Thelast week, June 12, 2019, the funded by the organic industry Environmental Working Group (EWG) has issued a press release that claims"Large food companies like General Mills continue to sell breakfast cereals and other foods contaminated with alarmingly high levels of glyphosate, the carcinogenic ingredient in Roundup herbicide."
The EWG announcement is the third of its kind regarding the alleged dangers of glyphosate residues in our foods. It was immediately proclaimed by marginalized militant groups – which is comparable to the course – but was also covered, almost indiscriminately, by conventional sources, such as CNN:
What's the news here?
Like its predecessors, published in July and October 2018, this "study" of the electronic working group was based on a "series of tests" that had not been peer-reviewed. His scientists said he had discovered dozens of cases in which the foods tested did not meet the child health reference standard for risk assessment of potential exposure levels.
EWG did not mention that its "repository" is fully constituted, has no clear scientific basis, and is in contradiction with established and globally recognized standards used by regulators in all countries. The "security threshold" of the electronic working group is 100 times lower than the most conservative threshold established by the supervisory agencies around the world, including the EPA. Surprisingly but not surprisingly, given EWG's historic willingness to distort science, the threshold it has established on the ground just "coincides" with the to infinity traces of glyphosate found on Cheerios.
To justify these tests and reports of dread, the EWG cited a review of glyphosate conducted by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) in 2015, which concluded that workers exposed to glyphosate could be at risk from cancer , classifying the herbicide long used as "probably carcinogenic to humans". . "It sounds scary, but it's not. The traditional scientific community has strongly criticized the UN sub-agency for its outdated study methodology and its decision to exclude the huge body of research that does not support a link between glyphosate and cancer, including a a leading longitudinal study of more than 50,000 people who regularly applied the herbicide and had no unusual type of cancer-related health problems. [[[[Read the GLP report reviewing IARC research and other studies on the potential health risks of glyphosate]
Recent reports from the Centers for Disease Control and the Environmental Protection Agency, published in April and May 2019, respectively, confirmed the global consensus of pesticide researchers and regulators that glyphosate poses no risk of cancer as it is currently used. At present, all the world's leading regulators and supervisors – 15 of them – have reviewed and rejected IARC's findings. [[[[Review GLP's Infographic on Glyphosate Regulatory Findings]
By compounding its credibility issues, the electronic working group misrepresented IARC's conclusions in support of its case. The IARC noted in its 2015 assessment that there was no evidence that glyphosate residues harm consumers who encounter them at minute levels in our food supply, which contradicts what the government claims electronic working group. IARC stated that its data only raised the possibility of serious health problems for applicator farmers, who they felt were exposed to potential risks of glyphosate, no matter how small. Risks become risks depending on the amounts of exposure and the duration of exposure. The IARC has classified the herbicide into a category of cancer risk shared by bacon and the threats posed by going to a barber shop or a barber shop, and was found to be less dangerous than to drink wine or beer.
This repositioning of a year-old study seems to have happened for one reason: the electronic working group's attempt to feed the fire of California's legal glyphosate building. Hundreds of billions of dollars in lucrative costs are at stake if law lawyers, relying on false studies by EWG and misrepresenting IARAC's research, can convince Janes and Jacks in jury chests to target this awful criminal society, Monsanto (now Bayer). In case someone does not see his strategy, EWG has stated in his title announcing his "new study".
In August 2018, GLP spoke with several experts who guided us in the evaluation of the initial applications of the eWG and the IARC section. Because the activist group did not bring any new information about glyphosate to the discussion of its last campaign, we are republishing our initial analysis of the EWG's allegation that parents would be serving breakfast to a "family". dangerous dose of poison destroying herb ". [June 16, 2019]
"If you or your kids are eating Cheerios right now, it's very likely they'll be accompanied by a potentially dangerous weedkiller called Roundup," Fortune said On August 16, Newsweek published an article titled "A Dangerous Ingredient for Weed Control Found in Cheerios Cereals, Quaker Oats and Other Breakfast Cereals."
These were two of literally hundreds of media that botched coverage of what scientists say is a questionable study on breakfast cereals and granola bars by the anti-GMO environmental task force, a public health advocacy group based in Washington DC.
According to Alexis Temkin, toxicologist in residence at EWG:
According to independent laboratory tests commissioned by EWG, cereals, cereals, oatmeal, muesli and snack bars are accompanied by a significant dose of poison weed killer weeds. Glyphosate, a cancer-associated herbicide, developed by scientists from the State of California and the World Health Organization, was detected in all products, with the exception of two of the 45 samples of conventional oat products. Nearly three-quarters of these samples had glyphosate levels higher than those seen by eWG scientists as protective of children's health ….
The study was at the right time. The EWG seems to have charged it to broadcast it when a California jury had to rule on whether Roundup, Monsanto's herbicide whose main ingredient is glyphosate, had caused the development of A cancer at a San Francisco gardener. On August 10, in a controversial decision challenged by many scientists, a jury awarded the plaintiff $ 289 million. As a result of this verdict, this study has unsurprisingly attracted a lot of media attention. But it's always a good idea to double check the alarming claims. The GLP therefore spoke with a number of experts, all of whom expressed serious doubts about the eWG's claims.
The basic consensus conclusion: a bowl of cheerios, or a daily bowl over several months or even years, will not put your health at risk. Why? Because we are talking about tiny amounts of glyphosate – well below levels that would be considered dangerous. It is almost certain that the electronic working group would have found traces of dozens of chemicals (just as harmless) – if they had tested any other chemicals. But EWG has only tested glyphosate.
For context, let's look at some basic facts. First, glyphosate effectively kills weeds, but not much else. Humans and animals do not have the metabolic machinery – the shikimate acid pathway–used by the herbicide to kill the plants. This means that glyphosate is not well metabolized in the human body, which greatly reduces its harmful effects.
In addition, after being sprayed on food crops, the herbicide is degraded by bacteria in the soil and therefore "shows no evidence of bioaccumulation in the food chain". according to Department of Pesticide Regulation of California. Trevor Charles, a microbiologist at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, added in an e-mail that "glyphosate is rapidly degraded by microbes and also absorbed by soil particles. It does not bioaccumulate.
And if it is true that a sub-agency of the World Health Organization, known as the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), linked the herbicide to cancer in 2015, the cancer agency report was a study of "risk" and not risk; he did not take into account the impact of the exposure. On the basis of this type of risk analysis, coffee and salted fish were also considered "probable carcinogens", and no one claims to ban them. WHO and the United Nations have issued their own much more detailed risk analysis, reiterating IARC's cancer research findings and stating that the herbicide used was safe.
And to be clear, the IARC has not found any danger by consuming traces of glyphosate that may end up in foods sprayed with the herbicide. Agricultural workers exposed to glyphosate were confronted with "limited evidence" of the carcinogenicity of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and prostate cancer, but consumers were not faced with any identifiable danger. The Panel also found "sufficient evidence" of carcinogenicity in laboratory animals in some studies, but has been accused by experts of leaving out evidence of numerous studies showing no harm and manipulating the disease. Interpretation of others. Hundreds of studies, including from the Environmental Protection Agency, have shown that glyphosate poses no serious risk to people's health.
These basic facts seem to refute the hypothesis that exposure to glyphosate through food is dangerous. Some contrarian scientists, mostly related to the anti-GMO activist movement, have suggested in response that the chemical kills the beneficial bacteria living in our gut and could cause a wide range of diseases. They include "inflammatory bowel disease, obesity, depression, ADHD, autism, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, ALS, multiple sclerosis, cancer, cachexia, infertility and developmental malformations, "said Stephanie Seneff, a computer scientist at MIT, who works away from her field.
Seneff goes even beyond the IARC glyphosate panel, which found only "limited evidence" of carcinogenicity in agricultural workers exposed to glyphosate. Of course, Seneff's work has also been analyzed by experts. In her blog ThoughtScapism, cell biologist Iida Ruishalme pointed out:
Some studies suggest a connection [between gut health and glyphosate]but so far they are only sketching hypothetical models, can often be of very poor quality and their defects are easily detectable by scientists, and even laymen, to detect if they are examined carefully.
According to Ruishalme, one of these defects is related to the amount of glyphosate that a person should ingest to cause a problem. Studies suggesting that the chemical could damage intestinal bacteria expose microbes to much more glyphosate than the GTE detected in cereals:
To achieve the same inhibitory effect seen in our gut studies, we would need to ingest about 150 kg of legumes (the legumes with the maximum limit for pesticide residues, and we will assume here that this lot would come close to this limit) to that time.
Cereals with a "dose of weed-killing poison"?
This brings us back to the EWG study on glyphosate – which, of course, has not been peer reviewed but has simply been slapped on the web to take advantage of the hysteria caused by the decision to California regarding glyphosate. Charles, the Canadian microbiologist, said the group's conclusion was immediately suspect because "the work has not been peer-reviewed." This means that the results have not been verified by independent scientists. Peer review does not guarantee the validity of a study, but it "…. is a necessary part of quality control in science, "said Steven Novella, a clinical neurologist at the Yale University School of Medicine.
The lack of peer review may explain why the interpretation of the data by EWG is so at odds with what the overwhelming majority of experts say about the toxicity of glyphosate. The authors of the study claimed, for example, this glyphosate "… was found in all but two of 45 samples some products …. Nearly three-quarters of these samples had glyphosate levels greater than …. EWG scientists plan to protect children's health …. "
The language used here is problematic as it suggests that children are exposed to dangerous amounts of glyphosate. But what is the level of protection of children's health? EWG has a habit of resorting to arbitrary standards like this, as explained by Andrew Kniss, a budding scientist at the University of Wyoming, in 2014, who tells us nothing about the how a realistic exposure to pesticides could affect children.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) maintains a database on maximum pesticide residue limits to guide us in assessing the safety of our food supply. In its latest report, published in 2016, the The USDA wrote: "More than 99% of sampled products …. had residues below EPA tolerances. Ultimately, if the EPA determines that a pesticide is not safe for human consumption, it is withdrawn from the market. "
Neither agency has concluded that glyphosate should be withdrawn from the market. This is because, like Ruishalme highlighted at his post,
A [150-lb] nobody in the United States would have to eat …. 62 lb. of products at the highest level of residues allowed each day to reach the limit … 2 mg of glyphosate per [2.2 lbs of] body weight per day. This level allowed …. is set [a] one hundred times below the level for no observed adverse effects …. in the most sensitive laboratory animal species tested. It is physically impossible to eat enough normal products to reach this level.
GTE detected glyphosate in breakfast foods parts per billion range (ppb)which is insignificant for human health.
"Only traces of glyphosate were found (made possible by advances in analytical chemistry) and they were well below allowable levels," said Charles. And according to USA Today, "…. the authorized quantity in grains [by the EPA] is 30 parts per million. "
The levels of glyphosate detected by the electronic working group ranged from 0 to 6% of universally acceptable levels – 30 ppm – set by both the US and the EU. And this level determined by the government is itself considered incredibly conservative. According to the EPA standard, one would have to eat more than 30 bowls of cheerios a day, every day, for more than a year to reach even the American limit, which is itself fixed 100 times or more below which could actually hurt someone. . EWG has just created its own alarming, ridiculous standard, which is 14,000 times lower than that of the EPA.
Everything is composed of chemicals, organic or inorganic. The reality is that the human body has evolved to very effectively manage the minute amounts of chemicals in the world. That's why very few pesticides, most of which are natural, can hurt us. Natural chemical pesticides, found in almost all plants, have been developed as defensive measures to repel or kill harmful insects, such as insects that attack plants. In small quantities, they are not dangerous for us. Biochemist Bruce Ames of the University of California at Berkeley and his colleagues explained in a 1990 study: "…. at low doses of most human exposures the comparative risks of synthesis [and natural] pesticide residues are insignificant. "
When you read or hear articles on the explosive study of the expert working group, keep in mind that the conclusion of this group is moving away from the huge consensus of experts on glyphosate. The data tell a clear and scientific story about the herbicide and the EWG, another ideologically based. In an email, Mary Mangan, a biologist who has written a lot on the safety of glyphosate, summed up the situation:
I do not eat Cheerios. But even if I did, I would not be worried about herbicides well below the levels acceptable to our scientists. Anxiety is worse for you than Cheerios. I try to avoid scares for my health.
Cameron J. English is responsible for agricultural genetics and special GLP projects. He is a science writer and podcast animator. ORGANIC. Follow him on Twitter @camjenglish
Jon Entine is the executive director of the Genetic Literacy Project. Follow him on Twitter