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20 June, 2024
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Popular breakfast cereals infused with fertility-linked pesticide

Chlormequat contamination sparks health concerns as popular brands Quaker Oats and Cheerios under scrutiny


In a recent study conducted by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), it has been revealed that an obscure pesticide called chlormequat, which is linked to infertility in animals, is present in a significant majority of oat-based foods in the United States. Brands such as Quaker Oats and Cheerios, popular for their cereal products, were found to contain this chemical.

The study, spanning from 2017 to 2023, analyzed 96 urine samples and discovered chlormequat in 77 of them, with levels increasing in recent years. In May 2023 alone, 92% of oat-based foods, including major brands like Quaker Oats and Cheerios, were found to have traces of chlormequat, according to research published in the Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology.

Chlormequat, previously allowed only on ornamental plants, is used as a growth regulator in the commercial production of cereal grains, facilitating crop harvesting. Although EPA regulations limited its use to ornamental plants, it has been permitted on imported oats and other foods in the U.S. since 2018. The EPA is currently proposing expanding its use to include barley, oat, triticale, and wheat grown in the U.S., a move contested by the EWG.

Studies have indicated that chlormequat may harm the reproductive system and disrupt fetal growth in animals, raising concerns about potential human health impacts. Despite assurances from General Mills and Quaker Oats regarding adherence to regulatory guidelines and prioritizing food safety, the EWG recommends choosing organic oat products to minimize exposure to chlormequat, as organic samples were found to contain lower levels of the pesticide.

As the debate over the use of chlormequat continues, consumers are urged to stay informed and consider alternatives like organic products until comprehensive consumer protection measures are in place.

[Information sourced from CBS News]

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