Most of you are probably familiar with Roundup, the trade name for the Monsanto herbicide glyphosate. You may use it in your fields or to control broadleaf weeds and crabgrass in your lawn, on the edges of your flowerbeds, along your sidewalks, and around tree trunks.
If you’ve used it, you know it works. And tests show that its residues are very short-lived, as it decomposes into natural compounds, including carbon dioxide, phosphoric acid and ammonia. So, it poses no environmental threats.
However, in the world of concerned citizens, fear mongers, activists and the Internet, not everyone believes the science-based information that backs glyphosate. According to the naysayers, Monsanto, the developer and manufacturer of glyphosate, is part of an evil Darth Vader empire that makes boatloads of money selling their poison to anyone and everyone. The World Health Organization (WHO) has reported that glyphosate may cause cancer. They acknowledge science doesn’t support their conclusion, but just to be on the safe side…
The WHO operates on the philosophy of the precautionary principle, which means approaching new products with a “better safe than sorry” attitude, regardless of what science may say. Also based on this principle, the WHO lists 946 other products as potentially cancer causing, though science doesn’t support a conclusion that they do cause cancer.
In 2015, the United Nations’ International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) also classified glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic to humans,” noting alleged evidence of glyphosate being associated with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
It was later discovered that a National Institute of Health (NIH) employee with access to the data conveniently withheld relevant glyphosate data from the 2015 IARC study. When all the data was included, it was clear that no association existed between glyphosate and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Talk about fake news! This is a clear-cut example of subterfuge by activist “scientists,” as the IARC committee members concealed and manipulated data to serve up their own agenda. This lack of transparency by the IARC and its flawed opinions are now being investigated by Congress.
Finally, the truth came out. A long-term research project, the Agricultural Health Study, involving licensed pesticide applicators from North Carolina and Iowa, found no statistically significant association of glyphosate use and cancer. Study results were published Nov. 9, 2017, in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.
That brings me to flawed thinking going on in California. (I think they may have inhaled too much smoke. And not from the wild fires, if you get my drift.) The state of California has ignored all the science, choosing to believe the flawed IARC conclusions that classify glyphosate as a carcinogen. This has created a huge donnybrook. Major agriculture industry groups across the country have united in a lawsuit against the government of California in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California.
At issue in court is the government of California’s decision to ignore their own agricultural scientists, the large Agricultural Health Study, EPA studies and agricultural studies from the European Chemicals Agency and classify glyphosate as a probable carcinogen. By California statute, manufacturers of products containing glyphosate sold in the state must label them as being probable carcinogens, even though science has proven the state regulators wrong.
This is just another episode of false hysteria creating one more regulation based on fake news for all of us to have to bear with for no reason.
And since 2015, regulators in Canada, Europe, Japan and New Zealand have validated that glyphosate is not a carcinogen. Sometimes I wonder if the San Andreas Fault would do us all a favor by sliding California off into the ocean — just exercising my own precautionary principle.