Kellogg’s, maker of iconic brands like Corn Flakes and Froot Loops, wants farmers to stop using glyphosate prior to harvest.
As You Sow, a shareholder advocacy group based in California, announced this morning that Kellogg’s has committed to phase out “the use of glyphosate as a pre-harvest drying agent in its major wheat and oat supply chains by 2025.”
“Investor pressure helped move Kellogg’s to make this important commitment,” As You Sow said in a release. “As You Sow first filed a shareholder resolution with the company on the subject of glyphosate in 2017…. Investors asked the company to reduce the use of glyphosate by producer farms; in particular, investors asked the company to eliminate the practice of applying glyphosate just before harvesting grains.”
Kellogg’s, however, doesn’t have a news release about the glyphosate decision on its website.
On a Question and Answer page within a Kellogg’s website, openforbreakfast.com, there’s a comment about pre-harvest glyphosate.
“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,” Kellogg’s says.
“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.”
The Western Producer contacted Kellogg’s Canada for a response and to clarity its position. So far, it hasn’t provided a comment.
The use of pre-harvest glyphosate on crops like wheat and oats has become highly controversial. In 2015 the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic” to humans. Hundreds of toxicologists denounced the IARC decision as flawed and biased.
Regulatory bodies around the world, including Health Canada, the European Food Safety Authority and the U.S. Environmental Agency, have reviewed the safety of glyphosate and concluded it is not a carcinogen.
“No pesticide regulatory authority in the world currently considers glyphosate to be a cancer risk to humans at the levels at which humans are currently exposed,” Health Canada said in January 2019.
Regardless, the IARC decision spawned thousands of lawsuits in the U.S. and Canada. Claimants say exposure to glyphosate contributed to them getting cancer.
In the U.S., alone, more than 18,000 lawsuits have been filed related to the safety of glyphosate.
Such lawsuits represent a major financial risk to food companies, including Kellogg’s, says As You Sow.
“Kellogg’s failure to address pesticide use in its supply chains creates legal and reputational risk for the company…. Consumer advocates have recently called out food companies for glyphosate residues in common food products, including Kellogg’s products; and consumer lawsuits have targeted manufacturers of foods containing such residues.”
Other cereal companies have also taken steps, asking farmers to stop spraying glyphosate prior to harvest.
“In some cases, the same farmers are being approached to work on regen (regenerative) ag and to supply General Mills with oats grown on contract through our suppliers,” said John Wiebold, vice-president for North American direct material sourcing at General Mills.
“When we’ve experimented with contracts, we’ve asked the farmers not to apply glyphosate because we want to understand our ability to source oats without that pesticide applied to oats.”