Energy & Environment

Roundup ingredient found in cereals marketed toward kids: study

Roundup ingredient found in cereals marketed toward kids: study

A key chemical used in controversial pesticide Roundup is found in a number of name-brand cereals and granolas, a study out Wednesday found.

The study, paid for by the Environmental Working Group, found that levels of glyphosate were found in 21 oat-based cereal and snack items, many of which are marketed to children.

Testing results showed that amounts of glyphosate, a cancer-linked chemical, were found in Cheerios and Nature Valley products.

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Glyphosate is a key ingredient in the weedkiller Roundup, a commonly used commercial pesticide. Since August, three courts have ruled against Bayer-Monsanto, the producer of the pesticide, that the product lead to cancer in the instances of three plaintiffs. Most recently, a California court in May awarded a couple $2 billion in damages after determining their cancer was caused by the weedkiller Roundup.

More than 13,000 similar lawsuits have been filed against Monsanto or its parent company Bayer.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) earlier this month proposed new rules to “help farmers target pesticide sprays on the intended pest, protect pollinators, and reduce the problem of weeds becoming resistant to glyphosate.”

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But the agency has denied the link between the pesticide and cancer and the chemical is still approved federally for commercial use.

“EPA has found no risks to public health from the current registered uses of glyphosate,” Administrator Andrew WheelerAndrew WheelerTrump pick brings scrutiny to 'revolving door' between Pentagon, industry Overnight Energy: New EPA rule could expand officials weighing in on FOIA requests | Trump plan to strip conservation fund gets bipartisan pushback | Agriculture chief downplays climate concerns New EPA rule could expand number of Trump officials weighing in on FOIA requests MORE said in an earlier statement.

Yet the International Agency for Research on Cancer, part of the World Health Organization, in 2015 classified glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic to humans.” California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment in 2017 classified glyphosate as a known carcinogen.

The pesticide is commonly used on corn, soybean and oat crops.

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The Environmental Working Group's study found the chemical on all of the 21 oat-based products it tested with Honey Nut Cheerios Medley Crunch exhibiting the highest level of glyphosate at 833 ppb, or parts per billion. EPA guidance establishes a maximum legal residue level of glyphosate in oats at 30,000 parts per billion (ppb).

An EPA spokesperson denied that the levels found in the cereal was alarming. 

"The EWG samples listed in the linked article are all well below the EPA tolerance. Residues of glyphosate on any food or feed item are safe for consumers if they are below the established tolerances. The presence of a detectible pesticide residue does not mean the residue is at an unsafe level," the spokesperson said in a statement to The Hill.

Due to its widespread use, trace amounts of glyphosate residues may be found in various fresh fruits, vegetables, cereals, and other food and beverage commodities. However, these trace amounts are not of concern for the consumer.

If residues are found above the established tolerance level, the commodity will be subject to seizure by the government.

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EPA has concluded that glyphosate is not likely to be carcinogenic to humans. EPA considered a significantly more extensive and relevant dataset than the International Agency on the Research for Cancer (IARC). EPA’s database includes studies submitted to support registration of glyphosate and studies EPA identified in the open literature.

EPA’s cancer classification is consistent with other international expert panels and regulatory authorities, including the Canadian Pest Management Regulatory Agency, Australian Pesticide and Veterinary Medicines Authority, European Food Safety Authority, European Chemicals Agency, German Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, New Zealand Environmental Protection Authority, and the Food Safety Commission of Japan.

The results come a week after a leaked report from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) showed the agency found another cancer-linked chemical was showing up in milk, meat, produce and even store-made chocolate cakes sold in the U.S.

Aspects of the study, presented last week at a scientific conference in Helsinki found the class of chemicals, abbreviated as PFAS, present in a number of other food products. PFAS are often referred to as “forever chemicals” because of the time it takes them to break down.

The FDA later said they did not “have any indication that these substances are a human health concern.”

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This story was updated 6/13/19