MM685 (1)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).

listFor 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.




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  • R.Easwaramurthy [RE] 24/03/2015 at 8:00 pm


    • Michael Clements 24/03/2015 at 8:01 pm

      Hi R.Easwaramurthy. Been awhile. I hope that all is well with you. Can you elaborate? Who do you believe is whining?

      • vije ray 25/03/2015 at 1:46 pm

        Monsanto’s Chief Technology Officer is whining of-course Michael. I was actually having a good time laughing at the language he has used. The shoe seems to be on the other foot. Guess all the activism against your employer is pinching.
        All these days the activists were getting hoarse shouting out loud that the “SAFE” certificates given to your products were biased and the Corporation had used it’s tremendous clout to get a favorable result, now I guess it is your turn to say that the conclusions are biased.
        Well things have a tendency to go round on this globe. There are ‘revelations that the US Govt. itself lied to it’s simple honest trusting folk.
        For one thing what has been made clear to me and people like me is that the same people (namely people of your ilk) would bristle with indignation if somebody suggested that regulatory institutions with WHO topping the list were inviolate and their names were thrown around to substantiate your arguments in support of the safety of your products, but today your chief is whining about WHO being influenced into a bias.
        I am going to enjoy this, honestly. There can be nothing more comic to see a bunch of crooks squabbling.
        By the way please don’t mind my asking this, looking at your pic I will assume that you are someone who has beautiful children. My question is do you encourage your children to eat only those products grown using your techs.? Like GMO crop which have been grown using roundup and the pesticides that you make? For after all when you are convinced they are safe in the long run and better and healthier than organic BS it stands to reason.
        You need not answer this for I have no right to ask you this, but I was just wondering aloud, for it has always been at the back of my mind to find out what the Monsanto Guys want their own children to eat.

        • Ariel Poliandri 25/03/2015 at 1:47 pm

          Vije, unless you come up with a solution to block the sun, which has been deemed by WHO a more likely carcinogen than Glyphosate, you should turn down a few notches that smugness.
          I have a beautiful son, and let me tell you: I try to teach him not to purchase “organic” products because I don’t want him to grow up to be an anti-science obscurantist.
          That WHO labelled glyphosate a 2A/B carcinogen (the same category as coffee, sugar and acrylamide) is fine with me because as a scientist -and a man of reason- I know that the dose makes de poison, and that trace levels of glyphosate are perfectly compatible with normal life, as trace levels of cyanide (present in nuts) are.

          • vije ray 25/03/2015 at 5:43 pm

            You are right about me getting smug so it must have appeared like gloating. but believe me that is the last thing on my mind. Yeah the Sun today has started having a carcinogenic effect on animal life on this planet,especially in the Southern Beaches of Australia because the Ozone Hole is there and unprecedented amounts of ultra violet are bombarding the planet from that. But you are forgetting one point there the Sun was not created by us but the HOLE was. There is an old axiom in our parts which may explain a possible attitude that we should be taking before we defend the even the dose, Even a single drop of poison will render the milk poisonous unfit for consumption, it does not change the poison to manna. If you really want to know there is a way of blocking out the sun or rather the hole in our ozone cover. For one, stop being a cult follower and an evangelist for Science. Just because humans have learnt a little bit about the Physics and Chemistry of the physical world and can imitate and produce a few naturally occurring things that too imperfectly he is still very very far away from understanding it enough to manipulate it. Ill conceived and ill researched products from half baked scientists have resulted in more disasters for Life on Earth than natural disasters.
            The simple thing staring you in the face today is as you say the Carcinogenic effect of Sunlight. It is Man Made.
            I don’t if I should be laughing or gloating that the example of man made disasters that I was supposed to use in the unthinking ways of man as a Scientist is being quoted by you yourself in defense.
            So you are advocating a little bit of every cancer trigger with a “lil bit ‘o sunshine in your life” is just fine.
            I would understand the desperate need for new technology when the existing technology has failed, or if there is mind blogging substantial benefit arising from it justifying the potential harm which can be monitored and controlled, but to introduce something which is on it’s way to total failure (most recent being worm resistant corn which failed to resist them) and decimation of other life forms of the earth (the death of millions of bees in Canada: just sowing the glyphosate treated seeds, The damned thing was not even sprayed earnestly yet). It’s become a glamour thing now. You of all people should know Pure Science has to be pure academics, and when it comes to technology then it has to have Morality for it deals with people, the earth and their well being. What kind of a lout is the Scientist who does it because it ‘can be done’ and to hell with the consequences.
            A Scientist who gives an example naturally produced acrylamide to justify his production of more carcinogens to pour into earth.
            To crown the whole thing to glory what does this wonderful mild carcinogen do? the as harmless as coffee and sunlight do? it kills weeds so that the farmer may get a higher yield and more profits, and what has ground reality shown us? No significant change in his profitability, in fact in more cases than one Not using this herbicide and using simple measures of weed control have given better profits.
            So what has the real concern been from the other side. It is obviously “Don’t oppose the use of Chemicals in Agriculture for if the multinationals producing these shut down we will be out of jobs”
            This was the same tenet that pushed the fossil fuel industry which has brought the world to the shambles it is in.

          • Ariel Poliandri 25/03/2015 at 5:44 pm

            – No Vije, no, the carcinogenic effect of Sunlight is not “Man Made”. UV light causes pyrimidine dimerization; it has always caused it and will always cause it. It is an unavoidable fact of nature, sorry. The main animal affected by sunlight is a bald monkey we call human, other animals have evolved (and kept) protective layers of hair or feathers or scales to deal with it. Plants are protected by their pigments. Hence, we can leave all the ying-yang quackery about humans interfering with Nature (intentional capital) aside.
            – So glyphosate is useless? Must I conclude then that farmers are idiots who like to burn their many? I am sorry but I won’t. Besides, there is plenty of evidence that farming productivity has been growing continually after the Green Revolution (not green as in bare-footed metropolitan environmentalists but green as Norman Borlaug mid 1950’s revolution).
            – Finally I don’t know how it looks where you are but my world doesn’t sees to be in shambles or on the brink of Armageddon, at all. As a Christian I believe that we all will be judged one day, but not just yet man, not just yet.

          • R.Easwaramurthy [RE] 25/03/2015 at 8:51 pm

            Michael,as a farmer I know the importance of glyphosate in limited useage when all the weed management strategies fail to protect the crop,the decision when to make. But when this herbicide is sprayed twice or thrice on this herbicide resistant crop as a routine practice you cannot avoid the small herbicide that goes with food chain.I thought that the environmental damage like the herbicide resistance was the one big problem associated with excess glyphosate application,now the WHO ‘s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC),as you know categorised as 2A, probably carcinogenic to humans.
            Every other country banned organo mercuric ompounds,DDT,Endrin,Malathion, BHC and some more agricultural compounds on the recommendations of WHO. Then who do you think will be the nervous, certainly neither you or Ariel I think.
            Vije, good to see you again.Tell Ariel,one can avoid sun radiation and shelter under trees when the heat is high,can someone has a chance left in a pro-GMO country where every gram of grains are contaminated with glyphosate.

          • Ariel Poliandri 25/03/2015 at 8:52 pm

            Vije could you please tell Easwaramurthy that if you are under a tree you still receive reflected UV light? In the same way if you are not under a herbicide sprayer you may still be in contact with innocuous trace-levels of glyphosate. Perhaps the solution to both problems is to remain locked up in a room without windows?

          • R.Easwaramurthy [RE] 27/03/2015 at 6:29 am

            You know Ariel,man has devised lot of protective covers to evade harmful sun radiation and further most of the uv. rays get absorbed by earth,plants and the left ver scattered rays have too small in percentage of harmful spectrum to damage an injurious effect on humans.But for food with glyphosate what are the methods we have at present? Any way why should we worry when WHO brands some grade to some agro-chemicals.

          • Ariel Poliandri 27/03/2015 at 6:30 am

            I worry because it contributes to the present environment of hysteria and chemophobia. I worry because people without any scientific knowledge or training (specially politicians) feel capable of drawing their own irrational conclusions; those conclusion may in turn affect everybody. That is why I worry. If not for that, I’d be quite contempt with WHO branding herbicides possible carcinogens, as it does with hair dressing or coffee.

          • vije ray 27/03/2015 at 6:31 am

            Yes, UV rays from the Sun do have a bad effect on the bald monkey. But you have to admit that the Ozone layer protection has been disturbed very badly and it does have a detrimental consequence. Yes you do receive UV radiation under a tree but it is small enough to boost your Vit. D production and not give you skin cancer. Especially if the tree has Green leaves. I am sure you know that the color green has a tendency to absorb it to a great extent, even today ophthalmologists recommend simple green colored shades to beat UV. Remember the classic Ray-Bans? always used to be in green with reflectors and gold frames. By the way your arguments will logically conclude that until man discovered that UV rays are carcinogenic in nature and started protecting himself from them the whole population of the earth in the prehistoric times were all suffering from skin cancer. wow! The hole is man made and the spurt in cases of skin cancer in southern Australia is man made and people had been living under the harsh Sun without getting this horrible disease for a long time before the hole was made. Are you forgetting that we evolved under this same Sun without problems, for our atmosphere which protects us from UV from the Sun and Gamma from space was intact. Any other explanations to the healthy evolution under this Sun and the spurt of cancers in the modern time is simply untenable scientifically.
            Of course Glyphosate is useless. What can be done with simple techniques need not have a bull in a china shop approach. You are so used to have things packaged and labeled and delivered at your doorstep that you hate to give up the ‘convenience’. It is just a convenient way of doing it but any sane man (forget a scientist) would would give up the use of a harmful substance as soon as there are suspicions cast on it’s safety.
            The approach of burning out a tumor with Cobalt 60 radiations and bringing the patient to the verge of death, or amputating a gangrenous arm, are procedures when there is an immediate threat to life. Who has ever advocated amputation when you cut yourself in the kitchen? All other measures are tried first before taking extreme measures. What I am saying is do you know or have you tried any other method ever in your researches? If you haven’t then you are in no position to champion anything, you will obviously be biased. If you pride yourself in being a scientist and a fair man then isn’t it obvious that you should examine every claim made; which opposes your stand however bizarre they may sound?Glad to know you consider yourself to be a Christian and believe that you are going to be Judged, Armageddon is still far away don’t worry, But I would not advocate a life of disease and suffering for mankind till the Day we await judgement. The Christ came with Love and a HEALING HAND, and that is the spirit of the believers, “love and healing”. What an unchristian thing it will be to assist the spread of sickness. You can’t escape by saying that UV is naturally harmful to the monkey, and we are not responsible for it and then proceed to punch a hole in the armor to let in more of it. Does what you say have even have a semblance of simple logic?

          • vije ray 27/03/2015 at 6:32 am

            Hi RE,
            I was away harvesting horse gram and no connectivity there. Glad to tell you that the yield was good. I successfully managed to keep the patch weed free without herbicides or labor, and get a harvest which surpassed the conventional agri. yield by a small margin without infusion of fertilizers and not even manure. But I have to repeat it a few more times to ensure for myself that it can be done regularly unerringly and with a guarantee. I had just heard about such claims from the stories about the olden times but nobody seemed to know the techniques, so I went ahead and found out applying logic and common sense. My only aim in all this is to stop the simple innocent folk in our country from falling into debt. trying to get a profit and falling prey to false promises of shameless looters. I have seen the strategy that they employ, they prey on the fears that they create of a poor yield without the use of their products and we trustingly use the costly inputs and dubious techniques and end up producing nothing more than what we could have done without them, all in all working our ass off to pay for all that and left with even less than what we began with. I already have eight to ten marginal farmers here who saw what I did and want to follow it. Green or red or whatever color revolution what I want to see is that the poor sops get all of what they have worked for and none of it goes to the looters hoisting totally unnecessary factory made products on them.

          • R.Easwaramurthy [RE] 27/03/2015 at 6:35 am

            you know that I have got some fellow farmer friends who recently turned in to organic way, all educated and proud of what they produce.It is their way of life. I have my own way and I am a conventional farmer and I have lot of room for new technologies for good productivity,I care for money as well health. The third type are still adamant and even say who the hell are the WHO.It is their way of life.

          • vije ray 27/03/2015 at 6:36 am

            I understand RE. I only wish that people like you who really understand Biotechnology deeply will start experimenting on ways to substitute harmful inputs and technologies with more earth friendly stuff. It has amply understood by now that if conventional technologies continue to be used in the same way that they have been all these years the whole system will become unsustainable for the farmer economically and for the earth health wise.You have heard even Monsanto guys justifying GM saying that it will be healthy for the environment by reducing the use of pesticides drastically (and it actually does for a short period until the pests become resistant.

  • Michael Clements 23/03/2015 at 10:44 pm

    Comments from Monsanto and some good links to additional info re. the IARC statements on glyphosate: Thanks for sharing your post, Ariel. :)

  • Penny Griffiths 23/03/2015 at 10:43 pm

    Dangerous to plants but not animals. I use it cautiously and it is expensive!

  • Fabio 23/03/2015 at 6:31 pm

    I think to remember that pickles in that list as well (ie 2B)

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