Ben & Jerry’s — an iconic ice cream brand famous for its Fairtrade and eco-friendly practices — is under fire after lab tests uncovered traces of a controversial herbicide in most of its products. The Organic Consumers Association (OCA) recently reported that the world’s most widely used herbicide sold under the brand name Roundup was found in several varieties of the popular ice cream brand.
[Editor’s note: The concentration of glyphosate found in the ice cream is so low that it may be meaningless. As a lab scientist who is very familiar with the analytical methods for quantitation of glyphosate, I’m skeptical that quant data at this low of a concentration is statistically reliable. It is also possible that 1 ppb of glyphosate could be found in almost all ice cream or dairy products, as contamination is so widespread. More analysis coming soon. – Mike]
Glyphosate and aminomethylphosphonic acid (AMPA, glyphosate’s main metabolite) were found in 10 out of 11 samples of the company’s ice cream. The flavors tested included Peanut Butter Cup, Peanut Butter Cookie, Vanilla (2 samples), Cherry Garcia, Phish Food, The Tonight Dough, Half Baked, Chocolate Fudge Brownie, Americone Dream, and Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough. Cherry Garcia was the only flavor that tested negative for both glyphosate and AMPA.
OCA has called for the company to make an immediate transition to organic ingredients or face a national and international consumer boycott. Furthermore, the Association also called on natural and organic food stores to remove Ben & Jerry’s products from their stores if the company fails to transition to organic ingredients only.
OCA International Director Ronnie Cummins said that Ben & Jerry’s falsely brands its products as natural, sustainable, and socially responsible. But nothing could be further from the truth.
“Ben & Jerry’s profits are built on the back of an industrial dairy system that poisons the environment and produces pesticide-contaminated food products. Ben & Jerry’s sales, driven in large part by its deceitful claims, damage the organic industry by cutting into the sales of authentic natural, grass-fed, and organic producers,” he said.
Rob Michalak, global director of social mission at Ben & Jerry’s, told The New York Times that the company is working to ensure all ingredients in its supply chain come from non-GMO sources. He noted that none of the plant-based ingredients come from GMO crops, such as corn or soy, where glyphosate is commonly used. Additionally, the company is trying to find more cost-effective ways for the dairy farms that supply its milk to use non-GMO feed for their animals.
“We need to better understand where the glyphosate they’re finding is coming from,” said Mr. Michalak. “Maybe it’s from something that’s not even in our supply chain, and so we’re missing it.”
There are NO safe levels of glyphosate
Though the levels of glyphosate found in the company’s products do not violate the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations, many consumers are reluctant to purchase foods that contain traces of glyphosate because of its evident link to cancer and other diseases.
Ben and Jerry’s Chocolate Fudge Brownie was found to have the highest levels of glyphosate (1.74 parts per billion) and glyphosate byproduct AMPA (0.91 parts per billion). In 2015, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer classified glyphosate as a probable carcinogen. Earlier this summer, the state of California has declared that glyphosate weed killer is a known carcinogen that will be added to the scope of Proposition 65.
Furthermore, the journal Nature recently published a report that linked low doses of glyphosate to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Their results indicated that the EPA and other regulatory agencies have been wrong all along. There are no safe levels of glyphosate.
Monsanto and other companies that produce glyphosate-containing products, however, dispute any of these claims and remain positive that low levels of glyphosate or its metabolites are not harmful to humans. They labeled the Nature study as bad science. What’s worse, governments and other regulators side with these criminal and money-greedy corporations.
“Not everyone agrees with the acceptable levels governments have set,” Ronnie Cummins said. “And, anyway, would you want to be eating this stuff at all?”