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Glyphosate in cereals

A US study has found ‘significant’ levels of glyphosate in breakfast cereals, oats and snack bars
Katie Hill - Editor-in-Chief, My Green Pod
Glyphosate in cereals

Three out of 45 US breakfast cereal, oat and snack bar products sampled by the Environmental Working Group found levels of glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, the world’s most widely used weedkiller.

a ‘probable carcinogen’

Emma Hockridge, head of policy, farming and land use at the Soil Association, said ‘it’s worrying, but not surprising that glyphosate is found widely in US cereals’.

‘In the UK, government testing also found cereals to be widely contaminated and glyphosate is regularly found in routine testing of British bread’, Emma continued. ‘Glyphosate’s manufacturers insist the levels in our food are safe. But a report by the World Health Organisation’s International Agency for Research on Cancer has concluded that glyphosate is a ‘probable carcinogen’.’

Figures from Defra show a 400% increase in the amount of glyphosate sprayed on cereal crops in the last 20 years. In 2014, almost 1000 tonnes of glyphosate was applied to cereal crops in the UK.

‘Government and the agricultural research community need to urgently support farmers to move away from farming systems that rely on pesticides such as the herbicide glyphosate. Organic farmers show that it is possible to farm successfully without using chemicals like glyphosate and a lot more should be done to help all farmers improve these practical alternatives they’ve pioneered, which pose less risk to our soils, environment and health.’

Head of policy, farming and land use at the Soil Association

Why glyphosate’s used

Many farmers routinely use Roundup and other herbicides to clear their fields of weeds before crops emerge in the spring. ‘What’s more alarming is they’re also using glyphosate on crops shortly before they are harvested to desiccate (dry out) the plants and make them easier to harvest’, Emma said.

Glyphosate kills parts of the crop that haven’t ripened evenly, and dries the crop, but applying glyphosate so close to harvest makes the likelihood of finding residues in food even higher.

Click here to find out why Soil Association’s Helen Browning believes a farming revolution is on our doorstep.

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