Do you eat Cheerios, Doritos, Goldfish, Oreos, Lays, or Stacy’s Pita Chips? If yes, you should think twice next time you reach for one of these iconic American snack foods. Your breakfast and snacks probably contain the toxic herbicide, glyphosate and may be causing you more harm than you realize.
Chances are you have never heard of glyphosate, but you are familiar with what it is; it is the main ingredient in Roundup weedkiller. And yes, this toxic weedkiller is in our food!
Results from a recent report called, “Glyphosate: Unsafe On Any Plate” by Food Democracy Now! and the Detox Project show disturbing levels of weedkiller in many of America’s most popular foods.
Among 29 food products analyzed, some that tested positive for high levels of glyphosate contamination included:
- Honey Nut Cheerios
- Kellog’s Corn Flakes
- Kellog’s Raisin Bran
- Kellog’s Special K
- Frosted Flakes
- Ritz Crackers
- Stacy’s Pitas
- Lays Chips
- Little Debbies Oatmeal Cream Pies
- Lucy’s Oatmeal Cookies
- 365 Organic Crackers
- Back To Nature Cheddar Crackers
According to the report, the herbicide residues were found in cookies, crackers, popular cold cereals and chips commonly consumed by children and adults. The testing was completed at Anresco, a U.S. Federal Drug Administration (FDA) registered lab and used liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS), a method widely considered by the scientific community and regulators as the most reliable for analyzing glyphosate residues.
The announcement of private testing comes as no surprise as the FDA has struggled with its war on the misuse of herbicide residue in everyday consumption. Though the FDA routinely tests foods for other pesticide residues, it never tested for glyphosate until this year. However, the testing for glyphosate residues was suspended last week.
Glyphosate has been under the spotlight since the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer classified the herbicide as a probable human carcinogen last year. Glyphosate is the world’s most widely used herbicide and is the key ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup and hundreds of other products. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is finalizing a risk assessment for glyphosate to determine if future use should be limited.
Different levels were found in Honey Nut Cheerios, Oreos, and several other products. The report notes that for some of the findings, the amounts were “rough estimates at best and may not represent an accurate representation of the sample.”
“Frankly, such a high level of glyphosate contamination found in Cheerios, Doritos, Oreos and Stacy’s Pita Chips are alarming and should be a wake-up call for any parent trying to feed their children safe, healthy and non-toxic food,” Dave Murphy, executive director of Food Democracy Now!,” said.
The EPA sets a “maximum residue limit” (MRL), also known as a tolerance, for pesticide residues on food commodities, like corn and soybeans. MRLs for glyphosate vary depending upon the commodity. Finished food products like those tested at Anresco might contain ingredients from many different commodities.
The nonprofits behind the report said that concerns about glyphosate come as new research shows that Roundup can cause liver and kidney damage in rats at only 0.05 ppb, and additional studies have found that levels as low as 10 ppb can have toxic effects on the livers of fish.
“With increasing evidence from a growing number of independent peer-reviewed studies from around the world showing that the ingestion of glyphosate-based herbicides like Roundup can result in a wide range of chronic illnesses, it’s urgent that regulators at the EPA reconsider the allowed levels of glyphosate in American’s food and work to limit continued exposure to this pervasive chemical in as large a section of the human population as possible,” Dr. Michael Antoniou, a molecular geneticist from London, UK, said in reaction to the report released Monday.
“The information gathered by this glyphosate food testing project is very timely and provides valuable information for consumers, elected officials, and scientists, like myself, in evaluating the toxicity of real-world levels of exposure to this most widely used pesticide,” Antoniou continued.
The researchers criticized U.S. regulators for setting an acceptable daily intake (ADI) for glyphosate at much higher levels than other countries consider safe. The U.S. has set the ADI for glyphosate at 1.75 milligrams per kilogram of body weight per day (mg/kg/bw/day) while the European Union has set it at 0.3. The EPA is supposed to set an ADI from all food and water sources that are at least 100 times lower than levels that have been demonstrated to cause no effect in animal testing. But critics assert that the EPA has been unduly influenced by the agrichemical industry.
“It’s time for regulators at the EPA and the White House to stop playing politics with our food and start putting the well-being of the American public above the profits of chemical companies like Monsanto,” Murphy said.
Monsanto has repeatedly said that there are no legitimate safety concerns regarding glyphosate when it is used as intended and that toxicological studies in animals have demonstrated that glyphosate does not cause cancer, birth defects, DNA damage, nervous system effects, immune system effects, endocrine disruption or reproductive problems. The company, which has been reaping roughly $5 billion a year from glyphosate-based products, said any glyphosate residues in food are too minimal to be harmful.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture and the FDA have echoed Monsanto’s reassurances in the past, citing the chemical’s proven safety as justification for not including glyphosate residue testing in annual programs that test thousands of food products each year for hundreds of different types of pesticides. But the lack of routine government monitoring has made it impossible for consumers or regulators to determine what levels of glyphosate are present in foods, which has raised many questions about the safety of the chemical.
The groups that released the report are calling for a permanent ban on the use of glyphosate as a pre-harvest drying agent because of the residue levels.