Monsanto’s Roundup weed killer has been in the news a fair amount recently. Juries have awarded plaintiffs staggering verdicts as compensation for contracting terminal cancer after use of Roundup. Recently, a California jury awarded $2 billion to a couple who both developed non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma as a result of their use of this product. This was just the latest in a recent string of large verdicts against the company. Now, studies have shown that the main ingredient in this potentially highly dangerous carcinogen is making its way into the food supply, further putting people at risk. As a result, General Mills has faced lawsuits for selling these cereals.
Roundup has been in use for many years and is one of the highest-selling pesticides on the market. Its primary ingredient is glyphosate, which is a non-selective herbicide that will kill nearly all plants. It is indisputable that glyphosate is a potent product. However, the potency may be too high as the product has long been associated with the risk of cancer. Numerous studies and reports have documented this risk. However, Monsanto has not only denied that there is any causal relationship, but it has engineered its own campaign to influence scientific research and conclusions. This has angered juries who have hit Monsanto with high punitive damages.
The damage has been done and now Roundup’s sales are suffering as the product has earned its reputation for being dangerous. In addition, the company’s share price is under extreme pressure as the prospect of legal liability weighs on investors. The effects are being felt far beyond just Monsanto. Now, food products are being tested for the pesticide.
The latest food product to raise food safety concerns is breakfast cereal. The Environmental Working Group has tested 21 different cereal and snack-based products that contain oats. The test results have found that these products contain traces of glyphosate, which is the active ingredient of Roundup. The levels of glyphosate in nearly all of these products are beyond what would be considered safe for children.
EWG tested products that are made with oats because oats are sprayed with glyphosate as a drying agent just prior to harvest. Glyphosate is also used on genetically modified corn and soybeans as a weedkiller. While most of the chemical is able to be washed off of the crops, it is near impossible to remove all traces of the weedkiller from the farm products.
While many foods contain some pesticide residue, there is an acceptable limit for what is considered safe. The benchmark for children’s health is 160 parts of glyphosate per billion. 17 of the 21 cereals and other products were found to contain levels above this mark. Other tests have found that cereals made by Kellogg’s and Quaker contain high levels of glyphosate.
The highest amounts of Glyphosate were found in Cheerios products. Honey Nut Cheerios Medley Crunch and Cheerios Toasted Whole Grain Oat Cereal had glyphosate levels above 700 ppb. In addition, certain varieties of Nature Valley granola products had ppb levels above 500 ppb. This is just the latest study that has found unacceptable residue of glyphosate in cereal products. While there have been numerous petitions sent to the Environmental Protection Agency to limit the use of Roundup, the current EPA has not shown much, if any willingness, to contradict Monsanto’s claims that Roundup is completely safe. In fact, notwithstanding the multiple jury verdict against Monsanto, the EPA continues to maintain that glyphosate is entirely safe. While there has not yet been a documented case of cancer that has resulted from consuming glyphosate-laced cereal and oat products, it certainly adds to the general unhealthiness of the product and can have an impact on health.
General Mills, the manufacturer of this cereal, faced a class-action lawsuit over the content of glyphosate in its cereal. The lawsuit alleged that the manufacturer had a duty to disclose that its products contained a high level of the chemical and sought compensation on behalf of all purchasers of the cereals. However, the lawsuit was recently dismissed because the plaintiffs lack the standing to sue General Mills over the high glyphosate content of the products.
However, other lawsuits have been settled by an agreement that the manufacturers will change its product labels to reflect for some of the risks. In the future, if a plaintiff can establish that they have developed cancer as a result of using these products, the manufacturers could be open to a large jury verdict.
It is logical to anticipate that further testing will be done on these products in the future. Sometimes, it is the initial tests that begin to establish the safety risks that are then borne out in actual human data. Regardless of how the initial lawsuits have fared, the public is on notice of the fact that their favorite breakfast cereals may not be as safe and healthy as they initially thought.
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