Add ice cream to the growing list of foods to test positive for glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide.
The Organic Consumers Association announced today that the organization found traces of glyphosate in Ben & Jerry’s ice cream flavors. The announcement comes as a surprise for many who view the iconic Vermont company as a bastion of environmental awareness and advocacy.
A spokesman for Ben & Jerry’s said the company is working to ensure that the ingredients in its products come from sources that do not include genetically modified organisms (GMOs). None of Ben & Jerry’s plant-based ingredients come from GMO crops like corn or soy, which utilize glyphosate in production. The company is reportedly working on a cost-effective way for its dairy suppliers to use non-GMO feed.
“We’re working to transition away from GMO, as far away as we can get,” said Rob Michalak, global director of social mission at Ben & Jerry’s. “But then these tests come along, and we need to better understand where the glyphosate they’re finding is coming from. Maybe it’s from something that’s not even in our supply chain, and so we’re missing it.”
Levels of Glyphosate in Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream by Flavor
|Ice Cream Flavor||Glyphosate Amount (in parts per billion)|
|Chocolate Fudge Brownie||1.74 ppb|
|Peanut Butter Cookie||0.91 ppb|
|Peanut Butter Cup||0.57 ppb|
|The Tonight Dough||0.42 ppb|
|Phish Food||0.42 ppb|
|Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough||0.05 to 0.25 ppb|
|Americone Dream||0.05 to 0.25 ppb|
|Half Baked||0.05 to 0.25 ppb|
|Vanilla (2 samples tested)||0.05 to 0.25 ppb|
|Cherry Garcia||No detectable glyphosate amount|
Research Shows Glyphosate at Low Dosages Still Significant
The detectable traces of glyphosate in Ben & Jerry’s ice cream are far below the allowable levels set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). But according to Ronnie Cummins, a founder and the international director of the Organic Consumers Association, there is some dispute among scientists, governments, and regulators over acceptable levels of glyphosate.
“Not everyone agrees with the acceptable levels governments have set,” Mr. Cummins told the New York Times. “And, anyway, would you want to be eating this stuff at all?”
Research published earlier this year in the journal Nature, showed that rats exposed to low dosages of glyphosate developed early signs of fatty liver disease within three months, and their symptoms only worsened over time. The rats in the study ingested a daily intake of glyphosate equivalent to a child’s serving of Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Fudge Brownie ice cream. Monsanto, for its part, called the study “bad science.”
In 2015, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) issued a report on glyphosate, classifying the chemical as a probable human carcinogen. According to the IARC report, the cancer most associated with glyphosate exposure was non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
The IARC glyphosate report was a catalyst for hundreds of Americans to file lawsuits against Monsanto, alleging exposure to Roundup caused them to develop non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Court documents from the litigation revealed possible collusion between Monsanto and a former EPA official. The evidence was enough to convince EPA Inspector General Arthur Elkins Jr. to investigate the matter.
Regulators Turning a Blind Eye to Glyphosate Levels in Food Supply
Non-profits, environmental groups, and consumer organizations have taken the reins in testing foods for glyphosate because, while the government tests foods for a number of different pesticides every year, it does not routinely test for glyphosate.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which is responsible for enforcing maximum pesticide residue levels for foods, issues an annual report on pesticide levels found in food. Even though glyphosate is the active ingredient in the most widely-used herbicide in the world, the FDA does not include the chemical in its testing.
“Regulators have turned a blind eye toward trying to figure out what levels of glyphosate are in our food supply,” said Carey Gillam, author of the soon to be released book on glyphosate, entitled, “Whitewash: The Story of a Weed Killer, Cancer, and the Corruption of Science.”
Independent food testing initiatives have found glyphosate residue in a wide variety of products from beer to infant oatmeal. Various cereals, crackers, cookies, chips, and other processed foods have also tested positive for glyphosate, according to the Detox Project.