Glyphosate in Cereal: Monsanto’s Weedkiller 
Detected at Alarming Levels, Report Says

by <>Christine Ruggeri, CHHC

Published: October 24, 2018

Environmental Working Group (EWG) just released 
its second round of 2018 test results measuring 
glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s 
Roundup weed killer, in popular oat-based cereals and foods.

The nonprofit organization released the new 
results after two companies, Quaker and General 
Mills, told the public it has no reason to worry 
about traces of glyphosate in its products.

Seems that’s not the case.


Glyphosate in Cereal

In the latest batch of testing, all but two of 
the products tested contained levels of the 
potentially-carcinogenic weedkilling chemical 
above 160 parts per billion (ppb), the health benchmark set by EWG.

These findings come two months after EWG released 
its first series of tests measuring glyphosate in 
popular children’s breakfast products. Still, 
General Mills and Quaker Oats Company immediately 
went on the defensive, claiming glyphosate levels 
found in its foods fell within regulatory limits 
set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

That may be true, but many public health experts 
believe the levels of allowable glyphosate in 
food are far too high and don’t properly protect 
human health. Previously, Environmental 
Protection Agency (EPA) calculations suggest that 
1- to 2-year-old children likely experience the 
highest exposure to glyphosate, the potential 
cancer-causing chemical used in 
Roundup. And according to the agency’s risk 
assessment, the exposure level is 230 times 
greater than EWG’s health benchmark of 160 ppb.

In the October 2018 batch of testing, EWG 
commissioned Anresco Laboratories to test a range 
of oat-based products, including 10 samples of 
different types of General Mills’ Cheerios and 18 
samples of Quaker brand products. These included 
cereals, snack bars, granola and instant oats. Of 
the 28 products tested, those with the highest 
levels of glyphosate include: 

    * Quaker Oatmeal Squares, Honey Nut (2,837 ppb)
    * Quaker Oatmeal Squares, Brown Sugar (2,746 ppb)
    * Quaker Overnight Oats, Unsweetened with Chia Seeds (1,799 ppb)
    * Cheerios, Oat Crunch Cinnamon (1,171 ppb)
    * Quaker Overnight Oats, Raisin Walnut & Honey Heaven (1,029 ppb)
    * Quaker Breakfast Squares Soft Baked Bars, Peanut Butter (1,014 ppb)
    * Quaker Breakfast Flats Crispy Snack Bars, Cranberry Almond (894 ppb)
    * Apple Cinnamon Cheerios (868 ppb)
    * Honey Nut Cheerios (833 ppb)
    * Chocolate Cheerios (826)

The tested products contain glyphosate at levels 
well above EWG’s safety standard of 160 ppb; 
Quaker Oatmeal Squares breakfast cereal contained 
levels of glyphosate 18 times higher than the benchmark.


A Look at Previous Glyphosate in Cereal Testing

Earlier in the year, EWG set a more stringent 
health benchmark for daily exposure to glyphosate 
in foods than the EPA and tested an initial batch 
of products. Considering EWG’s standard of 160 
parts per billion (ppb), the following products 
exceeded that limit in one or both samples 
tested, with the starred products exceeding 400 
ppb: (<>2)
    * Granola
        * Back to Nature Classic Granola*
        * Quaker Simply Granola Oats, Honey, Raisins & Almonds*
        * Nature Valley Granola Protein Oats ‘n Honey
    * Instant Oats
        * Giant Instant Oatmeal, Original Flavor*
        * Quaker Dinosaur Eggs, Brown Sugar, Instant Oatmeal*
        * Umpqua Oats, Maple Pecan
        * Market Pantry Instant Oatmeal, Strawberries & Cream
    * Oat Breakfast Cereals
        * Cheerios Toasted Whole Grain Oat Cereal*
        * Lucky Charms*
        * Barbara’s Muligrain Spoonfuls, Original Cereal
        * Kellogg’s Cracklin’ Oat Bran Oat Cereal
    * Snack Bars
        * Nature Valley Crunchy Granola Bars, Oats ‘n Honey
    * Whole Oats
        * Quaker Steel Cut Oats*
        * Quaker Old Fashioned Oats
        * Bob’s Red Mill Steel Cut Oats

Companies negatively affected by these tests may 
point to the EPA’s legal limit for glyphosate in 
oats, which is 30 parts per million. But since 
this outdated standard was set in 2008, the 
International Agency for Research on Cancer 
labeled glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic” and 
the California Office of Environmental Health 
Hazard Assessment categorized it as a “chemical 
known to the state to cause cancer.”

EWG suggests that the solution is simple – keep 
chemicals linked to cancer out of children’s 
food. This may start with the EPA sharply 
limiting glyphosate residues allowed on oats and 
prohibiting the chemical’s use as a pre-harvest drying agent.

Earlier in the year, a jury found Monsanto liable 
in a $289 million-dollar-cancer verdict, independent lab tests.

What does this mean for our children? Without 
some serious changes made to the food industry 
and EPA standards, they’ll continue to ingest 
potentially toxic levels of glyphosate for 
breakfast. Maybe this will be the last straw for consumers?

EWG turned to Eurofins, a nationally recognized 
lab with extensive experience testing for 
chemicals. This testing involved measuring the 
amount of glyphosate found in popular products 
containing oats. What is this a big deal? I’m glad you ask …

Glyphosate in cereal - Dr. Axe

Previous research suggests that glyphosate, the 
active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup, is 
linked to the development of 
Lymphoma. The bad news? The latest testing 
detected it in all but two of 45 non-organic 
product samples. The list of products tested 
includes Cheerios, Lucky Charms, Nature Valley granola bars and Quaker oats.

Alexis Temkin, PhD, an EWG toxicologist and the 
author of the report, expressed her concerns 
about these findings. “Parents shouldn’t worry 
about whether feeding their children healthy oat 
foods will also expose them to a chemical linked 
to cancer. The government must take steps to 
protect our vulnerable populations,” she said.


Why Is Glyphosate in Our Food?

Why is there glyphosate in our food? According to 
the U.S. Geological Survey, 250 million pounds of 
glyphosate are sprayed on American crops each 
year. Glyphosate is primarily used on Roundup 
Ready corn and soybeans that are genetically 
modified to withstand the herbicide.

Glyphosate is a systemic herbicide, meaning it’s 
taken up inside of the plant, including the parts 
livestock and humans wind up eating.

And on top of that, glyphosate is sprayed on 
other non-GMO crops, like wheat, oats, barley and 
beans, right before harvest. Farmers sometimes 
call this “burning down” the crops and do this to 
kill the food plants and dry them out so that they can be harvested sooner.


How Much Glyphosate Is Too Much?

Why do we have to pay attention to glyphosate 
levels in our food? The simple answer is that 
glyphosate is linked to an elevated risk of 
cancer. In fact, the World Health Organization 
categorizes the weed-killing chemical as “probably carcinogenic in humans.”

So, really, any amount of glyphosate in our food 
is concerning, especially when it’s found in our 
children’s food. (And especially since children 
consume it during critical stages of development.)

So how did EWG come up with the limit for child 
glyphosate exposure? Using a cancer risk 
assessment developed by California state 
scientists, EWG calculated that glyphosate levels 
above 160 parts per billion (ppb) are considered 
too high for children. To break that down into 
simpler terms ­ a child should not ingest more 
than 0.01 milligrams of glyphosate per day.

How did tEWG come up with this health benchmark? 
Under California’s Proposition 65 registry of 
chemicals known to cause cancer, the “No 
Significant Risk Level” for glyphosate for the 
average adult weighing about 154 pounds is 1.1 
milligrams per day. This safety level is more 
than 60 times lower than the standards set by the EPA.

To calculate the recommendation for children, EWG 
took California’s increased lifetime risk of 
cancer of one in 1 million (which is the number 
used for many cancer-causing drinking water 
contaminants), and added a 10-fold margin of 
safety, which is recommended by the federal Food 
Quality Protection Act to support children and 
developing fetuses that have an increased 
susceptibility to carcinogens. This is how EWG 
reached the safety limit of 0.01 milligrams of glyphosate per day for children.

EWG’s health benchmark concerning the amount of 
glyphosate that poses a threat in our food is 
much more stringent than what the EPA allows. 
Although this amount of glyphosate present in oat 
products doesn’t seem like much in one portion, 
imagine consuming that amount every day over a 
lifetime. Exposure to this toxic herbicide will 
certainly accumulate over time, which is worrisome, to say the least.

“The concern about glyphosate is for long-term 
exposure. As most health agencies would say, a 
single portion would not cause deleterious 
effects,” explains Olga Naidenko, PhD, EWG’s 
senior science advisor for children’s health. 
“But think about eating popular foods such as 
oatmeal every day, or almost every day ­ that’s 
when, according to scientific assessments, such 
amounts of glyphosate might pose health harm.”

And there is some controversy over whether or not 
we can trust government regulators to make sure 
the food we eat is safe. This past April, 
internal emails obtained by the nonprofit US 
Right to Know revealed that the FDA has been 
testing food for glyphosate for two years and 
found “a fair amount.” But these findings haven’t 
been released to the public. According to The 
Guardian, the news outlet that obtained these 
internal documents, an FDA chemist wrote: “I have 
brought wheat crackers, granola cereal and corn 
meal from home and there’s a fair amount in all 
of them.” 

According to Naidenko, “It is essential for 
companies to take action and choose oats grown 
without herbicides. This can be done, and EWG 
urges government agencies such as the EPA, and 
companies to restrict the use of herbicides that end up in food.”


Glyphosate in Cereal: Organic vs. Non-Organic Products

What about organic cereals and oats? EWG findings 
suggest that organic products contain 
significantly less glyphosate that non-organic 
products. To be exact, 31 out of 45 conventional 
product samples contained glyphosate levels at or 
higher than 160 ppb, while 5 out of 16 organic 
brand products registered low levels of 
glyphosate (10 to 30 ppb). Of all the organic 
products tested, none of them contained a level 
of glyphosate anywhere near the EWG benchmark of 160 ppb.

Glyphosate can get into organic foods by drifting 
from nearby fields that grow conventional crops. 
Organic products may also be cross-contaminated 
during processing at a facility that also handles conventional crops.

While glyphosate was detected in some organic oat 
products, the levels were much, much lower than 
conventional products, or non-existent. So it 
looks like the rule still stands ­ to avoid 
increased exposure to cancer-causing chemicals like glyphosate, choose organic.


Final Thoughts on Glyphosate in Cereal

    * EWG commissioned independent laboratory 
tests to measure the levels of glyphosate present 
in popular oat-based products. Scientists found 
that almost three-fourths of the conventionally 
grown products contained glyphosate levels that 
are higher than what EWG considers safe for children.
    * Feeding your family clean, healthy meals 
may already feel like a daily challenge. We 
shouldn’t have to worry about whether or not our 
seemingly healthy choices contain toxic herbicides.
    * To join EWG to get glyphosate out of our 
action here.