Another Common Misconception Corrected?

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So many have been complaining, so many have been wrong. About 1.5 million citizens residing in the European Union (EU) have signed a petition to block this approval.

For two years, the World Health Organization (International Agency for Research on Cancer) has been alleging that Roundup, the world’s most commonly used herbicide, was carcinogenic. On the other hand, the European Food Safety Authority concluded the opposite- that glyphosate is safe to use.

Drs. Laura E Beane Freeman (lead author), Gabriella Andreotti, Stella Koutros, Jonathan N Hofmann, Dale P Sandler, Debra T Silverman, Jay H Lubin, Michael C Alavanja, Catherine C Lerro (all 9 from the National Cancer Institute), along with Drs. Charles F Lynch (Iowa State Health Registry), Anneclaire J De Roos (Drexel University) and Christine G Parks (National Institute of Health) reported on the health of farm workers who may have been exposed to glyphosate. Some 54,251 folks (farmers in North Carolina and Iowa) comprised the census, of which more than 80% (44392) employed the RoundUp chemical. This study is a component of the Agricultural Health Study (AHS)  (under the auspices of the National Institutes of Health), examining farmer health in North Carolina and Iowa, that has been an ongoing study for some 25 years now.


This data demonstrated there was no statistically significant incidences of cancer, but for those who were exposed to the most glyphosate, there was an increase in leukemia, but not as a scientifically significant occurrence. The direct finding was there was no association between glyphosate, the main ingredient in the herbicide Roundup, “and any solid tumors or lymphoid malignancies overall, including non-Hodgkin Lymphoma . . . and its subtypes.”

In March of 2017, the EU’s chemicals agency dismissed those claims of the WHO (as a result of the above study and other analyses). And, then, in late November, a majority (18) of the 28 nations that comprise the EU afforded Monsanto a five year license renewal for glyphoate (the generic name for RoundUp).

To be honest, some of these results were a fluke- they came about because of the flux of the government in Germany. Given that no clear majority resulted from the German election nor has a coalition government been formed, the environmental minister (Barbara Hendricks) and the farm minister (Christian Schmidt) were engaged in a spat; which prevented an abstention to be declared by Germany.

(The way the EU works, it’s not just a majority of country’s votes that counts, but a majority of the 500 million citizens that comprise the union. So, had Germany abstained, as the most-populous bloc in the EU, the approval would not have occurred. Schmidt still alleges the commission would have approved the herbicide, because he obtained concessions regarding biodiversity and animal health provisions contained in the resolution.)

The Glyphosphate Task Force (a lobbying group) feels that this was a terrible decision, too. Since the scientific assessment data was satisfactory, EU regulatory practice should have afforded Monsanto a 15 year license- not a 5 year one.

Isn’t that the definition of a compromise?  When no one is fully satisfied?  (Even if the scientific data backs up the final result.)Roy A. Ackerman, Ph.D., E.A.

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