Podcast: Save the earth—get a vasectomy? Glyphosate science vs emotion; Will Biden ban safe pesticides?

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Credit: Safe Radiotherapy
For the sake of women’s rights and the environment, increasing numbers of men are getting vasectomies. How could this impact our society in the coming years? Glyphosate almost certainly doesn’t cause cancer, but siding with science can be difficult when you’re talking about cancer patients who claim exposure to the weedkiller forced them into a fight for survival. Will President Biden, who has already taken a tougher stance on agricultural technology than his predecessor, actually ban pesticides experts say are safe?

Join geneticist Kevin Folta and GLP editor Cameron English on this episode of Science Facts and Fallacies as they break down these latest news stories:

Men are getting vasectomies like never before. The trend is primarily driven by couples who just don’t want children, though in recent years more ideological considerations have come into play. As concern for environmental sustainability grows, more people are choosing to opt out of parenthood for the good of the planet; concern for gender equality is another recent factor pushing couples of utilize vasectomy as a form of birth control.

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The recent uptick in vasectomies is part of a larger decline in fertility rates that began in the middle of the 20th century, and shows no signs of slowing down. Some experts are predicting a “jaw-dropping” scenario by 2100, in which the population of people over the age of 80 will more than double that of children under five. What are the implications of such an outcome?

As every expert knows, talking about pesticide safety in the public square—where the discourse is often swayed by ideology and emotion—is a trying task. The problem is magnified when lawyers and activists, using sick people as pawns, are all too eager to mislead the public in order to win massive judgments and advance their agendas. In such an unequal contest between science and emotion, how can scientists encourage the public to side with the evidence? Should they even try?

Joe Biden was hailed as the pro-science candidate in the 2020 presidential election, especially amid a pandemic that has claimed so many lives. But doubts have arisen about the administration’s commitment to science on other issues, notably pesticide safety. A handful of influential environmental groups with a deep distrust of agricultural technology are pressuring Biden to ban 11 pesticides farmers depend on and experts say are safe when used appropriately. Will the administration “trust the science,” or will politics supersede the evidence?

Related article:  Podcast: COVID vaccine—Bible's 'mark of the beast'? Gene guns and GMOs; Growing plants in space

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Kevin M. Folta is a professor in the Horticultural Sciences Department at the University of Florida. Follow Professor Folta on Twitter @kevinfolta

Cameron J. English is the GLP’s managing editor. BIO. Follow him on Twitter @camjenglish

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