April 13, 2024

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Are Cheerios and Quaker Oats safe? Experts comment on new concerns about pesticides

Are Cheerios and Quaker Oats safe?  Experts comment on new concerns about pesticides

This is what some might ask in light of this A study was released this week By the Environmental Working Group, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit organization focused on agricultural and chemical safety laws in the United States. The study looked at the prevalence of an insecticide called chlormequat in oat-based food products, including cereals such as Cheerios and Quaker Oats.

EWG said it found detectable levels of the chemical in 92% of non-organic oat-containing foods purchased in May 2023.

“Studies in laboratory animals show that chlormequat can cause harm to normal growth and development of the fetus and harm the reproductive system,” Olga Naidenko, vice president of EWG, told MarketWatch. The EWG report noted that these risks could include decreased fertility.

The substance has not been proven to affect humans in the same way that the studies cited by the Environmental Working Group found that it affects laboratory animals, and there are other studies that found that chlormequat has an effect. There is no effect on reproduction in pigs or MiceOr any effect on it Fertilization rates in mice.

However, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) still calls on concerned consumers to purchase organic oat products as an alternative.

“Certified organic oats are grown, by law, without synthetic pesticides,” Naidenko said.

Representatives of General Mills

Geographic information systems

The company that makes Cheerios and PepsiCo


which owns Quaker Oats, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Experts contacted by MarketWatch echoed EWG's recommendation to move to organic.

Charles Benbrook, a Washington state-based scientific consultant who focuses on pesticides, said he's an oatmeal eater and chooses organic oatmeal “when I can get it.”

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Regarding Chlormicat, Benbrook said: “It is not a safe product.”

“Any family raising children or thinking about starting a family should do everything they can to avoid chlormequat,” he said.

It's important to note that chlormequat isn't the only pesticide found in grains that contain oats, said Melissa Furlong, an assistant professor of environmental health sciences at the University of Arizona. She added that there is still a lot we need to know about the health effects that the substance may have on humans.

“That doesn't mean it's not the worst [pesticide]. “We don't really know,” Furlong said.

Chlormequat has not been approved for use in food crops grown in the United States, according to the Environmental Working Group, but it can be found in oats and oat products from other countries. Under the Trump administration, the Environmental Protection Agency began allowing these products to be imported into the United States, the Environmental Working Group noted, which is why chlormicate can be found in some pills sold in this country.

The Environmental Protection Agency is considering approving the use of chlormequat on crops grown in the United States, according to the agency's website. In invitation to Public comment on its proposed resolution“Based on EPA’s human health risk assessment, there are no dietary, residential, or aggregate (i.e., combined dietary and residential exposure) risks of concern,” the agency said.

The EPA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

For her part, Furlong said that although she typically buys organic oat products, she's not strict about it — and may still buy a box of Cheerios from time to time.

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