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February 18, 2018

087 – Glyphosate Risk and the IARC Decision

Glyphosate, the active ingredient in the herbicide Roundup, has been used as a non-selective (kills all plants) herbicide since 1970.  It blocks a necessary step in plant metabolism and the plant dies, yet it has lower acute toxicity than table salt to animals. It is inexpensive, and a small amount works well, with rapid turnover in the environment. For this reason it has been widely used in municipal, agricultural and residential applications for decades.  Glyphosate sales increased upon the advent of genetically engineered crops. Some of these crops were engineered with a gene that circumvents the toxic effects of glyphosate on the plant, so the herbicide kills weeds but not the plant itself. The technology has been widely adopted and is popular with farmers.  The chemical has been tested and approved but government agencies all over the globe.  Hundreds of studies have concluded that it is extremely safe when used as directed.  However, there is a movement afoot that has targeted this compound with misinformation, including the claim that it causes cancer.  This is almost exclusively predicated on the decision of the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) that described glyphosate as a “probable carcinogen” based on a few barely significant data points, while ignoring higher-quality data.  Dr. Len Ritter is a Fellow of the Academy of Toxicological Sciences and an Professor Emeritus at the University of Guelph. He is an expert in human toxicology and has followed the glyphosate story for decades.  In this episode of Talking Biotech we discuss the historical assessments of glyphosate safety, the well-described risks, and the IARC decision.

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1 Comment on 087 – Glyphosate Risk and the IARC Decision

  1. What’s interesting to me is that the “peer reviewed studies” from the EFSA & EchA that were given to the EU were missing information​ deemed “unimportant” by those whose careers pertain to the collection of data, in all forms regardless of “importance”. Further, these groups hadn’t decided on a way to properly test certain measurements yet still decided they had come to a sound conclusion. So, where exactly is the misinformation stemming from? It would seem omission, haphazard testing, and selectivity of data inclusion is absolutely misinforming those who depend on competent, sound information that those working on these experiments seem to be lacking in, completely. This makes me wonder how many times this may have happened in the past with other studies? To claim misinformation is stemming from people whose observations came after finally gaining access to data whose status was classified as confidential business, is not only omitting publicly available information, but seems dangerously one sided, and not at all the scientifically loyal attitude that would want to know the truth for the sake of knowledge.The truth, is what needs to come out, & it will.

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