EPA Seeks Public Comment on Use of Monsanto’s Weedkiller, Glyphosate on Oats Used in Foods Marketed to Kids

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For Immediate Release: 
Friday, May 3, 2019

WASHINGTON – The Environmental Protection Agency is formally requesting feedback on a petition submitted by EWG and food companies seeking to significantly limit the use of glyphosate, the active ingredient in Bayer/Monsanto’s weedkiller Roundup, on oats that are used to make a wide array of children’s foods, like breakfast bars and cereals.

EPA announced today that it will open up a 30-day public comment period beginning Monday, May 6.

Two rounds of laboratory tests commissioned by EWG found glyphosate in nearly every sample of oat-based cereal and other breakfast products at levels higher than what EWG considers protective for children’s health.

“No parent should worry whether feeding their children healthy oat-based foods will also expose them to a chemical linked to cancer,” said EWG Legislative Director Colin O’Neil.

“If EPA ultimately supports this petition, it could be the beginning of the end for one of the primary sources of glyphosate exposure in the diets of both children and adults,” said O’Neil. “We can be sure that the pesticide/agrichemical lobby won’t sit on the sidelines, though. Over the next month, it will be paramount that EPA hear from as many Americans as possible in order to build the necessary pressure to finally prohibit this needless use of Monsanto’s cancer-causing weedkiller.”

“For far too long, millions of Americans have been getting a dose of this toxic herbicide along with their breakfast,” said EWG Senior Science Advisor for Children’s Environmental Health Olga Naidenko, Ph.D. “If the EPA really cares about children’s health, it should cut off the largest source of glyphosate exposure from foods that children eat daily.”  

The EPA’s legal limit on glyphosate residues is 30 parts per million, or ppm. The petition, joined by 18 industry leaders, asks the EPA to set a more protective standard of 0.1 ppm, which was the legal limit in 1993.

Over the past 25 years, the EPA has increased the amount of glyphosate residue allowed on oats 300-fold. The first increase, to 20 ppm, was granted in response to a 1997 petition from Monsanto, when farmers around the world first began using glyphosate widely as a late-season drying agent. It was increased to the current 30 ppm level in 2008.

Since then, scientists have linked glyphosate to cancer, and researchers around the world have called for stricter limits on glyphosate exposures.

In 2015, 17 of the world’s top cancer researchers convened by the International Agency for Research on Cancer reviewed hundreds of studies on glyphosate and voted unanimously to classify the weedkiller as “probably carcinogenic to humans.” In 2017, California added glyphosate to its official list of chemicals known to cause cancer.

new analysis of glyphosate, released in April by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, gives weight to studies connecting glyphosate and non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and recommends monitoring children’s exposure to this toxic weedkiller.

The petition, first filed in September by EWG, now includes MegaFood, Ben & Jerry’s, Stonyfield Organic, MOM’s Organic Market, Nature’s Path, One Degree Organic Foods, National Co+op Grocers, Happy Family Organics, Amy’s Kitchen, Clif Bar & Company, Earth’s Best Organic, GrandyOats, INFRA, KIND Healthy Snacks, Lundberg Family Farms, Organic Valley, Patagonia Provisions and PCC Community Markets.

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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.