Weed Killer Found in Breakfast Cereal

Does your most important meal of the day include weed killer? A study by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) found excessive amounts of the weed killer glyphosate in several familiar breakfast cereals and snacks. Glyphosate is the main ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup and other herbicides.

The EWG study examined twenty-nine grain-based products and found that all but five tested positive for glyphosate. (Six were found to have “safe” levels of glyphosate.) The foods found to have potentially dangerous levels, according to EWG measures, included popular choices such as Quaker Steel Cut Oats, Cheerios Toasted Whole Grain Oat Cereal, and Lucky Charms. (See the complete lists below.) Many of the cereals and snacks listed in the study are popular with children, who tend to be more susceptible to the effects of chemicals.

These findings come just a week after a court required that Monsanto pay $289 million to Dewayne Johnson, a man alleging that his terminal cancer—non-Hodgkins lymphoma—was caused by exposure to Roundup.

Does exposure to glyphosate cause cancer? Monsanto claims it does not, but Johnson’s lawyers claimed that Monsanto has for years suppressed and manipulated the scientific literature on glyphosate.

The Environmental Protection Agency permits the usage of the chemical and has recently relaxed its standards for “safe” amounts, but the World Health Organization’s cancer research agency said in 2015 that glyphosate is “probably carcinogenic to humans” and the European Union deems it “dangerous for the environment” and “toxic for aquatic organisms…” A recent Newsweek article noted that “some campaigners have alleged that the EPA’s conclusions were influenced by industry lobbying and collusion between government officials and Monsanto.”

Also, a 2009 Scientific American article reports that a study found that “Roundup’s inert ingredients amplified the toxic effect on human cells—even at concentrations much more diluted than those used on farms and lawns.” This is due to an ingredient, POEA, that is considered “inert” because it does not kill weeds, but it helps glyphosate penetrate plant surfaces. The study team says, “The authorizations for using these Roundup herbicides must now clearly be revised since their toxic effects depend on, and are multiplied by, other compounds used in the mixtures.”

This is not the first time concerning levels of glyphosate have been found in food. In 2016, independent testing by Food Democracy Now and the Detox Project found the chemical in an array of cookies, crackers, cereals, and chips eaten by children and adults.

How big a problem is glyphosate? It has become the most-used agricultural chemical ever, says another Newsweek article. The article cites a study published in the Environmental Sciences Europe journal that claims that “Americans have applied 1.8 million tons of glyphosate since its introduction in 1974. Worldwide, 9.4 million tons of the chemical have been sprayed onto fields.”

And the amount is increasing, as weeds develop resistance to the chemical. But scientists say that there are other ways to keep weed growth down, such as using winter cover crops, that offer other benefits as well, such as reducing erosion and improving water quality. It simply isn’t necessary to use so much glyphosate, they say.

We’re investigating. We’d like to hear from you about connections between cereal products and non-Hodgkins lymphoma, or about concerns about cereal products and glyphosate.

Products With High Levels of Glyphosate

  • Back to Nature Classic Granola
  • Quaker Simply Granola Oats (Honey, Raisin and Almonds)
  • Nature Valley Granola Protein (Oats ‘n Honey)
  • Giant Instant Oatmeal Original Flavor
  • Quaker Dinosaur Eggs Instant Oatmeal
  • Great Value Original Instant Oatmeal
  • Umpqua Oats – Maple Pecan Flavored
  • Market Pantry Instant Oatmeal
  • Cheerios Toasted Whole Grain Oat Cereal
  • Lucky Charms (without marshmallows)
  • Barbara’s Multigrain Spoonfuls Cereal
  • Kellogg’s Cracklin’ Oat Bran Cereal
  • Nature Valley Crunchy Granola Bars (Oats ‘n Honey)
  • Quaker Steel Cut Oats
  • Quaker Old Fashioned Oats
  • Bob’s Red Mill Steel Cut Oats

Products With “Safe” Levels of Glyphosates

  • Back to Nature Banana Walnut Granola Clusters
  • KIND Vanilla, Blueberry Clusters with Flax Seeds
  • Kellogg’s Nutrigrain Soft Baked Breakfast Bars (Strawberry)
  • Nature’s Path Organic Old Fashioned Organic Oats
  • Whole Foods Bulk Bin Conventional Rolled Oats
  • Bob’s Red Mill Organic Old Fashioned Rolled Oats

Products in Which No Glyphosate Was Detected

  • Nature’s Path Organic Honey Almond Granola
  • Simple Truth Organic Instant Oatmeal (Original)
  • Kashi Heart to Heart Organic Honey Toasted Cereal
  • Cascadian Farm Organic Harvest Berry Granola bar
  • 365 Organic Old-Fashioned Rolled Oats
Article Type: Investigation
Topic: Consumer
No case events.
Tags: Chemical Residue in Food, Environmental