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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: 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.

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