BATTLE CREEK, MICH. — Kellogg Co. has announced plans to phase out the use of glyphosate as a pre-harvest drying agent in its wheat and oat supply chain in its major markets, including the United States, by the end of 2025.
Glyphosate, which is sold commercially as Roundup, has been linked to several lawsuits over cancer and other health claims. It has been in use in the United States for around 40 years and is the most popular herbicide in the country, with more than 250 million lbs of it sprayed annually on the 250 agricultural crops for which it is approved as a herbicide and, less frequently as a desiccant.
“Kellogg does not own or operate farms, and we have been engaging with our suppliers about pesticide use, including desiccation with glyphosate, in our ingredient supply chains since before 2017,” Kellogg said. “We know that some consumers have questions about the use of the herbicide glyphosate (also known by its brand name Roundup) as a drying agent a few weeks before harvest, particularly with wheat and oats. This practice is done by some farmers in certain circumstances — like harvesting the crop more quickly if weather is challenging.
“Although this practice is not widespread in our wheat and oat supply chains, we are working with our suppliers to phase out using glyphosate as pre-harvest drying agent in our wheat and oat supply chain in our major markets, including the U.S., by the end of 2025.”
In addition to the United States, Kellogg’s major markets include Australia, Britain, Canada, France and Mexico.
Kellogg said it also is working with farmers through its Kellogg’s Origins program to invest in programs that focus on conservation practices and pest management practices.
The Environmental Working Group applauded Kellogg’s announcement.
“We applaud Kellogg for working with their suppliers to address the risks posed by glyphosate,” said Ken Cook, president of the E.W.G. “It’s no surprise that consumers don’t want a controversial weedkiller in their cereal. Now it’s time for General Mills and Quaker to listen to their customers and fall in behind Kellogg leadership and do the same — end this use of this notorious weedkiller.”
In 2018 and 2019, the E.W.G. commissioned three rounds of laboratory tests of cereals and other foods sold by Kellogg, General Mills and Quaker, and found glyphosate in 43 of 45 samples of breakfast foods made with conventionally grown oats.
Three-fourths of the 43 positive samples contained glyphosate at levels above the 160 parts per billion (p.p.b.) threshold for protection of children’s health with an adequate margin of safety. Sixteen of the samples were made with organically grown oats, and five of those contained glyphosate levels between 10 and 30 p.p.b., well below the E.W.G.’s health threshold.
The highest levels seen in the E.W.G.’s study were two samples of Quaker Old Fashioned Oats, which registered at 1,000 p.p.b. Three samples of General Mills’ Cheerios brand turned out glyphosate levels from 470 to 530 p.p.b. Twelve samples didn’t reach the E.W.G.’s benchmark, and two contained no traces of glyphosate.
In June 2019, Bayer A.G., Leverkusen, Germany, said it would invest billions of dollars in the years ahead to develop alternatives to glyphosate.
“While glyphosate will continue to play an important role in agriculture and in Bayer’s portfolio, the company is committed to offering more choices for growers and will invest approximately €5 billion ($5.6 billion) in additional methods to combat weeds over the next decade,” the company said.