A new report on breakfast cereals has parents frightened–but you don’t need to empty your entire pantry and start making your own granola.
A good chance a half-empty box of Cheerios in your cupboard has a little Roundup in it. But that doesn’t necessarily mean you shouldn’t let your children eat it.
61 samples of products made with oats–from Lucky Charms and Cheerios to granola bars and oatmeal–most of the products made with conventionally-grown oats had some glyphosate, a weed-killer found in products like Roundup, inside. The amount of the chemical in those samples was well under what the EPA considers protective of health. The nonprofit wants the EPA to make its standard more stringent: “Our general stance is pesticides and herbicides really don’t belong in children’s food,” says Alexis Temkin, a toxicologist at EWG.
But it’s open to debate how much of a toxin glyphosate is. And even EWG says that you don’t need to purge your house of that half-eaten box of cereal. “The short-term, one bowl of cereal is not necessarily what we’re worried about,” says Alexis Temkin, a toxicologist at EWG. “It’s really this chronic lifetime exposure, especially at a young age.” (This is more nuanced than the language in a press release: “Simply stated, there is far too much glyphosate in [these] products for parents to feel comfortable feeding them to their kids.”)
The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), part of the World Health Organization, classified glyphosate as a probable carcinogen in 2015. In California, based on that ruling, glyphosate is now listed under a registry of chemicals known to cause cancer; the state has proposed that an average adult can be exposed to 1.1 milligrams of the chemical per day with no significant risk (The EPA, which does not consider glyphosate a carcinogen, suggests the limit is 2 milligrams per kilogram of body weight a day, or 140 milligrams for an average adult).