Weighing risks of glyphosate should lead to mindful use not elimination

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Late last month, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, an arm of the World Health Organization, issued a report that classified glyphosate, the active ingredient in the herbicide Roundup, as a “probable” cause of cancer. Glyphosate is the most heavily used herbicide on earth.

In 2012, at least 283.5 million pounds were sprayed on American farmlands, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

Although the patent has now expired, Roundup was developed in 1974 by Monsanto and is often used in conjunction with crops like corn and soybeans that the company genetically modified to resist it. This allows farmers to kill weeds but not their crops.

The I.A.R.C. report should change none of that. The panel of seventeen scientists from around the world concluded that glyphosate could be dangerous. “ ‘Probable’ means that there was enough evidence to say it is more than possible, but not enough evidence to say it is a carcinogen,” Aaron Blair, a lead researcher on the I.A.R.C.’s study, said. Blair, a scientist emeritus at the National Cancer Institute, has studied the effects of pesticides for years.

The products we use every day, whether it’s glyphosate or the soap we use to wash our hands, always come with risks. But most of those products have benefits, too. And we need to ask ourselves what presents the greater danger: using products like glyphosate or not developing them at all.

Read full, original article: Roundup and Risk Assessment

  • Peter Kleiss

    Despite the assertion that this site is “where science trumps ideology,” the reality, it seems to me, is quite different. After reading several articles posted here, I offer a more informed moniker: “Where misinformation and partial facts attempt to obfuscate truth.”

    As an example, Mr. Specter claims that there is only, “one study that strongly contradicts that consensus, published by Gilles-Éric Séralini, [which] has been retracted and subjected to intense criticism for its lack of rigor and for the ethics of his research methods.” What the author fails to mention is that the findings were retracted by a journal, Food and Chemical Toxicology, whose editor is biologist Richard Goodman, who previously worked for Monsanto for seven years. Specter continues to misinform by declining to point out that the findings were re-published in the open access journal Environmental Sciences Europe.

    He also fails to point out that Séralini performed the same study that Monsanto did just eight years prior with the same strain and number of rats and published in the same journal. The difference was that Monsanto’s study was for just 90 days while Séralini’s study was for two years. While Monsanto did not find any tumor problems within their 90 day study, Gilles-Éric Séralini found tumors appearing after 270 days. It is interesting to note that with Monsanto’s 90-day tumor-free study, Specter and this site raised no “ethics” questions, but with Séralini’s similar 2-year study, there were.

    If science trumps ideology, then I am compelled to point out that Monsanto’s claim that glyphosate is safe for humans is true, but only for up to three months. If one is exposed to it for longer periods, like 9 months or more, then tumors are possible, at least in rats. One final note, after reviewing Séralini’s results, the French government is currently spending 3 million Euros to do the Séralini carcinogenicity study once again, this time with 50 or more rats. Why spend the money on a completely worthless study?

    • Jackson

      The difference was that Monsanto’s study was for just 90 days while Séralini’s study was for two years. While Monsanto did not find any tumor problems within their 90 day study, Gilles-Éric Séralini found tumors appearing after 270 days. It is interesting to note that with Monsanto’s 90-day tumor-free study, Specter and this site raised no “ethics” questions, but with Séralini’s similar 2-year study, there were.

      It’s almost like the length of the study impacts what the other parameters need to be or something.

      If science trumps ideology, then I am compelled to point out that Monsanto’s claim that glyphosate is safe for humans is true, but only for up to three months. If one is exposed to it for longer periods, like 9 months or more, then tumors are possible, at least in rats.

      Using that logic, it would also mean that all humans over 2 years old will get tumors, even if they don’t eat any GMOs or glyphosate. And it also means that all the men will live longer if they eat lots of glyphosate and GMOs.

      One final note, after reviewing Séralini’s results, the French government is currently spending 3 million Euros to do the Séralini carcinogenicity study once again, this time with 50 or more rats. Why spend the money on a completely worthless study?

      Again, it’s almost like using an experimental design with enough animals per treatment and control group matters to the validity of the study.

    • JoeFarmer

      “What the author fails to mention is that the findings were retracted by a
      journal, Food and Chemical Toxicology, whose editor is biologist
      Richard Goodman, who previously worked for Monsanto for seven years.”

      Get a grip, pal. Dr. Goodman has worked for University of Nebraska for over a decade. Do you really think that anyone that has ever worked for Monsanto is somehow magically beholden to them for life?

      It really is amazing the lengths that doofs like you go through to try to show some level of impropriety. Credulous people like you think that the moon landings were faked, because Nixon wanted to remove attention directed at the Warren Commission.

      • Peter Kleiss

        Oh, I see you’ve resorted to Ad hominem attacks, very scientific. Well done sir.

        • JoeFarmer

          People like you are a dime a dozen.

          Tell me who had the prime contract for the SSTV on the Rover and I’ll be inclined to take you seriously.

          • Peter Kleiss

            It was Raytheon. That’s my 0.83 cents worth. Aside from insults and failed attempts to discredit those with opposing viewpoints, what value do you add, Mr. agritool?

  • Anna
  • SageThinker

    “And we need to ask ourselves what presents the greater danger: using products like glyphosate or not developing them at all.”

    There is a third alternative…

    Developing products and fully testing them for safety before entering them into the food stream of human beings. One particular aspect of glyphosate that many experts agree should have been tested is the potential effect on the human gut microbiome.

    There is sufficient evidence and reasoning to suggest that it is likely that ingesting glyphosate at the levels in the typical American diet causes disruption to the population balance and the function of the microbes of the gut microbiota.

    Testing for that before widespread release seems like it would be included within due diligence.