We all got a cancer news wakeup call earlier this year when Monsanto’s Roundup, the most widely used herbicide in the U.S. and one of the world’s most popular weed-killers, was labeled a probable carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer.
IARC, the World Health Organization based in France, reviewed five insect and weed killers including glyphosate. 17 experts from 11 countries met at the International Agency for Research on Cancer to assess the link between cancer and the following 5 pesticides: tetrachlorvinphos, parathion, malathion, diazinon and glyphosate.
This table comes from the report that was published in The Lancet
The analysis determined that glyphosate falls into the second of four levels of concern for possible cancer-causing substances.
The 4 levels are:
- Known carcinogens
- Probable or possible carcinogens (where glyphosate now stands)
- Not classifiable
- Probably not carcinogenic (where glyphosate was previously rated)
Two of the pesticides, tetrachlorvinphos and parathion, were rated as possibly carcinogenic to humans, or category 2B. Malathion, diazinon and glyphosate were all rated as probably carcinogenic to humans, category 2A.
It is not likely that the US government will do anything in response to this latest cancer news to protect citizens from the carcinogen. Given it’s ties to Monsanto, the U.S. governments’ Environmental Protection Agency is likely to stick with the same conclusion it came to in 2012 when the EPA concluded that glyphosate met the statutory safety standards.
Some studies have concluded that Roundup is lethal even in small doses.
Why Is Glyphosate Being Singled Out
Glyphosate is being single out because it is the most widely produced herbicide; it is currently being used in more than 750 different products. The use of glyphosate has skyrocketed in recent years due to the development of herbicide-resistant genetically modified crops. GMO crops are made to withstand many applications of the herbicide.
Cancer News – Glyphosate Now Showing Up In Humans
Monsanto has always claimed that glyphosate is excreted by the body, but glyphosate has been detected in the air, the water and in our food. Residuals of the chemical have been found in urine samples, blood samples and it has even been found in breast milk!
“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. As a result, the Working Group classified glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic to humans.”
Monsanto Strongly Disagrees With The Decision
The assessment by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has been followed by an immediate backlash from industry groups.
Robb Fraley, chief technology officer at Monsanto in St Louis, Missouri, accused the IARC of “cherry picking” data. “We are outraged with this assessment,” he said in a statement.
Phil Miller, a spokesman for Monsanto said “All labeled uses of glyphosate are safe for human health.”
It’s Safe Enough To Drink
Patrick Moore, who Greenpeace calls a paid representative of corporate polluters, was interviewed by filmmaker Paul Moreira for a French TV documentary. Moore has been known to say that Roundup is safe enough to drink – until he was asked to do it, while being filmed.
Needless to say, Mr. Moore was not willing to do what he’d been telling other people they could safely do. Moreira asks Moore, “You want to drink some? We have some here,” Moore responded “I’d be happy to … not really, but I know it wouldn’t hurt me. You could drink a quart and it wouldn’t hurt you.”
It’s not that anyone would expect Mr. Moore to drink a glass at every interview. But I’m surprised that Moore didn’t take even a small sip just this one time just to keep up appearances. He’s been saying it’s safe to drink for a long time.
Monsanto Demanded A Retraction
Monsanto demanded a retraction by the World Health Organization but the WHO has rightfully decided not to do that. Monsanto is seeking to be declared innocent because there is insufficient evidence to prove without a doubt that glyphosate causes cancer in humans.
But the WHO report did not claim that glyphosate definitely causes cancer in humans. They took an exceptionally reasonable position and said that multiple scientific studies suggest there is a link.
“For the herbicide glyphosate, there was limited evidence of carcinogenicity in humans for non-Hodgkin lymphoma,” the study said. “The evidence in humans is from studies of exposures, mostly agricultural, in the U.S., Canada and Sweden published since 2001.”
“In addition, there is convincing evidence that glyphosate also causes cancer in laboratory animals. Glyphosate also caused DNA and chromosomal damage in human cells. One study in community residents reported increases in blood markers of chromosomal damage after glyphosate formulations were sprayed nearby.”
The study points out that limited does not mean nonexistent, which is what Monsanto wants it to declare. When a substance is categorized as probably carcinogenic to humans, it says there is limited evidence of carcinogenicity in humans and sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity in experimental animals.
While Monsanto says such studies are invalid, the critics say they merit attention
GMO Crops Love Glyphosate
The huge increase in the use of glyphosate is directly linked to the introduction of GMO crops. This chart shows how quickly GMO crops have been introduced to our food supply in the past 20 years.
GMO crops thrive on glyphosate and they are the reason why crop producers use more and more of the pesticide each and every year. The problem is, the saying ‘you are what you eat’ applies to more than humans. It applies to plant life too.
GMO crops are ubiquitous today; even our livestock is raised mostly on GMO corn. Much of the food we eat relies on way too much glyphosate just to make it to the table.
Final Comment On Cancer News
There is a reason why workers wear full-body protective suits when they clean up chemical spills. It’s because pesticides are toxic to humans in large doses or when exposed to for prolonged periods of time. The ever increasing use of glyphosate year after year puts us all in the second category as we are all being exposed to it for prolonged periods of time.
Should glyphosate be banned? Of course not. Glyphosate is an effective weed killer and it serves an important function when used properly. What we have today is not a proper use of pesticides. Glyphosate is being used in extremely high doses and there is only one reason why this is taking place. GMO crops!
Food & Water Watch found that the “total volume of glyphosate applied to the three biggest GE crops — corn, cotton and soybeans — increased 10-fold from 15 million pounds in 1996 to 159 million pounds in 2012.
The fact that glyphosate has been detected in the air, the water, our food, urine samples, blood samples and breast milk are a warning that we need to revisit the widespread approval of GMO crops before irreversible damage has been done.
Yes, pesticides serve a purpose, but a farming technique that not only encourages but actually requires double or triple the amount of pesticides to grow the crop, is not only a bad idea, it is one that should be banned. GMO seeds have not only failed to deliver any benefit, they have directly contributed to the overuse of cancer-causing pesticides.