Ben & Jerry’s ice cream was recently found to contain residues of glyphosate, following on from a range of popular U.S. brands, which were also found to contain the World’s most popular herbicide earlier in 2017.
Soon after the New York Times published a report on the glyphosate contamination in Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, the company released a statement on the glyphosate test results.
Sustainable Pulse has decided to reply to Ben & Jerry’s, in an attempt to help educate the company on the seriousness of finding glyphosate in their products:
Ben & Jerry’s: At Ben & Jerry’s, we were concerned to learn that recent testing revealed trace levels of the herbicide glyphosate in several of our flavors. Concerned, but not totally surprised. It’s everywhere from mainstream food, to natural food, to rainwater and that’s a problem.
Sustainable Pulse: It is excellent that Ben & Jerry’s is concerned that their ice-cream contains glyphosate residues. They are also completely correct that glyphosate is found in many places, however to our knowledge it has never been found in ice cream before.
Ben & Jerry’s: While we’re the company that claims “If it’s not fun, why do it?” we do take issues of food safety and quality very seriously. Glyphosate is one of the most widely used herbicides in agriculture and is one of the most pervasive chemicals in our food system. We understand and share our fans’ desire to limit the amount of chemicals in that food system.
Sustainable Pulse: If Ben & Jerry’s really took pervasive chemicals in the food system seriously they would go organic and push for the end of the use of glyphosate as a desiccant in U.S. agriculture. Ben & Jerry’s currently uses convetionally produced milk, which includes the use of milk from cows fed with GMO feed, the production of which is one of the main reasons for the massive rise in the use of toxic chemicals, including glyphosate, in agriculture over the last 20 years.
Ben & Jerry’s: The recent New York Times article citing the tests that found trace amounts of the herbicide glyphosate in our products has created quite a stir. The trace levels reported of glyphosate in the tested Ben & Jerry’s flavors at a rate of parts per billion (ppb) ranged from 0 – 1.74 ppb. To put that in context, recent studies found organic whole wheat bread tested 78 times higher and a popular whole grain oat breakfast cereal results were 646 times higher. The NY Times story noted that a 75-pound child would have to eat 145,000 eight-ounce servings per day to reach the limit set by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The bottom line is that our products are safe to eat and the trace levels of glyphosate detected were significantly below all allowable standards.
Sustainable Pulse: Ben & Jerry’s should not hide behind the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), as they and everyone else should be aware that independent scientists are finding an increasing number of significant harms from glyphosate at levels thousands of times lower than those declared “safe” by the EPA.
Doses of 0.1 ppb of the glyphosate-based herbicide Roundup, below the levels of glyphosate found in Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, were shown to cause liver and kidney toxicity as well as hormonal disturbances in rats over a long-term period, in the famous Seralini peer-reviewed study in 2012, which was re-published in 2014.
New ground-breaking science published in January 2017 in Scientific Reports, an online, open access journal from the publishers of Nature, also showed that the glyphosate-based Roundup herbicide causes non-alcoholic fatty liver disease in rats at very low doses.
The peer-reviewed study, led by Dr Michael Antoniou at King’s College London, used cutting edge profiling methods describes the molecular composition of the livers of female rats administered with an extremely low dose of Roundup weedkiller over a 2-year period. The dose of glyphosate from the Roundup administered was thousands of times below what is permitted by regulators worldwide. The study revealed that these animals suffered from non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).
NAFLD currently affects 25% of the US population. Risk factors include being overweight or obese, having diabetes, high cholesterol or high triglycerides in the blood. Rapid weight loss and poor eating habits also may lead to NAFLD. However, some people develop NAFLD even if they do not have any obvious risk factors.
This study is unique in that it is the first to show a causative link between consumption of Roundup at a real-world environmental dose and a serious disease condition. However, there have been many other studies that have shown possible or probable harm to health at low doses of glyphosate:
It is also important to note that neither the EPA nor the manufacturers of glyphosate-based herbicides have ever safety tested glyphosate at low levels, such as those found in Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. Monsanto has colluded with the EPA to make sure that the dangers of glyphosate remain hidden, as was confirmed by court documents released on Tuesday.
Ben & Jerry’s: We also want to be clear about our ongoing and future commitment to the reduction of chemical use in agriculture. Over the last 39 years we led the fight to label rBGH and won, we transitioned to non-GMO ingredients, we committed to source Fair Trade ingredients, and supported sustainability efforts with farmers through our Caring Dairy program. We have never wavered from our commitment to provide ice cream that is safe to eat and tastes great. We understand there is still much to be done. That’s why all of us at Ben & Jerry’s come to work everyday.
Sustainable Pulse: Ben & Jerry’s have indeed made more progress than many other food producers in the U.S. regarding food safety and we applaud them for that, however, it is time for them to take the final leap and to realize that consumers now want food that does not contain toxic chemicals. In this case one way for them to do that is to provide glyphosate residue free certified products.