Glyphosate is a common herbicide commercialised by you-know-whom as RoundUp. Last week the World Health Organisation (WHO), classified glyphosate as a possible carcinogen (IARC groups 2A and 2B) triggering the unavoidable chemophobic media panic (Guardian, Telegraph, etc.).
What message is WHO trying to convey? The IARC (International Agency for Research on Cancer) has added glyphosate to its list of “possible/probable” carcinogens. This list of “possible/probable” carcinogens include, among others: Whole-Leaf Extract of Aloe vera (2B), coffee (2B) and –wait for it- being a hairdresser or barber (2A).
For agents in groups 2A and 2B, IARC states that there is limited evidence of carcinogenicity in humans as well as sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity in experimental animals. This classification completely overlooks the fact (known since ancient times) that “the dose makes the poison”. It is beyond the aim of this post discussing the experimental evidence and the scope of the analysis of studies linking glyphosate with cancer and other illnesses (see previous post on the subject). I will only mention that many of these studies also fail to notice the fact that “the dose makes the poison”.
The sad news is that sunlight and –sorry chaps- alcohol consumption are more dangerous than glyphosate, both being classified by IARC in group 1 (carcinogenic to humans).
What does this new classification of glyphosate mean then? It certainly does not mean that any trace amount of the agent, however small, is a cancer sentence. My conclusion to the whole affair would be: if you refrain yourself from snorting the damn thing you will possible/probably be alright.