Weed killer in your cereal? Maybe, but don't panic

Image Credit Dr. Leonard Coldwell

Image Credit Dr. Leonard Coldwell

A study of dozens of popular oat-based breakfast foods delivered sobering news this week when nearly all of the products examined by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) were found to contain the chemical glyphosate.

"From a purely scientific point of view I do not think that the judgment makes sense", Paul Pharoah, a professor of cancer epidemiology at Britain's University of Cambridge, said after the ruling. "We're saying a pesticide like this which has the ability to increase the risk of cancer has no place in food an particularly not foods that are marketed to children", said Walker. She said glyphosate - the world's most common herbicide - had an environmental benefit. According to studies conducted by the Environmental Working Group, a US-based public health organisation, 43 out of 45 oat-derived products sampled were found to have significant levels of the glyphosate, the active compound in all weedkillers.

A recent verdict finding Monsanto's popular weed killer caused a terminally ill man's cancer could be disastrous for the agrochemical giant as thousands of other plaintiffs prepare for their day in court and lawmakers begin to consider bans on the product.

Startling headlines about a weed killer in children's cereal and snack bars are swamping social media and scaring parents this week.

According to an Environmental Protection Agency, glyphosate "is not likely to be carcinogenic to humans".

While it became the world's most popular and widely used herbicide, the question of whether it causes cancer has been hotly debated by environmentalists, regulators, researchers and lawyers - even as Monsanto has insisted for decades that it's perfectly safe. The use of glyphosate on base crops means it gets transferred in the food chain and lands up on our table in the form of bread, popcorn, oat flakes, etc.

We are deeply disappointed by the tone-deaf response of General Mills and the Quaker Oats Company to the news that EWG research has found a toxic weed killer in their products at levels of concern to human health-especially the health of kids.

The level considered safe to consume is 160 ppb. "But we very much doubt our petition will be acted upon by President Trump's lawless EPA".

Quaker and General Mills both told CBS News their products are safe and meet any regulatory safety standards. Glyphosate is commonly used by farmers across the industry who apply it pre-harvest. "Comparatively, from everything that I see, this is a small risk", said Gould, who led a committee studying the safety of genetically engineered crops for the National Academy of Medicine. 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.

The lab work and analysis by the E-W-G shows trace amounts of glyphosate in a number of products, including Cheerios and Quaker Oats granola bars. Once the oats are transported to us, we put them through our rigorous process that thoroughly cleanses them (de-hulled, cleaned, roasted and flaked).

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