Bill Would Ban Late-Harvest Spraying of Roundup Weedkiller on Oats

DeLauro’s Legislation Would Require Tests for Glyphosate on Kids’ Foods
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For Immediate Release: 
Friday, March 15, 2019

WASHINGTON – Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) introduced legislation today to dramatically limit American children’s exposure to glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup weedkiller, in food. The bill would not only ban late-harvest spraying of glyphosate on oats but also require the federal government to test foods popular with children for the herbicide, which has been linked to cancer.

Key provisions in DeLauro’s bill include:

  • Prohibiting the spraying of glyphosate as a pre-harvest drying agent on oats.
  • Lowering by 300-fold the permissible level of glyphosate residues on oats, restoring the legally allowed level to just 0.1 parts per million, or ppm.
  • Requiring the Department of Agriculture to regularly test fruits, vegetables and other foods routinely fed to infants and children for glyphosate residues.

The most widely used pesticide in the U.S., glyphosate is mostly used as a weedkiller on genetically modified corn and soybeans. But it is also increasingly sprayed on oats and other grains just before harvest as a drying agent, or desiccant. Glyphosate kills the crop, drying it out uniformly so that it can be harvested sooner. This makes harvesting easier but also increases the likelihood that the pesticide makes it into foods.

“We applaud Rep. DeLauro for once again advocating on behalf of children’s health,” said Colin O’Neil, EWG’s legislative director. “No parent should worry whether feeding their children healthy oat-based foods will also expose them to a chemical linked to cancer. We know farmers can harvest oats without glyphosate, and to protect kids’ health, this needlessly risky practice must stop.”

O’Neil explained that in the past two decades, the Environmental Protection Agency has increased the level of glyphosate residue allowed on oats from 0.1 ppm to 30 ppm, largely to accommodate Canadian oat farmers who use it. The lax policy has resulted in the contamination of oat-based foods with the carcinogenic weedkiller.

Last year, independent laboratory tests commissioned by EWG found glyphosate residues in popular oat-based foods marketed to children, such as Cheerios and Quaker oatmeal. Almost three-fourths of the samples tested had glyphosate levels higher than what EWG scientists consider protective of children’s health with an adequate margin of safety. 

Requiring USDA to regularly test fruits, vegetables and other foods routinely fed to children for glyphosate residues will give parents and consumers vital information about potential pathways of exposure to the weedkiller, O’Neil said.

“It is shocking that USDA’s annual pesticide residue survey fails to include the most widely used pesticide in America,” he said. “Parents deserve to know how much of the food they buy and feed their children could potentially be contaminated with a highly toxic chemical listed by the state of California as a substance known to cause cancer. DeLauro’s bill is an important first step toward providing that information for consumers.”

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The Environmental Working Group is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization that empowers people to live healthier lives in a healthier environment. Through research, advocacy and unique education tools, EWG drives consumer choice and civic action.