosate exposure ..."
I don't see this issue going away any time soon. The Roundup litigation is still ongoing despite efforts to achieve a global settlement of the claims. How much longer the consumer litigation over glyphosate's mere presence in food will continue, remains to be seen.