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June 14, 2019

Major food companies like General Mills continue to sell popular children’s breakfast cereals and other foods contaminated with troubling levels of glyphosate, the cancer-causing ingredient in the herbicide Roundup. The weedkiller, produced by Bayer-Monsanto, was detected in all 21 oat-based cereal and snack products sampled in a new round of testing commissioned by the Environmental Working Group. All but four products contained levels of glyphosate higher than what EWG scientists consider protective for children’s health with a sufficient margin of safety.

The new tests confirm and amplify EWG’s findings from tests in July and October of last year, with levels of glyphosate consistently above EWG’s children’s health benchmark. The two highest levels of glyphosate were found in Honey Nut Cheerios Medley Crunch, with 833 parts per billion, or ppb, and Cheerios, with 729 ppb. The EWG children’s health benchmark is 160 ppb.

Product TypeVarietyGlyphosate (ppb)
Oat breakfast cereal Honey Nut Cheerios 147
Oat breakfast cereal Cheerios Toasted Whole Grain Oat Cereal 729
Oat breakfast cereal Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheerios 400
Oat breakfast cereal Cheerios Oat Crunch Cinnamon 283
Oat breakfast cereal Honey Nut Cheerios Medley Crunch 833
Oat breakfast cereal Multi Grain Cheerios 216
Oat breakfast cereal Nature Valley Baked Oat Bites 389
Granola Nature Valley Granola Peanut Butter Creamy & Crunchy 198
Granola Nature Valley Granola Protein Oats n Dark Chocolate 261
Snack or snack bar Nature Valley Fruit & Nut Chewy Trail Mix Granola Bars, Dark Chocolate & Nut 76
Snack or snack bar Nature Valley Fruit & Nut Chewy Trail Mix Granola Bars, Dark Chocolate Cherry 275
Snack or snack bar Nature Valley Sweet & Salty Nut granola bars, Cashew 158
Snack or snack bar Nature Valley Crunchy granola bars, Oats and Honey 320
Snack or snack bar Nature Valley Crunchy granola bars, Peanut Butter 312
Snack or snack bar Nature Valley Crunchy granola bars, Maple Brown Sugar 566
Snack or snack bar Nature Valley Soft-Baked Oatmeal Squares, Blueberry 206
Snack or snack bar Nature Valley Soft-Baked Oatmeal Squares, Cinnamon Brown Sugar 124
Snack or snack bar Nature Valley Granola Cups, Almond Butter 529
Snack or snack bar Nature Valley Granola Cups, Peanut Butter Chocolate 297
Snack or snack bar Nature Valley Biscuits with Almond Butter 194
Snack or snack bar Fiber One Oatmeal Raisin soft-baked cookies 204

Source: EWG, from tests in May 2019

EWG purchased products via online retail sites. Approximately 300 grams of each product were packed in our Washington, D.C., office and shipped to Anresco Laboratories in San Francisco. Glyphosate levels were analyzed by a liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry method described here.

Since 2015, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, a part of the World Health Organization, has classified glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic to humans.” In 2017, glyphosate was classified as a known carcinogen by California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment.

Since last August, three California juries have awarded more than $2.2 billion total in three separate verdicts against Bayer-Monsanto over claims that Roundup caused cancer and that Monsanto knew about the risks for decades and went to extraordinary lengths to cover it up.

Glyphosate is used mostly as a weedkiller on genetically modified corn and soybeans. But it is also sprayed on oats just before harvest as a drying agent, or desiccant. It kills the crop, drying it out so it can be harvested sooner, which increases the likelihood that glyphosate ends up in foods children love to eat.

EWG and 19 food companies recently delivered more than 80,000 names on a petition urging the Environmental Protection Agency to sharply limit glyphosate residues allowed on oats and prohibit its use as a preharvest drying agent.

All but one of the tested products contained glyphosate at levels higher than what EPA previously allowed on oats, in 1993. EWG’s petition, currently under consideration by EPA, calls on the agency to return to its health-protective 1993 standard. But it could take years for EPA to act, and the agency has been caught colluding with Monsanto to promote the claim that the chemical is safe.

The only way to quickly remove this cancer-causing weedkiller from foods marketed to children is for companies like General Mills and Quaker to use oats from farmers who do not use glyphosate as a desiccant.

More than 236,000 people have signed a petition directed at these food companies, calling on them to take action to protect consumers’ health.

 
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June 6, 2019

COLLEGE STATION – A small segment of a human gene STING, stimulator of interferon genes, could hold the key to treating autoimmune diseases and cancer, according to a study by Texas A&M AgriLife Research scientists.

Dr. Pingwei Li, AgriLife Research biochemist and structural biologist, College Station; post doctorates Drs. Baoyu Zhao, and Fenglei Du and graduate student Pengbiao Xu, College Station, discovered a protein motif that could enable future applied science researchers to develop drugs to suppress unwanted immune responses in humans that cause autoimmune disorders.

Their research, “A conserved PLPLRT/SD motif of STING mediates the recruitment and activation of TBK1,” was published in the May 30 issue of the international scientific journal Nature.

STING are proteins that signal immune responses in humans and other animals, Li said. The PLPLRT/SD motif the scientists discovered is a short stretch of amino acids near the end of the STING protein that plays a critical role in turning on the immune system to fight against viral infections.

TBK1 is a protein kinase associated with diseases like frontotemporal dementia, some cancers and autoimmune diseases like Lupus, Li said. The Li lab identified a short sequence in the protein STING that recruits and activates TBK1, thus turning on the immune response.         

The scientists found that a conserved PLPLRT/SD motif within the C-terminal tail of STING mediates the binding of TBK1, Li said. This demonstrates the direct binding between STING and TBK1 is essential for STING mediated signaling.

“Our immune system is like an electrical circuit,” he said. “We discovered that this motif of STING is involved in the activation of the TBK1, essentially like a switch that turns the immune system on to produce interferons to fight against viral infections or cancer.”

Li’s research was initially funded for three years via a nearly $1 million grant from the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas, or CPRIT. Recently, he received another $1.8 million in funding from the National Institute of Health through the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases to continue their studies about the antiviral immune response for the next five years.

The team of scientists determined the crystal structure of TBK1 bound to STING reveals the detailed molecular interactions between these two proteins. They used a very powerful X-ray beam produced by the Advanced Light Source at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory of the University of California to collect high-quality diffraction data, Li said.

These findings provide a basis for future scientific inquiry and development of STING binder and blocker drugs in the fight against viral infection, cancer and autoimmune disorder, Li said. It’s a seemingly small discovery in basic research, but one that could have enormous implications regarding the way diseases are treated in the future.

Li said there are incredible interests in the pharmaceutical industry to identify new ways to block TBK1 activation to control unwanted, harmful immune responses.

“We conducted the basic research, and others will follow with applied research on what we discovered,” he said. “There is still a lot that is unknown, but to play a part in research with so much potential to treat cancer and debilitating autoimmune diseases is very gratifying.”

 
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June 4, 2019

Greenleaf Foods, Maple Leaf Foods’ plant-based foods subsidiary, has just announced the widescale distribution of its plant-based protein brands Lightlife® Foods and Field Roast Grain Meat Co™ to 330 Walmart stores across Canada.  

Recent Nielsen data shows the meat and dairy alternatives category was one of the fastest growing FMCG categories in 2018, fueled by an increase in consumption, not just by vegetarians and vegans, but other individuals and households who are choosing to reduce their meat and dairy intake or increase plant-based foods consumption.

Greenleaf Foods is committed to shaping the future of plant-based foods, and through this expansion in distribution will make these alternatives more accessible than ever to families across Canada.

Some of the products that will be available in Walmart stores nationwide include Lightlife’s Smart Bacon, Smart Tenders Chick’n, Smart Dogs, Gimme Lean Sausage and Smoky Tempeh Strips. Meanwhile, Field Roast is introducing Smoked Apple Sage Sausage, Italian Sausage, Mexican Chipotle Sausage, FieldBurger, Chao Creamy Original, Chao Garden Herb and Chao Tomato Cayenne. 

 
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May 28, 2019 (Burnaby, BC) – Plant-based beverage company Earth’s Own continues to pursue its plant-based mission by unveiling Oat Barista, its newest oat beverage product created with coffee drinkers in mind and developed in partnership with expert baristas. The latest game-changing beverage by the brand that digs plants, Oat Barista is delicious, creamy and nutritious on its own. Not only that, but its high-performance micro-foam is great for those laying down some latte art, making it the ideal companion for professional coffee slingers and at home aficionados. Earth’s Own Oat Barista’s frothy-friendly goodness is now available at cafes and major retailers across Canada.

According to the Canadian Coffee Association, coffee — which is often coined the “nectar of the gods” – was drunk by 72% of Canadians within the past day, and nearly half of the country treats themselves to a single-cup brewer at home. With the new Canada Food Guide published last month encouraging the nation to choose protein foods derived from plants more frequently, close to half of the country is now looking to incorporate more plant-based foods into their diet (and coffee of course!).

According to Earth’s Own President Rex Sheehy, when it comes to delivering an outstanding coffee experience, Oat Barista is the answer. “We were delighted with our Oat Barista as it delivers a no compromise experience.  We believe in inspiring people to make a better choice for themselves and the environment and feel that our delicious oat barista beverage does this for the growing coffee savvy community,” says Sheehy. “Our Earth’s Own Oat Barista’s subtle flavour pairs perfectly with any type of coffee without overpowering it, and the creamy consistency is similar to cow’s milk, allowing any coffee-lover to steam, froth and pour with ease. For those just getting into going plant-based, your morning coffee is a great place to start.”

Earth’s Own is on a relentless mission to change the world through a plant-based movement. Through its line of plant-based, environmentally-friendly products and humanitarian efforts — which support community gardens and local school programmes such as Growing Chefs — the company is committed to empowering the community to embrace more plant-based choices in their diet.

According to Natasha Questel, VP of Marketing, “Eating more plant-based food also has lots of great benefits for the environment. For one, plants require less water and land resources to farm. Also, less greenhouse gas is emitted, which results in cleaner air. Earth’s Own lives its mission and values through its packaging as we boldly embrace using eco-friendly cartons made out of plants and sourced from sustainable forests. Better yet, Earth’s Own oats are grown by Canadian farmers and require just rainwater and sunshine to grow, making it quite literally one of the most sustainable food products to produce on the planet.”

Earth’s Own Oat barista are available for purchase in 946 mL cartons in retailers across Canada. Each serving size (1 cup) has 7 grams of fat, .5 grams of saturated fat, and 3 grams of protein. Oat Barista is enriched with vitamins including Vitamin A (10%), Calcium (30%), Vitamin D (45%), and Vitamin B12 (50%).

Earth’s Own’s range of plant-based beverages are vegan friendly and Non-GMO Project Verified. Unlike other oat brands that use canola or rapeseed oil to thicken their products, Earth’s Own oat beverages are all made with sunflower oil to provide a creamy texture and mouthfeel. The range includes oat, almond, cashew and soy beverages in 1.75-1.89L and 946 mL sizes. In addition to launching Oat Barista, the expanded beverage line-up now also includes Chocolate Oat in 1.75 L and 250 mL, and Unsweetened Original and Vanilla in new 250 mL single-serve sizes. Earth’s Own is available for purchase at major Canadian retailers.

 

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