With the debate over the health effects of glyphosate continuing, scientists are now warning that certain oat products could contain dangerously high levels of the commonly used herbicide. The report was released by the Environmental Working Group. It highlights products like oat cereals, granola, snack bars and others as having levels of glyphosate that are higher than would be “protective of children’s health.
But, with environmental and public health groups still uncertain as to the effects it has, will any changes be made? For example, scientific organisations like the US Environmental Protection Agency believe that, when consumed in small amounts, glyphosate is not harmful to humans. The European Union has also rejected the idea that glyphosate causes cancer. However, other bodies, including the Agency for Research on Cancer, disagree.
The agency, which falls under the WHO, has classified it as “probably carcinogenic to humans”. The National Pesticide Information Center says that: “Studies on cancer rates in people have provided conflicting results on whether the use of glyphosate containing products is associated with cancer. Some studies have associated glyphosate use with non-Hodgkin lymphoma.” A recent court ruling against Monsanto, the makers of Roundup Weedkiller has supported this and the company were ordered to pay out $289 million to a man in the US because he claims it has caused his terminal cancer.
According to Olga Naidenko, who is the senior science advisor for children’s health at the Environmental Working Group: “Not every health agency in the world and not every spokesperson in the world has agreed that glyphosate can cause cancer.” However, she noted that some of the reports into its safety had “conflicts of interest”, hinting that Monsanto may have influenced the EPA so that the chemical would continue to be allowed for sale in the US. Over 750 glyphosate products are currently on sale.
The new report, which included toxicology tests on a number of oat-based food products, looked at the possible cancer risks associated with them. Lead author, Alexis Temkin said: “EWG used that level to then develop a guideline that was more protective for children’s health. It’s 100-fold lower.” The current guideline is around 0.01 milligrams per day, which would equal a concentration of around 160 parts per billion. Of the 45 samples of food tested, 31 had higher levels of glyphosate that the guidelines.
However, Alex Berezow, senior fellow of biomedical science at the American Council on Science and Health noted: “According to the EPA, people should avoid consuming more than 2 mg of glyphosate for every kilogram of body weight. The good news is that nobody on Earth consumes anywhere near that amount of glyphosate. The EWG fabricated its own safety standard so that they could promote organic food. They’ve been doing this for years — ignoring the scientific literature in order to lobby for the organic industry.” He added that the chemical is “completely safe” as the chemical reactions it affects in plants do not exist in humans. Therefore he said that “it’s not even hypothetically possible for glyphosate to be harmful.”