Junk science

Does Popular Herbicide Glyphosate Cause Cancer? Probably Not

Anti-GMO types are ecstatic over regulatory ruling that the herbicide is a probable human carcinogen.

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glyphosate
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The International Agency for Research on Cancer (a part of the World Health Organization) gather panels of experts to consider data concerning the possible carcinogenicity of various substances from time to time. Earlier this week, one such IARC committee issued a ruling that the popular glyphosate (a.k.a. Roundup) herbicide is a "probable human carcinogen." That makes it a IARC Group 2B substance, that is to say, that the agency thinks that glyphosate is as carcinogenic as coffee and pickled vegetables. This IARC finding was published in the journal The Lancet Oncology along with similar rulings on four other pesticides.

The IARC committee apparently considered four epidemiological studies that reported some link between exposure to glyphosate and various cancers. Interestingly, the IARC apparently ignored a much more comprehensive review of the toxicological literature with respect of glyphosate published in 2012. That more extensive review included all four of the studies mentioned by the IARC panel in their Lancet Oncology article. All of those studies are case-control studies, the lowest and least accurate form of epidemiological augury. The more extensive 2012 review reported:

Our review of the currently available epidemiologic literature on glyphosate and cancer found no evidence of a consistent pattern of positive associations that would be indicative of a causal relationship between any site-specific cancer and exposure to glyphosate. The prospective AHS has evaluated associations between glyphosate and all cancer sites (De Roos et al., 2005), with no statistically significant results. Other studies, including cohort and case-control studies of specific cancers have similarly reported results generally consistent with the null hypothesis.

An article in Critical Reviews in Toxicology just published that looked at 15 studies in which rodents were dosed with high levels of glyphosate reports:

There was no evidence of a carcinogenic effect related to glyphosate treatment. The lack of a plausible mechanism, along with published epidemiology studies, which fail to demonstrate clear, statistically significant, unbiased and non-confounded associations between glyphosate and cancer of any single etiology, and a compelling weight of evidence, support the conclusion that glyphosate does not present concern with respect to carcinogenic potential in humans.

The folks over at the American Council on Science and Health have also weighed in against the IARC ruling. ACSH quotes a recent analysis by the German Risk Agency that …

…concluded in a reevaluation in January 2015 that "the available data do not show carcinogenic or mutagenic properties of glyphosate nor that glyphosate is toxic to fertility, reproduction or embryonal/fetal development in laboratory animals," and "in epidemiological studies in humans, there was no evidence of carcinogenicity and there were no effects on fertility, reproduction and development of neurotoxicity that might be attributed to glyphosate." …

ACSH's Dr. Gil Ross added this comment: "We here at ACSH have been keen observers of the working of IARC over the years, and while this ruling is disappointing for anyone devoted to sound science as the basis of regulatory policy, no one should be surprised. This agency of the WHO/UN is among the worst of the hyper-regulators, and has developed a well-deserved reputation for breezing past or simply ignoring the latest (or even the consensus) science in the service of their precautionary principle-based agenda."

This scientifically misbegotten ruling will spur even greater efforts from anti-biotech activists since glyphosate is used in conjunction with biotech crops designed to resist it.

Disclosure: About a year ago I bought 100 shares of Monsanto with my own money for $109 per share. They were going yesterday at $113.50 per share.

NEXT: A. Barton Hinkle on Virginia's Out of Control Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control

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  1. Thank God. I was worried that my daily cup of Round-Up was going to kill me for a minute there.

    1. *furiously searches for “Like” button – remembers this isn’t Facederp*

      1. I do this regularly.

        Interestingly enough, I even did it with the comment I’m responding to.

    2. I was worried that my daily cup of Round-Up was going to kill me for a minute there.

      I was just thinking about all the people I know who’ve consumed concentrated Round-Up/glyphosate and are probably breathing a big sigh of relief.

      Not because Round-Up isn’t a carcinogen, but because it’s Wednesday.

    3. It won’t kill you, but it will wreck your gut flora:

      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23224412

      Bailey strikes out again.

      1. Strikes out how? The article was in response to the proposal that glyphosate causes cancer, not whether or not it has anti-bacterial properties that alter your gut.

        Stay on topic.

        1. Millions of brown people deserve to die so that Ed can ensure his intestinal ecology stays balanced.

  2. glyphosate is as carcinogenic as coffee and pickled vegetables.

    *** contemplates adding Roundup to lunch components ***

    1. Bananas are radioactive, so add some of those, too.

      1. FRANKENFOODS!!11!!!!

      2. All foods are radioactive – some are just more radioactive than others.

  3. But,but,big Ag,they are killing us as we get older that ever and have more food and poor people get fat!!!

  4. I hope you aren’t paid by the word, Ron.

    1. Russians censored the rest.

    2. He is paid by the Reason Foundation, probably.

      1. .01 cents a word and a lash for every typo, then?

    3. About a year ago I bought 100 shares of Monsanto

      Ron is rolling in agrotech $$.

      1. Notice the loophole: he didn’t say he didn’t buy more. Ron’s a sneaky bastard.

  5. “The United Nations! Doing UNScience since 1945.”

  6. “The United Nations! Doing UNScience since 1945.”

    1. Sorry sorry. Squirrels squirrels.

  7. So, is the blog done crashing yet?

    1. I had to close out of Chrome and come back about three times.

      1. It’s not on your end.

    2. I blame it on glyphosate.

    3. You lie! On Hit&Run; there was working code! A chance to comment!

  8. Jesus Christ, the fucking Lancet, AGAIN?
    Why does anyone take this publication seriously anymore?

    GMO potatos cause organ damage (retracted)
    Vaccines cause autism (retracted)
    Iraq invasion caused 1 million iraqi casualties (widely perceived to be bullshit)

    Seriously, does this publication exist to do anything other than shovel pseudo-scientific progressve propaganda?

  9. “ACSH’s Dr. Gil Ross added this comment: “We here at ACSH have been keen observers of the working of IARC over the years, and while this ruling is disappointing for anyone devoted to sound science as the basis of regulatory policy, no one should be surprised. This agency of the WHO/UN is among the worst of the hyper-regulators, and has developed a well-deserved reputation for breezing past or simply ignoring the latest (or even the consensus) science in the service of their precautionary principle-based agenda.””

    This was a refreshing pimpslap in the scientific community.

    1. Agreed. It’s really irritating when the scientific communities lies down and acts as dormats to the purveyors of pseudo-scientific anti-GMO bullshit. All for the sake of propriety.

    2. Agreed. It’s really irritating when the scientific communities lies down and acts as dormats to the purveyors of pseudo-scientific anti-GMO bullshit. All for the sake of propriety.

  10. OT:

    “House Introduces Bill to Repeal the Patriot Act”

    Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) and Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) have introduced the Surveillance State Repeal Act that would end the NSA’s unconstitutional domestic spying. I can say without hesitation: this bill is the real deal.

    http://www.freedomworks.org/co…..atriot-act

    1. They should change the name first, and then try to repeal it.

      1. So, you want the terrorists to win, huh?

        1. They already have won.

          http://www.myfoxtwincities.com…..Fo.twitter

          If you get convicted of planting a bomb, you still qualify for TSA Pre Check. If you criticize the TSA, you’re a security threat.

          We are so fucked.

          1. Oh. Hat Tip Nicole.
            She sucks.

            1. Indeed. The worst, I hear.

              Time to shut down the TSA. That’s just absurd.

    2. It would extend judges’ terms on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court and technical and legal experts to advise on technical issues raised during proceedings.

      ?

    3. Gotta love having to introduce a bill to stop the govt from doing something unconstitutional. “And this time we mean it!”

    4. I can already hear the chorus of retards shouting “IF WE REPEAL IT TEH MOOZLUM TURRIRISTS WILL TAKE OVER!!1!”

  11. probable human carcinogen…as carcinogenic as coffee and pickled vegetables

    Only GMO coffee and vegetables, though.

    1. Not according to the UN.

  12. Guess I picked a bad week to give up glyphosates.

  13. About a year ago I bought 100 shares of Monsanto with my own money

    Just this one time. Ron is in the pocket of Big AG!!!!

  14. Glyphosate kills poison ivy. So it’s OK with me.

    1. What I really want is something to kill kudzu. But I suspect that some mutant kudzu would survive and come back stronger than ever. It’s like cancer.

      1. Fire, plow, repeat several cycles. Then concrete.

        1. You forgot to salt the Earth.

        2. Or get a goat. You can also eat the stuff yourself.

      2. Harvest it for gasification.

    2. Amen!

  15. “Anti-GMO types are ecstatic over regulatory ruling that the herbicide is a probable human carcinogen.”

    Which is ridiculous on the face of it.
    GMO crops (the plants) may be resistant to Roundup (the herbicide), but the plant is still NOT the herbicide, so why those opposed to GMOs are ecstatic can only be because they are ignorant of the difference.

    1. Oh, they’re ecstatic because they can say “your food has glyphosate in it!!!!”

      Ignoring that the amount that actually gets in food from application around or on growing plants is, well, it’s basically nothing.

      1. Sigivald|3.25.15 @ 4:18PM|#
        “Oh, they’re ecstatic because they can say “your food has glyphosate in it!!!!””

        Certainly true, but also true of non-GMO foods.

  16. Disclosure: About a year ago I bought 100 shares of Monsanto with my own money for $109 per share. They were going yesterday at $113.50 per share.

    If only we could get capitalism out of agriculture, we could have unlimited free food.

    /typical prog

  17. The link you provided actually classifies glyphosate as class 2A (not 2B). Although it appears to be more concerning with some of the things listed under that rating, it also includes shift work (that disturbs your sleep cycle)! It doesn’t take away from your other, bigger points about the process for giving the rating in the first place. Thanks for the back story!

    1. 2A, the same risk assigned to beryllium exposure from burning firewood

  18. Naturally, the classification and its meaning are never discussed by the hippies hyperventilating about it.

    Unsurprisingly, since they … like things like using a wood stove to heat your house (2A).

    Manufacture of art glass objects [pot pipes, hippie!]? 2A.

    Hot Mate [tea analogue]? 2A.

    (And, for non-hippies –

    Being a roofer? Also 2A from bitumen exposure.

    Frying things? 2A.)

    As in all things, the hysterical forget that dose and exposure matter – the only people who should have any possible concern at all about glyphosates and cancer are people who directly work with it – those people should use normal safety equipment like gloves and masks while applying anything, in any case.

    But then, they also class RF EM as 2B, suggesting that by “possible” they really mean “anything short of total disproof of carcinogenic activity”. Which is fair, from a scientific standpoint, but …

  19. Huh. Edith Efron characterized IARC as the most conservative prominent body of its kind, having the most trustworthy listings of levels of suspicion for things as human carcinogens. Have things gone topsy-turvy, or are they now so bad that even IARC is lousy, and everyone else even worse?

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