Saturday, March 21, 2015

HOT, HOT BREAKING NEWS! The Lancet Declares Glyphosate “Probably Carcinogenic to Humans”!!!

Talk about smoking guns!  This is more like a fusillade from an AK-47!

Yesterday, the prestigious, ultra-conservative medical journal The Lancet reported, pre-publication, on a study produced by 17 experts from 11 countries on the carcinogenicity of five leading pesticides, scheduled to appear as Volume 112 of a series of monographs produced by IARC (the International Agency for Research on Cancer, Lyon, France).  Herewith, complete and unexpurgated, is The Lancet’s summary of what the monograph says about glyphosate.  Any italics in the summary are mine.

“Glyphosate is a broad-spectrum herbicide, currently with the highest production volumes of all herbicides.  It is used in more than 750 different products for agriculture, forestry, urban, and home applications. Its use has increased sharply with the development of genetically modified glyphosate-resistant crop varieties.  Glyphosate has been detected in air during spraying, in water, and in food.  There was limited evidence in humans for the carcinogenicity of glyphosate. Case-control studies of occupational exposure in the USA, Canada, and Sweden reported increased risks for non-Hodgkin lymphoma that persisted after adjustment for other pesticides. The AHS cohort did not show a significantly increased risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. In male CD-1 mice, glyphosate induced a positive trend in the incidence of a rare tumour, renal tubule carcinoma. A second study reported a positive trend for haemangiosarcoma in male mice.  Glyphosate increased pancreatic islet-cell adenoma in male rats in two studies. A glyphosate formulation promoted skin tumours in an initiation-promotion study in mice.  

“Glyphosate has been detected in the blood and urine of agricultural workers, indicating absorption. Soil microbes degrade glyphosate to aminomethylphosphoric acid (AMPA). Blood AMPA detection after poisonings suggests intestinal microbial metabolism in humans.  Glyphosate and glyphosate formulations induced DNA and chromosomal damage in mammals, and in human and animal cells in vitro. One study reported increases in blood markers of chromosomal damage (micronuclei) in residents of several communities after spraying of glyphosate formulations.  Bacterial mutagenesis tests were negative. Glyphosate, glyphosate formulations, and AMPA induced oxidative stress in rodents and in vitro. The Working Group classified glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic to humans” (Group 2A).”

All right, all you guys who have scoffed at Nancy Swanson and her colleagues.  Let’s see what you have to say to THAT!


  1. Looks like all the glyphosate manufacturers might have to change the MSDS for their products. Since there was no new data nor any risk assessment done as part of this evaluation, though, I'll probably stick to using the same PPE I always do.

    Perhaps I don't see this the same way you do. It doesn't really seem to me like the "fusillade" you mentioned at the beginning. Okay, so it's a probable carcinogen. So is being a hairdresser. So is working night shifts (that disrupt circadian rhythms). Compare this to all the ***known*** carcinogens.

  2. Kent, I'm disappointed in you. Is everybody a hairdresser? Does everybody work night-shifts? No, but practically everybody ingests some food that has been doused in poisonous pesticides. Tell me, seriously, how you would do "risk assessment" for factors that may take years before any damage shows up (true for pretty well all carcinogens)? There's no way, as your own common sense should tell you. Only epidemiology can tell you--and that's already there in Swanson et al.

    Please don't finally deprive me of my faith, fast dwindling, that somewhere there are GMO advocates who can change their minds.

  3. Derek, please don't lose faith in me just yet! For one thing, as I've mentioned before, I'm no expert of any kind except on how to farm in my area. So there's a lot of this stuff I'm still just learning. The one absolute for me is that I decided some time ago that I wanted to go where the data leads. That means I don't consider myself a GMO advocate as much as a scientific inquiry advocate. Since I don't have the formal education required, it also means I have to depend on others to interpret extremely complex concepts and put them into lay terminology. What I look for more than anything is that all the steps of scientific method have been followed, and that peers ***in that field*** agree that the conclusions appear to be valid.

    Thus far, I think I am unlike many of the GMO advocates in that I agree that Swanson and her colleagues have made their point as you have said -- that the issue deserves further examination. However, I don't believe that their paper qualifies as epidemiology in itself, since it contains no real data. From my perspective, it looks like they are on solid ground -- at step two out of seven. I try not to let my "common sense" tell me anything in these discussions -- I want to avoid that as much as I do the ad hominem or any logical fallacy. I want the data to lead the way.

    But that's just me.

    1. Okay, Kent, I'll keep hoping! But please explain to me why the Swanson data isn't data. You want the data to lead--well, if you get to decide what's "real data" and what isn't, it will lead you any way you want to go, won't it?

  4. "...why the Swanson data isn't data." Because as far as I can see, the only data is the input data used to make their correlations. The "output" of their work (for lack of a better way to put it) is simply the correlations and attempting to make a case that a strong enough correlation is actually proof of causation. Additionally, many of the points in their conclusion seem to depend on other works that I question, i.e. Samsel and Seneff for one.

    For example, Swanson et al claim that "Another critical issue is that glyphosate is an endocrine disruptor..." That claim is still premature since a recent paper ("Endocrine disruption and cytotoxicity of glyphosate and roundup in human JAr cells in vitro", Young et al) says that, "In our study, the inhibition of progesterone secretion did not precede cytotoxicity, and endocrine disruption effects were a consequence of cell death. ....Given this lack of data, the proposal that Roundup has endocrine disrupting activity independent of its cytotoxic activity, needs further study."

    And I hope I never get caught in the trap of deciding what is real data. You're exactly right -- that leads down a path straight away from the kind of inquiry I was talking about earlier. The kind of data I'm looking for would look something like this: "Our study of occupational groups in six areas of the US showed that 23% of applicators mixing and using Roundup got liver cancer, while only 8% of bankers who ate a fully organic diet got liver cancer." I know, that's not the way it would be worded, of course, but I hope you get the idea. That kind of data would absolutely change my mind about Roundup. But it's probably going to take something that ground-breaking for me.

  5. Kent, just go to your Google Scholar and put in four words: "glyphosate", "Argentina" and "endocrine disruptor" and then write back and tell ne what you think of the 100+ hits you will get.

    As for your applicator/organic banker argument, that won't wash either. First, as I've shown, "dose limits" don't exist in the real world, and second, virtually EVERYONE gets to absorb some glyphosate nowadays. Only general population data can tell the whole story, and at that we're only asking for further studies.

  6. Derek,
    You still fail to explain why the laundry list of studies finding harm don't add up to enough to get any regulatory agency to actually change their stance on glyphosate. Is it a massive conspiracy?

    What's the definition of a probable carcinogen? There are definite carcinogens in coffee...doesn't mean much about drinking it. Same with mushrooms. Don't stop eating them. Because, the does does still make the poison. The exceptions (rare) are of concern. But there's no real reason to believe that they are so preva

    So, that's REAL science. There are real carcinogens that add up to low risk in natural foods in everyday life. Their daily impact would be greater than that of all the pesticides you could intake in a day, unless you drank some intentionally. There are endocrine disruptors that may show nonmonotonic effects. So, are you, or is somebody proposing synthetic carcinogens or synthetic ED's show some special effect? Are we more likely to have nonmonotonic effects from pesticides than organic soybeans? I don't think that has been shown. Context of the real risk of pesticide in context of comparison to natural compounds is important.

    You seem to be diving in over your head, and forcing the exceptions to be the rule. You're pretty consistently grabbing on to minority reports, and assuming they turn science upside down. The Carl Sagan rule applies - big claims, big evidence.

    Just don't call out scientist for being bad at science when you are demonstrating poor understanding of the subject matter.

    1. Mike, just hold your fire until you see my Open Letter to the Science Journalists of America and you'll see whether I have a case or not. And meantime, just quit telling me about my poor understanding of the matter. Have I accused you, or any other commentator, of poor understanding of the matter. These kinds of ad hominem remarks merely suggest to the reader that you have little else going for your case,

    2. Derek,

      It is not ad hominem. I am sorry, but that is not what that phrase means. Did I accuse you of kicking puppies or sleeping with interns?

      You have indicted scientists and medical researchers as a whole. You call anybody that's not anti-gmo a Monsantoite. Sorry if I assumed you were okay with such rhetoric.

      Would you feel offended (not personally) if somebody was out there calling all linguists hacks? That your entire profession is built upon faulty notions? I think you'd have something to say if a chemist made that type of remark. You should.

      But, it's your blog. If you believe that having apperent defficiencies in understanding pointed out to be ad hominem, then I will stop.

    3. Well, here's the Merriam-Webster definition:
      1. appealing to feelings or prejudices rather than intellect
      2 marked by or being an attack on an opponent's character rather than by an answer to the contentions made.
      Guilty as charged, I'd say. As for my "deficiencies", you chose just the right adjective: "apparent" (as opposed to "real"). As for Monsantoite, if you read my blog more carefully you'll see I haven't used that term for several weeks, out of consideration for a GMO supporter who found it offensive.

  7. LOL Youbetcha. That was great. BTW have you heard of GMO factor?
    I had a question that was censored a couple weeks ago. I guess there study is flawed.
    Jon A.