A weed-killing chemical that some health authorities link to cancer, glyphosate, was found in a number of popular breakfast foods and cereals marketed to children.
A report by the non-profit Environmental Working Group (EWG) discovered trace amounts of the most widely used herbicide in the country in oats, granolas and snack bars. Thirty-one out of 45 tested products had levels higher than what some scientists consider safe for children.
The chemical in question has concerned some scientists, doctors and activists around the world and they have been working to keep glyphosate out of crops due to concerns that it is a dangerous carcinogen.
“We’re very concerned that consumers are eating more glyphosate than they know,” said Scott Faber, vice president of government affairs at EWG. He has been striving to improve food safety standards for more than a decade.
Glyphosate is the active ingredient in the Monsanto weed-killer Roundup.
”I was shocked,” said Dr. Jennifer Lowry, who heads the Council on Environmental Health for the American Academy of Pediatrics.
“We don’t know a lot about the effects of glyphosate on children,” Lowry said. “And essentially we’re just throwing it at them.”
EWG also concluded that products with excessive levels of the herbicide included Quaker Old Fashioned Oats, Cheerios, Quaker Dinosaur Egg Instant Oats, Great Value Instant Oats, and Back to Nature Classic Granola. Glyphosate was even found in a few organic products, though most had non-detectable levels.
The World Health Organization says glyphosate is a “probable carcinogen,” and California lists it as a chemical “known to the state to cause cancer.”
Monsanto disputes that, saying in a statement, “glyphosate does not cause cancer” and “has a more than 40-year history of safe use.” Monsanto also said “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” for glyphosate residues.
“It is time now for them to step up and do their jobs to ban glyphosate,” said Zen Honeycutt, who heads Moms Across America, a group formed to raise awareness about toxic exposures.
In a statement Quaker said: “We proudly stand by the safety and quality of our Quaker products. Any levels of glyphosate that may remain are significantly below any limits of the safety standards set by the EPA and the European Commission as safe for human consumption.”
General Mills told CBS News: “Our products are safe and without question they meet regulatory safety levels. The EPA has researched this issue and has set rules that we follow.”