Dubbed a “probable human carcinogen” by the World Health Organization’s IARC in 2015, glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup weedkiller, is virtually everywhere.
It’s been found in everything from rainwater samples to tissues in the human body to food and drinking water, and now it’s turning up in a unique place that health conscious consumers should be aware of: Ben & Jerry’s, the popular ice cream brand that non-GMO foodies have been turning to recently because of its positive stances on GMO labeling and switch to non-GMO ingredients in plant-based ingredients.
Here’s what you need to know according to the report, which was recently released in the New York Times and conducted by the Organic Consumers Association (OCA).
Ben & Jerry’s Tests Positive for Roundup Residues
As noted in the report from the Times, 10 of 11 samples of the ice cream, tested positive for Roundup residues. The levels found were far below the ceiling for acceptable limits set by the Environmental Protection Agency, however, and said to be relatively low.
This report of course presents an interesting dilemma for many consumers: is Ben & Jerry’s still worthy of your support?
The company has been a strong proponent of mandatory GMO labeling and has been working to improve its supply chain, going non-GMO in its non-milk ingredients recently, a major step forward in a highly polluted industry. They are also working to find a cost-effective way to help affiliated dairy farm partners to give more non-GMO feed for their cows.
But on the other end of the spectrum, the OCA and others are working hard to foster change from the company including a switch to supporting more ethical dairy companies that use organic and/or regenerative agricultural methods.
“It’s time to hold Ben & Jerry’s accountable for the damage and to demand the necessary transition to organic/regenerative methods. The executives at Ben & Jerry’s know how damaging their milk supply chain is,” a petition from the OCA reads. “They know that labor is being abused. They know that cows are burning out before they are five years old. They know that antibiotics are being misused. They know that the dairies that supply their milk are polluting our drinking water and most of the rivers and lakes in Vermont. They know – because we’ve been telling them for years.”
Rob Michalak, the global director of social mission at Ben & Jerry’s, responded to the news of the tests with the following statement.
“We’re working to transition away from GMO, as far away as we can get,” Michalak said. “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.”
Both Michalak and OCA International Directior Ronnie Cummins said that the residues most likely came from add-ins like peanut butter and cookie dough, however, according to the New York Times.
Four organic brands of ice cream had much lower amounts of glyphosate in them according to lab tests, with two brands having zero trace of the weedkiller (see the full times article for more info).
Cummins added in the Times article that because the government limits on Roundup/glyphosate residues are questionable, however, which consumers should take into account at the cash register.
“Not everyone agrees with the acceptable levels governments have set,” Mr. Cummins said. “And, anyway, would you want to be eating this stuff at all?”
The OCA has been working with an organization called Regeneration Vermont in order to persuade Ben & Jerry’s to go organic, the Times report noted.