Published: Sat, August 18, 2018
Medicine | By Brett Sutton

Unhealthy levels of chemicals present in cereals, report says

Unhealthy levels of chemicals present in cereals, report says

"This case brings up the question of how much protection do we need for Roundup and we're simply not sure, which is a big problem", he says.

The chemical glyphosate has been used as a pesticide for more than four decades and is the active ingredient in Monsanto's Roundup weed killer.

Oat-based foods are a healthy source of fiber and nutrients for children and adults, and oat consumption is linked to health benefits such as lowered cholesterol and decreased risk of cardiovascular disease.

The World Health Organization has determined that glyphosate is probably "carcinogenic to humans", this observation has led to the Environmental Protection Agency setting a safety level for the potentially unsafe chemical.

But just last week, a jury in California ordered Monsanto to pay one man $289 million in damages after he claimed the company's weed killers caused his cancer.

Johnson's case is the first of a long list of about 4,000 people looking to sue the weedkiller maker for similar allegations.

A study of dozens of popular oat-based breakfast foods delivered sobering news this week when nearly all of the products examined by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) were found to contain the chemical glyphosate. More than two thirds of them had glyphosate levels higher than those considered acceptable by EWG scientists. The group cites internal emails obtained by US Right to Know that showed the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has been testing food for glyphosate for two years and has found "a fair amount".

Some of the products and brands found to contain traces of the herbicide include Cheerios, Quaker Oats, Nature Valley, Simple Truth, Kashi, Lucky Charms, 365 Organic, Bob's Red Mill Steel Cut Oats, Whole Foods Bulk bin, among many others.

While oats are an low-cost and easy food that have been linked to all kinds of health benefits, clearly eating herbicides is not so great. "EWG's findings raise the prospect that millions of American children are being exposed to a suspected carcinogen at a time when their bodies are rapidly developing", notes a statement from the group.

The report cites independent laboratory tests commissioned by the Environmental Working Group, EWG. "The short-term, one bowl of cereal is not necessarily what we're anxious about", says Alexis Temkin, a toxicologist at EWG.

Even organic oats can be contaminated if they sit next to fields where glyphosate is sprayed, or if they're processed on the same equipment as conventionally grown oats. It's based on what the state believes may be a one-in-100,000 increased lifetime risk of cancer, a calculation made from animal studies. Opting for non-GMO corn and soy products should make it easy for consumers to avoid the herbicide, but it is also used to dry some grain crops out at harvest, including oats. But given the direction that environmental legislation has been going since, say, January of 2017, the best bet may be to look towards the companies that use these ingredients rather than the government.

In an interview with The Times on Wednesday, Scott Partridge, a vice president at Monsanto, said that hundreds of studies had validated the safety of glyphosate and that it doesn't cause cancer.

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