Richardson International isn’t changing its policy. It will buy oats that are sprayed with glyphosate before harvest, even though U.S. consumers are suing Quaker Oats over glyphosate residues in oatmeal.
“We continue to stand by our products,” said Tracey Shelton, spokesperson for Richardson, the largest oat miller in North America. “We will continue to monitor the situation and do our rigourous testing, but at this point we are continuing to sell oats and buy oats that have been treated with glyphosate.”
In early May news broke that Americans in California, New York and Illinois had launched lawsuits against PepsiCo, the owner of Quaker Oats.
The New York Times, Bloomberg and other media reported that testing found traces of the herbicide in Quaker Oats oatmeal. The amount detected was significantly below the maximum residue level allowed by regulators, but the plaintiffs behind the lawsuits say Quaker used false advertising to sell its oatmeal.
Quaker markets its oatmeal as 100 percent natural. The lawsuits claim that’s misleading because the oatmeal contains glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup and the most popular herbicide in the world.
Many oat growers in Western Canada spray the crop with glyphosate late in the growing season so the crop dries down prior to harvest.
Last year the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), a division of the World Health Organization, said glyphosate probably causes cancer.
Many toxicologists have disputed the report, saying it contradicts the findings of government regulators around the globe, including Health Canada, which concluded that glyphosate is not a carcinogen.
“Glyphosate based herbicides are among the most thoroughly researched, tested and evaluated herbicides on the market,” Shelton said.
“When those products are applied, following directions provided by the manufacturer, there is no scientific evidence to suggest that there is a risk to human health.”
Shelton wouldn’t say if Richardson’s sells oats to Quaker, citing confidentiality reasons.
The company operates oat milling plants in Portage la Prairie, Man., Martensville, Sask., and Barrhead, Alta.,
A handful of Richardson clients have inquired about glyphosate residues and last year the miller began testing oat samples for the herbicide.
“Grain samples collected last year at harvest found that pesticide residue levels were basically non-detectable for glyphosate, at a level significantly below that of the applicable Canadian MRL (Maximum Residue Limit),” Shelton said.