Glyphosate in the Age of Stupid

Endocrine effects and altered reproductive and developmental parameters were observed in both male and female rats, when exposed at a dose level that has been considered safe for humans.
The findings come just a few days after the European Court of Justice ruled that all industry studies that were used in the European reauthorization process of glyphosate should have been disclosed. In 2015, the International Agency for Research on Cancer had classified glyphosate as a probable carcinogen, based on the assessment of exclusively public and peer-reviewed scientific literature.
In 2016, the World Health Organization’s Cancer Agency declared that glyphosate (the active ingredient in RoundUp) is a probable human carcinogen.
The EU reauthorization of glyphosate ultimately led to the creation of a special enquiry committee in the European Parliament and a reform of the General Food Law. Nonetheless, in 2017, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) concluded that the weight of evidence did not support endocrine disrupting properties for glyphosate.
Monsanto’s glyphosate-based weed killer will be used in Europe, despite a U.S. court ruling the company should pay $289 million in damages for causing cancer.
The EU year renewed use of the weed killer for another five years, until the end of 2022.
Herbicide tolerant (HT) crops are the biggest selling GM crops. These crops have been made to be tolerant to either Monsanto’s weedkiller RoundUp (glyphosate) or Bayer’s weedkiller Liberty (glufosinate ammonium). These are broad spectrum herbicides which kill all green plants except those protected because of genetic modification. Monsanto’s RoundUp Ready soybeans are the leading product. Roundup Ready GM soybeans are mostly grown in North and South America but are imported into the UK and the rest of Europe in large quantities for use in animal feed. Other herbicide-tolerant crops include maize, sugar beet, and oil seed rape (canola).
Herbicide-tolerant GM crops have been attractive to the biotechnology companies, and ere grown by many large-scale farmers in North and South America because in the early years after adoption they simplified the spraying regimes i.e. farmers only had to spray them once with one type of herbicide, saving labor costs. However, repeated blanket applications of the same herbicide have led to herbicide-resistant superweeds evolving. These superweeds are now reducing crop yields and require repeated applications of multiple herbicides and sometimes even pulling up by hand.
Blanket spraying of RoundUp Ready GM crops with RoundUp has also caused a drastic loss of the milkweed habitat in the USA, where the iconic Monarch butterfly lays its eggs. This is thought to be the main cause of a 90% crash in Monarch butterfly numbers.
Social media has built walls around communities of shared ideals (tribes) that confirm people’s thinking and attack, ban or systematically repudiate people with differing ideas. Surrounded in our echo-chambers, our tribal gurus disconnect us from dialogue, raise emotional arguments to the point where anecdote serves as evidence and build trust by elevating fears and vulnerabilities their herd is designed to defend against. The toxicity and usefulness of glyphosate is a symbolic battle between good and evil.

The Risk-Monger

See the French translation

The EU glyphosate debate has become absurd and beyond any rational perspective. I keep having to remind myself of some basic points:

  • Glyphosate is a useful herbicide with a very low level of human toxicity
  • Monsanto is a mid-sized seed and pesticide company
  • Seeds modified to be herbicide-resistant are not sold in the EU
  • The alternatives for farmers post-glyphosate ban are unthinkable and unsustainable

But in the Age of Stupid, with the power of social media fear campaigns, glyphosate represents a battle between corporate dominance and the little person; between a poisonous industrial agriculture and safe organic farming; between captured regulatory science and the brave independent scientist fighting the bought system; between a food industry peddling cheap poisons and the gurus protecting the health and wellness of humanity.

Sorry Mr Monger, it is not simply a useful herbicide! This glyphosate debate is symbolic of the battle…

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About arnulfo

veterano del ciberespacio
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