Report: High levels of weedkiller chemical found in cereals, snacks aimed at U.S. children

Out of 45 samples, glyphosate was present in all but two, and almost three-quarters of the samples were found to have glyphosate levels that exceeded the EWG’s ‘health benchmark’.


High levels of glyphosate, a chemical found in a popular weedkiller, have been found in cereals and snack foods marketed to children in the U.S., according to a new report.

The findings come from the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a non-profit organization based in Washington, D.C. After conducting analyses of common oat- and wheat-based food products, like Cheerios and Quaker Old Fashioned Oats, the group found glyphosate was present in all but two of 45 samples. Almost three-quarters of the samples were found to have glyphosate levels that exceeded the EWG’s ‘health benchmark’.

Glyphosate is the active ingredient in Roundup, a widely used weedkiller manufactured by Monsanto that was introduced to American markets in 1974. It’s not exactly clear how dangerous the chemical is for humans. The World Health Organization lists glyphosate as a ‘probable carcinogen’ and California says it’s known to cause cancer. Still, other scientists say the health risks are so minuscule that foods containing the chemical are basically safe to eat.

“When you’re dealing with something like that, a 1-in-a-million increased risk of cancer, I would say that isn’t a significant level to be particularly concerned about,” Michael Davoren, who studies molecular toxicology at UCLA and was not involved in the report, told WebMD.


The report comes a week after a court awarded $289 million to a former Monsanto groundskeeper who said he’d developed cancer after being exposed to glyphosate at his job. Monsanto Vice President Scott Partridge said in a statement:

Glyphosate “has a 40-year history of safe use and continues to be a vital, effective and safe tool for farmers and others. More than 800 scientific studies, the US EPA, the National Institutes of Health and regulators around the world have concluded that glyphosate is safe for use and does not cause cancer.”

The Environmental Protection Agency seems to agree, stating that “chronic dietary risk posed by glyphosate food uses is minimal.”

“According to the EPA, people should avoid consuming more than 2 mg of glyphosate for every kilogram of body weight,” Alex Berezow, senior fellow of biomedical science at the American Council on Science and Health, a nonprofit group that says it advocates for evidence-based science and medicine, told CNN.

“The good news is that nobody on Earth consumes anywhere near that amount of glyphosate ... The EWG fabricated its own safety standard so that they could promote organic food. They’ve been doing this for years -- ignoring the scientific literature in order to lobby for the organic industry.”

However, EWG President Ken Cook told The Guardian that the EPA has a “lawless” nature under the Trump administration and that companies should “step up” to reduce glyphosate in food to a level below what’s mandated.

“Our view is that the government standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency pose real health risks to Americans ­– particularly children, who are more sensitive to the effects of toxic chemicals than adults,” he said.

Befriend your ideological opposite. It’s fun.

Step inside the unlikely friendship of a former ACLU president and an ultra-conservative Supreme Court Justice.

Sponsored by Charles Koch Foundation
  • Former president of the ACLU Nadine Strossen and Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia were unlikely friends. They debated each other at events all over the world, and because of that developed a deep and rewarding friendship – despite their immense differences.
  • Scalia, a famous conservative, was invited to circles that were not his "home territory", such as the ACLU, to debate his views. Here, Strossen expresses her gratitude and respect for his commitment to the exchange of ideas.
  • "It's really sad that people seem to think that if you disagree with somebody on some issues you can't be mutually respectful, you can't enjoy each other's company, you can't learn from each other and grow in yourself," says Strossen.
  • The opinions expressed in this video do not necessarily reflect the views of the Charles Koch Foundation, which encourages the expression of diverse viewpoints within a culture of civil discourse and mutual respect.
Keep reading Show less

Physicists find new state of matter that can supercharge technology

Scientists make an important discovery for the future of computing.

Pixabay
Surprising Science
  • Researchers find a new state of matter called "topological superconductivity".
  • The state can lead to important advancements in quantum computing.
  • Utilizing special particles that emerge during this state can lead to error-free data storage and blazing calculation speed.
Keep reading Show less

Physicist advances a radical theory of gravity

Erik Verlinde has been compared to Einstein for completely rethinking the nature of gravity.

Photo by Willeke Duijvekam
Surprising Science
  • The Dutch physicist Erik Verlinde's hypothesis describes gravity as an "emergent" force not fundamental.
  • The scientist thinks his ideas describe the universe better than existing models, without resorting to "dark matter".
  • While some question his previous papers, Verlinde is reworking his ideas as a full-fledged theory.
Keep reading Show less

How to heal trauma with meaning: A case study in emotional evolution

As tempting as it may be to run away from emotionally-difficult situations, it's important we confront them head-on.

Videos
  • Impossible-sounding things are possible in hospitals — however, there are times when we hit dead ends. In these moments, it's important to not run away, but to confront what's happening head-on.
  • For a lot of us, one of the ways to give meaning to terrible moments is to see what you can learn from them.
  • Sometimes certain information can "flood" us in ways that aren't helpful, and it's important to figure out what types of data you are able to take in — process — at certain times.
Keep reading Show less