“Part of a healthy breakfast” has been a well-known tagline that ended cereal commercials for decades. Yet, in today’s modern world, when it comes to growing the grains that promote these good eating habits, the use of products such as Monsanto’s Roundup undermines any nutritional value to a toxic level.
Instead of killing just plants, the well-known herbicide is creating potentially deadly health problems for consumers.
Glyphosate is the most popular pesticide worldwide and an active ingredient in Roundup, in addition to products created and sold by other companies such as Ortho and DowDuPont. The herbicide is commonly used on genetically modified corn and soybeans, and kills the broadleaf weeds and grasses that commonly compete with crops. However, since the 1980’s, there have been additional applications on plants such as oats and wheat for crop-management. In this context, not only is the herbicide used for its traditional purpose of weed-killing, but it is applied directly to the crop. As a systemic desiccant, the chemical dries out the crop, which allows for harvesting that can be done sooner and in a more efficient manner.
Two laboratory tests conducted by the Environmental Working Group revealed glyphosate levels above what they consider safe for children in 21 oat-based cereal and snack products popular with children. The 21 products included six varieties of Cheerios and 14 General Mill’s Nature Valley product, including their granola bars. The levels of glyphosate in Honey Nut Cheerios Medley Crunch and Cheerios, were detected at 833 parts per billion and 729 parts per billion, respectively, miles above the Environmental Working Group’s health benchmark for children of 160 parts per billion. A study conducted between 2014 and 2017 revealed that 70 percent of adults showed detectable amounts of glyphosate in their systems, an increase from participants tested between 1993 and 1996, where only 12 percent showed detectable amounts of the chemical. The American Cancer Society currently lists it as a “probable carcinogen.”
Calls to Action
Around the world, many countries have taken steps to restrict or ban the use of glyphosate. The United States is now on the road towards joining their ranks.
In June of 2019, more than 20 companies, led by the Environmental Working Group and Megafood, started a petition which has since been signed by more than 260,000 citizens, directed to the Environmental Protection Agency. Specifically, the collective of consumers and businesses want the EPA to reduce glyphosate tolerance limits, establish protective standards, and prohibit the use of weed killer pre-harvest. Many of these companies sell products which are certified organic,
In 2017, California added glyphosate to Proposition 65, an official list of cancer-causing chemicals. The Golden State is also the home to a lawsuit that now stands out among the thousands of other legal actions against Monsanto. It not only represented the third successful verdict for the plaintiffs, but it also set a record of $2.055 billion in damages, ranking as the eighth largest amount awarded in a personal injury case in U.S. history. Though this award was later reduced to $86 million, it sent a clear message.
Other cities and states in the United States have instituted legislation and/or ordinances aimed at addressing the issues surrounding the use of pesticide and herbicides, including Roundup and other forms of glyphosate. In New Jersey, glyphosate has been listed on the Right to Know Hazardous Substance List since 2010, and additionally, many towns and counties have begun to take action, seeking to ban its use and substitute less toxic alternatives.
Call your local councilman, and see if your town or municipality has taken action to prevent or restrict the use of this chemical. Furthermore, call your state representatives, and urge them to take action to ban the use of glyphosate state-wide. It is incumbent on the citizens to hold their elected representatives accountable, to protect the Garden State, and ensure that we are able to garden here for generations to come.