If you’re reading this over your morning bowl of cereal, put down the spoon and walk away. Those Cheerios you’re eating? They might have weed killer in them—seriously.
According to the Huffington Post, independent testing has shown that various American foods contain residual amounts of the herbicide glyphosate. Glyphosate is a primary ingredient in Monsanto’s branded Roundup and is the most widely used herbicide in the world.
Although Monsanto has said that there are no legitimate safety concerns surrounding this herbicide if it’s used “as intended,” the nonprofit behind these studies isn’t convinced glyphosate is safe to consume. The nonprofit bases its concerns on previous findings that have shown that Roundup can case liver and kidney damage in rats at levels as low as .05 parts per billion (ppb).
The US has set the acceptable daily intake (ADI) for glyphosate at 1.75 milligrams of bodyweight per day, whereas the EU has set it at just .03.
Textbook lecture is over—let me break it down for you. The nonprofit behind these findings discovered that Cheerios contained 1,125.3 ppb of glyphosate, and Ritz Crackers had 270.24 ppb of the stuff. The herbicide was also found in Kashi soft-baked oatmeal dark chocolate cookies, Kellog’s Special K cereal, Triscuit Crackers, and other foods.
The reason the food world is freaking out about this (and you should too) is because the FDA didn’t test for residual glyphosate in our food until this year. The testing didn't last long, however, as the FDA recently stopped testing for the herbicide despite the World Health Organization labeling glyphosate as a "possible human carcinogen."
The fact of the matter is that glyphosate may or may not wreak havoc on our bodies, but either way it’s been in our food without our knowing it for years. The USDA and FDA said glyphosate’s “proven safety” was the reason they haven’t been testing for it in our food (even though hundreds of different pesticides are already included in annual testing).
So why is glyphosate in our food in the first place? Because it’s sprayed directly onto any number of genetically-modified crops that have been bred to tolerate it. Corn, canola, sugar beets, and soybeans are just a few of the commonly-used crops that are in almost every processed food we ingest on a daily basis.
While I don’t think this is reason to boycott our favorite food companies, I do think we need to get smarter about overseeing our food supply in the US. The herbicide debate is just the tip of the iceberg. Throw in the problems of the meat industry and the water crises we’ve had nationwide, and it quickly becomes apparent we need to revisit what exactly we want to be putting into our bodies.