Sunday, April 21, 2024

Are your Cheerios impairing your fertility?

I've decided to rename the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). I now think a better name is the Agency for Fertility and Population Decline. I say this after reports that the EPA is thinking about adding even more chlormequat to our diet by allowing American farmers to spray this plant growth regulator—which is linked to reproductive damage in animals—on food crops such as barley, oats, wheat, and triticale. According to Wikipedia, chlormequat "can cause stem thickening, reduced stem height, additional root development, plant dwarfing, and increase chlorophyll concentration." All of this is useful in keeping the plant upright for easier harvesting and for making it more productive.

That sounds good until you learn that chlormequat has been found in the urine of 80 percent of those tested and that that number has been rising in recent years. Where is the chlormequat coming from? In part, it's coming from imported grains and animal products from countries that already allow the use of chlormequat on food crops. It may also be coming from American grain farms that are using chlormequat illicitly—that is, until the EPA makes it legal.

Gentlemen may be particularly interested in the "benefits" of consuming chlormequat with their morning Cheerios. These include delayed onset of puberty accompanied by reduced prostate size, reduced sperm motility, and decreased testosterone. For prospective mothers and their offspring the "benefits" include "adverse effects on postnatal health, including hypoglycemia, hyperlipidemia, and hyperproteinemia seven days after birth compared with controls." Yes, these are animal studies. But last time I checked, humans are animals.

Additional exposure to chlormequat seems ill-advised. But then the EPA is the same agency that still insists that glyphosate, the weedkiller known by the brand name Roundup, is safe—even as multibillion dollar verdicts are levied against Bayer AG, the German multinational biotech company that swallowed the original maker of Roundup, Monsanto Company. The conclusion of an increasing number of juries is that glyphosate has caused cancer in those exposed to it on a regular basis including farmers, gardeners and home users. Bayer has already set aside a $10 billion settlement fund. But not all those affected are covered, and so the lawsuits keep coming.

The EPA stills says on its website that it "found that there are no risks of concern to human health when glyphosate is used in accordance with its current label." In years to come the agency will only have to change the word "glyphosate" to "chlormequat," that is, if there are still any humans around to read what the agency posts on its website.

The amount of chlormequat intake in animals exhibiting reproductive problems (per unit of weight) is less than the limit now being proposed by the EPA. We have heard so often from government agencies in recent years that we all need "to follow the science." If only those agencies would actually do that!

Kurt Cobb is a freelance writer and communications consultant who writes frequently about energy and environment. His work has appeared in The Christian Science Monitor, Resilience, Common Dreams, Naked Capitalism, Le Monde Diplomatique,, OilVoice, TalkMarkets,, Business Insider and many other places. He is the author of an oil-themed novel entitled Prelude and has a widely followed blog called Resource Insights. He can be contacted at

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

two scoops of chlormequat is a great way to start the day