Less than two weeks ago, The Ring of Fire reported that the FDA would finally be testing a wide range of food products for the presence of glyphosate, the active ingredient in the Monsanto herbicide Roundup. It didn't take long to find glysophate residues in a number of different baby foods. Specifically, elevated levels (up to 1.67 parts per million) of glysophate have been discovered in commercial oat meal products intended for infants. The highest concentrations were found in Apple-Cinnamon Instant Oatmeal, while the lowest concentrations (.3 ppm) were found in the banana flavored variety. The FDA report was introduced at a recent meeting of chemists in Florida.
In 2015, an agency of the World Health Organization (WHO) placed glysophate on a list of substances considered to be “probable carcinogens.” Previously, the European Food Safety Agency and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency stated that the cancer risk was “unlikely.” Activists in the E.U. believe that Monsanto, with as much as $100 million in revenue at stake, applied pressure of influence on the European regulatory agency. Here at home, it turns out that most of the studies that the EPA relied on for its assessment were paid for by Monsanto and other corporate agriculture players. Out of over 130 studies, fewer than 60 had been peer-reviewed and are available to the public. The remainder are unpublished reports submitted by the industry.
Significantly, several of the reports that had been peer-reviewed, many of which link glysophate with cancer, have been deemed “irrelevant.” The EPA has offered no explanation for that decision. In fact, there is very little transparency in the entire process.
Currently, the EPA has established the “allowable tolerance” of glysophate at 30 parts per million, while its European counterpart has set it at 20 ppm. In either case, the amount found in baby food is technically well under those levels – but does anyone really know what constitutes a “safe” level, assuming there even is one?
It should be noted that while several Monsanto crops, including maize, soy, canola and beets are “Roundup Ready” (i.e., genetically engineered to tolerate glysophate), oats are not. Nonetheless, Monsanto has advised farmers to spray their oats and similar grain crops with the product just prior to harvesting. According to Monsanto's Preharvest Staging Guide, “...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.” Estimates from the EPA indicate that approximately fifty tons of Roundup is applied to U.S. oat crops every year.
Of course, need we mention that Monsanto makes nearly $5 billion a year on Roundup sales?
Despite Monsanto's insistence that glysophate is “safe,” action is being taken in some quarters. A few months ago, the Taiwanese government issued a recall of 65 tons of oat products after traces of glysophate were found. In May of this year, a class-action lawsuit was filed against Quaker Oats for labeling its products as “100% Natural” and making the claim that their oats are raised in an “eco-friendly” manner after glysophate residue was detected.
In any event, the controversy over the carcinogenicity of glysophate rages on. But seriously – when there are massive profits are at stake on one side and non-profit science is on the other, who are you going to believe?