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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
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  • (Score: 2) by Whoever on Thursday May 19 2016, @02:30PM

    by Whoever (4524) on Thursday May 19 2016, @02:30PM (#348332) Journal

    There is also evidence that the "inert" components of Roundup cause cancer. [scientificamerican.com]