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posted by martyb on Thursday May 19 2016, @08:19AM   Printer-friendly
from the you-pay-your-money-you-take-your-chances dept.

[The WHO] and the Food and Agriculture Organization have come out with a statement that glyphosate is "unlikely to pose a carcinogenic risk in humans". And this only a year after another UN agency, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, stated what looks like the exact opposite, that it could "probably" be a cause of cancer in humans. Later on last year, the European Food Safety Authority said that glyphosate is "unlikely to pose a carcinogenic hazard".

[...] the difference is that the IARC is looking at the question from a "Is there any possible way, under any conditions at all, that glyphosate could be a carcinogen?", while the FAO and WHO are giving an answer to the questions "Is glyphosate actually causing cancer in people?"

[...] "Risk", technically speaking, refers to your chances of being harmed under real-world conditions, while "hazard" refers to the potential for harm.

Under real-world conditions, eating a normal amount of bacon raise your risk of colorectal cancer by an amount too small to consider. But it does appear to be raising it by a reproducible, measurable amount, and therefore bacon (and other processed meats) are in the IARC's category 1.
[...] It's important to note that some hypothetical substance that reproducibly, in human studies, gives anyone cancer every single time they touch it would also be in category 1, the same as a hypothetical substance that reproducibly, in human studies, raises a person's risk of cancer by one millionth of a per cent. Same category. These categories are not arranged by relative risk – they're arranged by how good the evidence is. Glyphosate is in category 2A, which means that there is evidence from animal studies, but limited/insufficient evidence from humans as of yet.
[...] So yes, by the standards of the available evidence, glyphosate is in the same cancer hazard category as working the night shift, or working as a hairdresser.

TFA is interesting and worth a read, especially for its use of a shark analogy explaining the difference between risk and hazard.

Link: Glyphosate And Cancer By Derek Lowe
Additional Wired link: Does Monsanto's Roundup Herbicide Cause Cancer or Not? The Controversy, Explained


Original Submission

Related Stories

Monsanto No More 52 comments

Monsanto, a brand name activists love to hate, will disappear as Bayer takes over:

These days Monsanto is shorthand for, as NPR's Dan Charles has put it, "lots of things that some people love to hate": Genetically modified crops, which Monsanto invented. Seed patents, which Monsanto has fought to defend. Herbicides such as Monsanto's Roundup, which protesters have sharply criticized for its possible health risks. Big agriculture in general, of which Monsanto was the reviled figurehead.

And soon Monsanto will be no more. Bayer, the German pharmaceutical giant and pesticide powerhouse, announced in 2016 it would be buying Monsanto in an all-cash deal for more than $60 billion. Now, as the merger approaches, Bayer has confirmed what many suspected: In the merger, the politically charged name "Monsanto" will be disappearing. The combined company will be known simply as Bayer, while product names will remain the same. The move is not exactly a surprise — it makes sense that Bayer might want to weed out some of the intense negative associations associated with the Monsanto brand. In a way, it's an indication of how successful anti-Monsanto protesters have been in shaping public perception.

In the company's latest statement, Bayer implicitly acknowledged how hostile debates over genetically modified crops and other agricultural products have become. "We aim to deepen our dialogue with society. We will listen to our critics and work together where we find common ground," the chairman of Bayer's board of management, Werner Baumann, said in the statement. "Agriculture is too important to allow ideological differences to bring progress to a standstill. We have to talk to each other. We need to listen to each other. It's the only way to build bridges."

Also at Reuters.

Previously: Bayer AG Offers to Buy Monsanto
Bayer Purchases Monsanto for Around $66 Billion

Roundup: Monsanto Ordered to Pay $93M to Small Town for Poisoning Citizens
RoundUp Glyphosate Found to Cause Kidney Failure and Elude Tests
Cancer Hazard vs. Risk - Glyphosate
Use of Dicamba-Resistant Monsanto Crops Leads to Soybean Death
GMO Grass That 'Escaped' Defies Eradication, Divides Grass Seed Industry
Glyphosate Linked to Liver Damage


Original Submission   Alternate Submission

Monsanto Ordered to Pay $289 Million in Glyphosate Cancer Trial 49 comments

Monsanto ordered to pay $289 million in California Roundup cancer trial

A California jury on Friday found Monsanto liable in a lawsuit filed by a man who alleged the company's glyphosate-based weed-killers, including Roundup, caused him cancer and ordered the company to pay $289 million in damages.

The case of school groundskeeper Dewayne Johnson was the first lawsuit alleging glyphosate causes cancer to go to trial. Monsanto, a unit of Bayer AG following a $62.5 billion acquisition by the German conglomerate, faces more than 5,000 similar lawsuits across the United States.

The jury at San Francisco's Superior Court of California deliberated for three days before finding that Monsanto had failed to warn Johnson and other consumers of the cancer risks posed by its weed killers.

It awarded $39 million in compensatory and $250 million in punitive damages.

https://www.cnbc.com/2018/08/10/monsanto-ordered-to-pay-289m-in-california-roundup-cancer-trial.html

Monsanto Ordered to Pay $289 Million to Man Who Claimed Glyphosate Caused His Cancer

Monsanto ordered to pay $289m damages in Roundup cancer trial

Chemical giant Monsanto has been ordered to pay $289m (£226m) damages to a man who claimed herbicides containing glyphosate had caused his cancer.

In a landmark case, a Californian jury found that Monsanto knew its Roundup and RangerPro weedkillers were dangerous and failed to warn consumers. It's the first lawsuit to go to trial alleging a glyphosate link to cancer.

Monsanto denies that glyphosate causes cancer and says it intends to appeal against the ruling. "The jury got it wrong," vice-president Scott Partridge said outside the courthouse in San Francisco.

The claimant in the case, groundskeeper Dewayne Johnson, is among more than 5,000 similar plaintiffs across the US.

Monsanto? Never heard of it. Did you mean Bayer AG?

Previously: Cancer Hazard vs. Risk - Glyphosate
Monsanto Faces First US Trial Over Roundup Cancer Link
Monsanto Cancer Trial Begins in San Francisco

Related: Glyphosate Linked to Liver Damage


Original Submission #1Original Submission #2

Glyphosate May Contribute to Bee Colony Collapse Disorder 29 comments

Study: Roundup Weed Killer Could Be Linked To Widespread Bee Deaths

The controversial herbicide Roundup has been accused of causing cancer in humans and now scientists in Texas argue that the world's most popular weed killer could be partly responsible for killing off bee populations around the world.

A new study [open, DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1803880115] [DX] by scientists at the University of Texas at Austin posit that glyphosate — the active ingredient in the herbicide — destroys specialized gut bacteria in bees, leaving them more susceptible to infection and death from harmful bacteria.

Researchers Nancy Moran, Erick Motta and Kasie Raymann suggest their findings are evidence that glyphosate might be contributing to colony collapse disorder, a phenomenon that has been wreaking havoc on honey bees and native bees for more than a decade.

Also at Science Magazine.

Related:


Original Submission

In The Pipeline: Coronavirus 45 comments

https://blogs.sciencemag.org/pipeline/archives/2020/01/27/coronavirus

As the world knows, we face an emerging virus threat in the Wuhan coronavirus (2019-nCoV) outbreak. The problem is, right now there are several important things that we don't know about the situation. The mortality rate, the ease of human-human transmission, the rate of mutation of the virus (and how many strains we might be dealing with – all of these need more clarity. Unfortunately, we've already gone past the MERS outbreak in severity (which until now was the most recent new coronavirus to make the jump into humans). If we're fortunate, though, we'll still have something that will be worrisome, but not as bad as (say) the usual flu numbers (many people don't realize that influenza kills tens of thousands of people in the US each year). The worst case, though, is something like 1918, and we really, really don't need that.

[Ed note: The linked story is by Derek Lowe who writes a "commentary on drug discovery and the pharma industry". He is perhaps best known for his "Things I Won't Work With" blog entries which are as hilarious as they are... eye opening. I have found him to be a no-nonsense writer who "tells things as they are", holding no punches. The whole story is worth reading as he clearly explains what a coronavirus is, about the current one that reportedly originated in Wuhan, China, what could be done about it, how long that would likely take, and what can be done for those who have already been infected. --martyb]

Previous Stories Referencing Derek Lowe:

Original Submission

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  • (Score: 5, Informative) by RedBear on Thursday May 19 2016, @12:17PM

    by RedBear (1734) Subscriber Badge on Thursday May 19 2016, @12:17PM (#348268)

    Doesn't particularly matter if glyphosate causes cancer. It's strongly implicated in epidemics of kidney and liver disease in multiple parts of the world (Sri Lanka, India, Central America). And in dosages thousands of times smaller than the currently allowable concentration in drinking water. Linky: http://www.environmentalhealthnews.org/ehs/news/2015/aug/monsanto-roundup-glyphosate-pesticide-kidney-liver-toxic-gmo [environmentalhealthnews.org]

    But, even if the stuff were safe to drink, it's still a horrible thing to use on your land. It's a broad-spectrum chelator that stays in the soil and binds with all kinds of heavy metals and nutrients that the soil biome (bacteria, fungi, and other micro and macro-organisms) needs to remain healthy and support efficient plant growth. Once you start using it you have to start using artificial fertilizer in order for even glyphosate-resistant crops to grow worth a darn. Most of the fertilizer of course washes right through the dead soil which has lost the ability to support the growth of symbiotic organisms such as mycorrhizal fungi that could ordinarily help plants make use of the fertilizer. Without the mycorrhizal fungi about 96% of the fertilizer just washes downstream into watersheds and aquifers and helps contribute to poisonous algae blooms and huge oceanic dead zones. And at this point we've been using glyphosate (aka Roundup) for so long that the pests and weeds it's supposed to protect your crops from are already starting to adapt. The more we use it the quicker it will become useless. The use of this stuff is simply non-sustainable.

    There is absolutely nothing beneficial about using glyphosate and if the rat studies are correct it is slowly building up in the environment and poisoning us all, creating permanent liver and kidney damage and hormonal issues, possibly including things like breast cancer, which is linked to the actions of estrogen and estrogen-like compounds like BPA. I would say that whether glyphosate is technically "carcinogenic" by itself is sort of a moot point. It needs to be banned, just like the neonicotinoid pesticies that are implicated as contributing to Colony Collapse Disorder.

    But that's just my opinion.

    --
    ¯\_ʕ◔.◔ʔ_/¯ LOL. I dunno. I'm just a bear.
    ... Peace out. Got bear stuff to do. 彡ʕ⌐■.■ʔ
  • (Score: 2) by ilPapa on Thursday May 19 2016, @12:28PM

    by ilPapa (2366) on Thursday May 19 2016, @12:28PM (#348271) Journal

    The PR department at Monsanto has been working overtime this week, splashing old research all over the internet about how their agri-products are safe as milk. I get the feeling they're trying to get out in front of some negative stories.

    --
    You are still welcome on my lawn.
    • (Score: 3, Informative) by Whoever on Thursday May 19 2016, @02:32PM

      by Whoever (4524) on Thursday May 19 2016, @02:32PM (#348335) Journal

      This one? [theintercept.com]

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 19 2016, @05:14PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 19 2016, @05:14PM (#348408)

      They are also in negotiations for a multibillion dollar sale. Too much bad press hurts the parachute of those at the top.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 19 2016, @12:54PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 19 2016, @12:54PM (#348283)

    Our back yard has settled in several places, to the point that it's difficult to mow. This might be a side effect of the leach field underneath, which was installed when the house was built in the early 1960s. This suburb has city water, but no sewers.

    One of the two quotes we received included using RoundUp to kill the existing grass & weed mixture, then add top soil, fertilize and re-seed. This guy claimed that any air under the new topsoil (held in by old grass) would keep the new grass from growing. I really didn't like the idea of about 1500 feet-square of poison application, about 30 feet from the back of the house.

    The other quote includes adding top soil, fertilizer and seed directly over the existing lawn, no pretreatment. Also includes very detailed watering instructions...this one is about half the price and we are tempted to try the simpler approach. Of course if it doesn't take, then we have to repeat the process for more $$$.

    • (Score: 2) by bitstream on Thursday May 19 2016, @11:59PM

      by bitstream (6144) on Thursday May 19 2016, @11:59PM (#348560) Journal

      Put a geo-textile, then add top soil, fertilize and re-seed. The textile will prevent the growth beneath it.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 19 2016, @04:04PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 19 2016, @04:04PM (#348381)

    the difference is that the IARC is looking at the question from a "Is there any possible way, under any conditions at all, that glyphosate could be a carcinogen?", while the FAO and WHO are giving an answer to the questions "Is glyphosate actually causing cancer in people?"

    yeah, right. the difference is how much money those degenerate scum at monsanto has been throwing around

  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by bob_super on Thursday May 19 2016, @04:28PM

    by bob_super (1357) on Thursday May 19 2016, @04:28PM (#348387)

    Humans are hugely complex organisms, dependent on a whole bunch of other organisms we carry around.
    So pretty much anything proven to kill organisms, in any other way than mechanical or asphyxia, could have effects on us if we absorb it.
    Small doses, many orders of magnitudes below LD50, are usually fine for the short term, but no company ever has an incentive to do the (difficult) long-term studies which could show eventual harm.

    Monsanto and the others should not be directly financing any studies on the safety of their products. They should have to pay a fixed-percentage Safety Tax used by a neutral agency to conduct studies whose outcomes are uncorrelated to the agency's income. And the unicorns reviewing the studies should live in the clouds away from any country in which the companies have financial reach.

    Or someone might want to crack down the used-souls black market which seems to be a mandatory stop for executives to lose weight on their way up the corporate ladder.