Rounding Up the Science on Weed Killers
Last week, headlines went crazy when a California state court handed a huge verdict against Monsanto; a leading agricultural biotechnology company who creates one of the largest weed killers used in the United States. In this verdict, 289 million dollars were awarded to plaintiff Dewayne Johnson for his repeated on-the-job exposure to their product “Roundup”, which he believes caused his terminal case of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
As the debate around the use of pesticides in agriculture thickens, this topic hit the national stage as a new toxicology report published by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) hit multiple media platforms. In this new report, popular oat products like cereals, granola, and snack bars were tested for the presence of glyphosate.
Out of 45 conventional products tested, glyphosate was detected in 43 of those products, with 31 of them with detectable levels above the EWG’s Health standards. Notably, out of 16 organic products that were tested, 5 of them had detectable glyphosate levels and none of the organic products had detectable levels above the EWG’s Health standards. Of note, this report was published via the internet with the title “Breakfast with a Dose of Roundup?” and not in a scientific journal.
With this information, it’s no reason why the public has become untrustful of the food industry, skeptical about food products, and extremely CONFUSED on what we should be eating! Even more important, no one wants to give their children breakfast that is contaminated with weed killer. Well, here’s what you need to know:
- Glyphosate (found in Monsanto’s “Roundup”) is a herbicide that is applied to the leaf of plants. It is one of the most widely used herbicides in the United States.
- Herbicides are predominant throughout our entire food industry. They are not only used the growth of grain products like oats. Herbicides are also used in agriculture, forestry, lawns, gardens, industrial areas (for inhibiting the growth of weeds), and even in aquatic environments.
- In large doses, glyphosate has been found to have carcinogenic potential in rats, as well as being linked to developmental and reproductive issues. At the same time, human studies on the health impacts of glyphosate are controversial, conflicting, and sometimes biased.
- There is an association between health status and glyphosate levels. For example, humans on organic diets have lower levels of glyphosate in their urine, while humans that are chronically ill have higher levels in their urine.
- Right now, I think it’s safe to say we don’t have a general consensus on whether glyphosate causes cancer… and I don’t think we’ll have a final answer in the near future. All we know is glyphosate is found in Roundup, which is used in our food supply, and is not going to change anytime soon. Are you concerned about your pesticide exposure? The easiest change you can make are purchasing organic products if your budget allows for. However, as a dietitian I much rather you eat whole foods like fruit, vegetables, and whole grains than avoid these food groups just because they aren’t organic.
Alex Berezor (a senior fellow of biomedical science at the American Council on Science and Health
states: “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
Breakfast With a Dose of Roundup?
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