A recent report published by the Environmental Working Group indicates that many well-known cereal products from brands such as Cheerios and Nature Valley, contain potentially harmful amounts of glyphosate – currently an unconfirmed carcinogen – the active ingredient in the weed-killer Roundup.
The EWG tested 21 products, all of which possessed high traces of glyphosate that exceeded the levels EWG scientists considered to be “protective for children’s health.” Although the manufacturers of these foods insist that their products are safe, another test done by the EWG in October revealed that most of the breakfast cereals they tested contained this infamous herbicide.
In March, a federal jury concluded that Roundup was a contributing element in the cause of cancer for a plaintiff in California. Another case in May involved a Californian couple who alleged that long-term exposure to Roundup caused their cancer, and the producer of Roundup, Monsanto, had to pay them $2 billion. These are just two out of thousand of similar incidents around the country.
Sticking to their guns
Despite this, Bayer AG, the owner of Monsanto still says that the product isn’t harmful. Spokesperson for the company’s crop science division, Charla Lord, said that “glyphosate based products are safe when used as directed.” The producer of the foods that were tested, General Mills, stated that food safety is a priority and although most field-grown crops contain trace amounts of pesticides, the company is trying to “minimize the use of pesticides on the ingredients” they use in their food.
Studies conducted on individuals with the most exposure to the pesticide – such as groundskeepers – indicated that glyphosate increased the risk of cancer by more than 40 percent. Children would also be more susceptible to the chemical according to the EWG. A scientist from the EWG, Dr. Alexis Temkin, said that “exposure during early life can have more significant effects on development later in life”.
Although there is a lot of controversy over this issue, evidence suggests that it’s another case of pharmaceutical giants concentrating on their own profit and convenience at the sacrifice of consumers’ health.