Weedkiller found in popular kids’ breakfast foods

Illustration for article titled Weedkiller found in popular kids’ breakfast foods
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You’d be hard-pressed to find a parent of a toddler who didn’t keep a baggie full of Cheerios on their person at all times for daily snacking emergencies. No doubt parents everywhere will find the news this morning particularly distressing. As Fortune reports, “If you or your children are eating Cheerios right now, there’s a good chance that they’re accompanied by a potentially harmful weed killer called Roundup.”


The Environmental Working Group released a report yesterday that stated after testing a variety of foods including granola bars, instant oatmeal, and breakfast cereal, “Glyphosate, an herbicide linked to cancer by California state scientists and the World Health Organization, was found in all but two of 45 samples of products made with conventionally grown oats.” Products tested included Nature Valley Granola Protein Oats ‘N Honey, Quaker Dinosaur Eggs Brown Sugar Instant Oatmeal, Lucky Charms, Kellogg’s Cracklin’ Oat Bran, and yes, Cheerios. Fortune notes that “in 31 of those cases, glyphosate levels were above the organization’s health benchmark of 160 parts per billion.”

The news comes on the heels of the $289 million a California jury awarded to a dying man last week, saying that he developed cancer after years of prolonged exposure to Roundup due to his work as a groundskeeper. After this week’s findings, Quaker Oats Co. made the following statement: “Quaker does not add glyphosate during any part of the milling process. Glyphosate is commonly used by farmers across the industry who apply it pre-harvest,” leaving it unclear as to how this problem can be resolved. Those who want to be on the safer side may want to stick with organic, where “just five products were discovered to have had Glyphosate and none of them reached the 160ppb benchmark.”


Gwen Ihnat is the Editorial Coordinator for The A.V. Club.


Dr Emilio Lizardo

So, several points that I could not discover with five minutes of googling

Just because a jury decided a man got cancer from exposure to Roundup it does not necessarily mean that Roundup causes cancer. The scientific bar to prove causality is going to be much different than the bar to convince 12 random people that the nice old man died from exposure to chemicals made by the big corporation. Dow Corning lost a suit and went bankrupt on the basis of no scientific evidence whatsoever that silicone breast implants caused any of the various health problems they attributed to them.

Who is the Environmental Working Group? Where do they get there funding? Are they a real public watchdog, or an example of Astroturfing? Why should I believe their threshold of 160 ppb is significant?

I’m not saying I want to go drink a big glass of Roundup, I’m just saying that it is easy to create scary sounding press releases and it makes sense to take a step back before changing your habits.