Significant levels of the weedkilling 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. Products with some of the highest levels of glyphosate include granola, oats and snack bars made by leading industry namesQuaker, Kellogg’s and General Mills, which makes Cheerios.
One sample of Quaker Old Fashioned Oats measured at more than one part per million of glyphosate. This is still within safe level deemed by the Environmental Protection Agency, although it 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The EWG said the federal limits are outdated and that most of the products it tested exceed a more stringent definition of safe glyphosate levels.
“I grew up eating Cheerios and Quaker Oats long before they were tainted with glyphosate,” said EWG’s president, Ken Cook. “No one wants to eat a weedkiller for breakfast, and no one should have to do so.” Cook said the EWG will urge the EPA to limit the use of glyphosate on food crops but said companies should “step up” because of the “lawless” nature of the regulator under the Trump administration.
“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.
Monsanto, which said it will appeal against the verdict, has said glyphosate has been used safely for decades. In 2015, the EPA said that glyphosate has a low toxicity for people but could cause problems for some pets if they consume the chemical.
However, 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”.