Doses of glyphosate, a herbicide linked to cancer, have been found in products from about a dozen famous cereal manufacturers, the U.S.-based Environmental Working Group (EWG) said on Thursday. Out of 45 food products analysed in a study by the environmental group, 43 contained traces of glyphosate, which can cause cancer in animals and “probably” in humans, too, according to the International Centre for Cancer Research.
In 31 samples, the levels were higher than 0.01 milligrammes per day, the limit for minors, according to the analysts. The pesticide was also found in about a third of 16 samples from biological cultures, although the glyphosate levels were below the health-risk limits. The substance may have come from neighbouring fields.
According to the EWG, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found traces of the herbicide in certain foods two years ago but has kept it hidden from the public. With its study, the EWG now wishes to make the information public.
The highest glyphosate levels were found in Quaker Old Fashioned Oats. Three samples of Cheerios also had high levels of the substance.
Glyphosate is the active ingredient of Roundup, a powerful herbicide developed by the Montsanto Corporation, bought over in June last by the pharmaceutical giant Bayer.
In early August, a court ordered Montsanto to pay almost 290 million dollars in damages for failing to provide information on the dangers of Roundup, which caused cancer in a U.S. gardener.
In Belgium, the herbicide has been banned for private individuals since July. Only professionals such as gardeners and gardening companies are still authorised to use glyphosate-based products.