Jun 13 2014

Moms for Pseudoscience – Roundup Edition

I really resent groups that transparently try to take the moral high ground, or appropriate an entire category of people, to bolster their personal ideology. The Thinking Moms Revolution (TMR) is one such group. Sorry, you don’t speak for moms, and your group is certainly not based on thoughtfullness.

A recent blog post in the HuffPo is clear pro-organic propaganda, borrowing the “mom” meme from TMR and another such group, Moms Across America. The theme of the blog is that glyphosate, the active ingredient in the herbicide Roundup, is a horrible toxin that is destroying our health, but luckily these plucky moms are going to take on the EPA and demand safety for our children (because the EPA obviously can’t do their job without help from non-scientist ideologues).

I went through a couple of overloaded irony meters reading the post, especially with this section: “Swaying Decision Makers With Science.” The article, rather, is a series of anecdotes, misrepresentations, and cherry-picked factoids masquerading as science for the purpose of ideological advocacy. No, eating organic is not going to cure your child of autism.

The author, Ronnie Cummins, who is the Director of the Organic Consumers Association, actually goes there. If you believe him then glyphosate (and by implication, not eating organic) causes autism, celiac disease, breast cancer, leaky-gut syndrome, Alzheimers, infertility, and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. It even worsens the toxicity of vaccines (in case you thought they were going to get off the hook).

The point of attaching “moms” to these claims is simple. If I criticize the pseudoscience he is peddling, then I am attacking moms. It’s its own logical fallacy, a false ad-hominem fallacy, taking an argument about science and evidence and falsely presenting it as if it is a personal attack against a beloved group.

RFK actually wrote an article (also in the HuffPo) called, “Attack on Mothers.” in case the point was being made too subtly.

As just one example of the shoddy reasoning used by Cummins is this statement: “His urine had 8.7 parts per billion of glyphosate — eight times more than is allowed in drinking water in the EU.”

This is another common mistake, or strategy, depending on your perspective – make false comparisons. What does the level in urine have to do with the allowable level in drinking water?

First, there is a little cherry picking going on here. The EPA reports:

The MCLG for glyphosate is 0.7 mg/L or 700 ppb. EPA has set this level of protection based on the best available science to prevent potential health problems.

Hmmm – they set their safety level at 700 ppb, but Cummings doesn’t mention that. Well, maybe the US is an outlier because we are actually run by Monsanto. The World Health Organization says:

WHO’s current position on glyphosate is that its health-based value is orders of magnitude higher than concentrations normally found in drinking-water, so that the establishment of a numerical guideline value is not deemed necessary.

In other words, they don’t even bother with a safety limit because the levels in drinking water are orders of magnitude below any concern.

What about the EU limit? From what I can find the EU limits any pesticide to 0.1 mg/L – that would equal 100 ppb, not the 1 ppb that Cummings claimed. But what’s a couple orders of magnitude?

In any case, this all has nothing to do with safe limits in the urine.The levels reported indicate exposure, but not necessarily any health risk.

His reporting of the science has links to article by Mercola, which says a lot. He also links to studies without really representing what they say. For example, in the paragraph where he claims that glyphosate makes vaccines more toxic, he links to this study looking at industrial exposure to multiple herbicides and pesticides (not just glyphosate). He provides no evidence to back up his allegedly scientific claims.

He also reports:

“Glyphosate is a chelator that deprives living things of vital nutrients, vitamins and minerals. This is how glyphosate kills plants.”

Really?  Every reference I found says:

“Once absorbed by the plant, glyphosate binds to and blocks the activity of the enzyme enolpyruvylshikimate-3-phosphate synthase (EPSPS). “

Blocking this enzyme keeps plants from growing and kills them. The enzyme is also not present in animals. It works better for his narrative, however, to say that glyphosate works by doing something that would be harmful to people, even if it’s not true. I also researched the specific claim that glyphosate is a chelator, and found a review that concludes:

(1) although there is conflicting literature on the effects of glyphosate on mineral nutrition on GR crops, most of the literature indicates that mineral nutrition in GR crops is not affected by either the GR trait or by application of glyphosate; (2) most of the available data support the view that neither the GR transgenes nor glyphosate use in GR crops increases crop disease; and (3) yield data on GR crops do not support the hypotheses that there are substantive mineral nutrition or disease problems that are specific to GR crops.

Assuming someone was interested in finding out what the scientific evidence actually says, rather than creating a piece of scaremongering propaganda, what would one find in the published scientific literature?

A systematic review published on 2000 found:

Experimental evidence has shown that neither glyphosate nor AMPA bioaccumulates in any animal tissue. No significant toxicity occurred in acute, subchronic, and chronic studies.

and

Therefore, it is concluded that the use of Roundup herbicide does not result in adverse effects on development, reproduction, or endocrine systems in humans and other mammals. For purposes of risk assessment, no-observed-adverse-effect levels (NOAELs) were identified for all subchronic, chronic, developmental, and reproduction studies with glyphosate, AMPA, and POEA.

As pesticides go, glyphosate has very low toxicity, and any dose a person is likely to get exposed to is well below the safety limits. A 2012 review looking specifically at reproductive and developmental effects found:

In conclusion, the available literature shows no solid evidence linking glyphosate exposure to adverse developmental or reproductive effects at environmentally realistic exposure concentrations.

This includes exposure of farm workers spraying glyphosate, as the chemical is very poorly absorbed through the skin.

A 2011 review of epidemiological studies looking at the association of glyphosate and all non-cancer health outcomes found:

Our review found no evidence of a consistent pattern of positive associations indicating a causal relationship between any disease and exposure to glyphosate. Most reported associations were weak and not significantly different from 1.0.

And a 2012 study looking at cancer outcomes:

Our review found no consistent pattern of positive associations indicating a causal relationship between total cancer (in adults or children) or any site-specific cancer and exposure to glyphosate.

Conclusion

Of course the toxicity literature on any chemical is going to be complicated. When you look at the effects of any chemical on cells in a petri dish, you will usually see effects. If you give very high doses to animals, pushing the dose until toxicity occurs just to see what it takes and what happens, then of course you will find all kinds of toxicity.

This creates lots of studies with superficially scary results if you don’t know how to read the literature, or if you are looking for scary results to bolster your narrative.

The most relevant studies, however, are ones that look at health outcomes in humans at realistic exposure levels, including epidemiological studies looking for any correlation. Multiple reviews of these studies find no significant health concern for glyphosate. There are still some questions to be explored – for example studies showing a higher rate of lymphoma in workers exposed to multiple pesticides should be followed up.

Cummins article gets the science significantly wrong, cherry picks studies, cites dubious sources or sources that don’t back up his basic claims, and mixes this all in with emotional appeals and anecdotal evidence. The further irony here is that glyphosate appears to be one of the least toxic herbicides in use, and banning or restricting its use might result in increased use of more toxic herbicides.

Cummins seems hopeful that the mom groups were able to make their case and present their science before the EPA and that the EPA will now review the safety of glyphosate. I don’t share his prediction that the EPA will reverse the current regulation of glyphosate.

The EPA is usually very thorough at looking at all the relevant science and knowing how to put it into context. I don’t think they are going to be bamboozled by a horse and pony show. I guess we’ll see.

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37 responses so far

37 Responses to “Moms for Pseudoscience – Roundup Edition”

  1. jasontimothyjoneson 13 Jun 2014 at 9:05 am

    When I read “Moral High Ground” I consider Immanuel Kant, who said on morals that every action should have pure intention behind it, otherwise it was meaningless. By this he means that an action or act done because it is right to do so, and that the final result of the action was not as important, but how the person felt while carrying out the action or act was the time at which moral value was set.

    So in the case of the above you (well I) see that by attempting to take the Moral High Ground in such a manner are actually acting immorally, thats right TMR you have an immoral organisation, how do you feel about that

  2. SteveAon 13 Jun 2014 at 10:19 am

    Invoking the ‘M-word’ is great (if cheap) way of placing your organisation within a frame of warm, fuzzy, tender feeling.

    There was once a woo guest on SGU who asked everyone to create and hold a picture of their mother in their imagination, this ability supposedly proving something spiritual. The same point could have been made equally well by imagining the face of Bugs Bunny, but I doubt this would have imbued the exercise with the same gravitas and second-hand sense of ‘meaningfulness’.

  3. Skepticoon 13 Jun 2014 at 10:59 am

    I’m pretty sure Ronnie Cummins is a man.

  4. Perpetualsecondon 13 Jun 2014 at 12:04 pm

    Making the distinction between detection and relevance seems to be a common problem. A detection of 8.7 ppb of glyphosate is relevant to one’s health is like saying that a single grape is going to stave off starvation. Yes a grape it is a definitely detectable amount of food but in a starvation situation it’s not likely to do much for you.

    Also the laundry list of terrors that glyphosate can inflict on us didn’t even bother to bring up kidney and liver damage, which at least has animal data from rats and mice to support it.

  5. uncle_steveon 13 Jun 2014 at 12:34 pm

    People like this may be well-meaning, but they are such hypocrites. How the heck do they go about their daily lives? Besides all the other “toxins” they deliberately expose themselves to, how is it that they are able to use computers and set up blogs to spread their message, considering all the “toxic” chemicals and metals they are made of?

    Oh wait, maybe the computers they use are “100% natural”, “organic”, and non-GMO. I swear there is a market for this – Apple should get right to it!

  6. Steven Novellaon 13 Jun 2014 at 1:05 pm

    Skeptico – Ah, I misinterpreted the tiny picture. Thanks. Fixed now.

  7. BillyJoe7on 13 Jun 2014 at 3:08 pm

    Uncle Steve: “they are such hypocrites”

    When a believer in alternative health treats his own illness, he doesn’t use all of the thousands of natural products that have ever been promoted as a treatment for his illness, he uses the one product most readily to hand, which is usually the product being directly promoted to him by an alternative health practitioner, or the first one he finds that appeals to him on his random internet search.

  8. MaryMon 14 Jun 2014 at 12:45 pm

    But I thought they liked to treat their kids with chelators? Huh. Must have been a different one the quacks recommended.

    I’m sure it won’t come as a surprised to you that Cummins is an anti-vaxxer:

    Allowing one-time therapeutic antibiotics is “a slippery slope,” says Ronnie Cummins, national director of the Organic Consumers Association, and would “undermine consumer confidence in organics. It’s the same position [I have] as on human vaccines. They are dangerous, and that’s why I didn’t vaccinate my kid.”

    This is someone to trust of food science and food safety? Right.

    Via: http://inthesetimes.com/article/6330/the_cruel_irony_of_organic_standards

    Binders full of science. I don’t think that means what they think it means. Alas.

  9. BBBlueon 14 Jun 2014 at 2:16 pm

    Thought I would share my recent online experiences related to this subject.

    I’ve been engaged in a conversation with an anti-GMO, anti-pesticide, ardent supporter of Moms Across America for the past two months on the MAA website. I was drawn to that site by headlines which claimed that a recent survey supports the contention that…

    The shocking results point to glyphosate levels building up in women’s bodies over a period of time, which has until now been refuted by both global regulatory authorities and the biotech industry.

    …and I decided to stay a while in an attempt to develop my debating skills. Fortunately, a Mr. Peter Kindersley seemed happy to oblige.

    My initial approach was to explain the null hypothesis and ask for best evidence in support of the claim that glyphosate is harmful. The replies were predictable; references to poorly done, equivocal research done by the likes of Séralini and other advocates pretending to be scientists along with a liberal sprinkling of vitriol directed at Monsanto, “industry” and a corrupt EPA.

    Of course, when flaws were pointed out in what passes for evidence to Mr. Kindersley, the replies generally took one of these forms:

    1. I must be on the Glyphosate Task Force (GTF) or a paid lobbyist for Monsanto.

    2. The EPA is corrupt and one cannot trust any research done by industry. Remember PCBs, Agent Orange, dioxin, DDT?

    3. Plea to apply an absolutist version of the Precautionary Principle in an attempt to flip the burden of proof.

    4. Dismissal of all evidence that does not fit the anti-Monsanto, anti-GMO, anti-pesticide narrative and the promotion of pseudoscience as evidence. This was often done in combination with the claim that there is not enough evidence because surveys like the one sponsored by MAA “raise new questions”.

    In the end, I found myself at the wall I assume many skeptics experience when they discuss an issue with true believers; that moment when the true believer runs out of ammo, starts repeating the same assertions and logical fallacies and it becomes obvious they were never listening in the first place.

  10. Willyon 14 Jun 2014 at 3:55 pm

    Moms Across America–wackos, although Zen Huneycutt IS a great name.

    The following link to a “stunning GMO corn comparison” is well worth reading closely, particularly the table of “data”. The ludicrousness of the data in the table is mind boggling, simply mind boggling. Kevin Folta tried to reason with her on her blog, but to no avail. That she hasn’t since removed this table from her web site speaks volumes and volumes. The status of science education in this country is pathetic.

  11. Willyon 14 Jun 2014 at 4:03 pm

    And, the link is here (sorry): http://www.momsacrossamerica.com/stunning_corn_comparison_gmo_versus_non_gmo

  12. efdxc1300on 14 Jun 2014 at 5:37 pm

    Maybe this isn’t the right place to put it, but in terms of significant effects in low concentrations, there have been at least three publications (though at least one has been retracted) showing a link between glyophosphate and endocrine effects.

    http://www.salsila.co.il/image/users/237364/ftp/my_files/1-s20-S0278691513003633-main.pdf?id=12800209

    This study reports effects on the order of parts per trillion. Other studies have shown similar effects only in order of parts per million, but effects nonetheless.

    Has there been discussion specifically of these claims?

  13. Bill Openthalton 14 Jun 2014 at 8:57 pm

    The weird thing is that she is prepared to believe a representative of a seed company just because they don’t do GMO seeds. Actually, because they claim that. But she not willing to listen to Kevin Folta, no matter how hard he tries to show empathy and consideration. Typical.

  14. Verityon 14 Jun 2014 at 10:01 pm

    I got a message from someone from Moms Across America about this because I moderate a La Leche League forum and she assumed I would be sympathetic to the cause.

    The message wasn’t entirely clear, but I think she was saying that her babies had had trouble with breastfeeding at first, and she now believes it was because the guy next door used Round Up.

    All the crunchy obsessing in the groups I moderate—over pesticides, GMOs, gluten, “hidden” food allergies, etc, etc—makes me crazy, but at the same time I feel bad for these moms who put SO much time and effort into preparing only the most nutritious, organic, GMO-free, gluten-free, natural foods because they’re convinced it’s what’s best for their children… It’s got to be exhausting, but how could they *not* do what they think is best for their kids?

    Those of us who aren’t well-educated in science and may not be able to evaluate scientific information for ourselves have to find some sources that we trust to interpret it for us. I haven’t quite figured out how to convince people that they should trust Science-Based Medicine and not trust Mercola or WAPF.

  15. Sylakon 14 Jun 2014 at 11:34 pm

    Excellent Review. Funny how what they are using are mostly disproving their claims. Of course you can’t even count Mercola, that’s beyond doubtful. As if because they are moms they know better than everyone who studied those thing, preposterous.

    @BBBblue : A lot of them are left winged, but the “liberal sprinkling of vitriol” is not liberal but just Plain stupid. I’m very liberal, but I will defend critical thinking and sciences. But I guess that my side got a lot of Ecolo-nonlogical people. That’s the problem, they forgot the “logical” in the word ecological. They transforms the ecological debate into a ideological, emotional and political debate, when it is all about the science!

  16. BBBlueon 15 Jun 2014 at 11:15 am

    Hey Sylak,

    I get your point, but i was using “liberal” as in “a generous amount”.

    I agree, science should transend politics, but instead, often falls victim to it. There also seems to be a category of eccentrics who are not so much motivated by a political viewpoint as they are by a cause. And some of them appear to have enough money to support rather sophisticated labs and research efforts to advance their cause, truth be damned.

  17. the devils gummy bearon 15 Jun 2014 at 2:57 pm

    Willy,

    And, the link is here (sorry): http://www.momsacrossamerica.com/stunning_corn_comparison_gmo_versus_non_gmo

    The comments there are painful. My face hurts and is beet-red. My palms hurt. My brain hurts.

  18. Sylakon 15 Jun 2014 at 4:34 pm

    @BBBlue : I was not insulted, I just wanted to make it clear that there’s Skeptical liberals :-)

    Yeah, I see you point, like Seralini and the Likes, who claim to have “independent” funding, but are truly funded by 100% anti-gmo group, and a big vegetable distribution company in France who took a stand against GMO. I guess that company saw the money they could make with a good fear propaganda.

  19. Willyon 15 Jun 2014 at 6:16 pm

    Devil–????????????????????

    …painful…Not sure how to read that.

  20. weegreenblobbieon 16 Jun 2014 at 3:50 pm

    Steve, after replacing “she” with “he”, you forgot to search for “her”.

    “He provides no evidence to back up her allegedly scientific claims.”

    :)
    Nick

  21. Bronze Dogon 16 Jun 2014 at 4:50 pm

    It’s been an interesting experience watching health woo over my time as a skeptic and peeling back the political layers. A lot of the scares start out superficially liberal, wrapped in environmentalist language. But when I look at the quackery they often propose as solutions or alternatives, they typically defend those things with very libertarian arguments, like implicitly appealing to the invisible hand of the market to sort out useful treatments from quackery. Other times, they’ll appeal to tradition, which is stereotypically conservative. Sometimes, they’ll use authoritarian assumptions about what science is and drop big names, rather than understand the actual philosophy of science or why we trust in certain scientists. Sometimes, they’ll appeal to false balance to mimic centrism.

    I suppose about all that can be said is that woo likes to find buzz phrases to appeal to anyone’s political beliefs.

  22. rezistnzisfutlon 16 Jun 2014 at 10:02 pm

    Bronze Dog,

    I’ve seen many an environmental activist poo-poo government agencies because they conclude that the agencies are either corrupt or have rules and policies designed to unfairly favor large corporations. Inevitably, there are conspiracy theories involved. In the matter of GMOs, yes, there are doubtless come conservatives that don’t like them, but so far it’s definitely a topic that has been embraced by mostly left-leaning groups. It was a rude awakening to me after being involved as a progressive for so long to see those around me who claim to be champions of science so quickly take up the mantle against something that doesn’t jibe with their ideology. GMOs is to the left what AGW is to the right.

    It’s also my experience that libertarianism isn’t necessarily an ideology of the right. Many Ron Paul supporters were college hippies who liked to smoke pot and he was the only candidate that suggested doing away with the war on drugs. In fact, the hippie movement has its roots in anti-establishment philosophies, including those of government. I also think it’s possible to be libertarian about some things and outright socialist about others.

    When people in this debate appeal to tradition, it’s more of an appeal to nature, which to them means harkening back to less technologically influenced methods. It should be clear that “tradition” in this context is less about social and cultural conventions and more about older forms of agriculture with foods found in nature (can’t get more traditional than that). It should be clear that this is an absurd notion.

    It seems to me that cognitive dissonance will encroach on pretty much any ideology, no matter what it is, and when factual reality opposes that ideology, overall people on the left are just as prone to cognitive dissonance as people on the right.

  23. roxxieraeon 17 Jun 2014 at 12:31 pm

    I feel like I’m taking crazy pills for noticing this, but… Glyphosate being the active ingredient in Roundup means we’re talking about an *herbicide* and not a pesticide, right?

    Or does Roundup fall into the category of pesticide because weeds=pests? I’m not trying to be a pain in the ass, I think I just might be ignorant of the correct terminology since I am seeing so many people equate Roundup with pesticide.

    Educate me!

  24. Steven Novellaon 17 Jun 2014 at 1:10 pm

    yes, confusingly “pesticide” refers to both herbicides and insecticides.

  25. roxxieraeon 17 Jun 2014 at 1:16 pm

    Thank you, Steven!

  26. Bronze Dogon 17 Jun 2014 at 2:39 pm

    I mostly went through the political ideologies as they came to mind. I once made a pair of Doggerel entries about “The Left!” and “The Right!” and in one, I made a somewhat humorous point that the logic of an argument doesn’t change whether the arguer is from the left wing, right wing, dorsal wing (libertarian), or ventral wing (authoritarian).

  27. Fair Persuasionon 17 Jun 2014 at 5:15 pm

    Glyphosate is good for my weeds. But what can I use for my overnight mushroom growth other than my trusty weeder?

  28. rezistnzisfutlon 17 Jun 2014 at 5:28 pm

    Sometimes I’m a bit slow on the uptake when it comes to satire on the internet. :) Couldn’t agree more that the logic of the argument is what’s important, not who’s arguing it. It’s only when one group or another calls themselves pro-science, but then poo-poos any science they don’t like, that I call them out on it.

  29. Willyon 18 Jun 2014 at 8:11 pm

    I agree that, on average, it is “liberals” who favor organic and such (It’s a “fact” based on the bumper stickers at our local food co-op). Just as, on average, it’s “conservatives” who favor creationism. In that light, I find high irony in the liberal cry for more regulation when they chose to ignore the heavy regulation involved in the production and distribution of foods and medicines. Just to be clear, I do recognize the influence of lobbyists on law and regulation.

    They’re ALL nuts!

  30. rezistnzisfutlon 18 Jun 2014 at 10:55 pm

    Willy,

    That’s a point I often like to drive home, in that some folks are all for heavy regulation when it comes to certain aspects they disagree with, but we don’t see similar calls for regulation on aspects they do agree with that we know virtually nothing about. Organic, for instance, has little to no regulation other than having to fulfill the requirements for organic. There are zero safety regulations, nor study, done on organic, and it actually HAS a history of health issues, primarily revolving around the spread of pathogens due to the use of uncured compost and manure fertilizers. I find that profoundly irrational. There really is no sense in having that kind of double standard. The same goes with “natural” products found in health food and nutrition stores that have no regulation or testing done on them, yet somehow pharmaceuticals don’t have enough regulations on them and they can’t be trusted because of “big pharma”, as if there wasn’t such thing as “big naturopathy”. Just ironic to me.

  31. Willyon 19 Jun 2014 at 1:09 pm

    resistnz: Agreed! I guess that if one is promoting “natural” stuff, being a greedy capitalist or fraudster just isn’t possible. ???? Maybe it’s being able to employ and channel all that natural energy that keeps ‘em as pure as the driven snow.

    The nature folks seem to, as a rule, despise corporations and money. Yet, our local food co-op, and I’m pretty sure most every co-op in the country, is nothing but a corporation, complete with shareholders. In the case of co-ops, members even get price breaks on co-op products. How is that different from every other “money-grubbing corporation” in the country, aside from the fact that most shareholders don’t even get price breaks? On top of that, a significant portion of the co-op’s revenue is “natural” products–supplements, homeopathics, folk remedies, etc.–many of which are demonstrably useless. If the co-op quit selling them, the business would suffer. Can we conclude that they sell useless products because they are paying attention to the bottom line? Why, they’re just scamming the public to make money for themselves! Shades of McDonalds selling fattening products, with malice aforethought, just to make a buck.

    Bah, humbug!

  32. Mlemaon 20 Jun 2014 at 2:01 pm

    Roundup is more toxic than glyphosate. This is largely due to the presence of the surfactant (POEA). Also, POEA is commonly contaminated with dioxane, a carcinogen. The EPA attempted to assess whether the contaminant would be problematic before approval of Roundup for various uses.
    http://www.epa.gov/pesticides/chem_search/cleared_reviews/csr_PC-103601_12-Aug-91_264.pdf
    As you can see, this is an imprecise science.
    It’s Roundup which we’ve sprayed on feed crops, wheat and other cereals (to “dry down” before harvest), soybeans, lawns, schoolyards and parks to the tune of many hundreds of millions of pounds. It’s pretty much ubiquitous at this point, so it’s really no surprise that we find the metabolites in urine or breast milk.
    My advice would be, if you eat non-organic wheat products, don’t eat whole grain. If you’re trying to add minerals and fibre from the hull, go with organic to avoid the residues.
    I’d like to see a skeptical analysis of the literature rather than study reviews from private for-hire companies or a publication from the ACS. Although again, glyphosate and roundup aren’t the same thing. So, I’d most like to see a skeptical analysis of the literature on Roundup which included questions as to whether the current research is pertinent to the problems which might occur – soil, soil organisms, nutrition, toxicity for non-target organisms and humans. I understand that glyphosate in relatively safe, but the way in which we’ve used roundup seems to ask for further investigation in my opinion.
    With regards to environmental problems, Roundup can be lethal for amphibians. Because it’s not meant for aquatic use, this is not supposed to be a problem. However, it seems that it may be more of a problem than formerly realized.
    http://www.esajournals.org/doi/abs/10.1890/11-0189.1
    http://www.pitt.edu/~relyea/Site/Roundup.html

    I’m sure Monsanto is fairly indifferent, as it’s unlikely that glyphosate will be de-registered. But glyphosate is becoming rather passé. Monsanto has moved on to stacking several pesticide traits like 2,4D resistance in order to maintain it’s gmo/pesticide products in the face of glyphosate resistant weeds. This of course will continue to escalate the problem of ingesting toxic pesticide residues, and negative environmental impacts.

    In 2012 Monsanto petitioned the EPA to increase the tolerance for glyphosate residues, and last year the EPA obliged by more than doubling, in many cases, the amounts considered safe. So, I don’t know to what degree we can say that these tolerances are scientifically established or whether they’re more arbitrarily assigned. When safe levels are set, they are typically delineated for short and then also longer term exposures. But none are established for life-long daily ingestion. We really don’t know how much any one person is ingesting, nor do we know what the possible consequences might be. For myself, I understand why people would be concerned that nursing mothers, infants and small children may be ingesting too much. Also, since it’s cleared through the kidneys, people with insufficient kidney function (a large group in the US due to diabetes) may be more impacted. I’m more concerned about the amphibians at this point. I know that’s awful, but I think they play a vital role for human survival that’s more immediate than our own tolerance.

  33. Mlemaon 20 Jun 2014 at 2:03 pm

    Interesting investigation into the link between roundup and nephrotoxic metals in hard water, and kidney failure in several countries:
    http://www.mdpi.com/1660-4601/11/2/2125

  34. BBBlueon 22 Jun 2014 at 5:26 pm

    Mlema,

    Team Seralini is looking to fill the position of Statistical Fisherman. You may want to apply.

  35. Mlemaon 22 Jun 2014 at 6:47 pm

    It seems like this site has really gotten away from erudition. More often lately it seems that people just want to belong on the skeptical “side” they feel has formed in any issue – the “side” they think represents science. If you look through these comments, the vast majority are simply insults against people who we seem to believe are idiots instead of simply uninformed. The strangest thing is, there’s no real interest in finding out anything beyond “they’re wrong” – even though we call ourselves skeptics. It feels to me like condescension.
    And what is BBBlue’s response to my comment? Just another snide insult.
    This site has gotten kinda yucky.

  36. bgoudieon 22 Jun 2014 at 10:42 pm

    Perhaps Mlema you’d get better results by starting with actual science, avoiding statemts like “go with organics to avoid the residues” general stay within the confines of the real world and not just the claims of piss poor internet sites.

  37. Mlemaon 22 Jun 2014 at 11:35 pm

    bgoudie – non-organic whole wheat has perhaps the highest residue of glyphosate that seems of concern to me. There are other foods with higher residues, but they don’t tend to be ones that humans eat a lot of, whereas wheat is a major part of our diet, and whole wheat has been recommended for improved health. Residues in wheat are most likely due to the fact that glyphosate’s used to “dry down” the wheat pre-harvest. I said go with organic in the particular case of whole wheat products. If you’re going to eat non-organic, then don’t eat whole wheat. Instead, eat the refined wheat, which has the hull removed (along with much of the residue). If you want to eat whole wheat, eat organic whole wheat – because they don’t use glyphosate to dry down. I hope I’ve explained that enough so that you can understand it now.

    There are worse pesticides that end up on in food, but you’d have to do some analysis to compare volume to toxicity to decide which is really the worst. Why don’t you check the stats from the FAO and report back something useful? instead of meaningless anonymous insults.

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