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Posted on: June 24, 2019 at 8:10 pm

Cereals and snacks containing whole-grain oats are usually a healthy choice—unless they contain high amounts of glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, a weed killer produced by Bayer-Monsanto. 

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) tested oat-based cereal and snack products and found that most of their glyphosate levels were too high to be considered safe for children.

What is So Bad About Roundup and Glyphosate?

Roundup is one of the most widely used weed killers in the world, used by farmers and homeowners alike. It is a non-selective herbicide, which means it can kill most plants it comes into contact with. However, studies have linked Roundup and glyphosates to increased risks of serious health complications, such as:

  • Celiac disease
  • Gluten intolerance [1]
  • Autism
  • Alzheimer’s
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Parkinson’s [2]
  • Cancer [3]
  • Chronic kidney disease [4]
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The main crops containing glyphosate are genetically modified to be resistant to the chemical.  As a result, these are among the most processed farmed foods:

  • Corn
  • Soybeans
  • Canola
  • Alfalfa
  • Sugar beets [5]

Not only that, since many weed species become resistant to glyphosate, more Roundup is needed to kill them, exposing the crops to even more potentially toxic chemicals. [6]

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

Since last August, three California courts have fined Bayer-Monsanto over $2.2 billion dollars in three separate verdicts, claiming that Roundup causes cancer and Monsanto knew about the risks for decades and still worked hard to hide the fact.

The Environmental Working Group’s Study 

The 21 tested products are made by General Mills and included 6 kinds of Cheerios and 14 types Nature Valley foods, including granola bars and trail mixes. All 21 foods contained varying levels of glyphosate

General Mills considers food safety as a “top priority” and is working to minimize their use of pesticides.

“Most crops grown in fields use some form of pesticides and trace amounts are found in the majority of food we all eat,” says the company in an emailed statement. “Experts at the FDA and EPA determine the safe levels for food products.” 

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The Cereals with the Highest and Lowest Glyphosate Levels

EWG considers any number about 160 parts per billion (ppb) to be unsafe for children to consume. Honey Nut Cheerios Medley measured to have 833 parts per billion (ppb), and Cheerios Toasted Whole Grain Oats contains 729 ppb. Nature Valley Maple Brown Sugar Granola Bars had 566 ppb, and Nature Valley Almond Butter Granola Cups had 529 ppb.

Health issues connected to glyphosate usually take long-term exposure. This is why high levels of this chemical in children’s foods can affect their health in the future, especially since many kids consume oat cereals and snacks daily. [7]

The products with glyphosate levels below 160 parts per billion were:

  • Honey Nut Cheerios
  • Nature Valley Sweet and Salty Nut granola bars, Cashew
  • Nature Valley Fruit and Nut Chewy Trail Mix Granola Bars, Dark Chocolate and Nut
  • Nature Valley Soft-Baked Oatmeal Squares, Cinnamon Brown Sugar
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Oat Products Contain Extra Glyphosate

According to the EWG, glyphosate is sprayed on oats to dry them out and make them easier to harvest, this is a process known as crop desiccation. This process increases the amount of this chemical ending up in a child’s cereal bowl. 

The EWG and 19 food companies—including Cliff Bar and Company, KIND Healthy Snacks, Ben & Jerry’s, Nature’s Path, Stonyfield Organic, and Amy’s Kitchen—created a petition that included over 80,000 names urging the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to limit glyphosate allowed on oats and to outlaw its use as a drying agent. However, the EPA could take years to respond to these demands, and they had promoted Roundup as a safe herbicide in the past. [8]

“The only way to quickly remove this cancer-causing weed killer from foods marketed to children is for companies like General Mills and Quaker to use oats from farmers who do not use glyphosate as a desiccant,” states EWG’s report.

  1.  Glyphosate, pathways to modern diseases II: Celiac sprue and gluten intolerance. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24678255
  2.  Glyphosate, pathways to modern diseases III: Manganese, neurological diseases, and associated pathologies. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25883837
  3. Long term toxicity of a Roundup herbicide and a Roundup-tolerant genetically modified maize. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22999595
  4. Glyphosate, hard water and nephrotoxic metals: are they the culprits behind the epidemic of chronic kidney disease of unknown etiology in Sri Lanka? https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24562182/
  5.  Glyphosate-resistant crops: adoption, use and future considerations. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18078304
  6.  Global perspective of herbicide-resistant weeds. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24302673
  7. How Does EWG Set a ‘Health Benchmark’ for Glyphosate Exposure? https://www.ewg.org/news-and-analysis/2018/08/how-does-ewg-set-health-benchmark-glyphosate-exposure
  8.  10 Food Companies Join EWG Glyphosate Petition https://www.ewg.org/release/10-food-companies-join-ewg-glyphosate-petition

 

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Sarah Biren
Founder of The Creative Palate
Sarah is a baker, cook, author, and blogger living in Toronto. She believes that food is the best method of healing and a classic way of bringing people together. In her spare time, Sarah does yoga, reads cookbooks, writes stories, and finds ways to make any type of food in her blender. Her blog The Creative Palate shares the nutrition and imagination of her recipes for others embarking on their journey to wellbeing.

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