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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


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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) Subscriber Badge 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.