Anti-GMO activists leverage glyphosate cancer reclassification to resurrect discredited claims

In reaction to the World Health Organization’ International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) report listing glyphosate as a “probable” carcinogen, various anti-GMO activists have been dredging up scientifically dubious studies that purportedly show the omnipresent danger of the pesticide.

Reading summary accounts on advocacy websites, it would appear that glyphosate is a gun pointed to the head of consumers. March Against Monsanto, for example, headlined its article: “Top Medical Journal, WHO Confirm: Monsanto’s Flagship Product Probably Causes Cancer.” But that’s not what the agency concluded.

IARC did not conclude or even suggest that glyphosate is likely to harm anyone; in fact there was no evidence of that. It did find that there is a remote risk that extended exposure to the chemical in occupational settings and in laboratory animal epidemiological studies raised risk concerns.

Case-control studies of occupational exposure in the USA, Canada, and Sweden (that) reported increased risks for non-Hodgkin lymphoma that persisted after adjustment for other pesticides.

In male CD-1 mice, glyphosate induced a positive trend in the incidence of a rare tumour, renal tubule carcinoma. A second study reported a positive trend for haemangiosarcoma in male mice. Glyphosate increased pancreatic islet-cell adenoma in male rats in two studies. A glyphosate formulation promoted skin tumours in an initiation-promotion study in mice.

Setting aside the debate over the validity of those studies, there was no indication–zero–that consumers faced any real world harm. The finding that glyphosate posed a likely cancer puts it in the illustrious company of such dangerous substances as coffee and alcohol–known cancer causing substances. Unlike coffee, alcohol and many other known cancer-causing substances, however, which consumers gulp down in voluminous amounts every week, people don’t regularly consume glyphosate. In other words, there is no evidence that the minuscule amounts of glyphosate particles that consumers are exposed do poses any harm.

But that’s not the way this reclassification played out among groups campaigning to ban GMOs. Pesticide Action Network said in a release that “The finding gives new urgency to questions about the impacts of genetically engineered (GE) crops that are designed to tolerate herbicide applications.” In fact, there is no reference in the IAARC report to genetically modified crops.

Ken Cook, president and co-founder of the Environmental Working Group, immediately attempted to leverage this report to energize his efforts to stigmatize GMOs, scaring consumers away from foods containing GM ingredients. “Consumers have the right to know how their food is grown and whether their food dollars are driving up the use of a probable carcinogen,” he said.

Other advocacy groups used the opportunity to dredge up a host of prior reports and claims about glyphosate that have long since been debunked. Among them:

  • A review commissioned by Moms Across America and the pro-organic site Sustainable Pulse allegedly found urine and drinking water levels of glyphosate in the US that were 10 times higher than those found in Europe. The review had no scientific controls. In fact, Moms Across America later admitted that it was “not meant to be a full scientific study”.
  • Another report, also originally circulated by Moms Across America, found breast milk levels of glyphosate that they claimed were dangerously high. The claims were widely circulated among activists. But there are no other studies indicating these levels–which even if found pose no known harm. The specific claims were subsequently addressed and debunked.
  • The IARC announcement also revived interest in a 2012 study in the Journal of Organic Systems claiming that glyphosate was not only carcinogenic, but also responsible for a host of chronic diseases, including diabetes, Parkinson’s disease and obesity. The journal is what’s known as ‘pay for play’; marginal authors can literally buy their way into the journal. In this case, the lead author was Andre Leu–not a scientist but an organic farmer with the International Federation of Organic Agricultural Movements. The study was dismissed by mainstream scientists, and not just because of Leu’s association with the anti-GMO movement, and the journal’s association with the organic farming industry, but also with the classic fallacy in science: correlation does not equal cause. Using Leu’s standards, for example, every one of those diseases could be “linked” to the rise in the consumption of organic foods.
  • Another study, this one allegedly linking glyphosate and kidney disease in Sri Lanka, was revived by anti-GMO activists in response to the IARC announcement. It too was a dubious correlation study. When it first appeared, it was used to justify a government ban on the pesticide; that ban was later lifted, because of a lack of evidence connecting dehydration, death, kidney disease and glyphosphate.
Related article:  Farmers should tell their own stories, not activists

Let’s be clear on what IARC actually concluded:

Group 2A is used when there is limited evidence of carcinogenicity in humans and sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity in experimental animals. Limited evidence means that a positive association has been observed between exposure to the agent and cancer but that other explanations for the observations (called chance, bias, or confounding) could not be ruled out. This category is also used when there is limited evidence of carcinogenicity in humans and strong data on how the agent causes cancer.

The U.S. EPA, in contrast, no longer uses the term “probable”, especially when referring to animal studies, because it is so vague. Instead, it uses “carcinogenic”, “likely,” “suggestive”, “inadequate information” and “not likely.” The EPA, which does not currently consider glyphosate a carcinogen and is not required to change its designation in response to IARC, has been conducting a review of the popular pesticide.

The IARC report has resulted in an recirculating of marginal surveys or reports. Presence of a substance in water, urine or breast milk does not indicate that the chemical poses any harm. If it did, coffee and alcohol, among hundreds of substances, would be banned. There needs to be a logical mechanism by which a substance causes harm, and evidence needs to be found in dose-controlled studies whereby higher dosages of the chemical result in greater harm (or show a threshold of some physiological sort). As Val Giddings wrote in a recent article for the Genetic Literacy Project, there are many, many other causes of cancer that are more likely than glyphosate and other chemicals.

So far, what we have are dozens of studies concluding that glyphosate is safe as used, independent oversight agencies from around concluding glyphosate is safe as used, and one determination that suggests likely occupational risks—but not at levels found in the real world.

Andrew Porterfield is a writer, editor and communications consultant for academic institutions, companies and non-profits in the life sciences. He is based in Camarillo, California. Follow @AMPorterfield on Twitter.

192 thoughts on “Anti-GMO activists leverage glyphosate cancer reclassification to resurrect discredited claims

  1. Andrew Porterfield, perhaps you need to edit this lengthy tome to correct the premise that glyphosate is a “pesticide” – which you state in the first sentence, and repeat throughout. Roundup, glyphosate, is an herbicide.

      • Yes, but that catch all grouping in nomenclature bothers me. When most people say “pesticides,” they’re usually referring to chemicals designed to kill insects (more specifically, insecticides). Herbicides kill weeds, fungicides kill fungi. All of these have different toxicities, with insecticides usually being more toxic to humans than herbicides, in general (it makes sense- we’re genetically more similar to insects than we are to plants).

        That non-distinction is why antis often say “Roundup Ready crops have drastically increased pesticide application.” Under the authors definition, that would be true. One cannot deny the increase in glyphosate application (a herbicide, here referred to as a pesticide) due to such heavy adoption of roundup ready crops. However, glyphosate has a very short half-life in the soil, and it has a LD-50 value that makes it less toxi by dose than table salt, chocolate, and caffeiene. However, GMO Bt crops have drastically reduced the application of some insecticides that are comparatively much more toxic (but usually still safe if applied correctly). So, on the whole, GMOSs have actually DECREASED insecticide application, and increased herbicide rates (albeit a very safe one)

        • The definition that matters is the one made by the EPA, as legally defined here in the US under FIFRA.

          >>What is a pesticide?

          A pesticide is any substance or mixture of substances intended for:

          preventing, destroying, repelling, or mitigating any pest.

          Though often misunderstood to refer only to insecticides, the term pesticide also applies to herbicides, fungicides, and various other substances used to control pests.

          Under United States law, a pesticide is also any substance or mixture of substances intended for use as a plant regulator, defoliant, or desiccant.<<

          http://www.epa.gov/pesticides/about/

      • No, an herbicide is not a pesticide. As Scott S states, herbicides kill weeds, and usually any other plants it comes in contact with. A pesticide (aka an insecticide)kills insects, both pests and beneficial. There is a difference in the mechanisms of these chemicals.

        • Read any text (I recommend Entomology and Pest Management by Pedigo and Rice) in agricultural management, and you will get the same definition of ‘pesticide’ (anything that when used is intended to harm or repel any organism). This type of terminology sounds like jargon to folks not actively working in the related fields, but to applied science researchers and users, these definitions have real and stable meanings.

        • For regulatory and other purposes, herbicides, insecticides, fungicides, rodenticides are all types of pesticides. “Pesticide” is a generic term — “insecticide” and “herbicide” are specific tems to refer to a specific classification of pesticide. It is helpful to keep it straight to think of pesticides as something that controls pests — insecticides control insect pests, herbicides control weed pests, fungicides control fungal pests, etc.

          But, I agree, in popular usage, the public tends use the terms pesticide and insecticide interchangably, and to think of herbicides as something different than pesticides.

  2. This IARC REALLY needs to adjust how they present their results. “Probable” just doesn’t cut it. It needs to very clear from whatever they release if there are confirmed cases of human cancer associated with glyphosate and at what frequency. A qualitative descriptor like probable is subjective and of NO practical use to anybody.
    The other problem is, whether they know it or not, the IARC are enablers of those who are more than happy to use sound bytes from incomplete and/or poorly run studies. As with the Monarch butterfly study, the Seralini study, the Carman study and the Seneff fiasco, the anti’s cherry pick data and quotes and steadfastly refuse to “read the fine print”.

    • “IARC bases its conclusions on an evaluation of the human and experimental data, leading to hazard identification. They ask: is a substance carcinogenic? And if so, how good is the evidence in humans?

      “The IARC process is not designed to take into account how a pesticide is used in the real world – generally there is no requirement to establish a specific mode of action, nor does mode of action influence the conclusion or classification category for carcinogenicity.

      “The IARC process is not a risk assessment. It determines the potential for a compound to cause cancer, but not the likelihood. Exposure assessment in epidemiological studies on the effects of pesticides is notoriously difficult. Agricultural workers, the most commonly studied group, are almost never exposed to just a single pesticide and it is very difficult to establish cause and effect.

      “The UK Committee on Carcinogenicity has evaluated possible links between pesticide exposure and cancer on several occasions. It has found little evidence for such a link. At most, the evidence was inconsistent and was considered insufficient to call for regulatory action.

      “These conclusions of IARC are important and should be taken into account when evaluating these pesticides, but that must also take into account how the pesticides are used in the real world. In my view this report is not a cause for undue alarm.”

      Prof. Alan Boobis, Professor of Biochemical Pharmacology at Imperial College London

      http://www.sciencemediacentre.org/expert-reaction-to-carcinogenicity-classification-of-five-pesticides-by-the-international-agency-for-research-on-cancer-iarc/

    • Agreed, and for an officially sanctioned body to make an announcement about publication of a report highlighting all the juiciest details, but then not release the actual report at that time, seems wildly irresponsible. I would think that an instrument of the WHO would have a greater awareness of the public impact of their statements. Public response to this poorly communicated and hyped news will likely impact world trade.

  3. To my way of thinking, the burden of proof of safety is on the industry. First prove that glyphosate is safe before applying it to my food. We live in a laissez-faire society in which industry can do anything they want until a practice is proven unsafe. Until then, we are all guinea pigs in a population-wide experiment. Another point that is being missed in these discussions is the safety of this industrial chemical to the microorganisms that inhabit the soil. What are the consequences to the environment and habitat where our food is being grown. Quality of food is more than just yield per acre planted. How will the land support agriculture in future years. Everyone needs to think bigger than “is this chemical a known carcinogen”, a question which in reality takes many years to answer.

    • As was noted in a Science Media Centre interview with various scientists on the subject of the IARC review, Prof. Sir Colin Berry stated,

      “There are over 60 genotoxicity studies on glyphosate with none showing results that should cause alarm relating to any likely human exposure. For human epidemiological studies there are 7 cohort and 14 case control studies, none of which support carcinogenicity.

      The authors have included non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL), but that diagnosis is no longer used in pathology because it’s far too imprecise. Even if you do include NHL there are still 7 studies, only one of which is positive – and that one is not a good study in my view.

      The weight of evidence is against carcinogenicity.”

        • Then why doesn’t the “burden of proof” lie with farmers Carol?

          They freely choose the type of farming they want to pursue, and which types of inputs to buy. Who are you to come along and suggest they’ve made a mistake after all these years… decades in fact?

          If Roundup was really dangerous, the effects would manifest first in farming families.

          • Agribusiness is motivated by profits. Some farmers have strong ethics, and some don’t. Your argument, Mischa, does not hold water. People will often place personal profit above safety and concern for others and for the environment. That doesn’t make it right and does not abnegate the burden of governance to mitigate harm by regulation. The key here is that Monsanto is terribly powerful in influencing the government of the US and routing around the normal duties of the government to protect people and the ecology, sort of like the fossil fuel industry gets all the fracking it wants because it essentially owns the government. That is not right even if it’s the reality.

          • I grew up on a grain farm, I was an organic grain farmer for 10 years, and an organic inspector for 5. I never met an organic farmer who didn’t want to be profitable, and I never met any farmer who put profit above the environment. You see, all farmers rely on the environment in which they farm in order to remain profitable. If they abuse the environment, they go broke.

          • However, it is difficult to know the truth about the effects of new creations (i.e. less than one century old)–especially when some people repeatedly, endlessly, loudly, persistantly, ad nauseam, through many mouths, through multiple sources, proclaim that they know everything, while those who question them know nothing and are jerks.

    • “First prove that glyphosate is safe before applying it to my food.”

      That proves you’re out of your element by commenting. Do you not realize that the USDA has their Pesticide Data Program?

      “We live in a laissez-faire society in which industry can do anything they want until a practice is proven unsafe.”

      Umm…not really, at least since Grover Cleveland was President.

      “Another point that is being missed in these discussions is the safety of
      this industrial chemical to the microorganisms that inhabit the soil.”

      Thanks for regurgitating a typical activist meme. There are two kinds of bacteria that break down fertilizer into forms useable by plants. Those cooties are nitrosomonas and nitrobacter. They don’t care whether the operator of the field is “organic”, “coventional” or “GMO”. Those bacteria do the same thing.

  4. Let’s face it. Anyone promoting GMOs is advocating that you and your family eat food laced with the toxic herbicide Roundup Weathermax Two. That’s because ninety percent of all GMOs are designed to be Roundup Ready. This is actually what GMO is all about. What this means is crops like corn, canola, and soy are Ready to be directly sprayed with Roundup weed killer and survive. That’s what Roundup Ready means: THIS CORN IS READY TO BE SPRAYED WITH POISON SURVIVE BEING POISONED while weeds in the vicinity are killed.

    Crops and weeds are sprayed with Roundup weed killer. It is then absorbed into the plant. The weeds, not being inoculated against the poison die. While the GMO corn, canola, sugar beet, or soy survive the poison being drawn up into their cellular structure. These crops are then processed into food that you and your family eat. Pretty cool huh? You get to eat plants that have been poisoned and have survived the poisoning.

    GMOs are about one thing. And that is selling more herbicide. If you don’t believe that consider this. Roundup usage in the United States in the year 2000 was 100 million pounds. By 2014 it has increase too ONE BILLION POUNDS!!! We used ten times as much Roundup in 2014 as we did in 2000. Why? That’s easy. It’s because we have spent the last decade switching out our conventional corn, canola, and soy with over 90% Roundup Ready (able to be sprayed with poison and survive) corn, canola, and soy.

    Our food is laced with the toxic herbicide Roundup Weathermax Two. This is the primary effect of the rapid adaptation of GMOs. So when someone tells you GMOs are perfectly safe keep in mind that they are telling you that it’s perfectly fine to eat Roundup Weathermax Two. And trust me, if you are eating canola, corn, soy, sugar, or cotton seed oil and they are not organic, you are eating trace amounts of Roundup Weathermax Two every single day.

    “Go ahead. Eat the GMO foods. Eat the Roundup Weathermax Two. Yes, it is a toxic herbicide but it won’t hurt you. Go ahead and eat the poison”

    Sincerely,

    The Biostitutes

    Why would you listen to someone advocating that you and your family to eat Roundup?

      • Go beyond simplistic thinking.

        “Brain development begins well before birth… Toxic substances have the capacity to disrupt the development of all of the body’s organ systems. The nature and severity of that disruption depend upon the type of substance, the level and duration of exposure, and most important, on the timing during the developmental process.”

        National Scientific Council on the Developing Child (2006). Early Exposure to Toxic Substances Damages Brain Architecture: Working Paper No. 4.

        • Okay… Not simplistic thinking but that statement equally applies to all potential toxins right? As in organic or synthetic pesticides as well as toxins naturally found in natural foods, correct?

  5. A show of hands please… who still suffers under the delusion that anti-GMO activists and organic activists comprise two separate and distinct groups?

    As Dr. Moore and I say, “They are one and the same, existing in perfect anti-technological symbiosis.”

      • Who is the “true believer” — the coin is flipped and you ardent defenders of poisons are in fact very much more akin to a “true believer” just like the climate change deniers. Your story is so much thinner and Occam’s razor chooses those who are concerned about climate change as well as those who are concerned about chemical made by an ecocidal company that insists that they are safe, as they did with PCBs in the past, and many more technologies that proved to be a bad idea in hindsight.

          • I know what Occam’s razor does. It cuts the fat and finds the simplest and most likely explanation.

          • Kind of but not really.

            Among competing hypotheses of comparable plausibility the hypothesis that relies on the fewest assumptions is preferable.

            Arguments against genetic engineering tend to be fraught with assumptions that are not supported with empirical evidence. Mostly its tales of a conspiracy so vast that the overwhelming majority of the worlds scientific organizations and practicing scientists within the field have been captured by the machinations of a single company.

            Or the science says there’s no unusual risks and no incidences of harms coming from the consumption of genetically engineered crops, which is supported by the peer reviewed scientific literature.

            Pretty sure Occam’s razor tells us that the theory that relies on a global conspiracy probably isn’t true.

    • Strawmen demonization of your ideological enemies, Mischa. Not cool really. Talk about the subject matter on its own terms, will you? What do you think you’re “proving” or “saying” by noting that a lot of people who are concerned about GMOs and pesticides are in favor of organic farming? Are you making some amazing and damning discovery? Or maybe it just makes sense and there’s nothing wrong with it. What the heck are you trying to say?

      • It’s not that people who are concerned about GMOs and pesticides are in favor of organic farming. It’s that the urban leadership of the organic industry decided back in 1997 to make GMOs the “phantom menace” of their enterprise, and to punish anyone within their ranks who dared not follow along.

        Almost two decades later and the majority of organic farmers really don’t care what their neighbors grow. They know it’s none of their business.

        • That’s a really conspiracy-minded version. How about the possibility that some people are concerned about GMOs and synthetic pesticides for very good reason, and therefore decided to make an alternative system of accountability and call it “organic”?

          I don’t think it’s a huge industry conspiracy, although that label would surely fit a lot better on Monsanto’s activities and interests than it would upon granola-eating hippies and farmers and people who simply want clean food.

          I think you’re saying things that are not true, to be frank. If you believe what you’re saying, i think you’re delusional.

          I mean, sure, polarization occurs, and people tend to extreme thinking and confirmation bias. But that’s life and you are showing signs of the same, in the other direction.

      • If glyph were as safe as vinegar and i were in that guy’s position, i would have drunk some. Obviously glyphosate is not anywhere as “safe” as vinegar as you imply. Therefore you kinda show your lie. Devil’s in the details. Integrity is holographic. You can see the lack thereof in things like this.

      • Yep, but he’s former Greenpeace. And when these ecowarriors develop a conscience in their 60’s, it becomes a real threat to the anti-sci bunch. Just like Neal deGrasse Tyson and Bill Nye.

        Eventually, the only true believer will be Ronnie Cummings, the Organic Consumers Association chief who wouldn’t vaccinate his children. Him and the Maharishi cult.

        • Nice ad hom slandering there, Joe. And it’s not in the least accurate. More and more of the 60s children are waking back up. Moore’s Greenpeace work gave him cred and he made a faustian bargain that has failed.

          • Yeah and so what? When i get a few spare minutes i’ll write a few comments, because i care. As if it’s wrong to post 20 posts? There is so much idiocy and ideological bs here to counter. So much work to do.

          • Funny if positions were reversed, I’m sure ild have been called a shill, or an operative by this point.

            And you havnt really done any of that, but you have demonstrated you don’t know what semantics means or what Occam’s razor does…

          • I’ve learned not to call people a paid Monsanto tool, but only to imply its possibility. Without proof, what use is it? It’s likely that some people are on their payroll through some convoluted responsibility laundering system. It’s possible others are simply working for the Man for free.

            As for Occam’s razor and “semantics” — would you please enlighten me, then, and let others be the judge?

          • Semantics in the context wished below is referring to an arguments concerning competing definitions for the same word. What was actually going on below was a poster incorrectly asserted something about cells making up someone’s DNA. Which isn’t an argument about definitions, its simply an incorrect assertion. Cells don’t make up deoxyribonucleic acid. Not semantics

            As far as Occam’s razor you said.
            “Occam’s razor chooses those who are concerned about climate change as well as those who are concerned about chemical made by an ecocidal company that insists that they are safe”

            Occam’s razor is the principle that among competing hypotheses the one with the fewest assumptions is preferable. Its a heuristic not an absolute law concerning reality. Occam’s razor doesn’t “choose” anyone, especially not on a basis of a persons “concern” with issues.

          • You quoted me on Occam’s razor’s application to two specific things in reality. What you quoted gave my position on what Occam’s razor would choose given the evidence that i have seen in the real world, on those two issues — climate change and whether to believe Monsanto that glyphosate is safe (in a common-usage definition or the word “safe” by the way). That is *not* to say that is my definition of “Occam’s razor” and if you meant to imply that, then you’re wrongly quoting me. I have said elsewhere in this same comment forum, “I know what Occam’s razor does. It cuts the fat and finds the simplest and most likely explanation.” I know that it is a heuristic, so if you meant to intellectually whip me there, you’re whipping a strawman and not me.

            And now let’s turn back to the quote that i think you’re referring to about the conflation of DNA with cells, from the poster named “JMac”…. S/he wrote, “It was designed to kill the exact same cells that make up over 90% of the DNA in your body.”

            I take this to mean that JMac understands that the human body has about 10 times more gut bacteria cells than human cells. I also surmise that JMac understands that cells are units of living matter surrounded by membranes, and containing DNA that determines their phenotypic expression. I, as a human being, can read a sentence in which one word stands for another and it’s commonly understood as to the real meaning.. something like “Twenty percent of the houses on this street vote Republican.” You know that the houses are not voting, right? You know that it means that the people who live in the houses vote Republican.

            So on both points, i think you’re nit-picking, which implies that you don’t have much else.

          • I wouldn’t assume any of that given the general poor level of science literacy I see that’s typical of anti GM people.

            I’ve seen people claim they put glyphosate in the DNA to make RR crops. Or statements about the genetics of glyphosate causing the problems. I can’t assume anything when it’s said an anti.

            As to the claim about glyphosate having a deleterious effect on gut biota. I suppose its possible, but the question is just how much glyphosate is reaching them? Since no one is drinking roundup as a cocktail and the primary vector would be residue on foods, how much do you think a person consumes regularly, given that glyphosate is typically applied well before harvest at 1% concentrations (not going down the grain desiccant rabbit hole with you )and degrades regularly in the environment. Now compare that with the level determined to begin effecting bacteria in the gut.

            I’ve seen no convincing data that the levels actually present on food are effecting gut flora. If you anything besides Seneff I’ll enjoy reading it. Regardless its alittle early to make such definitive pronouncements declaring levels of glyphosate present as residues are destroying our microbiome.

          • Also what your doing right here is a case of semantics. I don’t call peoples shills, I just imply they are without evidence. That’s a great example of semantics. Not defending someone who thinks our DNA is made of cells.

            Accusation or implication it’s the same in the end, youre still avoiding discussing the evidence in favor of casting aspersions on peoples motivations. Notice how in spite of your categorical opposition to me on this issue, I haven’t declared you a shill for Big Organic. That’s because you’re wrong on the science without me having to debase myself and invent a boogeyman as you admittedly are wont to do.

            Also let’s apply Occam’s razor to the situation aswell. So either people express a range of opinions, some of which may be in favour of genetic engineering or there are secret rooms full of operatives working for Monsanto as part of a global conspiracy to suppress the truth about genetic engineering. Which of these has fewer assumptions?

  6. You have to wonder how all of the lab animals in the US have managed to survive for all these generations on GMOs. But they seem to be thriving. And all those images of control animals in all the papers–must be a giant conspiracy.

  7. Ninety percent of GMO crops are designed to be Roundup ready. What that means is farmers can spray Roundup weed killer DIRECTLY onto crops that will be turned into the food that you and your family eat. That’s right. These crops that are turned into food that end up on your dinner table have been genetically modified so that they can be sprayed directly with toxic Roundup weed killer and survive. The poison is absorbed internally into every cell of the plant. It is then harvested, processed into food, and you eat it. So in other words, you are eating the poisoned plants that have been designed to survive being poisoned. Think about that. Does this sound like a good idea to you?

    Roundup Ready literally means: THIS PLANTS IS READY TO BE SPRAYED WITH POISON AND SURVIVE AND THEN BE TURNED INTO FOOD THAT YOU EAT.

    Roundup is made up of the primary ingredient glyphosate, a chemical that very effectively kills microbes, and surfactants. One of the surfactants used Roundup are chemical compounds called siloxanes. Siloxanes arE used in pharmaceutical drugs to penetrate the cell wall and get the drug into the cell more effectively. Glyphosate and siloxanes combine in Roundup to create a new molecule that is a hydrophobic substance. This new molecule is much more toxic to microbial cells than Glyphosate alone and easily penetrates the microbial cell wall.

    Prior to 2005 the formulation for agricultural grade Roundup herbicide was roughly 300 times more toxic than Glyphosate alone. In 2005 the surfactants were modified to include more powerful siloxanes, which created an even more toxic formulation than the previous permutation. After 2005 Roundup Weathermax Two is roughly one thousand times more toxic than Glyphosate alone. In addition to the newly added siloxanes, oxalic acid was added as an adjuvant to make roundup work faster. Oxalic Acid speeds the glyphosate into plant and allows it to penetrated very quickly, delivering the glyphosate deep into the tissue of the plant.

    This chemical concoction is designed to kill plants by disrupting the shikimate pathway, which is the plants defense system, a plants version of an immune system. Roundup disrupts the shikimate pathway essentially giving the plant AIDS. Pathogens the plant could normally defend against infect the plant and kill it.

    So what’s the big deal? Roundup only kills organisms that have a shikimate pathway as their defense mechanism. Promoters of Roundup being sprayed DIRECTLY on your food will tell you not to worry because human beings don’t have the shikimate pathway. But they are failing to consider a very important point. More than 90% of the cells in your body are not your own and they are microbes. They are the friendly microbes that you depend on. They make up the majority of your immune system and they extract minerals and enzymes from the food you eat and guess what? They have the shikimate pathway. Your friendly bacteria that maintain your health are the precise organisms that Roundup Weathermax Two was designed in a lab to kill. When you eat GMO food laced with trace amounts of this poison, it attacks those microbes. Roundup residue In the food you eat is literally killing the microbes within your body
    that you are dependent on for survival.

    Your body is a biosphere of trillions of bacteria all working together to keep you healthy. Roundup kills those bacteria.

    What we as a society have the good fortune of having this toxic concoction of chemicals that is much more toxic than glyphosate alone being sprayed directly on to crops that we convert into food that we eat. There have been precisely zero studies done as to the toxicity of the entire Roundup formulation on mammals. ZERO. Tests have only been carried out on the primary ingredient glyphosate alone. And in addition to that, there have been precisely ZERO studies of the toxicity of this concoction to mammals when chronically exposed at low levels as most people in the United States are.

    If you live in the United States and consume GMO food on a daily basis, which most people do, you are ingesting trace amounts of Roundup Weathermax Two every single day. If you eat foods that contain wheat, corn, soy, canola, or sugar and they are not organic you are eating the toxic herbicide Roundup Weathermax Two. This is a fact.

    There has never been one single safety study carried about by anyone to determine if ingesting trace amounts of Roundup Weathermax Two every day for years is harmful to your health. These tests have never been done. NEVER. If you are eating GMO food, then you are the experiment. You are the lab rat who may get sick, may develop cancer, or may die from chronically ingesting this poison.

    You are the lab rat.

    • Your statements are typical “hit piece” baloney. You take scientific terms and contort them in an attempt to rhetoricize against glyphosate, and against biotechnology in general. You should take a more deliberative approach to your rhetoric, which is to say that you should pay attention to how the regulatory agencies of the world perform risk assessments pertaining to glyphosate and other substances which may be present in pesticide formulas. Your tome above is highly misleading, and presents no intrinsic merit for protecting human health and the integrity of the environment.

      • Funny, i liked his presentation style and i don’t like yours. Maybe it’s because i agree with him and not you. And maybe your reaction is for the same reason. Let a thousand flowers bloom. Let’s even write poems as well as peer-reviewed journal articles.

          • How does your comment contribute to dialogue? How does your comment reveal anything but “the emotional intelligence of a child” in the poster, to coin a phrase? Will you please refrain from commenting unless you have something new to add?

    • What you have written here is science fiction and fear mongering blather. I can see which websites you’ve been poring over to inform your views and selected genre. But none of this is productive or helpful. As a start,you would be helped to step back and consider the relative safety of roundup compared to all the herbicides farmers will spray if this one is taken out of the equation. Not smart. Not sustainable.

    • I concur with jmac. I have not been influenced by these web pages you speak of, mojoboto, but rather by my phd studies in biology and 25 years of reading the primary literature in microbiology, medicine, agriculture, nutrition, and toxicology. What jmac says is consistent with the general consensus among today’s biologists. You should listen up.

      • Well if you did actually read studies, you would know that Jmac has no idea what he is talking about.

        The worlds most popular GMO trait is Bt, not roundup ready. Over 13 million farmers grow Bt crops every year.

        If you knew anything about this issue or agriculture, you would know that there is more than one Herbicide tolerant GMO, there are 3 in North America, and 1 more in Asia.

        You would also know that Roundup replaced other herbicides that were sprayed on crops before GMOs, herbicides like atrazine and paraquat, that are far more harmful to the environment and applicators.

        You would also know that the dose makes the poison and at ppm levels, Roundup poses no risk at all.

        So stop pretending that you know anything about this issue and go and read the primary literature… Or STFU

        • When considering developmental neurotoxicity, it’s not simply “the dose makes the poison.”

          “Brain development begins well before birth… Toxic substances have the capacity to disrupt the development of all of the body’s organ systems. The nature and severity of that disruption depend upon the type of substance, the level and duration of exposure, and most important, on the timing during the developmental process.”

          National Scientific Council on the Developing Child (2006). Early Exposure to Toxic Substances Damages Brain Architecture: Working Paper No. 4.

          • When considering developmental neurotoxicity, it’s not simply “the dose makes the poison.”

            Well glyphosate is not a neurotoxin so what is your point?

          • Please stop insulting the world by copying and pasting things you don’t understand.

            My offer for the Fisher-Price microscope still stands.

          • – says the guy who claims, “‘neurotoxicants’ isn’t a word that the science bunch tends to use.”

          • As no one responded to Jmac’s point that–“There have been precisely zero studies done as to the toxicity of the entire Roundup formulation on mammals. ZERO. Tests have only been carried out on the primary ingredient glyphosate alone. And in addition to that, there have been precisely ZERO studies of the toxicity of this concoction to mammals when chronically exposed at low levels as most people in the United States are.”–
            Is this point true, or not? If it is true, there has been woefullt inadequate regulation of agriculture, and Monsanto as well as all the individual users of Glyphosate have acted very stupidly–it is criminal negligence. Someone who knows the answer to my question, please respond.

      • JMAC:This chemical concoction is designed to kill plants by disrupting the shikimate pathway, which is the plants defense system, a plants version of an immune system. Roundup disrupts the shikimate pathway essentially giving the plant AIDS. Pathogens the plant could normally defend against infect the plant and kill it.

        Carol:I concur with jmac. I have not been influenced by these web pages you speak of, mojoboto, but rather by my phd studies in biology

        You have a phD in biology, and you think that disruption of the EPSPS enzyme gives a plant AIDS. I don’t believe you.

        • Many valid points were made. A largely overlooked issue regarding the widespread use of pesticides is the effect that this has on microbes, and the subsequent effects to higher organisms resulting from disruption of the native micobiota. This point was expressed well in the post. I am concerned about any pesticide that has a broad spectrum effect and persists in the environment or the food that reaches my plate. The human microbiome is an subject of intense research now, and there is a need to look more closely at the effects of pesticides such as glyphosate/ Roundup on soil and human gut microbes. Testing for propensity to induce specific cancers is only part of the story. I also worry that the growing of grain crops, the staples of the human diet, is dependent on pesticides with largely unknown short- and long-term consequences, and that virtually everyone is dependent on these crops as their primary source of calories.

  8. The primary function of GMO is to increase chemical sales. Well guess what? It’s working! The toxic herbicide Roundup usage in the United States in the year 2000 was 100 million pounds. By 2014 we reached ONE BILLION POUNDS!!! That’s what I call sustainability. Nice work biostitutes! We used ten times as much Roundup in 2014 as we did in 2000. Why? That’s easy. It’s because we have spent the last decade switching out our conventional corn, canola, and soy with over 90% roundup ready (able to be sprayed with poison and survive) corn, canola, and soy. GMO does one thing very well. It sells a whole lot of the toxic herbicide Roundup. A billion pounds in the US alone last year! Sales are booming! Hooray for us! We win! Hey, what’s our prize? Don’t ask. You don’t want to know. Hint: You might want to buy some life insurance.

  9. “Go ahead. Eat the GMO foods. Eat the Roundup Weathermax Two. Yes, it is a toxic herbicide. It was designed to kill the exact same cells that make up over 90% of the DNA in your body. You have ten trillion cells that are the target of Roundup. It was designed to kill them. But don’t worry. It won’t hurt you. Trust us. Go ahead and eat the poison.”

    Sincerely,

    The Biostitutes

    300/hr. 2000/all night.

    • 1. Cells don’t make up DNA.
      2. Glyphosate targets the enzyme 5-enolpyruvylshikimate-3-phosphate (EPSP) synthase, which is not found in animals. Humans are animals.

        • Yeah, likely story. I am on their side and i’m a simple carpenter who has also worked in biology at Harvard and i have no vested interest other than being a human being who gives a f—.

      • Guest, your first point is semantic nit-picking which is pathetic. Your 2nd point ignores that the OP is referring to gut bacteria. You must have missed that implication.

        • Not semantic, if a person doesn’t understand that cells don’t make up a persons DNA, how can they be reasonably expected to understand anything on this issue.

          I don’t blame the person, because we all have different levels of knowledge and some people just didn’t get the opportunity of learn or internalize what they were taught about biology and genetics.

          • YES semantic, because it’s implied. The OP knows that DNA resides within cells. You’re being patently stupid here, Dominick, and re-proving my very point about semanticism. Ever heard of figures of speech, or ever heard the way people talk which convey meaning although may not parse in a way that a robot can understand it without a slight leap?

          • I don’t make assumptions about what others know beyond what they declare they known or demonstrate they know through what they post.

            And its not semantic, its incorrect facts. Cells don’t make up deoxyribonucleic acid. We’re not arguing over the definition of words, hence not semantic.

          • I guess what we’re pointing out is your thickheaded literalness. Your inability to see what another human means. Your robot-like literalness. Would you pass a Turing test?

          • Who’s the “we” in “we’re” in your statement, you have a mouse in your pocket?

            Precision in language when discussing scientific matters is critical. Hence why “genetically modified organism” is a stupidly broad term, we’ll never prove “safety” and DNA isn’t made of cells.

            That you want to excuse lexical sloppiness is your problem, and doesn’t reflect on me or my ability to infer what other people mean.

  10. We may find the IARC decision –
    better: the decision by an IARC group of experts drawn from various
    countries and instituions – dubious, questionable, unfounded,
    wrong, etc.

    But we should recognise that it has
    immense merits: glyphosate is ONLY probably cancerogenic, on the
    basis of limited evidence pertaining to humans, in fact people
    handling glyphosate, and to non-Hodgkin lymphomas.

    That, by implication, DISCARDS all
    allegations about other cancers and about consumers.

    « Anti-GMO activists leverage
    glyphosate cancer reclassification to resurrect discredited claims »?
    Poor things… they got it damn wrong.

    Sorry for the capitals.

  11. To me, the very quote you provided *is* an indication that consumers of glyphosate-containing food face real-world harm. How can you write “Setting aside the debate over the validity of those studies, there was no indication–zero–that consumers faced any real world harm”? If there is an indication of cancer risk at any exposure level, then there is an indication of increased cancer risk at exposure. Magnitude of risk does matter, but to say “zero” is a pure ideological wishful thinking assertion on your part.

    • Btw, if you want to be honest, you would quote the whole summary from the IARC and you would find that it goes beyond what you did quote, which shows that your selectivity is based on an ideological desire to minimize the risk posed by glyphosate.

      Full quote from IARC:

      “” For the herbicide glyphosate, there was limited evidence of carcinogenicity in humans for non-Hodgkin lymphoma. The evidence in humans is from studies of exposures, mostly agricultural, in the USA, Canada, and Sweden published since 2001. In addition, there is convincing evidence that glyphosate also can cause cancer in laboratory animals. On the basis of tumours in mice, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) originally classified glyphosate as possibly carcinogenic to humans (Group C) in 1985. After a re-evaluation of that mouse study, the US EPA changed its classification to evidence of non-carcinogenicity in humans (Group E) in 1991. The US EPA Scientific Advisory Panel noted that the re-evaluated glyphosate results were still significant using two statistical tests recommended in the IARC Preamble. The IARC Working Group that conducted the evaluation considered the significant findings from the US EPA report and several more recent positive results in concluding that there is sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity in experimental animals. Glyphosate also caused DNA and chromosomal damage in human cells, although it gave negative results in tests using bacteria. One study in community residents reported increases in blood markers of chromosomal damage (micronuclei) after glyphosate formulations were sprayed nearby. “”

        • there is sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity in experimental animals

          There is even more evidence that “sunshine” causes cancer, should we ban that from agriculture as well? Only eat mushrooms?

          • How am I deflecting? We are talking about what may cause cancer in lab animals.
            How about Coconut oil and Orange oil, do you have a problem with these potential cancer agents?

        • You’re messed up. You’re replying to your own posts.

          Teh modern ag is not causing you to do that. You can go to the farmers market an buy stuff on your own, which is a probably useful therapy, but do you know why some chicken eggs are white and some are brown?

          It’s not because of teh GMOz.

          • You’re messed up if you think that my replying to my own post here is a sign of anything, or a “debate point”. What are you doing here if your MO is to criticize people in that way?

  12. The WHO study published in Lancet Oncology is titled, “Carcinogenicity of tetrachlorvinphos, parathion, malathion, diazinon, and glyphosate.”

    In 2009, the Neurotoxicology Division of the US Environmental Protection Agency determined that parathion, malathion, diazinon, and glyphosate trimesium are all “toxic to the developing mammalian nervous system.”

    Building a Database of Developmental Neurotoxicants: Evidence from Human and Animal Studies
    http://www.epa.gov/ncct/toxcast/files/summit/48P%20Mundy%20TDAS.pdf

          • Wrong again. It says there is SUBSTANTIAL evidence of developmental neurotoxicity for parathion and diazinon. Are you dim or just a liar?

          • Pathetic try, but the EPA doesn’t agree with your poison-monger interpretation that “minimal evidence” of neurotoxicity means no neurotoxicity.

          • And that’s fear mongering by any account, since glyphosate doesn’t bioaccumulate and that breast feeding “study” wasn’t a study. It was a bunch of moms who self selected and sent their milk into some lab that then purported to find levels of glyphosate (using a detection method of unknown efficacy when used in breast milk) the highest of which is 50 fold below regulated levels.

            http://academicsreview.org/2014/04/debunking-pseudo-science-lab-testing-health-risk-claims-about-glyphosate-roundup/

            If I knew you were going to trot out the MAM sensationalized nonsense, I would have chosen not to engage.

          • You trotted it out. The conversation you jumped into is discussing EPA-recognized “developmental neurotoxicants,” substances that infants and fetuses are the most vulnerable to.

            Again, it’s not about bioaccumulation. Disrupted brain development depends, “most important, on the timing” of exposure to a toxic substance during the developmental process, says the National Scientific Council on the Developing Child (2006).

          • Like your picture of the breast with the roundup logo wasn’t a direct reference to the glyphosate in breast milk myth which you’ll no doubt chain together with some tortured data from Seneff. Were just taking the long way around to the glyphosate causes autism claim, you just want to couch it in Socratic dialogue to make it seem like a reasonable chain of events, meanwhile ignoring decades of toxicology studies.

          • Who is “we” ? Are you the pope? Or do you think its more impressive if you speak in the plural regarding your point of view, to give the reader a sense that there are oh so many of you.

            If there were consistent reliable evidence for these claims, I would change my stance on glyphosate. Wouldn’t really change my opinion on genetic engineering, or even herbicide tolerance in general though, since within the very near future there will be half a dozen or so more options for farmers to utilize.

            What will you people do when Monsanto and glyphosate cease to be a convincing boogeyman? I suspect the March Against Monsanto and other similarly aligned ideologies will be consigned to the dust bin of history, while future historians lament the dark ages of biotechnology, when a small contingent of people tried to hijack our political and social order to vilify an entire field of science on account of a fear of the unknown and an unhealthy obsession with a single company.

          • Calm down. My comments are not about Monsanto or biotechnology. They are about developmental neurotoxicity, which no one else seems to be discussing, so “you people” is inaccurate (as is the “your picture” used in this Porterfield/GLP story).

            If your persecution complex believes that EPA is “ignoring decades of toxicology studies,” please enlighten them. (See their “Evidence: Criteria for Assessment and Endpoints” in the link I provided.)

            Bear in mind: “There is no credible way to determine a safe level of exposure to a potentially toxic substance without explicit research that differentiates its impact on adults from the greater likelihood of its adverse influences on the developing brain during pregnancy and early childhood.” – National Scientific Council on the Developing Child (2006)

          • What about all the anxiolytic chemicals in sperm? What do those things do when the sperm penetrates an egg cell?

            Sounds pretty scary to me!

          • Awesome side boob Tattoo. She should have went for the newer Roundup Weather Max logo, I hear that it is “all the rage” with the hipsters..

          • Minimal risk of developmental toxicity for glyphosate.

            But anyway, the risk of any chemical being potentially developmentally toxic requires that a pregnant woman be exposed to that chemical.

            So I guess the moral of the story is, don’t use a backpack sprayer to apply parathion and you’ll probably be O.K.

          • Ya, there’s just some stuff that just doesn’t require an EPA consultation…

            If my better half were still in child-bearing stage, I wouldn’t want her to work in an auto body shop spraying the old catalyzed urethane paints or lacquers, either.

            Or being a structural ironworker welding galvanized steel without a respirator. Or lots of other things.

  13. The constant use of Roundup is not a sustainable as eventually it will become more present in the environment. It should be only used for eradication of invasives and not on our food supply.
    Organic farming can produce enough food, and the amount of food spoilage and waste is enormous.

  14. Who is the intended audience for the IARC report? What are they trying to accomplish? The relevant regulatory bodies around the world already have access to vast amounts of data—probably more than the IARC. Is their intent to contradict the assessment of the regulatory bodies, or just to scare the public? Either way, as a publicly-funded, political entity, the IARC needs to clearly distinguish between hazard and significant risk. Sky-diving is undoubtedly hazardous, but is of no risk whatsoever to the vast majority of the world’s population.

    As far as I can tell, the IARC uncovered no new information that would change the risk assessment for glyphosate.

    BTW, while I’m no hotshot chemist, but glyphosate is not an “organophosphate”: my hunch is that this term was used in an attempt to associate it with a family of insecticides with known animal toxicity—but maybe I’m just cynical.

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