Glyphosate in Food

How did a chemical weed killer get into breakfast cereal? Is this a health hazard?

We received a question from Rob: “Just saw a report on glyphosate contamination in popular foods. Results were expressed in ppb versus ppm. Should consumers be concerned with this report?”

The report found that foods such as Cheerios, Goldfish Crackers, Oreos and Doritos contain residues of the chemical glyphosate. Also known by the name Roundup, glyphosate is used to kill weeds in crops. Wayne Parrott, PhD, and William Vencill, PhD, professors in the Department of Crop and Soil Sciences College of Agricultural & Environmental Sciences at the University of Georgia, provided some insight.

One of the things we wanted to know was how glyphosate could get into these foods. Dr. Parrott explained that the chemical has been used in agriculture since the 1970s.

“They are giving the impression that foods are contaminated with glyphosate, and if the glyphosate was not there, the foods would be otherwise pure, which is false. They found glyphosate in foods because they looked for it. Had they looked for other herbicides used in agriculture, they would probably have found them too,” he said.

Now to the first part Rob’s question. The report stated that Cheerios contained 1,125.3 ppb (or parts per billion) of the chemical. What’s the difference between ppb and ppm?

Dr. Vencill and Dr. Parrott: “Residues in foods are normally measured in ppm (parts per million) with 1 ppm being equivalent to about 7,500 people out of all the people on earth. A ppb is a part per billion, which is a really small unit of measurement, equal to 7 or 8 people out of everyone on the planet.”

The thing Rob and all of us really want to know is if this level of contamination is something to cause concern. The experts said these levels are “way too low” to worry about. The EPA conducts extensive safety tests, which are used to set the maximum level of chemical residues that food can contain and still be safe.

“On top of that, the EPA sets a safety margin by setting allowable residues at 100 to 1,000 times lower than the level that is considered hazardous,” he said. View the EPA safety levels for glyphosate. All of the foods that were tested showed to be below the EPA safe levels.


We also asked why glyphosate herbicide is used so much in growing crops.

Dr. Vencill and Dr. Parrott: “Glyphosate continues to be widely used because few, if any other herbicides, are as safe, effective, and economical.  By safe, I mean safer than table salt.”

Glyphosate shows up in many foods because it is used by farmers to raise food. The amount detected in foods is very small and well within the range determined to be safe by government agencies.

Originally published Dec. 9, 2016.

  • Tony Mitra

    Canadian Food inspection agency has recently tested thousands of foods collected in Canada for presence of glyphosate. The tests involved food produced in Canada, the United States and over sixty other countries.

  • David Reed

    No mention of the practice of spraying wheat and other crops as a dessicant just before harvest to increase yield. Common sense says you shouldn’t spray herbicide directly on food just before you harvest it.. yet the farmers don’t care since they aren’t going to go out and pick a bowl of raw wheat to eat. They just want the money.

  • Gidget

    It is extremely concerning that we are being told by experts in the field of agriculture that the levels of glyphosate present in foods is “quite safe”. No amount of poison in any food is safe to consume, especially when we are talking about the presence of this toxic substance in a large number of food products on the supermarket shelves and in all fast foods which are becoming the staple diet of far too many people. Coupled with all the other toxic substances present in processed foods, the situation becomes anything but “safe” and the FDA and Monsanto are well aware of this. I am a firm believer that ADHD, autism, dementia and similar diseases are directly related to diet/food intake. Our bodies are being flooded with toxins every day of our lives as well as alarmingly dangerous levels of sugar – it’s no wonder the incidences of obesity, diabetes, cancer and chronic heart disease are increasing exponentially – it’s Monsanto’s plan for population control. Drs. Vencill and Parrott are clearly programmed to believe the BS as are so many in the medical and pharmaceutical industries. Organic food growers in the States are facing legislation that will prevent them from farming organically, or forcing them to use toxic substances to control weeds when there are natural and effective means available – why? Why would you try and stop people from growing healthy, nutritious food? Because it will keep people alive and give their bodies the ability to fight disease, and that is definitely not on Monsanto’s agenda. Don’t believe the BS – NO poison, no matter how minute a trace, is safe to ingest.

    • stick

      You should research formaldehyde in foods & not eat those.

    • Gluesy

      May I ask what these said options for weed control are in farms upward of 1500 hectares of land? Options that recquire time efficiency, financially economical and no chemicals involved? I would be all ears, I’m in the agricultural industry and looking for new options all the time that point us in the direction of environmental sustainability. Look forward to your reply.

      • I have weed cloth and a drip watering system under it that prevents weeds, cuts water use and even discourages gophers. Some plants get rot if watered more than 2x per week in clay soil. Of course, I can’t plow the weed cloth…

      • Jill Bertaina

        What about rotate the crops so that the fields do not become poor of necessary occurring nutrients as a result of monoculture and more susceptible to weeds. Healthy lands should reduce the need for roundup and give the farmers the freedom to even mark up their crops as more and more people are willing to pay for chemical free food. Covering the ground with mulch helps also to reduce the cost of water needed in crops by keeping the moisture in the field naturally. What do u think?

        • Gluesy

          I think that all the farmers I deal with on a daily basis are already employing all of these options, these things you’ve mentioned are really the basics of farming, but doing these things aren’t a 100% effective way of dealing with weeds, pests and diseases. Yes, having good soil nutrition will reduce the amount of disease pressure, but weeds, pests and diseases are always going to continue to come back no matte how good your nutrition is. I believe the world isn’t ready for 100% organic (as loose as that term is thrown around in the agriculture industry) because if it did we probably all wouldn’t have any food to buy in the supermarkets. I think we need a varietal approach and employ and integrated system and part of that, unfortunately, is still having to use chemicals.
          As for having chemicals in your food, there are heavy, heavy

    • Douglas Seal

      You consume “poisons” every day they are sodium, potassium, zinc, copper, iron, etc. But you normally take them in small amounts although I’ve treated vitamin poisonings before in health nuts who think more is better. You can spot them in the vitamin store, flakey skin, thinning hair and sometimes with carrotosis. They look like Trump’s orange hair.

      • omarkos

        “poisons”…geez. All plants contain chemicals which are poisonous in high enough quantities. It’s all about the dosage. That’s why these EPA limits really meaningful. They are based on science and on our bodies abilities to metabolize and eliminate toxins, with huge margins for safety. All this “no amount of chemicals” nonsense will kill you before anything else will. You’ll die of starvation.

        • shezina

          May be good for you to read my contribution. Douglas. Yes people do overdo vitamins and minerals and they can act as toxins for the liver to excrete and I find myself educating clients regarding this, but pesticides are another whole different ball game and even the, EU are about to ban round-up and quite rightly so. They all need banning and we need to respect our earth a lot more. Vitamins and Minerals cannot be compared to such toxic substances as highly toxic and poisonous chemicals that denature our soil and our bodies.

      • William A Knox

        Except for many of those are electrolytes and minerals our bodies use. Our body needs the right balance of each kind to function properly, just like the ocean has to be at the right temperature to maintain certain kinds of aquatic life. I’m really starting to wonder If your a doctor.

  • Marcy Countryman Morell

    Wouldn’t surprise me a bit this toxic junk is the culprit of my Ulcerative Colitis and Diverticulitis. I am finally getting it under control with Plexus probiotics and prebiotics and the multi vitamin they have with aloe. Plus eating healthier.

    • David Harden

      go with “eating healthier” for 100 Alex. There are a lot of great ways to get your micro-nutrients without having to promote a multilevel marketing health food company. And, if you are gonna do that, at least join and promote the right one. Advocare is by far the best there is and i don’t even use it

  • S.McCoy

    If glyphosate is a weed killer, and used to keep the weeds down on top of the ground, then if there was no water to dilute it, then it would be dangerous and in the wheat, but if the fields are flooded and diluted, it would not be in the wheat, except for a small amount. It is not just put in cereal. This article makes it sound like they are putting in the foods on purpose, I do not think that is the case. More study on this.

    • Jason

      In the case of wheat, glyphosate is sometimes used to kill the crop in order to help it dry down quicker and avoid molding. It is not a real common practice in the US but is more common in Europe.

      Some other crops (I.e. Corn) are resistant to glyphosate and it is used early in the year to kill weeds prior to the crop getting large enough to shade weeds on its own.

  • Henrik Manoochehri

    What about agricultural runoff? Do you eat sea food? Is glyphosate used on canola/rapeseed? Is glyphosate present in animal feed? On sugar cane? Does it bio-accumulate? If you compare a curve of glyphosate use with the increase in digestive problems, do they correlate? Gullibility can kill you slowly and torturously. Are people on the board of Monsanto also on the boards of pharma companies that produce medicines for digestive problems? Will these questions ever be answered?

  • shezina

    The thing that has not been considered is that consuming many different foods whether cereal or vegetable based they will all most probably contain pesticides in them and each vegetable, each cereal and each food you put into your mouth ups that pesticide residue to make it a larger amount than will make it more unacceptable, this is due to the fact that you are unlikely to be able to excrete the pesticides from your system (poor Liver, that has to deal with this). The pesticides can disrupt the enzymes in our liver and so switch some gens off whilst turning other ones, we don’t want on. the build up in our tissues continues and not just from Round-up, which is only allowed to be used on license in some very wise European countries (sadly Britain not being one of them). Pesticides are often mixed together to make a more potent cocktail. Also it is good to know that a simple lettuce could have been sprayed 20 times before you get to eat it. That’s twenty times pesticides building up in the succulent leafy lettuce you are about to put in your mouth. The soil is being drenched with these pesticides, so the earth is being denatured alongside the food we eat.

    Don’t be fooled by these statistics. Round-up is a nasty pesticide, the EU plan to ban it from use. As they mentioned it is not the only herbicide used and there will be others accumulating in your system. The pesticides lay down in your fat tissues, also lay down in the fat tissues of animals, so if you eat animals that are eating grass dosed with herbicides, which they often are, you will be picking it up via animals stored in the flesh/fat of the animal. Animals where I lived were exposed to intense spraying when the farmer sprayed his crops the animals had nowhere to hide from it and so they got a dosing of pesticides in their system. Pesticides can act as hormonal disruptors in fish, animals and in humans. Over the years we are seeing girls of 11 or 12 with endometriosis..That’s no surprise after they have been eating foods with traces of pesticides still in them.

    Having your fat cells tested can be an eye opening experience. I did this and found DDT and other pesticides. A big realization from one of them, when I found out it was the reason I fainted easily when I lost weight. The pesticide is released from the fat cells as they break down and the chemical floods into the blood and knocked me out. It had nowhere to go as too much was flooding my system, too much for any liver to cope with.These pesticides are not something that pass through our bodies and are peed out. they collect in our body and unwittingly disrupt our chemistry. Do not be fooled by sweet talking chemists. Look for yourself and don’t always trust experts.