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‘Children killer’ glyphosate found in Cheerios? Experts dismantle Environmental Working Group’s glyphosate study

“If you or your children are eating Cheerios right now, there’s a good chance that they’re accompanied by a potentially harmful weed killer called Roundup,” Fortune told its readers on August 16. Newsweek headlined its article, “Dangerous Weed Killer Ingredient Found in Cheerios, Quaker Oats and Other Breakfast Cereals.”

These were two of literally hundreds of news outlets that botched coverage of what scientists say is a dubious study of breakfast cereals and granola bars by virulently anti-GMO Environmental Working Group, a Washington DC-based public health advocacy group.

Screen Shot at PM
Screen Shot at PM

According to EWG’s resident toxicologist Alexis Temkin:

Popular oat cereals, oatmeal, granola and snack bars come with a hefty dose of the weed-killing poison in Roundup, according to independent laboratory tests commissioned by EWG. Glyphosate, an herbicide linked to cancer by California state scientists and the World Health Organization, was found in all but two of 45 samples of products made with conventionally grown oats. Almost three-fourths of those samples had glyphosate levels higher than what EWG scientists consider protective of children’s health ….

The study was well-timed. EWG appears to have commissioned it to roll-out when a California jury was expected to reach a verdict about whether Roundup, Monsanto’s herbicide whose main ingredient is glyphosate, caused a San Francisco groundskeeper to contract cancer. On August 10, in a controversial decision challenged by many scientists, a jury awarded the plaintiff $289 million. In the wake of that verdict, this study unsurprisingly garnered a lot of media attention. But it’s always a good idea to double check alarming claims. So the GLP talked to a number of experts, all of whom raised serious doubts about the EWG’s claims.

Basic facts

The fundamental, consensus conclusion: A bowl of cheerios, or a daily bowl over months or even many years won’t endanger your health. Why? Because we are talking about minuscule amounts of glyphosate—well below the levels that would be considered dangerous. It’s almost certain that EWG would have found trace levels of dozens of chemicals (similarly harmless)—if they had tested for any other chemical. But EWG only tested for glyphosate. 

For context, let’s review a few fundamental facts. First, glyphosate effectively kills weeds, but not much else. Humans and animals don’t possess the metabolic machinery—the shikimate acid pathwayused by the herbicide to kill plants. That means glyphosate is not metabolized well in the human body, greatly reducing its potential to do harm.

Image Credit: EWG

Moreover, the herbicide is broken down by bacteria in soil after it’s sprayed on food crops and as a result “shows no signs of bioaccumulation in the food chain,” according to California’s Department of Pesticide Regulation. Trevor Charles, a microbiologist at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, added in an email that “Glyphosate is rapidly degraded by microbes, and also absorbed to soil particles. It does not bioaccumulate.”

And while it’s true that a sub-agency of the World Health Organization known as the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) linked the herbicide to cancer in 2015, the cancer agency’s report was a study of “hazard” and not risk; it did not take into account the impact of exposure. Based on this type of hazard analysis, coffee and salted fish were also considered “probable carcinogens,” and no one is clamoring to ban them. The WHO and the UN issued its own far more comprehensive risk analysis, rebuking IARC’s cancer finding, and declaring the herbicide safe as used.

And to be clear, IARC did not find any hazard from consuming traces of glyphosate that might turn up in food that had been sprayed with the herbicide. Agricultural workers exposed to glyphosate faced “limited evidence” of carcinogenicity of non-Hodgkin lymphoma and prostate cancer, but consumers faced no identifiable dangers. The panel also found “sufficient evidence” of carcinogenicity in experimental animals in select studies but were accused by experts of leaving out evidence from many studies that showed no harm and manipulating the interpretation of others. Hundreds of studies, including by the Environmental Protection Agency, have found glyphosate poses no serious health threat to humans.

Related article:  Scientist who found no glyphosate in breast milk faced anti-pesticide activist attacks

These basic facts seem to refute the hypothesis that glyphosate exposure through food is dangerous. A few contrarian scientists, most connected to the anti-GMO activist movement, have suggested in response that the chemical kills beneficial bacteria living in our gut and could cause a wide range of diseases. They include “inflammatory bowel disease, obesity, depression, ADHD, autism, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, ALS, multiple sclerosis, cancer, cachexia, infertility, and developmental malformations,” according to MIT computer scientist Stephanie Seneff, who is working far outside her field.

Seneff even goes a step beyond IARC’s glyphosate panel, which only found “limited evidence” of carcinogenicity in agricultural workers exposed to glyphosate. Of course Seneff’s work was also panned by experts. Writing at her blog ThoughtScapism, cell biologist Iida Ruishalme pointed out that

Some studies do exist which suggest a connection [between gut health and glyphosate], but so far they are only sketching hypothetical models, may often be of very poor quality, and their flaws are easy for scientists, and even laymen, to detect if given a careful look.

One of these flaws, Ruishalme explained, relates to the amount of glyphosate someone would have to ingest to cause a problem. Studies that suggest the chemical could harm gut bacteria exposed the microbes to far more glyphosate than EWG detected in cereal:

To reach that same inhibiting effect they saw in the studies in our gut, one would have to ingest roughly 150 kg or 330 lbs of legumes (as legumes have the highest set limit for pesticide residues, and here we’ll assume that batch would come near that limit) at once.

Cereal with a “dose of the weed-killing poison”?

This brings us back to EWG’s glyphosate study—which of course was not peer reviewed but was just slapped on the web to leverage the hysteria in the wake of California glyphosate ruling. Charles, the Canadian microbiologist, said the group’s conclusion is immediately suspect because, “The work was not peer reviewed.” That means the results were not verified by independent scientists. Peer review doesn’t guarantee that a study is valid, but it “…. is a necessary component of quality control in science,” according to Steven Novella, clinical neurologist at the Yale University School of Medicine.

Lack of peer review may explain why EWG’s interpretation of its data is so at odds with what the overwhelming majority of experts say about glyphosate’s toxicity. The authors of the study claimed, for instance, that glyphosate “…. was found in all but two of 45 samples of products …. Almost three-fourths of those samples had glyphosate levels higher than …. EWG scientists consider protective of children’s health….”

The language here is problematic because it suggests that children are exposed to dangerous amounts of glyphosate. But what level is ‘protective of children’s health’? EWG has a habit of employing arbitrary standards like this, as University of Wyoming weed scientist Andrew Kniss explained in 2014, which tell us nothing about how realistic exposure to pesticides might affect children.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) maintains a maximum residue limits database for pesticides to help guide us in evaluating how safe our food supply is. In its most recent report, released in 2016, the USDA wrote, “Over 99 percent of the products sampled …. had residues below the EPA tolerances. Ultimately, if EPA determines a pesticide is not safe for human consumption, it is removed from the market.”

Neither agency has concluded that glyphosate should be removed from the market. That’s because, as Ruishalme pointed out in her post,

A [150-lb] person in the US would have to eat …. 62 lbs of produce at the highest level of allowed residue every day in order to reach the limit …. 2 mg glyphosate per [2.2 lbs of] body weight per day. This allowed level …. is set [a] hundred times lower than the level for no observed adverse effects …. in the most sensitive lab animal species tested. It is physically not possible to eat enough of normal produce to reach that level.

Image Credit: The Sleuth Journal

EWG detected glyphosate in breakfast foods in the parts per billion range (ppb), which is insignificant to human health. 

“Only trace amounts of glyphosate were found (made possible due to advances in analytical chemistry) and these were far below the levels that are permitted,” Charles said. And according to USA Today, “…. the amount allowed in grains [by the EPA] is 30 parts per million.” 

The levels of glyphosate found by EWG ranged from 0-6% of what are universally considered acceptable levels—30ppm—set by both the US and the EU. And that government-determined level is itself considered incredibly conservative as it is. By the EPA’s standard, you’d have to eat 30 bowls or more of cheerios a day, every day, for more than a year to even approach the US limit, which is itself set 100 times or more lower than what might actually harm someone. EWG just made up its own, ridiculous, scare standard, which is 14,000 times lower than the EPA’s.

Everything is made up of chemicals, either organic or inorganic. The reality is that the human body has evolved to deal very effectively with minute quantities of chemicals in the world. This is why very few pesticides, most of which are natural, can harm us. Natural chemical pesticides, found in almost every plant, evolved as defensive measures to repel or kill pests like insects that prey on plants. In small amounts, they’re not dangerous to us. As biochemist Bruce Ames, of the University of California, Berkeley, and his colleagues explained in a 1990 study “…. at the low doses of most human exposures the comparative hazards of synthetic [and natural] pesticide residues are insignificant.”

When you read or hear stories about EWG’s explosive study, keep in mind that the group’s conclusion departs from the overwhelming expert consensus on glyphosate. The data tell a clear, science-based story about the herbicide and EWG tells another, ideologically-based one. In an email, Mary Mangan, a biologist who has written extensively about glyphosate safety, summed up the situation:

I don’t eat Cheerios. But even if I did, I wouldn’t worry about herbicides far-below the levels our scientists have deemed acceptable. Anxiety is worse for you than Cheerios. I try to avoid fearmongers for my health.

Cameron J. English is the GLP’s senior agricultural genetics and special projects editor. He is a science writer and podcast host. BIO. Follow him on Twitter @camjenglish

129 thoughts on “‘Children killer’ glyphosate found in Cheerios? Experts dismantle Environmental Working Group’s glyphosate study”

  1. It was impossible not to notice this barrage of propaganda dutifully and unquestioningly carried in media nationwide. My question is isn’t there a time for the USDA to step up and set the record straight on behalf of regulators around the world? This entire episode is chilling.

    • I love how scientists you disagree with are “activist” scientists but ones you agree with are “good scientists”. Don’t get me wrong, some valid points are made, but it is simply not the case that there is a consensus around the carcinogenicity of glyphosate. It’s amazing how you cannot see that you are exactly the same as the EWG, just on the other side of the debate. Both sides are ideological.

      • Wrong very wrong. First off, I don’t use the term “activist” in regard to ewg types. I call them Wacktivists. I don’t like to insult actual activists. Second, as to the consensus. Whom should I believe? IARC, the sate of California, and an unknown guy on the internet. Who posted no sources. Or all these folks whose logic and science agrees with the actual 40 plus year record in the real world. Hmmmm, Must ponder while I post these. and and There is the EFSA statement, The BFR, The Canadian health folks, the FAO and WHO statement, The federal judge who ruled against labeling, The EPA, and my favorite anecdote. I don’t have cancer.

        • Wacktivists. Amusing. But it only demonstrates to me that you are unhinged. Your first link reads like an Alex Jones conspiracy. He didn’t control the findings of IARC and he didn’t view or sign the contract until after he had advised the IARC. I’m not telling you what to believe, I’m simply saying there appears a valid debate and the science is not settled no matter how much industry money wishes that it were. The agricultural health study is not definitive proof that it isn’t carcinogenic. Epidemiological studies are by their nature subject to confounding factors. It is merely one piece of evidence that should be weighed against all the other evidence. That is why the IARC classified it as they did.

          • Your opinions of the facts included in the first article simply show that it is you who are unhinged as well as dishonest. No there doesn’t appear to be a valid debate. You have only responded with vague generalities trying to justify your opinions. You have refuted zero specific points.

          • I said he didn’t control the IARC findings. That isn’t a vague generality. I said he didn’t view or sign the contract until after he had advised the IARC. That isn’t a vague generality. These specific facts appear to go to the heart of an alleged conspiracy involving him controlling the findings of the IARC in order to profit through being an expert witness. I’m only repeating what others have reported. I think if an international organization established by the WHO says there is cause for caution then there is a debate to be had.

          • Didn’t view or sign the contract. You sound lie an ambulance chaser trying to hide a criminal with a technicality. You can’t prove he didn’t view the contract. the signing sure looks “”coincidental””” Hahahahaha. Here is crap I was referring to, as you well know. ” there appears a valid debate and the science is not settled no matter how much industry money wishes that it were. The agricultural health study is not definitive proof that it isn’t carcinogenic. Epidemiological studies are by their nature subject to confounding factors. It is merely one piece of evidence that should be weighed against all the other evidence. That is why the IARC classified it as they did.” Now please take your “industry money” shill gambit and shove it. The only “industry money” exposed here is that of the ambulance chasers. You are either completely dishonest or dumb as a rock to argue that one outlier, Shown to be fraudulent justifies a debate.

          • Your theory is that he advised the IARC, an organization he didn’t control, in order to generate an IARC classification that could later be used to support a lawsuit so he could earn money as an expert witness. This theory is silly for reasons that do not depend on when he knew about the offer to be a witness in a lawsuit. He didn’t control the IARC so could have no expectation they agree with his advice or opinion. They already knew he had conflicting interests due to other work hence he was not on the working group. The IARC classification was unanimously agreed. You seem be trying to undermine IARC conclusion with character assassination attempts on someone not on the working group.

          • “not on the working group? Who suggested the whole thing? “It turns out that it was Portier himself, who as chair of an IARC committee in 2014 had proposed that the agency undertake a review of glyphosate in the first place. He then went on to play a key role in the deliberations resulting in the IARC conclusion that glyphosate is probably carcinogenic. ”
            How did he function as part of the group?

          • You haven’t addressed the fact that there are many scientists on the IARC working group and they unanimously agreed with the monograph. Also, you have not addressed the fact that Portier was already known to have conflicting interests aside from being a future expert witness, hence he wasn’t on the working group. The Monograph was published in 2015, not 2014. It was unanimously agreed by the scientists on the working group which did not include Portier. As a money-making conspiracy it doesn’t explain how he is able to coerce all these other people to go along with him just so he can earn money as an expert witness. Lots of smoke but no fire. Gives me concern that this is character-assassination by media tied to industry interests.

            Also I love how the “rationaloptimist” refers to the IARC as “obscure”. It’s red flags like these that reveal what people are really about.

          • Until they came up with that foolish classification. they were obscure. IARC used portier. That is on them. Unanimous? Who cares. Wrong is still wrong. How many exactly? No one said coerce. another straw man. And another shill gambit here. “Gives me concern that this is character-assassination by media tied to industry interests.” Got any proof of industry money? The red flags start waving every time you start typing.

          • Putin wouldn’t pay me lots of money if I didn’t write very well.

            Oh dear. America is in a sad state of affairs. 1950s “reds under the bed” all over again. lol.

          • Playing the shill gambit is always a forfeit of the debate at hand. It is a shitty form of cheating by trying to poison the well rather than countering with a cogent refutation that might prove your point or win a debate. I see lameoids pull this stupid blunder 10 times a day in the GMO debate. If you want to prove a fault in science, use the tools scientists use, peer reviewed studies and unbiased information sources. If you don’t have solid evidence, consider what a fool you are being. Shill shill shill just makes you look like a blathering idiot and forfeits every time, the win goes to science truth. Explained simply here: This is especially ludicrous when you consider the GMO safety debate ended two full years ago and no company for profit anywhere would spend a single penny paying a “shill” to promote something already attained.

  2. Very good summary by Cameron English. Might GLP do a better job editing these stories? The pictorial graphic shows a container of Roundup Extended Control, RTU, a lawn and garden formulation of glyphosate which contains glyphosate, the residual herbicide, imazapic-ammonium, and a quick burndown component, pelargonic acid.

    Roundup Extended Control is not used in broad acre agriculture.

  3. All part of the great polarisation: science anti science, pharma big pharma, medicine alternative medicine, etc. I would have thought at least one juror would have dug in against such misrepresention of facts! The same thing happened to whole foods?

  4. I read over the “study” a couple of times, but either I completely missed it, or they didn’t bother to provide a reason why they selected a, seemingly, arbitrary point in the ppb, when the NOAEL is up in the ppm.

    Without that info, it seems that they just picked a point where they could say “see it’s over the limit!”

      • Considering that the 160ppb was the arbitrary cutoff that they used…and that’s about 1/1000th of the NOAEL, you’re probably right. If it was at the detection limit for the equipment (or just simple background variation in the case of ELISA-based methods), they probably would flag it as being “dangerously high levels”.

    • Nope, not arbitrary. If you actually read the report, this is the explanation:

      “In 2017, California listed glyphosate in its Proposition 65 registry of chemicals known to cause cancer. The state’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, or OEHHA, has proposed a so-called No Significant Risk Level for glyphosate of 1.1 milligrams per day for an average adult of about 154 pounds. That level of exposure is more than 60 times lower than the safety level set by the Environmental Protection Agency.

      California’s level represents an increased lifetime risk of cancer of one in 100,000 for an average adult. But for many cancer-causing drinking water contaminants, OEHHA’s lifetime risk factor is set at one in 1 million. Additionally, because children and developing fetuses have increased susceptibility to carcinogens, the federal Food Quality Protection Act supports including an additional 10-fold margin of safety. With this additional children’s health safety factor, EWG calculated that a one-in-a-million cancer risk would be posed by ingestion of 0.01 milligrams of glyphosate per day.

      To reach this maximum dose, one would only have to eat a single 60-gram serving of food with a glyphosate level of 160 parts per billion, or ppb.”

      • I did read it. It’s not supported by the data, as the NSRL is not analogous to the NOAEL or the LOAEL, but to the ADI (or RfD). Both of which already do include a significant safety margin. In the absence of any adverse effects at exposure levels at or below the ADI, the justification for using NSRL as opposed to the ADI or RfD is quite suspect.

        The EWG arbitrarily picked a stringent cutoff so that they could point and say it’s dangerous, without bothering to back it up with any toxicity or carcinogenicity data. Nowhere do they bother to list the experimentally derived NOAEL, nor do they show a reason why the limits set by the EWG are backed by any empirical data, and it quite simply is a way to set the bar orders of magnitude lower than the current limits.

        Until someone can show harm at the current limits, this was just stacking the deck. If one of the biotech companies were to petition for the ADI to be only 1/10 of the NOAEL, as opposed to the 1/100 normally used (with some going even more stringent), I’m going to take a guess that you wouldn’t be willing to accept that, even though they would be correct that no adverse effects would be observed at those concentrations.

        • As far as safe levels of glyphosate, I would choose to err on the side of caution. I certainly wouldn’t trust the EPA, which has little credibility after the revelation last year that officials colluded with Monsanto to hide the cancer risk associated with Roundup. And we’ve seen how the EPA has continued to relax its rules under industry pressure. Compared to levels in 1996, the agency now allows 50x more glyphosate on corn grain and at the same time, has increased what it considers a safe amount of glyphosate exposure by a factor of 17. As well, the high-end estimate of infant exposure to glyphosate exceeds what the EPA considered safe for them in 1983.

          The problem is, how does one determine a “safe” level of glyphosate? Designing studies to determine exposure limits or the carcinogenic potential of any chemical on human subjects would be unethical. So let’s look at studies performed on lab animals. A recent 2-year study by a team of international researchers concluded that liver and kidney damage occurred in rats after exposure to extremely low doses of Roundup – exposure that was many times lower than what’s considered safe in the U.S. water supply. And, according to the Institute of Science in Society, there’s also growing scientific data implicating glyphosate as an endocrine disruptor and a DNA mutagen.

          There’s also good evidence that glyphosate destroys healthy gut flora in animals. European livestock have suffered an epidemic of gut and digestive problems since the introduction of Roundup-ready soy. In some cases, the problems may be caused by the soy itself damaging the beneficial gut bacteria of the animals, but in others, seem to result from Roundup destroying beneficial gut bacteria while leaving intact the deadly bacteria that cause E. coli and botulism. If it’s doing the same thing to us, then it’s creating the kind of microbial imbalance that can produce inflammation and leaky gut syndrome, among other ailments.

          • That recent study used material from the retracted 2012 Seralini study. It’s even worse as they only used a sub-population of a study that was already plagued by insufficient statistical power and needed at least 5X the number of rats pet treatment group per gender, and an equal increase in the negative control group.

            Additionally, the original study made no mention of any of the pathologies that they bring up in the new study.

            The evidence for endocrine activity is also marred by insufficient sample size (very much a constant issue for the anti-GMO researchers…even after getting called out in it many times), it also flies into he face.of the studies done by, not only the US, but the EFSA, and the BfR , both of which were key parts of the 2018 EU reassessment.

            Same thing for the mutagen abiloty, the anti-GMO groups love to toss around hypotheses but then completely botch the experimental design…and when that’s supposed to be based on the OECD protocols, their failure reeks of incompetence, or manipulation.

            Nielson et al., (2018) Showed a well supported reason for the disparity between in situ and in vitro gut comparisons. Quite simply, the groups who found inhibitory or cytotoxic events made a critical error. They used a standard growth medium, as opposed to one analogous to the chyme present in the gut.

            When this was corrected, no inhibition was seen in and gut microflora untilt the glyphosate dose was >50X the ADI.

            How do we determine safe. We don’t, we determine where there is no harm. Using acute and chrinic studies using the OECD guidelines and supporting documents. Through this the NOAEL, LOAEL, LD50 and quite a few more are experimentally derived.

            From there it’s a simple matter of working in an appropriate safety level, usually by setting the ADI or RfD at 1% of the NOAEL.

            This isn’t just a US thing, and the results are similar regardless of where the studies are performed. Really all that needs to be asked is this:

            How many OECD 452 or 453 compliant studies have found a causal relationship between glyphosate at dose levels below the ADI and any adverse effect?

            None. Not a single one. The anti-GMO researchers have had over two decades, but nothing even close to a compliant study. Only Seralini had the gall to try and say his study was OECD-453…except.for not bothering to do the carcinogenicity phase of the study.

            Take a look at paragraph 19 of the 453 protocol and compare what Seralini’s group did.

          • 1) your comparison of residue tolerances for glyphosate pre and post 1996 is completely spurious. The limits were raised because it was being used postemergence in crop yes, but do you really think that there were no postemergence herbicides used in crop before Roundup Ready came along? There were significant quantities of thiadiazines, triazines and imidazolinones used in crop just to name a few and, if anything, Roundup was much more benign than the ones it replaced.

            2) What 2 year study are you referring to in your second paragraph?

            3) Institute for Science in Society – really? A hack advocacy site which has no credibility? Don’t forget Seralini, Seneff and Samsel and Alex Jones to round out your rogues gallery.

    • No what they have in common is that you don’t want to be told what to eat and you don’t want to be told you can’t do something because it affects the environment. Basically what links these things together is your narrow-minded self-centered attitude, and need for immediate gratification without thought for long term consequences, which is endemic among conservatives. When facts aren’t what you want to hear, you reject them.

  5. Wow, that was one of the longest, dumbest, shill gambits I have ever seen. Name a few of these “scientists that you refer to and post links to their work. Publicly accessible? Yeah after they got caught. Then you go on to try a stupid hypothesis regarding “conservative” funding sources. Guess what? All people donating have biases and the lack of carcinogenicityof glyphosate is a left/right issue.

    • Why have you asked me to name a scientist when at least one of them is mentioned in the article you cited? Christopher Portier’s open letter to the EFSA can be found here:

      The letter is supported by over 90 other scientists.

      Your article refers to the use of animal data. This is addressed in Portier’s open letter where it is explained “When using historical control data, they should be from studies in the same timeframe, for the same exact animal strain, preferably from the same laboratory or the same supplier and preferably reviewed by the same pathologist. This was not the case for the historical control database used by BfR.”

      Your article then goes on to suggest Portier had a conflict of interest and that the whole conclusion reached by the IARC was some conspiracy so Portier could earn money from a lawsuit. Unfortunately, this ignores the fact that Portier didn’t view any such contract until after the IARC had adopted its findings. Moreover, Portier was an invited specialist and not in control of the IARC findings.

      You are right, bias exists on all sides. That was MY point and literally the first thing I said.

      • IARC is not a regulatory agency. They don’t even officially speak for the WHO. European and American regulators have recently done a deep dive into this question again and found no association with cancer and no reason to not continue approval of the products use.

        • The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change isn’t a regulatory agency either. What is your point?

          The IARC was established by the World Health Assembly. According to the IARC website:

          “IARC’s general policy is directed by a Governing Council, composed of the Representatives of Participating States and of the Director-General of the World Health Organization.”

          So it is difficult to know what you mean by suggesting they don’t speak for the WHO. They are established by the WHO, they are governed by representatives of the WHO, so seems to me their opinion should carry the same weight as anything said by the WHO.

          European and American regulators indeed give a different opinion. However, “regulators” are government. Government, as can be plainly seen today, is corrupt. Donald Trump is actively trying to undermine climate science by appointing deniers to positions of authority. So do I have faith in regulators? Not really.

          • First of all, the current position of the WHO is that glyphosate at realistic use and exposure levels is unlikely to cause cancer. The IARC is NOT the official position of the WHO although they will say there is nothing inconsistent about the two positions because the one points out the probablilty of cancer association without regard to levels in the environment…ala the old admonition that the dose makes the poison.

            Secondly, governments establish statutory regulatory agencies answerable to the people in order to manage such questions. The WHO has an important role but the decisions are finally with the statutory agencies of the relevant government.

            Finally this question has nothing to do with Trump so get off that. Its silly.

          • But the statements AREN’T inconsistent hence why “they will say”. The fact that regulatory agencies are “answerable to the people” has nothing to do with science. Science is not “answerable to the people”.

            I agree that decisions are ultimately with governments. But that is distinct from what the science says. I’m not saying the government in this case is inconsistent with the science I’m simply saying I’m skeptical because they are the government.

            I agree dietary exposure is unlikely to be a significant risk based on the evidence available. But the existence of a probable hazard warrants caution.

          • Nothing in the article cited supports your assertion that they have lied. The claim that a draft was edited is not unsurprising. That is what a draft is. If it wasn’t supposed to be edited it would be called the final version. Another criticism is that working group deliberations are confidential. That isn’t a lie either. It is a measure to protect working group scientists from outside interference. The process seeks a consensus view from the working group scientists who all unanimously agreed to the final IARC monograph. Quite clearly there are vested industry interests hell-bent on employing character assassination against anyone that dares threaten the industry bottom line. Another criticism is that the IARC review came to contrary conclusions as compared to the studies they based their assessment on. That is what a review does. It would not be much of a review if it just regurgitated what someone else had said. The point of the review is to evaluate the totality of the evidence and reach a conclusion. Another charge is that new data from the Agricultural Health Study was deliberately excluded from the IARC review. That is a lie. The new data was published long after they concluded their review. The Agricultural Health Study is periodically updated and previous findings were included in their review. The new data in any case was broadly consistent with previous updates except that the new data showed an increased leukemia risk.


          • More semantic crap. When you deliberately edit out info. that you don’t want used. that means the result is a lie.

          • No it doesn’t.

            “The majority of the highlighted differences were related to a review article co-authored by a Monsanto scientist, which has been the subject of investigative reporting concerning “ghost-writing”. The Agency rejected the false claims published by Reuters.

            The Working Group considered that information contained in the review article was insufficient to allow independent scientific evaluation. As a result, the draft text was revised by the Working Group; the text in the published Monograph is its consensus opinion. ”


          • There were no false claims reported by Reuters. they have improved drastically since dumping cary gillam. Citing IARC to support IARC is pretty stupid. Quit trying to sound all high falutin’ while using zippo for an argument besides the same old crappy shill gambit/ad hom fallacy over and over. If you don’t want to use the relevant information. You need to show error or fraud. Not the allegations of monsanto haters.

          • You say science is not answerable to the people via their elected lawmakers. Then who is the arbiter of science when it comes to public policy? You seem to be making an argument for Lysenkoism. I’m sure he thought the science was on his side too.

            Also you keep arguing that the IARC is the ultimate authority simply because they said something you like. I patiently explained to you that they are not.

          • I say? You mean you don’t agree that reality is independent of our opinions of it? Reality does not answer to “the people” and science is valid insofar as it agrees with reality, not whether it agrees with the people. I didn’t think that was going to be a controversial point.

            Nothing I have said has suggested anything in support of Lysenkoism. In fact that example makes my point. The Soviet lawmakers were on the side of Lysenkoism. That didn’t make them correct or scientifically valid.

            I accept that lawmakers are the arbiters of public policy.

            I never said IARC is the “ultimate” authority. I contend they are AN authority. You seem to believe only a regulatory agency can be an authority on science. I agree regulatory agencies are an authority on public policy (subject to their political masters). I would also generally trust regulatory agencies but I am concerned about the influence of industry on government and therefore the influence on those agencies. The character-assassination attempts on the IARC scientists also supports my concern that the influence of a multi billion dollar industry may be undermining the science.

          • Your niggling semantic arguments grow more and more tedious. It is clear you are impervious to reason so I will leave it at that. Anyway, it is interesting that Red Meat is also on the IARC 2A list of probable carcinogens which seems quite illustrative of the whole hazard vs risk gradient. Do Svidanya Komrade.

          • I’m not making semantic arguments, I’m addressing the substance of what you have said.

            You seem to be dismissing the IARC as not credible. You seem to be suggesting that their position is inconsistent with the WHO. I readily accept the point about hazard versus risk. But in order to identify the risks you need to first identify the hazards. I don’t see anything that is inconsistent or anything that undermines the credibility of the IARC.

            I ate a delicious steak last night by the way and I’m quite happy with the 2A classification.

      • I guess I should have specified honest scientist. Also, those 90 are but a drop in the bucket and my wild guess is that we will find some that are way out of their field and a few anti-DE wackos, like Landrigan.

          • A judge is an authority on law not science. And it’s “too” emotionally… mr I need to learn to read.

          • Don’t complain about my reading abilities and I won’t complain about your writing abilities (or lack thereof). You provided an article that referred to a legal ruling. You complain about scientists potentially working outside their area of expertise but then rely on the opinion of a judge as an authority on science. The judge is an authority on the law and what the law says is not necessarily what the science says. The law for instance says cannabis has no medical benefits and is equivalent to heroin which is contrary to the science. A judge is an authority on law, not science. I addressed your point.

          • Funny, the judge understood and ruled on the science correctly. why are you whining about that? Also “mr” That should be a capital M and a period should be used after the “r” As in Mr. please fix your own mistakes before sobbing about irrelevant trivial errors. You were the one who brought up the “90” folks who signed the dishonest letter. Thus their qualifications are fair game.

          • Yep, Mr. should be written like that. You got me. My ego is crushed. Decimated by your merciless attacks. :-)

            Their qualifications are fair game. I’m not sure what you are saying here. You don’t have access to the letter? You don’t know who the scientists are? Google much?


            The scientists are included in the letter. Emeritus Professor Sydney School of Public Health. Distinguished Professor Auckland Cancer Society Research Centre. Professor Institute for Occupational Medicine, Berlin. Associate Professor of Genetic Toxicology, Cancer Research Institute Slovak Republic. etc. etc.

            What do they know I suppose.

          • Not much. apparently there grand titles far outstrip their knowledge. they are simply wrong. I have already cited proof.

          • That letter was written (in 2015) before the results of the Agricultural Health Study of 50,000 farmers, which did not find a significant cancer risk in people exposed to comparatively high levels of the herbicide. I wonder if they would change their assessment in the light of the new data?

            The letter also fails to address the key issue of whether the possible evidence of carcinogenicity at high doses in mice is sufficient evidence to conclude that there is a significant risk to humans at the typically minute levels of exposure. The IARC focuses on the question of “might” a substance cause human cancer, versus the regulatory bodies’ task of determining if there is actually a significant risk in the real world.

            I find it ironic that while the IARC has concluded that acrylamide is a likely carcinogen to humans, there are no multi-million negligence lawsuits, or letters from 90 scientists arguing that the acrylamide that is present in fried potatoes and roasted coffee is sufficient evidence or rationale for banning these foods. I can almost guarantee that most of the 90 scientists listed consume both these foods without the slightest frisson from the “risk” that they are supposedly taking. (Do you, Robert?)

          • The IARC does not assess risk, only hazard, which is a key distinction between them, the other branches of the WHO, and the various regulatory agencies around the world. As risk is the product of hazard and exposure, it means that there can be a huge gap between the two conclusions.

            For instance, hippos are a very dangerous species, and responsible for in excess of 300 fatalities per year. As a result the hazard associated with them is quite high. As for risk, unless you live in Africa, or are involved with a zoo, your exposure will be effectively zero, and the overall risk commensurate with that.

            Same thing for plutonium. As a hazard, it is extremely dangerous, but again, the average exposure is vanishingly small.

            This is the case for the IARC’s decision. The hazard of glyphosate causing cancer is there, but not at exposure levels at or below the NOAEL, to say nothing of the ADI.

          • Just to note: people do live in Africa. It’s actually a major continent with over a billion people living there. :-)

          • Yes, but based on the demographics of this site, the odds are pretty good that you’re in North America, or Europe.

            Based on the local fauna, the biggest risk around here would be the various breeds of small but yappy dogs

          • I am pretty sure that a guy who uses Hippos in an analogy knows that people live in Africa. Try for something dumber next time.

          • Fascinating. I didn’t realize science is democratic. I wonder why they don’t just get together and take a vote on how to unite general relativity with quantum mechanics. In any case I was referring to IARCs classification of glyphosate as probably carcinogenic not GMOs generally.

          • Robertlongman….I dont know who you are, but I’ve read your posts and like your perspective.

          • Why does the IARC exist? Who uses the information that they gather? I have no doubt that many highly-qualified and committed scientists contribute to their reports, but they seem to be addressing an imagined need. Cancer research scientists will already be intimately familiar with their field, so I doubt that the IARC reports are relevant to their research. Likewise, regulatory bodies around the world are skilled at evaluating the relative risks posed by hundreds of potential environmental threats.

            I also find it unacceptable that safety professionals from industry are excluded from IARC deliberations, which excludes their intimate knowledge of the relevant molecules and disease mechanisms. In contrast, Portier—an environmental activist with no direct research on glyphosate—is permitted to play such a prominent role in the evaluation of this molecule

            I think that IARC is a self-perpetuating institution whose rationale is no-longer relevant, even though its formation may have been well-intentioned, many decades ago. As a US citizen, I cannot understand why precious US research tax dollars are still devoted to this enterprise when they could be devoted to generating NEW data that are relevant to human health.

          • Portier was an invited specialist. He was not on the working group due to known conflicts of interest. Your statement that he is “permitted to play such a prominent role” is simply wrong. The monograph was the consensus of the scientists on the working group (which did not include Portier).

            Also industry isn’t excluded:

            “It is noteworthy that Monograph meetings are open to scientific stakeholders in order to balance participation “from constituencies with differing perspectives”13. All participants have full access to the draft documents and discussions. For example, the meeting on glyphosate included an Observer from Monsanto and a Representative from the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The Monsanto Observer was quoted in the media as saying: “The meeting was held in accordance with IARC procedures. Dr Kurt Straif, the director of the Monographs, has an intimate knowledge of the rules in force and insisted that they be respected.”14

            “The Monographs do not exclude research conducted by industry per se. Where industry conducted studies are published in scientific journals they are considered, if available in sufficient detail to allow independent scientific review. Under the same conditions, the Monographs also take account of industry-conducted research in summary form or if placed in the public domain by national regulatory agencies”


            Industry has a motive. Their motive is money. If what they say is true, then why wouldn’t it stand up to independent scrutiny? By the same token, Portier was not on the working group because he too had conflicting interests.

            …and if tax dollars are so “precious” why the 700 billion on the military? Never too precious for more war eh. Only precious when scientists start expressing view points that conflict with political ideology.

  6. Back to basics, what was the analytical technique, and did they find the whole glyphosate mollocule, or just portions that suggest glyphosate but could be something else if that was what they were looking for.

    • I don’t think it matters. From what I can see they just arbitrarily set the limits orders of magnitiude below established MRL’s based on established NOAEL’s. On that basis you could find traces of just about anything in any grain or foodstuff. It’s simply a scam. Amazingly, I happened across a very cogent and rational takedown of this scam in, of all places, Slate magazine. I think it was last week sometime.

      • The potential effects of surfactants, including POEA, on the toxicity of glyphosate formulations has been studied and was reviewed by the EPA in 2009. Its all out there.

  7. Wait so if I weigh a silph like 250lbs, (ok I have a big beer belly) I’d have to eat 50kg per day to get to 1% of the level that produce an adverse effect in the most sensitive lab animals known, which extrapolates up to 5,000kg per day for me to reach that level, and if I’m only half that sensitive, 10,000kg per day, so how much would I have to eat to kill me? lol I’d probably be dead before I got much over the 50kg, and then I’d have to take laxatives to get it through me quick enough to shovel more in. In fact 50kg/day is almost 5lb (just over 2kg) per hour, so with water added to allow me to “eat” it (it would probably have to be liquified and pumped in mixed with a laxative and essential aminos, vitamins and minerals) I’d need to consume an extra-large “milkshake” every couple of minutes, and be sat on the toilet. In fact I’d put on weight so fast on this much starch that the intake would need to be continually increased to match my body weight. So even 50kg per day is not going to happen.
    If it did I’d donate my body to science, and my liver to France where it may spare half the geese raised for pate!

    10,000kg per day for noticable effects on me is impossible, so what do I get 100 grams? – Breakfast!

  8. Also, saying something is carcinogenic doesn’t mean “Ban it”. But the discussion around public policy should be based on the science, the science should not be based on the political outcome we want.

    • I can assure you from personal experience that the EPA and FDA and regulators around the world operate within a framework of rigorous science. They also operate within a framework of law. You can say thats political but it is our system and thats the way it is.

        • I am not a climatologist so I am not qualified to judge how the EPA is treating CO2 or to what extent CO2 is included in their portfolio of pollutants. As far as that list of suggestive crap from the ambulance chasers I managed to get thru 4 or 5 pages and it looked to me like a bunch of internal deliberations about how to defend themselves against alot of hysterical critics. I couldnt see anything directly about the EPA. Have you ever managed a complete 4 phase product development program? Do you know what is involved and how much risk there is?

        • You are being ridiculous. Nothing, especially complex issues of science, is “impervious to error”. What is your proposed framework for regulatory decisions?

      • Aguirre15
        (1)On my last check @ there were 1,213 entries.
        (2) Seneff bs, ms, ee, phd- computational biology-science of using biological data to develop algorithms and relations among biological systems = her qualifications
        (3) rigorous science and 1,213 entries (drugs,medical, biology) = need for better track record, accountability, admission of errors and
        (4) framework = improve the track record with better timing, honesty, transparency
        (5) ALL research is correlational….that’s why you match variables for explanatory strength

          • Aguirre15….The issue is human error, purpseful or not, based on awareness of facts, decision making, judgments about safety, based on statistical odds, methodology in interpreting potential outcomes, knowing the undergirding chemistry, and responsible, professional, legal, moral and ethical responses to potentially harmful variables to our species.

          • Nice argument for the precautionary principle but at some point you have to have some faith in the regulators. The testing protocols for herbicides are very rigourous and frankly I can’t think of any herbicides that have actually hurt anyone, except suicide by paraquat and agent orange which was a weapon of war.

          • The issue is not if you are aware, or perhaps choose to ignore, deny or claim recall ability deficits (e.g., your statement -“frankly I can’t think of any herbicides that have actually hurt anyone”), but rather whether an objective, honest, scientific approach to the elucidation and distribution of information about a product has been adequately conducted.

          • Such an elucidation and distribution has been done. Glyphosate is the most studied chemical in history and that is what the EPA and BfR amongst others thoroughly reviewed in their recent evaluations.

  9. I would consider engaging in a tad more research accumulating the plethora of evidence indicating glyphosateRoundup as the factor that best fits the disproportionate rise in multiple physical disorders and mental health issues before discounting the cumulative scientific evidence that has Implicated this product as the variable most likely to be at the root of the problems.

    • What the hell do you think the German Federal Agency for Risk Assessment acting as rapporteur for the European Commission just did in 2017? There are rigourous processes in place to do this kind of thing ya know.

      • 1)German Federal agency for risk assessment “There are doubts on their impartiality and they have been fiercely attacked” -Hans Muilerman of Pesticide Action Network (2) papers are identical to passages in an application submitted by Monsanto on behalf of the Glyphosate task force, an industry body by Monsanto (3) so much for your “rigorous processes in place to do that kind of thing”….Hope this clarifies your obvious misunderstanding.

      • Your “rigorous processes in place”…..why didn’t you reference these…
        (1) Chemosphere 2017 – Diuron metabolite…. (2) Toxicology Reports 2018 vol. 5 pp.156-163
        (3)Studies revealed both carcinogenicity and teratogenicity as far back as the 1980s, but information was suspected of being buried by industry with the support of regulatory bodies such as the US Environmental Protection Agency and the European Food Safety Authority.   EU Regulators and Monsanto have been exposed for Hiding Glyphosate Toxicity.

          • Seneff is a computer scientist with a penchant for correlation is causation scams. She has no qualifications in the biology of any of these issues and the fact you bring her up simply shows how unserious you are.

          • And what do you make out of the disproportionate rates of adhd and depression? Surely you don’t think there can be that many clinical errors andor faking of symptoms. Popularity of diagnoses cannot account for the disproportionate rates of diagnoses. Give me an alternative explanation.

          • Aguirre15 – in all good science there is an ability to provide alternative hypotheses…..other than the associated mental health and physical disorders…..try explaining away the simultaneous rise in gut related problems. Are these disorders proportionate to what you would expect? How about sales of peptobismal, rolaids, tums, etc. paralleling Roundup use. Either we have an extraordinary amount of symptoms feigned or we have incompetent professionals misdiagnosing and treating these people. Neither of these options seem to be very likely considering the magitude of the issues.

  10. As an agronomist, I would like to point out that just because a chemical is registered on a crop, does not mean that it is sprayed on every acre grown. The product is only used as needed and when needed. Our equipment is accurate enough that it is capable of spraying spots in the field where, again, the product is needed, so that in a 160 acre field perhaps only 20 or 40 acres may be sprayed. In the case of Cheerios, I would hazard a guess that at least half the oat crops never received an in crop application of glyphosate.

    • You raise an interesting point about advances in precision ag which will become more and more important as new technologies are developed. As far as oats are concerned I don’t believe there are any RR oats on the market so I don’t know what all the sturm and drang is about in this case other than just hysterical hatred of Monsanto.

      • You a correct there are no RR oats, wheat or barley in commercial use. I checked a 2015 Crop Protection Guide (I’m retired so I don’t have a current issue) but there is a registration for Pre-harvest use for control of perennial weed control on wheat, barley and oats with a note to check with purchaser prior to application. I know maltsters will not accept treated barley, and some oat purchasers (Quaker I remember) will not accept grain that has been treated pre-harvest.

        • I too am retired so this is just my best recollection but these preharvest treatments were quite common in Europe where it is generally wetter, but they are carefully timed so that the grain is matured enough not to absorb any of the glyphosate,

  11. I have never seen so many paid corporate shills for Monsanto in one site. It is truly laughable. the shikimate acid pathway does affect bacteria. the human body has more bacteria in it than human cells. Also human mitochondria is the remnant of a symbiotic bacteria that merged with our cells sometime millions of years ago in our evolution, so by affecting the shikimate acid pathway we could be affecting the health of our cells. perhaps this is how it causes non hodgkins lymphoma. By the way my stepfather died from non hodgkins he was a vietnam vet that like tens of thousands of Vietnam vets was affected by Monsantos agent oragne.

    • Monsanto no longer exists, ass. And no, humans do not have that pathway present. You seem to go out of your way to reference and believe anti-science witch hunting conspiratard sites only. Playing the shill gambit is always a forfeit of the debate at hand. It is a shitty form of cheating by trying to poison the well rather than countering with a cogent refutation that might prove your point or win a debate. I see lameoids pull this stupid blunder 10 times a day in the GMO debate. If you want to prove a fault in science, use the tools scientists use, peer reviewed studies and unbiased information sources. If you don’t have solid evidence, consider what a fool you are being. Shill shill shill just makes you look like a blathering idiot and forfeits every time, the win goes to science truth. Explained simply here(or in the dictionary of your choice): This is especially ludicrous when you consider the GMO safety debate ended two full years ago and no company for profit anywhere would spend a single penny paying a “shill” to promote something already attained.

    • Myth about Agent Orange being Monsanto’s creation: “Agent Orange is the name given to the combination of two commercially available herbicides which had been used for decades before the Vietnam War. The former Monsanto, which was primarily a chemical company, along with 9 other companies, supplied the U.S. government these herbicides as part of the war effort. The combination of these herbicides is what the U.S. government named Agent Orange after the colour of the stripe put on the barrels that contained it.
      The nine Agent Orange manufacturers were government contractors acting at the direction of the government, which was exercising its authority under the U.S. War Powers Act. The government set the manufacturing specifications for Agent Orange, and decided when, where and how it was used. Agent Orange was only made for military use by the government.
      In 2009, the U.S. Supreme Court let stand lower court rulings that the manufacturers were not responsible for the implications of military use of Agent Orange because the war materials were supplied at the direction of the U.S. government.”
      Second source to verify the above is 100% factual:
      Third source to verify the first two are factual:
      Fourth source to prove the first 3 sources are factual:
      Fifth source to prove the first four are factual:

  12. For the record: I don’t take a stand on the GMO issue here. But it seems a logical fallacy to start on the premise that GMO technology is beneficial – and then conclude that, therefore, all supporting technologies must be equally beneficial.



    European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). 2015. Conclusion on the peer review of the pesticide risk assessment of the active substance glyphosate EFSA Journal 13(11):4302

    Jorge Fernandez-Cornejo, Richard Nehring, Craig Osteen, Seth Wechsler, Andrew Martin, Alex Vialou. 2014. Pesticide Use in U.S. Agriculture: 21 Selected Crops, 1960-2008 USDA Economic Research Service, Economic Information Bulletin No. 124

  13. I just learned that my green funds broker Brown Advisory is on the list of donors to EWG. I immediately called them and demanded verification and return of all my stock value. I sure as hell never would have worked with that brokerage if I knew they would fund such extreme activist groups. I don’t care that they tripled my money, they are fired if they do not get back to me Monday and promise they will drop that support immediately.

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