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EXPERTS DISMANTLE ENVIRONMENTAL WORKING GROUP'S GLYPHOSATE STUDY
Source: Cameron English, Genetic Literacy Project

To read the entire article click here.

"If you or your children are eating Cheerios right now, there's a good chance that they're accompanied by a potentially harmful weed killer called Roundup," Fortune told its readers on August 16. Newsweek headlined its article, "Dangerous Weed Killer Ingredient Found in Cheerios, Quaker Oats and Other Breakfast Cereals."

These were two of literally hundreds of news outlets that botched coverage of what scientists say is a dubious study of breakfast cereals and granola bars by virulently anti-GMO Environmental Working Group, a Washington DC-based public health advocacy group.

The study was well-timed. EWG appears to have commissioned it to roll-out when a California jury was expected to reach a verdict about whether Roundup, Monsanto's herbicide whose main ingredient is glyphosate, caused a San Francisco groundskeeper to contract cancer. On August 10, in a controversial decision challenged by many scientists, a jury awarded the plaintiff $289 million. In the wake of that verdict, this study unsurprisingly garnered a lot of media attention. But it's always a good idea to double check alarming claims. So the GLP talked to a number of experts, all of whom raised serious doubts about the EWG's claims.

Basic facts

The fundamental, consensus conclusion: A bowl of cheerios, or a daily bowl over months or even many years won't endanger your health. Why? Because we are talking about minuscule amounts of glyphosate-well below the levels that would be considered dangerous. It's almost certain that EWG would have found trace levels of dozens of chemicals (similarly harmless)-if they had tested for any other chemical. But EWG only tested for glyphosate.

For context, let's review a few fundamental facts. First, glyphosate effectively kills weeds, but not much else. Humans and animals don't possess the metabolic machinery-the shikimate acid pathway-used by the herbicide to kill plants. That means glyphosate is not metabolized well in the human body, greatly reducing its potential to do harm.

Moreover, the herbicide is broken down by bacteria in soil after it's sprayed on food crops and as a result "shows no signs of bioaccumulation in the food chain," according to California's Department of Pesticide Regulation. Trevor Charles, a microbiologist at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, added in an email that "Glyphosate is rapidly degraded by microbes, and also absorbed to soil particles. It does not bioaccumulate."


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