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Heading for the last Roundup?
June 7, 2011 9:15 PM   Subscribe

Industry regulators have known for years that Monsanto's Roundup herbicide causes birth defects according to a newly released report by Earth Open Source. Regulators knew as long ago as 1980 that glyphosate, the chemical on which Roundup is based, can cause birth defects in laboratory animals... Although the European Commission has known that glyphosate causes malformations since at least 2002, the information was not made public. (Previously)

Don Huber, a emeritus professor at Purdue University, wrote an open letter to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack requesting a moratorium on deregulating crops genetically altered to be immune to Roundup....
posted by Twang (56 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite

 
Whether or not Roundup has problems - which it well might, herbicides aren't always the friendliest things - what does that have to do with the crops?
posted by kafziel at 9:29 PM on June 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


This doesn't surprise me much. I think if there were true sunlight being let in to all our regulatory agencies and their substance approval processes, our population would recoil in horror with what they learn is actually known about things they've been told are "safe" for the sake of efficient production and business practices.

Still, I just mixed up a fresh batch of RoundUp from concentrate earlier today and sprayed all the plants growing in the cracks in the pavement and other unwanted places on the property. None of them are things I plan on eating and the chemical degrades pretty quickly in the environment when it's not absorbed by plants.

Being dual-minded about things is not a problem for me, I guess.
posted by hippybear at 9:29 PM on June 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


Our next door neighbor moved into his house fifteen years ago and immediately began transforming it into a Babylonian garden. Lots of water, lots of fertilizer, lots of broadleaf herbicide and rounding up of areas that don't meet his standards. He's kind of a dick about it.

His teenage daughter has cancer. I don't know if he's put two and two together yet.
posted by infinitewindow at 9:34 PM on June 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Er, I think blaming your neighbor's father for his daughter's cancer, based on basically nothing, is not cool.
posted by !Jim at 9:37 PM on June 7, 2011 [76 favorites]


I was at the UC Kearney Agriculture Centre in about ~93? 94?
when a graduate student had his project studying the effects of roundup shut down.
There were rumours of self censorship by the university, other rumours of outside interference,
but have always wondered what the real details were, and the why.
posted by compound eye at 9:50 PM on June 7, 2011 [6 favorites]


Whether or not Roundup has problems - which it well might, herbicides aren't always the friendliest things - what does that have to do with the crops?

The way it works is that everything gets sprayed, but the crop survives because it's been genetically modified to withstand the poison.

The crops are covered in Roundup, is what it has to do with them.
posted by Sys Rq at 10:02 PM on June 7, 2011 [19 favorites]


I had a friend, inclined to chemical pranks, who briefly worked at Monsanto and loved wallowing around in servers where he did not belong. "The things I read," he said, "just ... wow." He became an early adopter of organic foods right around the time he quit.
posted by adipocere at 10:02 PM on June 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


This bites (if true)— now that glyphosate is off-patent and I can buy it without giving money to Monsanto, I'd been enjoying having a herbicide I didn't mind using from time to time.
posted by hattifattener at 10:02 PM on June 7, 2011


So you're saying this came out just around the time the patent for glyphosate ran out? As in, now people who want to use a herbicide have to use one that's patented again?
posted by sveskemus at 10:08 PM on June 7, 2011 [11 favorites]


I had a friend, inclined to chemical pranks, who briefly worked at Monsanto and loved wallowing around in servers where he did not belong. "The things I read," he said, "just ... wow." He became an early adopter of organic foods right around the time he quit.
Ah, yes, the organic industry, where modern crops are shunned in favor of those offering lower yields and worse environmental resistance, all in pursuit of what is effectively nothing more than a marketing certification.

Frying pan, fire... you know how it goes...
posted by -1 at 10:12 PM on June 7, 2011 [8 favorites]


P.S. I heard from a friend of my cousin who worked with a dude who worked for Monsanto that they [Monsanto] regularly punch kittens. True story.
posted by -1 at 10:13 PM on June 7, 2011 [5 favorites]




How well does that work with plants that have been genetically engineered to express the pesticide in their cells? Also, does it work on salmonella-infected sprouts and green onions, where the virus is found in what are mostly enclosed surfaces not reachable by scrubbing? Also, I don't know how you scrub broccoli without basically destroying it.
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:43 PM on June 7, 2011 [8 favorites]


Ah, yes, the organic industry, where modern crops are shunned in favor of those offering lower yields and worse environmental resistance, all in pursuit of what is effectively nothing more than a marketing certification.

What a remarkably simplistic view. Is there any kind of safety or sustainability label that doesn't fit this? How about labelled sustainable fish, is that also "nothing more than a marketing certification"?

I'm all for science and engineering improving income for farmers (that's really what "crop yield" and "environment resistance" is about, isn't it?), but there is a breakdown of trust between companies like Monsanto and us consumers. The growth in the organic farming market is a symptom of that breakdown.
posted by vanar sena at 10:56 PM on June 7, 2011


I'm all for science and engineering improving income for farmers (that's really what "crop yield" and "environment resistance" is about, isn't it?)

No. It's about feeding people and peace.
posted by sbutler at 11:02 PM on June 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


So you're saying this came out just around the time the patent for glyphosate ran out?

No, Monsanto's glyphosate patent ran out eleven years ago, in 2000. Sheesh.
posted by hattifattener at 11:13 PM on June 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


I had this visceral reaction as soon as I read "Monsanto". The heart knows what it knows.
posted by hal_c_on at 11:24 PM on June 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Organic should be a net good, but industrial American organic agriculture has huge issues, to the extent that it is often worse than conventional farming for the environment. This book is an excellent starting point for that topic: Agrarian Dreams: The Paradox of Organic Farming in California
posted by mek at 11:25 PM on June 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


You know, sensible regulation and oversight is one of those gaping holes in our society. We live with remarkable technological advancements, and yet we haven't figured out how to handle oversight. There are no metrics to measure efficiency and efficacy of regulation (quality tends to be such a broad term -- quality of what?), and we have no methodological or quantifiable approach to "enough" regulation. On one hand, society needs heavy-handed regulation, especially in business decisions that have a severe impact on people's health or finances (e.g. wall st dicking around with collateralized mortgage debts). On the other hand, we could just as easily regulate things to death (e.g. if some regulation targeted at X inadvertently applies to Y, where the context of the original goals are no longer relevant). The sooner we figure this out, the better off we'll all be.
posted by spiderskull at 11:41 PM on June 7, 2011 [12 favorites]


Its a self-correcting system.

We have to use more rather nasty chemicals to make our foods grow to satisfy the demands of a rapidly growing population. The rapidly growing population stops growing so rapidly (in the future) as it self-sterilizes with the weird and wonderful chemicals it must use to grow/process/protect foods to sustain the population.

It ain't going to be pretty but it ought to come full circle in a couple of decades. Maybe. If the earth is lucky.
posted by Slackermagee at 11:52 PM on June 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


What spiderskull says. And you can see how quickly we get into false dichotomy territory when these things get discussed. If you question the balance of public vs. private interests in the cooked books of big agribusiness, with their huge campaign contributions and their leverage on supposedly independent trials, the backscratching revolving door employment relationship between regulators and their regulatees, you're either a brain-dead fashionably hip middle-class environut at best or a luddite neoprimitivist bomb-thrower who doesn't want to see people get fed. If we're going to have a discussion, can it be an intelligent one? Maybe even an intellectually honest one?
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:52 PM on June 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


No. It's about feeding people and peace.

Borlaug was not Monsanto, and we're not in 1950. Our problem is no longer insufficient food, but getting it to where it is needed at a decent price that doesn't bankrupt either farmer or consumer.

This cartoon is intended for 9-14 year olds, but I think it is useful for all ages.
posted by vanar sena at 11:53 PM on June 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


If we're going to have a discussion, can it be an intelligent one? Maybe even an intellectually honest one?

Not with the kind of rhetoric you're throwing around, no. "Luddite neoprimitivist bomb-thrower"? What the hell are you talking about? Really, I don't even know. Maybe you meant violent anarcho-primitivist farmers. I resemble that remark.
posted by mek at 12:32 AM on June 8, 2011


mek, you've misunderstood me. I was caricaturing the false dichotomy, not attempting to contribute to it. My point is that people expressing rational (and on the evidence, justified) concerns about corporate practitioners of high-tech, patentable agricultural products are identified with straw men like that.
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:37 AM on June 8, 2011 [5 favorites]


How well does that work with plants that have been genetically engineered to express the pesticide in their cells?

The pesticide that plants express is one organic gardeners have been dumping on their plants for years. It nothing to do with roundup.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 3:50 AM on June 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


I went straight to the subject I knew the most about in their report. GLP.

Using the sample logic they use about GLP and fraud, I can argue that Metafilter is Pro-Spammer because despite the "prohibition" against spamming the hell out of the site, the site still gets spammers and self-linkers. GLP is all about record keeping and is there to make fraud easier to detect.

Similarly, nobody is going to publish your routine test data for Lot 4Q-2 in their peer reviewed journal, because nobody really cares that much. The peer review process is not supplanted by GLP. (And there is, sadly, nothing stopping you from submitting fraudulent data to the peer review process.)

I'd like to know what that section has done to the population of red herring in the open ocean.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 4:04 AM on June 8, 2011


Punching kittens is how they make Nutrasweet.
posted by adipocere at 4:25 AM on June 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


Whether or not Roundup has problems - which it well might...

"Might"?

Regulators knew as long ago as 1980 that glyphosate, the chemical on which Roundup is based, can cause birth defects in laboratory animals...
posted by DU at 4:35 AM on June 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


the maximum residue limit (MRL) allowed for glyphosate in food and feed products in the EU is 20 mg/kg. Soybeans have been found to contain glyphosate residues at levels up to17mg/kg.
10
Carrasco found malformations in frog and chicken embryos injected with 2.03mg/kg glyphosate – ten times lower than the MRL.



Hmm. I'm not saying Roundup shouldn't be avoided, but if that's their proof statement I'd like to see some data comparing on how the body absorbs/metabolizes roundup that is digested.
posted by JPD at 5:11 AM on June 8, 2011


Our problem is no longer insufficient food...

Some would disagree.

posted by jeanmari at 5:18 AM on June 8, 2011


Tip: 20% Vinegar + Orange Oil works just as well as an herbicide in a lot of cases.
posted by tingting at 5:25 AM on June 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Eta - it seems there are other studies of ingested rather than injected in the scribd piece showing effects in the 250mg/kg bw/d, and some statistically meaningful effects at 500 mg/kg. So lets take the lower bound - 250 daily, so for a 150kg person that means ingesting 37 kilos per day of glyphosate. At the EU permitted residual levels of 17mg/kg that means you need to eat > a tonne of roundup ready soybeans daily.
posted by JPD at 5:27 AM on June 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also, does it work on salmonella-infected sprouts and green onions, where the virus is found in what are mostly enclosed surfaces not reachable by scrubbing?

Salmonella is not a virus. It's a bacterium.
posted by unSane at 5:37 AM on June 8, 2011


Yes but, JPD, how long did the study last? What I mean to say is that eating lower levels for 10 years might have statistically meaningful effects too. But those kinds of studies are hard to do for obvious reasons. I'm not saying this is true, we don't know. But that's my point, the fact that it required 500 mg to get effects in a one short term study doesn't mean that lower doses over long periods of time is safe.

You would have to eat a lot of fish to overdose on mercury, but that doesn't mean that ingesting small amounts of mercury for a long period of time is a good thing.
posted by xarnop at 5:39 AM on June 8, 2011


His teenage daughter has cancer. I don't know if he's put two and two together yet.

The heart knows what it knows.

There were rumours of self censorship by the university, other rumours of outside interference,
but have always wondered what the real details were, and the why.

He became an early adopter of organic foods right around the time he quit.


Of course, if this were an article about homeopathic medicine, you people would have all gotten blasted to pieces. But if it's big business, anti-science is A OK.
posted by yerfatma at 6:00 AM on June 8, 2011 [9 favorites]


But if it's big business, anti-science is A OK.

Yerfatma, science is saying that glyphosate causes birth defects. I'm not sure how not wanting to ingest things that cause birth defects = support for homeopathy.
posted by lydhre at 6:10 AM on June 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


But if it's big business, anti-science is A OK.

The issue here isn't "anti-science". The issue here is the lack of true transparency related to what science is actually saying about things.

See, the big agri-business companies like Monsanto have gained a LOT over the years with what they've managed to get approved for sale and use when it comes to chemicals and organisms modified to work with those chemicals. They have a LOT to lose if any of those developed products were to be shown to be unsafe or even harmful.

And the regulatory agencies in the government have long been part of the revolving door scheme where people who work in the industry end up getting appointed to serve a term or three in the agencies, and then when they leave their post they have jobs in industry waiting for them.

None of the distrust of this process has anything to do with not believing in science, and EVERYTHING to do with not trusting the system which should be in place to make sure that consumers are safe from the greedy, selfish practices of industry as they try to grind the lives of the populace into numbers in their bank accounts.

It's all the same thing. Agri-business, Big Pharma, even the telecoms. There are a myriad of ways in which the people, through the government, have tried to set up agencies to make sure that these huge well-monied interests aren't going to be selling them arsenic-laced snake oil and telling them that it's a cure-all. And over the past 50 years or so, each and every one of those agencies has been weakened and corrupted to the point where not only are they not doing the job they were created to do, but they're actually colluding with the exact industries they are supposed to regulate AGAINST the very population which set them up as watchdogs in the first place.

If you want a comparison and contrast with how other countries which have better protections (i.e. agencies which are effective and not in the pocket of Monsanto) view Roundup, look toward Europe and see what their policies are. They're not more pro-science than the US. They are more effective governmentally.
posted by hippybear at 6:27 AM on June 8, 2011 [14 favorites]


I'm not sure how not wanting to ingest things that cause birth defects = support for homeopathy.

In no way I am suggesting that. What I am suggesting is that less-than-rigorous logic is allowed when the issue is one that emotionally appeals to the user base.
posted by yerfatma at 6:32 AM on June 8, 2011


Hippybear is right about the transparency. Americans want everything wrapped up in a single (and then vulnerable to manipulation) number and they want someone to rubber stamp it for them. Some governmental organization gave it a seven on the Good Index; that's good enough for me and nevermind the lobbyists.

I have birth defects from one of those "safe as houses, use it on pregnant women" drugs. Finding out that they knew that the drug was both not effective for what it was intended and that it was a bad idea, while I was soaking in it? Suffice to say, that whole patronizing pat on the head, "Don't worry, our folks have certified this as dandy" routine now just makes me suspicious.

More data must be available to the public, and not just the science, but movement of people in and out of government, lobbies, and corporations.

Also, the Nutrasweet production method is as follows:
1) Obtain one kitten.
2) Place kitten with catnip and a small toy on a tarp.
3) Put on a hot pink boxing glove.
4) Punch the sweetness out of the kitten by striking it very sharply. Sweetness is only loosely coupled to kittens and will fly right out of them on impact.
5) Gather sweetness from tarp and refine.
6) Dispose of used kitten, which now resembles an aged Chinese Crested dog with a foul temper.

posted by adipocere at 7:00 AM on June 8, 2011 [8 favorites]


Yes but, JPD, how long did the study last? What I mean to say is that eating lower levels for 10 years might have statistically meaningful effects too. But those kinds of studies are hard to do for obvious reasons. I'm not saying this is true, we don't know. But that's my point, the fact that it required 500 mg to get effects in a one short term study doesn't mean that lower doses over long periods of time is safe.


of course of course of course, I'll I'm saying is that this paper does not support the statement "Studies Prove Glyphosate Causes Birth Defects"

(a quick google search would seem to show a few studies saying it doesn't build up in tissues over time, but that's not really the point I'm trying to make)
posted by JPD at 7:02 AM on June 8, 2011


I think liberal "contrarian thinking" may be taking a Keller-esque turn here.

Folks, putting glyphosate on food is bad for people.

It's not about "feeding people". GM doesn't make cars because they "care about transportation". They make cars to make make money. Farmers are the same. The people they care about feeding are their own families. I don't mean this pejoratively, but the number of farmers who are in it for altruistic "feeding people" reasons is such a tiny minority that it is negligible in any rational discussion about the nature of our food supply.

Farmers use high yield production methods because they have to - if they don't, then the cost of production means they either can't sell their higher priced product, or they sell at a loss. That's why there is organic certification. Not because it's a cynical "marketing ploy", but because organic farmers are producing a higher cost product than conventional farming. Certified organic food is a different product than conventional food, and communicating that to consumers who are willing to pay more to keep from poisoning themselves and their families, and to help reduce the poisoning of our environment is simply necessary to identify the product.

As for the disdain that some are showing towards those who have a knee-jerk reaction to the name "Monsanto", I have to ask, where in fuck's name have you been the last twenty years? Monsanto has very much justifiably acquired the reputation of cynical, manipulative, ruthless mega-corporation through it's own demonstrated and well documented behavior. Hell, it's the goddamn poster child for evil sociopathic corporate multinationals. That's not liberal overreaction, that's all on them.

I am not some granola munching hippie living in a fantasy world, either. I grew up in ag land, my dad was a farmer, I was in 4H and my kids are, too. We've grown everything from hay to pigs for slaughter. I know the ag business. The average farmer is a decent guy busting his ass to make a living. But they don't set the rules. They have to compete on an even footing with the rest of the industry, and that always drives practices down to their lowest common denominator.

Both me and my dad have skin cancers like crazy. Some of that is from the sun. Some of that is from exposure to farm chemicals, in mu case, heavy doses of pentachlorophenol, which is now banned in the US. Chemicals in and of themselves aren't "bad". We are made of chemicals. But certain products are quite bad for us, and we are dumping them into our environment and our food supply. Knowing what they do and communicating that to the public is a fundamental job of the regulatory agencies. You can dispute that on philosophical grounds, but I think you'd have to be stupid to think that there is any other practical mechanism by which we protect our selves.
posted by Xoebe at 8:25 AM on June 8, 2011 [26 favorites]


I'm not sure if it's Ontario-wide, but at least in my town (Oakville) you can no longer easily buy chemical herbicides. They've got them all locked up the same way that pharmacies lock up razor blade refills. There's some sort of law on the books that means you can't use chemical herbicides anymore, so the only option is to buy the "all natural" herbicides. Unfortunately, the "all natural" ones (which are vinegar and orange oil, mostly, as described above) don't really work all that well. At least in my experience. Of course, if you're not looking for a broadleaf-specific herbicide (ie you just have a big patch of weeds coming through the cracks in your sidewalk, or something), a nice dose of boiling water works quite well.
posted by antifuse at 8:46 AM on June 8, 2011


Folks, putting glyphosate on food is bad for people.



No - there isn't actually any evidence of that. Go and read the science in the post, there is nothing that says Glyphosate is actually causing birth defects. Of the studies that have been done the threshold levels are so high to show actual damage you essentially have to drink the stuff. There are many many things that we deem safe when used correctly, that if abused are dangerous. As a point of reference if you drank 37 kilos a day of alcohol, you'd be dead. If you eat 37 kilos of sugar a day,you'd be dead.

Yes Monsanto is evil, but I think ignoring science to make a point about something is bad, and its counterproductive.


You know its possible to use glyphosate resposibly in an ornamental context. It doesn't need to be sprayed on, you can just apply it to the leaves with a brush in those circumstance where physical removal alone aren't appropriate.
posted by JPD at 8:53 AM on June 8, 2011 [5 favorites]


BTW - the average concentration of active ingredient in the most common preps is like 4% - so you'd actually need to drink more like 925 kg of "Roundup" a day.
posted by JPD at 9:00 AM on June 8, 2011


I find myself in the position that, while I consider Monsanto a pretty shitty company, and wish that this corporation did not exist, due to their behavior, I have also studied the toxicology of Roundup and I cannot get excited about it. To say that it glyphosate, or any of the much-maligned inerts in Roundup cause birth defects is a pretty big stretch.
posted by Danf at 9:03 AM on June 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


A few observation arising from having read a few of the above posts:

1) scientific method is not a new religion or "the true religion".
Unlike any religion, people using scientific method for a variety of purposes (primarily investigation/research) don't use dogmas: that means, they don't say they have "the one and only truth" about something, yet they are pretty darn confident that what they know describe quite well the phenomenon they have studied and, because of the way they have conducted their work and experiments, their findings can be tested and tested again until proven false.

2) "scientist" are also human beings, therefore fallible, suggestibles, at times delusional and corruptible.

Intellectual honesty is not that hard to come by, but is often trumped by the desire to do a fine work, the desire to be rewarded for that job, the perceived _need_ to do a good job otherwise you'll end up in misery out of a job. Some scientist have falsified data deliberatedly so as to obtain grants or perks from industries,; that does NOT imply that all scientist will do that, or that all industries corrupt, but there are very strong incentives to do so (and to cover up the situation by blaming the scientist or a convenient scapegoat, so beware of generous offers).


2) people like absolute security more than relative, temporary ones
People like to feel that something they know will never change: your house will always be yours, you will always have some work, the sun revolves around earth/ the earth is flat/ god exists. As long as they "feel" this something they know is "certain", that will relieve them of the anxieties connected to insecurity. That doesn't imply that what they know to be "true" isn't a fabrication that doesn't hold to a rigorous scrutiny (look for Derren Brown on the net, he makes tons of fine examples on make-believe).

3) security sells, insecurity and doubt don't
Roundup or any similar products are sold because they _appear_ to be effective to many, expecially to the buyers. Clearly, the product must not kill the buyer and, as it happens with all substance, improper uses is quite likely to lead to very bad consequences, including death and suffering; but how many farmers know exactly how to handle these substances properly? Surely, a salesman will hardly ever mention the word "danger" but will rather emphasize the desiderable effects of the substance: if law mandates that, you'll find the really dangerous bits in the fine print/labels/disclaimer contracts.

4) marketing has a better short term ROI than research

With the expection of some occasional, rare breakthroughts, many kinds of reserarch tend to yeld results on the long term (many years). Marketing is arguably far better at delivering financial results in the short term, and the short term is what most people involved in any activity that involves financial returns are often obsessed with. That obviously also includes farmers, who have to make "ends meet" - the little guy owning a farm must have enough money to initiate a new production cycle, the big guys have less pressure on that, but must yeld good returns or investors will leave them/or fail to attract new ones.Therefore, many people are strongly biased in favor of short term effective solutions; as they invest in these solutions, they also don't like to lose their investment because of a new regulation / new discovery - the small guy just can't afford that, the big guy just doesn't -want- to do that because the loss can be, in absolute term, significant. Unfortunately, this focus on short term can trump prudent behaviors or in some occasion lead to an incentive to shift risks: see, for instance, how the financial industry has shifted the risks of poor mortgages to all but themselves.
posted by elpapacito at 10:00 AM on June 8, 2011


I completely fail to understand what you are getting at. The science is wrong because scientists have been corrupted? You seem to be talking out of several sides of your mouth at once.
posted by JPD at 10:22 AM on June 8, 2011


Nope, I don't come to that conclusion, these are just working thoughts.
posted by elpapacito at 10:32 AM on June 8, 2011


Monsanto or no, what we need to focus on is the science. Whether or not scientists are corruptible, science can provide reproducible evidence (occasionally called "proof") that an effect exists or not.

You don't need to look beyond the pharmaceutical industry to see that regulatory systems can be biased, data can be hidden, and marketing departments can set company policy (if not create their own diseases). But for the most part, toxicological evidence for widely used chemicals is standardized and subject to fairly strict oversight. And most or all of the data is available to the public. If you really believe that Roundup or any other chemical represents a significant hazard to the public, you can provide experimental or observational evidence to support your claim, and appeal to the regulators to review the data. It's happened before.

On the other hand, we've historically allowed peddlers of various preparations to make claims and counter-claims for all kinds of alternative/herbal medicines, cleaning products, "green" concoctions and an endless variety of commercial nostrums with pretty much NO oversight - people have been allowed to hide behind the label "Trade Secret". The result is that people's perception of WHAT CHEMICALS ARE, and what the effects of a drug, herbicide, concrete sealer, hairspray or Roundup are, bear almost no relation to reality. People also have perceptions about the causes of cancer that are founded entirely on hearsay. Need I mention the emerging anti-vaccine industry?

That's why people can innocently say things like, "His teenage daughter has cancer. I don't know if he's put two and two together yet." or "Both me and my dad have skin cancers like crazy. Some of that is from the sun. Some of that is from exposure to farm chemicals..."

There's a huge conflict here. On the one hand, we have pretty good scientific evidence for and against the safe use of lots of chemicals. On the other, science-based decision making around the use of many commercial products is not done, except when the claims are too outrageous or after serious harm has been done.

spiderskull: "You know, sensible regulation and oversight is one of those gaping holes in our society. "

You know that Regulation is just another word for SOCIALISM, right?
posted by sneebler at 8:10 PM on June 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


As a point of reference if you drank 37 kilos a day of alcohol, you'd be dead. If you eat 37 kilos of sugar a day,you'd be dead

If you drank 37 kg of water per day, it'd kill you, too.
posted by hattifattener at 8:46 PM on June 8, 2011


Uh... Where's this "37kg" coming from? 37kg is 81lbs, is all.

Eta - it seems there are other studies of ingested rather than injected in the scribd piece showing effects in the 250mg/kg bw/d, and some statistically meaningful effects at 500 mg/kg. So lets take the lower bound - 250 daily, so for a 150kg person that means ingesting 37 kilos per day of glyphosate. At the EU permitted residual levels of 17mg/kg that means you need to eat > a tonne of roundup ready soybeans daily.

Is that where? 'Cause damn, dude; your math sucks.

First of all, your example person weighs well over three hundred pounds. Second of all, a milligram is one one-millionth of a kilogram.

So let's use a reasonably average-sized human, at 70kg. A seventy-kilo person would have to eat 3500mg -- that's three and a half grams, or about three quarters of a teaspoon.

A thirty-pound kid would need one fifth of that.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:57 PM on June 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I would like to name a punk-metal band Agency Capture.

Wikipedia has some good examples of regulatory capture.
posted by salvia at 12:56 AM on June 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


My math sucks.Mea Clupa, I just spaced.

My point still stands

You still need to eat a shit load of soybeans for there to be an effect. 3500/17 - 205 kg/day of soybeans.
posted by JPD at 4:45 AM on June 9, 2011


So let's use a reasonably average-sized human, at 70kg. A seventy-kilo person would have to eat 3500mg -- that's three and a half grams, or about three quarters of a teaspoon.

Umm, I believe your math is off as well. Where are you getting 3500mg from? The study was showing at least 250mg/kg for effects... So that's 17,500 mg for a 70kg person. Still only 17.5g per day. But that's 17.5g of pure glyphosphate. Which would require eating 17,500/17 = 1029kg of soybeans, at accepted EU levels of 17mg/kg.
posted by antifuse at 6:10 AM on June 9, 2011


You know that Regulation is just another word for SOCIALISM, right?

Please don't do this.

I mean, I know you're probably making a joke, but regulating and approving the products that consumers buy so they know they are safe is NOT the same thing as nationalizing industries and distributing the products of those industries to the populace so they can be more productive within society.

Socialism is being tossed around so much as a scare word that it's starting to lose any true meaning at all. Don't contribute to it by making snide comments. You can make your point while undermining the bullshit usage of it, or you can do what you did and contribute to the problem.

/rant
posted by hippybear at 6:14 AM on June 9, 2011


Umm, I believe your math is off as well. Where are you getting 3500mg from? The study was showing at least 250mg/kg for effects... So that's 17,500 mg for a 70kg person. Still only 17.5g per day. But that's 17.5g of pure glyphosphate. Which would require eating 17,500/17 = 1029kg of soybeans, at accepted EU levels of 17mg/kg.

Oof, you're right. How did I get that 3500?

But, like, that's still working from the numbers supplied by a person who 'acidentally' drove a dump truck onto the scales. Can anyone verify those figures? What are these "other studies"?
posted by Sys Rq at 6:27 PM on June 9, 2011


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