Traces of weedkiller found in baby food

A new study has raised fears that 95 per cent of breakfast snacks fed on children are laden with cancer related herbicide. According to studies conducted by the Environmental Working Group, a US-based public health organisation, 43 out of 45 oat-derived products sampled were found to have significant levels of the glyphosate, the active compound in all weedkillers.

The Guardian reported that glyphosate was found in oats, snack bars and an array of other popular cereals. More worrying was the fact that one particular type of oat, a sample of Quaker Old Fashioned Oats, the herbicide measured at more than 1,000 parts per billion of glyphosate. This is against the prescribed safe levels of glyphosate spanning 0.1 to 310 parts per million on crops such as corn, soybeans, grains and some fruits, spanning.

These are standards proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency. Meanwhile, Australia’s National Farmers’ Federation has rejected the findings, saying it set a “reckless precedent” that could harm agriculture. Greenpeace urged the Australian government to start restricting the sale of Roundup – which is widely available in supermarkets and hardware stores – after a Californian court found it caused the cancer of a terminally ill man. But in a swift rejoinder, the NFF said the US court decision was “in blatant ignorance” of science.

“No other herbicide has been tested to the lengths that glyphosate has,” the NFF president, Fiona Simson, said as quoted in The Guardian. She said glyphosate – the world’s most common herbicide – had an environmental benefit. “Through the use of glyphosate, farmers are able to practise minimum tillage – protecting soil structure and nutrients and ultimately increasing the storage of soil carbon,” she said. Australia’s chemical regulator, the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority, classifies Roundup as safe.

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According to Paul Pharoah, professor of cancer epidemiology at the University of Cambridge, the court’s finding did not mean that glyphosate necessarily caused cancer. Ian Rae, a professor of chemistry at the University of Melbourne, said the risk was “very, very low”.

herbicideEnvironmental Working Groupfarmerssmart harvest