The glyphosate saga is a fascinating case study in how easily politics can derail science. In watching the glyphosate issue evolve I found myself gradually becoming more and more aghast at how quickly and thoughtlessly evidence-based policymaking was thrown away in European centers of power.
I don’t want to over-hype it, but it felt a little like mob rule. You can still burn the witch in Europe — if the witch is called Monsanto. Over glyphosate Monsanto was stitched up good and proper, as we say in England.
But no one feels comfortable being in the position of defending a company with a reputation as terrible as Monsanto, so despite the obvious perversion of both science and natural justice, the activists very nearly got away with it.
All in all this was a textbook case of how science and reason so easily lose out to hysteria and emotion, especially when you can find a good pantomime villain. This was never about glyphosate as a chemical. It was about glyphosate as a symbol, a symbol for opposition to Monsanto, pesticides, GMOs and a modern farming system which populist factions of different political stripes, led by the Greens, now love to hate.
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