US study finds ‘probable carcinogenic’ weedkiller in foodstuffs
A new US study has found “significant” levels of glyphosate – the active ingredient in Roundup weedkiller – in breakfast cereals, oats and snack bars, some aimed at children, The Soil Association has revealed.
The Environmental Working Group (EWG)*, sampled 45 products and 43 showed levels of glyphosate, the world’s most widely used weedkiller.
Nearly three in four exceeded what the EWG classes safe for children – some of the highest levels were detected in granola, oats and snack bars made by Quaker, Kellogg’s and General Mills, which makes Cheerios.
There are concerns that glyphosate is a hormone disrupter which can cause cancerous tumours, birth defects and other developmental disorders.
Some scientists argue there is no safe lower level for human consumption.
Pesticides found in UK bread
Similar results have been found in UK government tests, with glyphosate one of three pesticides appearing in more than 60 per cent of wholemeal bread samples tested by the Defra committee Pesticide Residues in Food, which provides independent advice on the monitoring of pesticide residues.
Last week, chemical company Monsanto was ordered to pay $289million in damages to a groundskeeper who has cancer by a San Francisco court.
A jury decided that Monsanto’s Roundup weedkiller caused Dewayne Johnson’s cancer and that it had failed to warn him about the health risks.
Figures from Defra show a 400 per cent increase in the amount of glyphosate sprayed on cereal crops in the last 20 years, and in 2014, almost 1,000 tonnes of the chemical was applied to those crops in the UK.
Emma Hockridge, head of policy, farming and land use at the Soil Association said: “Glyphosate’s manufacturers insist the levels in our food are safe but a report by the World Health Organisation’s International Agency for Research on Cancer has concluded that glyphosate is a ‘probable carcinogen’.
‘Farmers routinely use herbicides’
“Many farmers routinely use Roundup and other herbicides to clear their fields of weeds before crops emerge in the spring.
“What’s more alarming is they’re also using glyphosate on crops shortly before they are harvested to desiccate (dry out) the plants and make them easier to harvest.
“Government and the agricultural research community need to urgently support farmers to move away from farming systems that rely on pesticides such as the herbicide glyphosate.
“Organic farmers show that it is possible to farm successfully without using chemicals like glyphosate and a lot more should be done to help all farmers improve these practical alternatives they’ve pioneered, which pose less risk to our soils, environment, and health.”
* EWG is an American environmental organisation that specialises in research and advocacy in the areas of toxic chemicals, agricultural subsidies, public lands and corporate accountability.