General Mills’ Cheerios are one of the first solid foods many parents feed to their children. They’re small, convenient and easy to chew — and there’s even a section on the Cheerios website for “new parents who have invited … original Cheerios to introduce their children to finger foods.”
The site states that toddlers age 9 months and older are typically ready for Cheerios, and even touts “the fact that 4 of 5 pediatricians recommend Cheerios as a finger food.” You may further believe Cheerios to be a good choice because they don’t contain genetically engineered (GE) ingredients.
Oats are the primary ingredient (there are no GE oats), and the corn starch and sugar they contain come from non-GMO corn and non-GMO cane sugar. So why the warning against this family favorite?
Cheerios and Other Popular Processed Foods Contain Glyphosate Residue
Despite their GMO-free status, testing completed at Anresco, a laboratory registered with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), found glyphosate residues in Cheerios as well as other popular foods.
Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide, has made headlines recently because it’s the most used agricultural chemical in history and also because the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) determined it is a probable carcinogen.
Despite its prevalence, we don’t know exactly how much glyphosate may be in your food because the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) does not test for it.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced in February 2016 that it would begin testing some foods for glyphosate, but the testing was put on hold in November. In the meantime private organizations have been conducting tests on their own.
The latest tests, conducted by the nonprofit organizations Food Democracy Now and The Detox Project, were done via liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS), which is considered the most reliable for analyzing glyphosate residues.
Twenty-nine common foods were tested, with glyphosate residues found in a variety of products, including Doritos, Oreos, Stacy’s Pita Chips and the following:
- General Mills’ Cheerios (1,125.3 parts per billion [ppb])
- Kashi soft-baked oatmeal dark chocolate cookies (275.57 ppb)
- Ritz Crackers (270.24 ppb)
According to the report, the findings should be a wake-up call for all Americans:
“New scientific evidence shows that probable harm to human health could begin at ultra-low levels of glyphosate, e.g., 0.1 parts per billions (ppb). Popular foods tested for glyphosate measured between 289.47 ppb and at levels as high as 1,125.3 ppb.
… These groundbreaking new findings that one of the most iconic cereals in [the] U.S. contains levels as high as 1,125.3 ppb should be a wake-up call for all Americans regarding unacceptable levels of pesticide residues in our nation’s food.
… It’s important for individuals and parents to understand that glyphosate contamination cannot be removed by washing and is not broken down by cooking or baking. Glyphosate residues can remain stable in food for a year or more, even if the foods are frozen or processed.”
Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI) for Glyphosate Is Far Too High
Adding insult to injury, U.S. regulators have set the ADI for glyphosate at 1.75 milligrams per kilogram of bodyweight per day (mg/kg/bw/day) compared to 0.3 mg/kg/bw/day in the European Union.
The latest independent scientific evidence suggests the ADI should be set at 0.025 mg/kg/bw/day, according to the report, which is 12 times lower than the current ADI in Europe and 70 times lower than the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) currently allows in the U.S. The Alliance for Natural Health USA (ANH) explained:
“The safety level was determined based on industry tests of high levels of glyphosate on adult laboratory animals.
Critics claim that the tests may not be accurate because glyphosate may be an endocrine disrupter, which would affect hormones in the body and thereby produce different effects at various stages of human development.
Furthermore, the tests were done on glyphosate in isolation and did not include the commercial pesticide formulations containing additional adjuvants that may themselves be toxic or intensify the toxicity of glyphosate.”
Figuring out just how much glyphosate the average American may be exposed to in a day is proving to be an overwhelming task because it’s showing up just about everywhere.
The herbicide was detected in a variety of instant oatmeal (including that meant for babies), including in strawberry, banana, cinnamon spice and maple brown sugar flavors, for instance. ANH previously detected glyphosate in a variety of additional foods as well, including bagels, bread and wheat cereal.
Ten out of 24 breakfast foods tested in ANH’s analysis had detectable levels of glyphosate. This included oatmeal, bagels, coffee creamer, organic bread and even organic, cage-free and antibiotic-free eggs.
In addition, advocacy group Moms Across America sent 10 wine samples to be tested for glyphosate. All of the samples tested positive for glyphosate — even organic wines, although their levels were significantly lower.
A study of glyphosate residues by the Munich Environmental Institute also found glyphosate in 14 best-selling German beers.
Glyphosate has even been detected in PediaSure Enteral Nutritional Drink, which is given to infants and children via feeding tubes. Thirty percent of the samples tested contained high levels of glyphosate over 75 ppb — far higher levels than have been found to destroy gut bacteria in chickens (0.1 ppb).
Human blood and urine samples, perhaps not surprisingly, also contain glyphosate. U.S. women had maximum glyphosate levels that were more than eight times higher than levels found in urine of Europeans, according to Laboratory testing commissioned by the organizations Moms Across America and Sustainable Pulse.
Glyphosate Is Sprayed on Some Crops Right Before Harvest
Eating non-organic GE foods (the prime candidates for Roundup spraying) is associated with higher glyphosate levels in your body. However, even non-GE foods, like Cheerios, can contain high levels of glyphosate, which are likely the result of the common practice of using the herbicide as a desiccant shortly before harvest.
In northern, colder regions, farmers of wheat and barley must wait for their crops to dry out prior to harvest. Rather than wait an additional two weeks or so for this to happen naturally, farmers realized they could spray the plants with glyphosate, killing the crop and accelerating their drying (a process known as desiccating).
Desiccating wheat with glyphosate is particularly common in years with wet weather and has been increasing in North Dakota and Upper Midwestern states in the U.S., as well as in areas of Canada and Scotland (where the process first began).
In some cases, non-GE foods may be even more contaminated with glyphosate than GE crops, because they’re being sprayed just weeks prior to being made into your cereal, bread, cookies and the like. No one is keeping track of how many crops are being desiccated with glyphosate; those in the industry have described it as a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. Along with wheat and oats, other crops that are commonly desiccated with glyphosate include:
|Corn||Flax||Rye and Buckwheat|
Why You Should Be Very Concerned About Glyphosate Residues in Your Food
Glyphosate’s makers have long touted it as harmless to humans and the environment, and even claimed that it was rapidly biodegradable. Its safety was so widely accepted that neither the USDA nor the FDA monitored its use or residues in food.
However, since the IARC’s classification of glyphosate as a probable human carcinogen (it’s been linked to an increased risk of breast, thyroid, kidney, pancreas, liver and bladder cancers as well as myeloid leukemia), glyphosate’s “safe” image has been tarnished.
Research published in Entropy,12 authored by Stephanie Seneff, Ph.D., a research scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Anthony Samsel, Ph.D., a food supply research scientist and consultant, and using Monsanto’s own early studies on glyphosate, reveals some of the possible mechanisms by which glyphosate may cause disease.
Glyphosate causes extreme disruption of microbes’ function and life cycle and preferentially affects beneficial bacteria, allowing pathogens to overgrow and take over. According to the Entropy report, glyphosate residues “enhance the damaging effects of other food-borne chemical residues and toxins in the environment to disrupt normal body functions and induce disease.” This includes (but is not limited to) the following:
|Autism||Gastrointestinal diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease, chronic diarrhea, colitis and Crohn’s disease||Obesity|
|Parkinson’s disease||Multiple sclerosis||ALS and more|
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