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…

    • 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.

  • 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?