The U.S. FDA has finally got round to testing if a certain weed killing chemical linked to cancer is in our food, and has worryingly found residues of it in a variety of oat products, including plain and flavored oat cereals for babies.
The data was compiled by a Food and Drug Adminitration chemist and was presented to other chemists at a meeting in Florida.
The results showed residues of the pesticide ‘glyphosate’ in several types of infant oat cereal, including banana strawberry- and banana-flavored varieties. Glyphosate was also found in “cinnamon spice” instant oatmeal; “maple brown sugar” instant oatmeal and “peach and cream” instant oatmeal products, among others.
To put it in perspective, organic oat products were tested and were found to have 0 parts glyphosate per million, compared to 1.67 parts per million in the contaminated products.
Glyphosate has been highlighted because it is the main ingredient in Monsanto Co.’s herbicide ‘Roundup’, which is the most commonly used weed killer in the world. Fears about glyphosate residue being found in food increased when in 2015 the World Health Organization announced that a team of international cancer experts had determined glyphosate as a probable human carcinogen, increasing fears about cancer.
The EPA says that the chemical is “not likely” to cause cancer, and has provided guidelines for levels of glyphosate in foods, and the levels found by the FDA in oats come within this guideline, which for oats is set by the EPA at 30 ppm. The US is more lenient at allowing glyphosate into food than Europe, where the tolerance for glyphosate in oats is 20 ppm.
Glyphosate-based products are responsible for a third of Monsanto’s $15 billion in annual revenues.
Ironically it was Monsanto who helped guide the EPA in creating guideline levels for glyphosate in food, and in 2013 requested and received higher tolerances for many foods. Monsanto have developed genetically engineered crops including corn, soybeans, canola and sugar beets to withstand being sprayed with glyphosate.
Oats aren’t genetically engineered, but the way glyphosate is found in them is that farmers are advised to spray the crop with Roundup before harvesting. According to a Monsanto “pre-harvest staging guide.” -“A preharvest weed control application is an excellent management strategy to not only control perennial weeds, but to facilitate harvest management and get a head start on next year’s crop”
Canada is one of the worlds leading growers of oats, and who supply large amounts of oats to the US. In Canadian marketing materials, Monsanto highlight the benefits of using glyphosate on oat crops: “Pre-harvest application of Roundup WeatherMAX and Roundup Transorb HC are registered for application on all oat varieties – including milling oats destined for human consumption.” The EPA estimates that around 100,000 lbs of glyphosate is used per year in the US in the process of growing oats alone.