Significant levels of the weed-killing chemical glyphosate have been found in an array of popular breakfast cereals, oats and snack bars marketed to US children, a new study has found.
Tests revealed glyphosate, the active ingredient in the popular weedkiller brand Roundup, present in all but two of the 45 oat-derived products that were sampled by the Environmental Working Group, a public health organization.
Nearly three in four of the products exceeded what the EWG classes safe for children to consume.
As for the foods to look out for? Cheerios, Lucky Charms, Quaker Old Fashioned Oats, Quaker Dinosaur Egg Instant Oats, Great Value Instant Oats, and Back to Nature Classic Granola were all found to have glyphosate in them.
Ken Cook, the president of the EWG, said the findings are unacceptable and that the EWG plans to petition the Environmental Protection Agency.
“I grew up eating Cheerios and Quaker Oats long before they were tainted with glyphosate,” he said. “No one wants to eat a weed killer for breakfast, and no one should have to do so.”
One sample of Quaker Old Fashioned Oats measured at more than one part per million of glyphosate. This is still within safe levels deemed by the Environmental Protection Agency, although the agency is currently working on an updated assessment.
The EWG said the federal limits are outdated and that most of the products it tested exceed a more stringent definition of safe glyphosate levels.
“It is very troubling that cereals children like to eat contain glyphosate,” said Alexis Temkin, an EWG toxicologist and author of the report. “Parents shouldn’t worry about whether feeding their children heathy oat foods will also expose them to a chemical linked to cancer. The government must take steps to protect our most vulnerable populations.”
The findings follow a landmark decision in a San Francisco court last week to order that Monsanto pay $289m in damages to Dewayne Johnson, a 46-year-old former groundskeeper. A jury deemed that Monsanto’s Roundup weedkiller caused Johnson’s cancer and that it had failed to warn him about the health risks of exposure.
The World Health Organization has called glyphosate a “probable carcinogen” and authorities in California list it as a chemical “known to the state to cause cancer”.
US farmers spray about 200m pounds of Roundup each year on their crops, including corn, soybeans, wheat and oats. It can also be used on produce such as spinach and almonds.
Monsanto, the company that provides the genetically modified seeds used to grow the affected oat products, is denying these claims. The brand released a statement saying that “glyphosate does not cause cancer” and that the herbicide “has a more than 40-year history of safe use.” Monsanto added that “even at the highest level reported . . . an adult would have to eat 118 pounds of the food item every day for the rest of their life in order to reach the EPA’s limit.”