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Amid increasing concerns about the side effects of exposure to Roundup and other widely used weedkillers, General Mills is beginning to contract farmers to supply it with oats that were not treated with glyphosate-based herbicides.
According to a report published last week by The Western Producer, General Mills officials say the company is contracting some farmers in Canada to supply it with oats that have not been pre-treated with Roundup, which is usually done to assist in the drying process. However, it leaves the oats with glyphosate residue.
The move appears to be the result of increasing consumer pressure and concerns that Roundup may eventually be banned, due to mounting research linking the glyphosate contained in the weedkiller to an increased risk of non-Hodgkins lymphoma and other health problems.
Currently, General Mills is not banning farmers from using Roundup or other pesticides. However, it is encouraging farmers in its supply chain to use regenerative agriculture and other practices to reduce pesticide use.
The contracts with some farmers to supply it with oats not treated with Roundup is a test project, according to the report. Company officials say they want to see if they are able to source oats without glyphosate being used in case there are legislative changes banning Roundup use.
The actions also come in response to a number of tests by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), an environmental activist organization in the U.S., showing high levels of glyphosate residue in a number of General Mills products, like Cheerios.
Since 2015, there has been growing concern over the amount of glyphosate in food products, after the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) determined that glyphosate was a probable carcinogen.
Roundup has already been banned or restricted in a number of countries and municipalities. Just this week, Germany announced it will ban Roundup by the end of 2023. Several U.S. cities, including Miami, have also banned its use by city contractors.
In February 2016, the FDA indicated it would begin looking for glyphosate in U.S. food products, but stopped just months later without issuing any findings. However, internal documents revealed that the agency has found glyphosate in honey and other products.
Monsanto and its parent company, Bayer, currently face about 20,000 Roundup lawsuits involving allegations that the manufacturer failed to adequately provide cancer warnings for users spraying the weedkiller, each involving consumers who have been diagnosed with various forms of non-Hodgkins lyphoma following regular use of the product.
Bayer is currently engaged in a court-ordered mediation process that is designed to explore a potential resolution for the litigation. However, the parties have yet to come to an agreement.
In September 2018, a class action lawsuit filed against General Mills accused the company of false advertising, for promoting its products as healthy and free of dangerous chemicals after glyphosate residue was detected. The claim accuses General Mills of deceiving consumers about the safety and purity of Cheerios, which is commonly fed to children.