After a report was released on Wednesday claiming that popular cereals like Cheerios and Lucky Charms were found to contain traces of glyphosate, a controversial weed-killing chemical that has been linked to cancer, General Mills is coming to their own defense.
“Our products are safe and without question they meet regulatory safety levels,” the company said in a statement to Fast Company. “The EPA has researched this issue and has set rules that we follow as do farmers who grow crops including wheat and oats. We continue to work closely with farmers, our suppliers and conservation organizations to minimize the use of pesticides on the crops and ingredients we use in our foods.”
Quaker Oats, who was also named in the report, has also responded to the claims, saying that they “proudly stand by the safety and quality” of its products, adding that they “do not add glyphosate during any part of the milling process.
Instead, they say: “Glyphosate is commonly used by farmers across the industry who apply it pre-harvest. Once the oats are transported to us, we put them through our rigorous process that thoroughly cleanses them (de-hulled, cleaned, roasted and flaked).”
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The finding was published by the Environmental Working Group, an advocacy organization that has been fighting against the use of glyphosate in herbicides that could end up in food products. “Just because a pesticide level is legal in food doesn’t mean that level is safe,” the group said in response to the companies’ statements, adding: “General Mills and Quaker Oats should volunteer to meet real health standards and make the effort to remove glyphosate from their products.”
One of the primary targets in the efforts against glyphosate has been Monsanto, the company that makes Roundup, a leading pesticide which contains the chemical as a primary ingredient. On Saturday, a court in San Francisco ordered the company to pay $289 million in damages to a former school groundskeeper who claimed that Roundup caused his non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Monsanto’s vice president Scott Partridge told CNN that they will appeal the decision and “continue to vigorously defend this product, which has a 40-year history of safe use.”