In a new study released by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), products from Quaker and General Mills have been found to be laced with unacceptable levels of a dangerous weed-killer.
The EWG’s report found that Monsanto’s infamous weed-killer, Roundup — which contains the controversial chemical glyphosate — is found in many breakfast foods geared toward children, including oat cereals, oatmeal and granola bars. This is especially troubling given glyphosate was categorized as a probable human carcinogen in 2015 by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), a branch of the World Health Organization.
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26 of 28 Tested Products Had Higher Levels of Glyphosate Than Considered Safe For Children
This latest study, released October 2018, is the second independent study commissioned by EWG, a nonprofit, non-partisan group whose mission is to promote health.
EWG found 26 of the 28 products that they tested had levels of glyphosate that were higher than what EWG scientists consider safe for children.
A list of the products can be found here.
According to EWG, all of the Cheerios and Quaker Oats products sampled had unsafe levels of glyphosate, and include:
- Quaker Instant Oatmeal Cinnamon & Spice
- Quaker Instant Oatmeal Apples & Cinnamon
- Quaker Real Medleys Super Grains Banana Walnut
- Quaker Overnight Oats Raisin Walnut & Honey Heaven
- Quaker Overnight Oats Unsweetened with Chia Seeds
- Oatmeal Squares Brown Sugar
- Quaker Oatmeal Squares Honey Nut
- Apple Cinnamon Cheerios
- Very Berry Cheerios
- Chocolate Cheerios
- Frosted Cheerios
- Fruity Cheerios
- Honey Nut Cheerios
- Cheerios Oat Crunch Cinnamon
- Quaker Chewy S’mores Granola Bars
- Quaker Chewy Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Granola Bars
- Quaker Breakfast Squares Soft Baked Bars Peanut Butter Granola Bars
“Altogether, in two rounds of testing commissioned by EWG, we found that samples of 15 Quaker products had levels of glyphosate ranging from approximately 1.6 to approximately 18 times more than what EWG scientists consider protective of children’s health with an adequate margin of safety,” wrote EWG President Ken Cook in a letter to Quaker’s parent company, Pepsico, demanding answers.
Cook notes that an EPA risk assessment found that 1- to 2-year-old children are likely to have the highest exposure levels of glyphosate and estimated at twice that of California’s No Significant Risk Level and 230 times greater than EWG’s health benchmark.
The majority of samples of conventional oat products from EWG’s first study, released in August 2018, exceeded 160ppb, meaning that a single serving per day for children would exceed EWG’s health benchmark.
What Level of Roundup is Safe?
In 2008, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) set the limit for glyphosate at 30 parts per million.
EWN however, doesn’t agree with the EPA’s standard for children. “As with many federal health and safety limits, the fact that the level of glyphosate our laboratory analyses found in Quaker products is legal does not mean that it is fully protective of children’s health,” Cook said. “The EPA’s standards for pesticides are heavily influenced by the political clout of the chemical agriculture and pesticide industries.”
The International Agency for Research on Cancer—part of the World Health Organization—in 2015 found glyphosate to be “probably carcinogenic” to humans.
Last year, scientists in California came out against Roundup, putting it on a list of chemicals known to cause cancer.
EWN and other groups are demanding action to correct the problem, in addition to countless lawsuits pending throughout the country against Monsanto, alleging the agrochemical company exposed people to Roundup, knowing it was carcinogenic.
This August, the first verdict in such cases was awarded, at $289 million, and revealing evidence that the EPA worked with Monsanto to promote Roundup’s safety. The case has launched debate worldwide regarding glyphosate’s safety and the need for regulatory action to control exposure.
Why Is Weed-Killer in Oats Anyway?
Many health conscious people have known for a while that glyphosate is routinely sprayed on corn and soybeans; crops genetically altered to survive the herbicide and making these crops a health risk. According to EWG, each year more than 250 million pounds of glyphosate is sprayed on corn and soybean crops to fight off weeds.
But now, it’s showing up in oats. Why?
Because, increasingly, farmers are spraying wheat, barley, oats and beans with Roundup right before harvest to ripen them uniformly and to save time waiting for them to dry out naturally.
EWG is calling for a halt to this practice. “Growing oats does not require the use of glyphosate as a pre-harvest drying agent, and there are conventional and organic oat growers who do not use it or other weed killers for this purpose,” Cook said.
Quaker and General Mills Say Their Products Are Safe
General Mills and the Quaker Oats Company have issued statements saying that the glyphosate levels found in their products are within regulatory limits set by EPA.
“Once again, our message to General Mills, Quaker and other food companies is that you can take the simple step of telling your oat farmers to stop using glyphosate,” Cook said. “You can hide behind an outdated federal standard, or you can listen to your customers and take responsibility for cleaning up your supply chain. It’s your choice.”