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Roundup for Breakfast? Weed Killer Found in Kids’ Cereals, Other Oat-Based Foods

Health + Wellness
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Popular oat cereals, oatmeal, granola and snack bars come with a hefty dose of the weed-killing poison in Monsanto's Roundup, according to independent laboratory tests commissioned by the Environmental Working Group (EWG).


These new findings come days after a California jury awarded $289 million to a school groundskeeper who claimed Roundup gave him lymphoma.

EWG's tests found glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, in all but two of 45 samples of products made with conventionally grown oats. More than two thirds of the samples had glyphosate levels above what EWG scientists consider protective of children's health with an adequate margin of safety.

Glyphosate has been linked to cancer by California state scientists and the World Health Organization. The California case that ended Friday was the first of reportedly thousands of lawsuits against Monsanto. These suits have been brought by farm workers and others who allege that they developed cancer from years of exposure to Roundup.

"I grew up eating Cheerios and Quaker Oats long before they were tainted with glyphosate," said EWG President Ken Cook. "No one wants to eat a weed killer for breakfast, and no one should have to do so."

"We will petition the Environmental Protection Agency to do its job and end uses of glyphosate that resulted in the contamination we report today," Cook said. "But we very much doubt our petition will be acted upon by President Trump's lawless EPA. So we're calling on the companies to make these iconic products with clean ingredients."

Oat-based foods are a healthy source of fiber and nutrients for children and adults, and oat consumption is linked to health benefits such as lowered cholesterol and decreased risk of cardiovascular disease. EWG's findings raise the prospect that millions of American children are being exposed to a suspected carcinogen at a time when their bodies are rapidly developing.

"It is very troubling that cereals children like to eat contain glyphosate," said Alexis Temkin, Ph.D., EWG toxicologist and author of the report. "Parents shouldn't worry about whether feeding their children heathy oat foods will also expose them to a chemical linked to cancer. The government must take steps to protect our most vulnerable populations."

About one-third of 16 samples of foods made with organically grown oats also had glyphosate, all at levels well below EWG's health benchmark. Glyphosate may get in organic oats by drifting from nearby farm fields, or cross-contamination in a processing facility that also handles non-organic foods.

The EPA has denied that glyphosate may increase the risk of cancer. Documents introduced in the California trial showed how the agency and Monsanto worked together to promote the claim that the chemical is safe.

EWG is urging the EPA to review all evidence linking glyphosate to increased cancer risk and other adverse health effects in human and animal studies. The EPA should limit the use of glyphosate on food crops, including the practice of applying it just before harvesting.

With the release of the findings, EWG launched a consumer petition to press companies to eliminate glyphosate from food. The organization said suppliers need to stop using glyphosate before harvesting oats and other grains. Click here to sign the petition.

In the absence of EPA action, "It's up to consumers to call on companies to rid their products of glyphosate," Cook said. "EWG's consumer campaign focusing on oat-based foods is only a start to ending human exposure to glyphosate."

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A volcano erupts on New Zealand's Whakaari/White Island on Dec. 9, 2019. Michael Schade / Twitter

A powerful volcano on Monday rocked an uninhabited island frequented by tourists about 30 miles off New Zealand's coast. Authorities have confirmed that five people died. They expect that number to rise as some are missing and police officials issued a statement that flights around the islands revealed "no signs of life had been seen at any point,", as The Guardian reported.

"Based on the information we have, we do not believe there are any survivors on the island," the police said in their official statement. "Police is working urgently to confirm the exact number of those who have died, further to the five confirmed deceased already."

The eruption happened on New Zealand's Whakaari/White Island, an islet jutting out of the Bay of Plenty, off the country's North Island. The island is privately owned and is typically visited for day-trips by thousands of tourists every year, according to The New York Times.

Michael Schade / Twitter

At the time of the eruption on Monday, about 50 passengers from the Ovation of Seas were on the island, including more than 30 who were part of a Royal Caribbean cruise trip, according to CNN. Twenty-three people, including the five dead, were evacuated from the island.

The eruption occurred at 2:11 pm local time on Monday, as footage from a crater camera owned and operated by GeoNet, New Zealand's geological hazards agency, shows. The camera also shows dozens of people walking near the rim as white smoke billows just before the eruption, according to Reuters.

Police were unable to reach the island because searing white ash posed imminent danger to rescue workers, said John Tims, New Zealand's deputy police commissioner, as he stood next to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in a press conference, as The New York Times reported. Tims said rescue workers would assess the safety of approaching the island on Tuesday morning. "We know the urgency to go back to the island," he told reporters.

"The physical environment is unsafe for us to return to the island," Tims added, as CNN reported. "It's important that we consider the health and safety of rescuers, so we're taking advice from experts going forward."

Authorities have had no communication with anyone on the island. They are frantically working to identify how many people remain and who they are, according to CNN.

Geologists said the eruption is not unexpected and some questioned why the island is open to tourism.

"The volcano has been restless for a few weeks, resulting in the raising of the alert level, so that this eruption is not really a surprise," said Bill McGuire, emeritus professor of geophysical and climate hazards at University College London, as The Guardian reported.

"White Island has been a disaster waiting to happen for many years," said Raymond Cas, emeritus professor at Monash University's school of earth, atmosphere and environment, as The Guardian reported. "Having visited it twice, I have always felt that it was too dangerous to allow the daily tour groups that visit the uninhabited island volcano by boat and helicopter."

The prime minister arrived Monday night in Whakatane, the town closest to the eruption, where day boats visiting the island are docked. Whakatane has a large Maori population.

Ardern met with local council leaders on Monday. She is scheduled to meet with search and rescue teams and will speak to the media at 7 a.m. local time (1 p.m. EST), after drones survey the island, as CNN reported.