A study of dozens of popular oat-based breakfast foods delivered sobering news this week when nearly all of the products examined by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) were found to contain the chemical glyphosate.
The World Health Organization has determined that glyphosate is probably "carcinogenic to humans," this observation has led to the Environmental Protection Agency setting a safety level for the potentially risky chemical.
Still, after weeks of testimony from several experts on both sides, a jury concluded that Monsanto's Roundup and Ranger Pro products presented a "substantial danger" to terminally ill 46-year-old Dewayne "Lee" Johnson, who became sick after using the spray for more than two years. The organization called on Americans to "urge the EPA to restrict pre-harvest applications of glyphosate and tell companies to identify and use sources of glyphosate-free oats".
But Cook said that General Mills and Quaker Oats are "relying on outdated safety standards".
The Environmental Working Group says it tested more than a dozen brands sold in the U.S.
The group found the chemical in all but five of 29 oat-based foods.
The lawsuit opens the floodgates for more litigation against Monsanto - which denies that the weed killer causes cancer and plans to appeal the verdict - and its use of the chemical glyphosate in Roundup. The lowest level, 10 parts per billion, came from a sample of Whole Foods conventional rolled oats scooped from a bulk bin.
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In 2015, the International Agency For Research On Cancer classified glyphosate as "probably carcinogenic to humans".
Scott Partridge, the vice president of Monsanto, disagreed, telling the newspaper that, "glyphosate does not cause cancer, and did not cause Johnson's cancer". About one-third of 16 samples made with organically grown oats also had glyphosate, all at levels well below EWG's health benchmark. "No one wants to eat a weed killer for breakfast, and no one should have to do so".
"Glyphosate does not belong in cereal", said the EWG.
A government website listing federal regulations shows the minimum glyphosate residue allowed on cereal grains is 30,000 parts per billion, far higher than the EWG recommendations.
In 2017, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency found traces of the chemical in almost 30 per cent of the 3,200 food samples it tested.
Glyphosate rich Roundup is the most popular and widely used pesticide in the U.S.
General Mills responded by saying, "Our products are safe and without question they meet regulatory safety levels". "The EPA has researched this issue and has set rules that we follow as do farmers who grow crops including wheat and oats", the company says. It added that the reported levels of the chemical "are significantly below any regulatory limits" and compliance standards for human consumption.
EWG-which has received criticism for being too alarmist about toxic chemicals-thinks that even California's proposed limit is too high.