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‘Fertility impairing’ chemical found in 80% of Americans eating oat-based foods


Chlormequat is a harmful pesticide permitted for use on oats and other grains imported to US

Scottish porridge oats are seen in London on May 13, 2014. —Reuters

A recent study conducted by a US-based advocacy group has unveiled concerning findings about Americans’ exposure to a little-known chemical present in oat-based foods, News18 reported. 

Published in the Journal of Exposure Science & Environmental Epidemiology, the study highlighted that 80% of Americans tested positive for chlormequat, a harmful pesticide permitted for use on oats and other grains imported to the US, according to the Environmental Working Group (EWG).

The study, which included popular brands such as Quaker Oats and Cheerios, detected chlormequat in 92% of oat-based foods purchased in May 2023. General Mills and PepsiCo, the manufacturers of these products, have not immediately responded to inquiries about these alarming findings.

Urine tests conducted by the EWG between 2017 and 2023 indicated an increase in consumer exposure to chlormequat, with higher levels and more frequent detections in 2023 samples. 

Despite ongoing research on its effects, animal studies have shown potential harm to reproductive systems and fetal growth, raising concerns about human impact. 

The US Environmental Protection Agency’s decision to allow chlormequat use on various crops, including barley and oats, has been criticised as “dangerous” by the EWG.

In response, the EWG is calling for federal government action, urging potential mandates from the Food and Drug Administration to test US foods for chlormequat. 

Until regulatory measures are established, the EWG advises consumers to choose organic oat products grown without harmful pesticides like chlormequat and glyphosate.



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