The U.S Drug and Food administration is quietly testing certain foods for residues of weed killing chemicals that are directly linked to cancer. But what’s alarming is the fact that they found these types of residues in a number of oat products such as flavored oats and cereals for babies.
An FDA chemist complied data with other chemists that showed these residues of a pesticide by the name of glyphosate in more than one types of kid’s cereal including banana and strawberry flavored cereal varieties. “Cinnamon spice” was also reported to contain this pesticide along with peach cream and maple brown sugar which are both popular instant oatmeal products. In the samples provided by the chemist, the levels ranged from 0 to 1.67 parts-per-million, according to their presentation.
The key ingredient of Monsanto Co.’s Roundup herbicide is Glyphosate. Glyphosate is widely used weed killer whose effects concerned even the World Health Organization when a team of international cancer experts discovered that glyphosate is a potential human carcinogen. This is when other scientists started doing research about the impact of glyphosate on human health and the surrounding environment.
However the EPA claims that the pesticide isn’t likely to cause since due to the small amount of it being present in oats and other foods. They stated that the levels of the pesticide found in the foods were in the allowed tolerance which according to the EPA is 30 ppm. However it is typical for the United States to allow more glyphosate residue in food than other countries. For example, the glyphosate tolerance in the European Union is 20 ppm.
Monsanto earns 1/3 of his $15 billion every year from glyphosate-based products. This makes it perfectly clear why they help guiding the EPA in setting the tolerance levels and why they requested higher tolerances for many foods back in 2013. The simple reason is to make money.
The company is known for developing genetically engineered crops and spraying them with glyphosate. This includes canola, sugar beets, soybeans and corn which are all genetically engineered to withstand glyphosate spraying.
Although oats aren’t genetically engineered, Monsanto encourages farmers to spray their oats and other non-genetically modified crops with glyphosate-based herbicides right after harvesting. This helps dry down and even out the maturity of the crop, according to Monsanto.
At the moment, in Canada – which is one of the world’s largest oat producers and a major supplier of oats to the U.S. the marketing materials of Monsanto tout the benefits of glyphosate sprayed on oat fields claiming that glyphosate has been registered for application on all oat varieties – even the ones for human consumption. They also added how glyphosate is used by many U.S oat farmers leading the EPA to estimate that there are over 100,000 pounds of glyphosate used every year for oat production in the U.S.
But oat isn’t the only thing that is sprayed with glyphosate. Glyphosate is also sprayed on wheat as well as other crops shortly before their harvest according to research by a division of the U.S Department of Agriculture formally known as “Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration”. More than 40% of hundreds of tested wheat samples have been shown to contain glyphosate residue according to wheat examination in 2013.
And even though the FDA examines food for residues every year, they’ve been skipping glyphosate residue testing for decades. It was only in February 2016 when independent researchers started conducting their own tests when they found out that glyphosate was in a number of food products including flour, oatmeal, cereal and other.
Monsanto along with the U.S regulators are still claiming that the levels of glyphosate in foods are too low to cause any serious health issues in humans, however critics say that the statements aren’t legit as long as the government doesn’t routinely measure the levels like they do with other pesticides.
Aside from the critics, there are also people who strongly believe that no levels of glyphosate are actually safe in food. Taiwan recalled around 130,000 pounds of oat supplies after detecting glyphosate residues, at the beginning of this year. Also, a resident of San Francisco by the name of Danielle Cooper filed a lawsuit in May this year against Quaker Oats Co. after the company’s products were found to contain glyphosate residues. Quaker Oats Co. have millions of consumers for their products however the majority of them were shocked after finding out about the residues, especially since they thought their products were completely free of pesticides and 100% natural.
According to her lawsuit, glyphosate is a dangerous substance and its dangers and presence should be disclosed.
To her lawsuit, Quaker Oats simply replied that any trace or residue of glyphosate in their products is in safe levels and it doesn’t bring down the quality of their products.
Herbicide in Honey
Aside from the oats, the FDA also tested U.S honey samples for residues of glyphosate and what they found was shocking. All of the samples contained residues of glyphosate, but what was especially shocking was the fact that in some samples, the residue levels are double the limit allowed in the European Union according to information from Freedom of Information Act request. And since the EDA hasn’t set an official tolerance levels for glyphosate in honey, any level is problematic.
Despite a number of internal discussions and honey glyphosate findings, the FDA didn’t notify the honey companies or the public. They’ve also tested soy, corn, eggs and milk in these past few months, but they haven’t reported any samples to contain exceeded tolerance.
According to FDA spokeswoman Megan McSeveney, the tests on honey weren’t considered a part of the official special assignment and that they might be headed to a slow down since sources stated how the FDA’s Atlanta laboratory where they’ve done numerous glyphosate residue tests is going to be closed, which only means that the work would be shifted to other facilities around the country.
To sum this article up, the glyphosate residues revelations about certain foods comes as a shock to both European and U.S regulators that are concerned about the impact of the residue on humans and the environment. EPA is going to hold four day meetings in October along with an advisory panel to discuss cancer research on glyphosate. The debate is ongoing to see whether or not the researchers who declared glyphosate as cancerous where right or not.
The chairman of the International Agency for Research on Cancer – Aaron Blair, was working in a group that classified glyphosate as most likely evolving carcinogenic to humans.
There isn’t one example of IARC being wrong about showing something as a probable carcinogen and the same thing then turning out not to be a carcinogen, stated Blair.