Is glyphosate really dangerous?

John Giesy is not a household name, but if you want to learn about glyphosate, he’s the go-to expert

John Giesy doesn’t speak frequently with the media and most people have probably never heard of him, despite an ongoing controversy in a field for which he is best known.

The World Health Organization recently reclassified glyphosate into a more hazardous substance category, which sparked consumer alarm and prompted governments worldwide to rethink their positions.

Last week, the worldwide expert in toxicology agreed to speak on the record.

“You might be able to show that (glyphosate causes cancer) in an in-vitro test…. But in an animal model, at a reasonable dose, would that occur? My reading of the literature is that it won’t.”

Giesy is a professor and Canada research chair in environmental toxicology at the University of Saskatchewan. He is also a professor or honourary professor at six other universities, an Einstein Professor with the Chinese Academy of Science and a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. Globally, he is the most cited author in the combined fields of ecology and environmental sciences.

Google Scholar, which rates academics according to citations, ranks Giesy in the top 0.001 percent of all scientists in the world.

So if a government agency needs an expert on how chemical compounds affect humans or wildlife, Giesy is a good place to start.

Just more than a year ago, the WHO changed the conversation about glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, and the most popular herbicide in the world.

Members of the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), a WHO agency, announced that glyphosate “probably causes cancer.”

The IARC decision had a massive impact:

  • In response to pressure from citizens and consumer groups, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said it would begin testing food and grains for glyphosate residues.
  • The European Union was expected to extend its approval of glyphosate in March. The decision has been postponed because France and other countries oppose renewing its registration.

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Giesy has reviewed the IARC classification. He said the agency likes to err on the side of extreme caution.

“You have to understand how IARC panels work,” said Giesy, who was born in Ohio and spent most of his academic career at Michigan State University.

“It’s difficult to ever get (them) to say it absolutely won’t cause cancer…. If there is any literature out there that suggests it might they protect themselves by saying it’s a possible human carcinogen… or probable carcinogen.”

In part, IARC said glyphosate is a ‘probable’ carcinogen because some research shows it causes cellular mutations or changes to DNA.

“The… data provide strong evidence for genotoxicity,” IARC said in its report.

But in-vitro research, where cells are exposed to a chemical, is dubious because scientists use an unreliable method to detect cellular mutations.

“The literature that would indicate it (glyphosate) might possibly be genotoxic is an Ames test, which has something like 30 percent false positives…. If you test industrial chemicals and pesticides half of them can be shown to be carcinogens in this Ames test,” Giesy said. “Even natural products that are in food, you can show in the Ames test that they’re a potential human carcinogen.”

There is also the matter of dose. Many chemicals can have genotoxic effects or cause DNA to break in a lab, but usually the doses are extremely high, Giesy said.

There’s little evidence that glyphosate exposure levels in the real world cause cancer, said Giesy, who has published approximately 1,000 peer-reviewed articles and is regarded as an expert in ecological risk assessments on agricultural and industrial chemicals.

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Giesy is worried about the state of science because advocates are now using research to confuse the public.

He said environmental groups and lawyers, hoping to file class-action suits, routinely hire a “like minded” scientist to produce research showing that chemical X causes horrible disease Y.

The resulting papers, usually published in second rate journals, cloud out the valid science, he said.

“That kind of stuff is going on all the time…. When they go to court they can point to (the study) and say well, it’s published. It’s got to be true,” Giesy said.

“There’s a paper that came out that basically cherry picked the literature and made claims… of associations with glyphosate with everything you can imagine. From criminal behaviour, spousal abuse… Parkinson’s, you name it.”

Bernhard Url, executive director of European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), which reported in November that glyphosate doesn’t cause cancer, has neatly summarized how empirical science has been reduced to an internet popularity contest.

“This is the… Facebook age of science. You have a scientific assessment, you put it in Facebook and you count how many people like it,” Url said at a EU hearing. “For us this is no way forward. We (the EFSA) produce a scientific opinion, we stand for it but we cannot take into account whether it will be liked or not.”

Giesy said he also takes a de-tached approach. He evaluates data and offers advice to governments based on the evidence.

However, toxicology is more than raw data because chemicals can potentially be deadly. Giesy has had cancer, a disease that changes how someone views the world.

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“Certainly you wouldn’t wish it on anyone. But whether it’s caused by glyphosate, in my opinion, is highly unlikely.”

  • richard

    You have to believe Mr. Giesy speaks with complete honesty….. As per usual the problem lies in reductionist science distilling the question into one dimension at the expense of context…… Is glyphosate dangerous? Yes… because it has been allowed to proliferate global agricultural reasoning, reaching the end of its effective lifespan, with uncertain toxicity, and no apparent replacement other than more of the same….. Another failed end run around natural law and no closer to a sustainable solution…..If this is progress, well, keep playing….. the musicians on the Titanic did….?.

    • Polno

      Mr. Giesy is a toxicologist with a lot of experience, who can look at scientific studies and provide expert opinion on the subject. Why would you be skeptical? Unless you do not understand the “problem”?

      • richard

        The “problem” sir is reductionist” science trying to reduce complex issues to one dimensional questions….in this case toxicity…. Glyphosate is the worlds most used and abused agritoxins and suffers from questionable toxicity, imminent obsolescence and no replacement other than eggheads and corporate heelers verbally rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. Why would I not be skeptical??? If it was not so serious it would be comical…..

        • Nick Thielen

          really, Glyphosate is a relatively acutely non-toxic material – this is a fact look up the LD 50 rabbit. Second, small doses seem to have no affect as presently used, based on population studies. The only question is are the screening studies using massive doses to see if the material is a mutagen showing us anything new. These are far from perfect. Coffee etc. fail these tests (look up what is in the same WHO cat.). So is the chemical a problem no. sorry that is a fact and you need to accept that. Now is the use of the chemical proper. I will concede maybe not. It was first used in small amounts to kill corn in soybean fields. It has grown in use greatly and the real risk is we will find plants becoming tolerant of it and we will loose it as an option. I will listen to that concern but the anger and the garbage spouted about safety is just that garbage and bad science.

          • richard

            Yeah I know, some people still think smoking is sexy too…..Glyphosate residue and its carrier/ adjuvants are found residually in everything including organic food……Do you think its been abused? And in case you haven’t heard…fourteen weed species on sixty million acres in the USA are now resistant to glyphosate….. Can you spell obsolete? I know that in the agribiz cult of denial we dont talk about these things…..instead we divert attention to the latest agritoxin called Enlist….two obsolete chemicals combined to create even more “better living through denial”…… Are we living on the planet of the apes?

  • SageThinker

    But, you see, Monsanto’s very own data from a 1990 unpublished study by Stout and Ruecker, as shown in these tables in Greim (2015) and the 1991 EPA memo “Glyphosate and Cancer” shows correlation of glyphosate exposure to tumors in rats — specifically pancreatic and thyroid tumors — and yes, some of the thyroid tumors were malignant. You see in the Greim reprint of the data that of 240 rats, 5 of the exposed groups got thyroid cancer and none of the control group did. Sure, the exposure on the order of 100 mg/kg/day is far more than in human diets, but on the other hand, the rates of tumors shown were very high and the nature of cancer is that a prevalence of 10 in 100,000 is devastating, whereas the animal study had 240 animals. So they give higher doses to see if there is an effect. Lastly, the dose-response was not linear in th range tested, thereby indicating that the linear portion was probably below the lowest dose given, so there should have been more studies done. But instead, Monsanto appears to have gotten a waiver from the EPA in the 1991 memo, and the memo was also dissented with by three of the EPA staff toxicologists, which is unusual. And the industry did not replicate the study in question or perform variations on it. So what is going on here? We don’t need in vitro studies to test for carcinogenesis if we look at the animal studies that have been done. The issue is that the industry looked at the data with deep rose colored glasses and then used their influence to get it swept under the rug.

    • Chris Preston

      These experiments don’t show what you are claiming.

      Starting with the first one. While there are two values that are significantly different to the control in paired tests, the value to actually look at is the significance for trend (shown as the p value under the control), which shows there is no significant trend for glyphosate to increase frequency of adenomas.

      As a side note, adenomas are typically benign and not cancers as you claim. However, it can be somewhat difficult to distinguish between adenomas and carcinomas for pancreatic islet tumors, so a better data set to look at is the combined numbers (third row).

      The second data set has a total of 42 separate statistical tests conducted and only a single one shows significance with Fisher’s exact test. You would expect to get such a result 88% of the time. So it is worthwhile looking at the whole data set. The only significant value is for C cell adenomas in males that were sacrificed at the middle dose. No significant effect was observed at the highest dose, nor with females, nor with males that died. Therefore, this is highly likely to be a statistical aberration.

      So you have posted two data sets which show no significant correlation between glyphosate and cancer in animal studies. If this is the best evidence that glyphosate causes cancer it is pretty poor, because it does not support such a conclusion.

      • SageThinker

        I understand exactly how to read the data, and i stand by my conclusion. I challenge you to open your mind and get out of your predetermined agenda goals.

        • Polno

          Sorry, but you are the one that seems to be against “open your mind and get out of your predetermined agenda goals”. Read the scientific literature-there have been many many studies, and nothing had linked glyphosphate to cancer.

          • SageThinker

            … my mind is open… so speak about the topic. I don’t believe everything, but i use my mind and think about it. It’s what skeptic means.

          • Harold

            It seems that Dr. lima, Dr. Young, Dr. Samsel, Dr. Heinemann, Dr. Trtikova, Dr. Mesnaoe, Dr. Pandey, Dr. Holderdaum, Dr. Michael Antoiou, Dr. Oz, Dr. Mercola and hundreds more can find a link to Cancer; so what’s your problem? Even W.H.O. can find it? Of course, your reference points are associated with the health of the plant and not towards the benefits to human and animal health. Most of us can rationalize that our human bodies are not Glyphosate deficient.

          • Nick Thielen

            Let me ask is there an increase in cancer in folks that use the product….. Nope… this long on the market no effect gosh I think the doctors you quote may have an interest in having the product fail as much as Monsanto has one for it to work. By the way studies of cancer study repeatability show that many are so much bunk and therefore, you might consider that it is likely someone is crying wolf.

          • Harold

            Cancer is a metabolic disease and not a genetic abnormality. Most cancer, regardless of cell or tissue origin, is a singular disease of respiratory insufficiency, coupled with compensatory fermentation. There are not hundreds of cancer types. You tell me how you can guarantee that chemicals such as Glyphosate are not a contributing factor to cancer. Glyphosate has one job and that is to kill. It doesn’t matter at what parts per billion, the task remains the same. How naïve it is to believe that Monsanto is in the health care business. Secondly, researchers use the exact same models, and are getting conflicting or incomplete results. Incredibly there are those who believe that honesty evolves from secrecy. Is Monsanto or their documents Public Domain? Any lab can produce accurate results- not just Monsanto’s or their “Peers”. It is clear to me that you have no desire to take this matter seriously.

  • gskibum

    Obviously he’s a Monsanto shill. /sarc

  • RobertWager

    Very important article.

    • Ken Gallaher

      Expect the Monsnato $hills in first – two of them

      • First Officer

        SAS, Shill Accusation Syndrome, is a modern epidemic.

        • Peaceful Warrior

          Actually no.

          It is the industry $hills who are dispatched to any piece about GMs or chemicals that are a modern epidemic of duplicitous industry attempts at deception.

        • Rob Bright

          Yes, for you antiscience, pro-GMO activists, telling the truth is like a disease…

  • Peter

    Even though I agree with his conclusions and analysis, I find laughable how he is presented as an expert whose opinion prevalues on anyone else’s because of his credentials.The industry is hiding itself behind so called science and calls itself science based but science has caused major disasters in the world and was wrong many times…
    But again I probable agree with him; I just disapprove how scientists are presented as guardians of knowledge who shouldnt suffer opposition. Many scientists have contradicting point of views, which one to believe?

    • I couldn’t agree more.

      • Neil Batchelor

        Ipso facto….

    • AgroforestryTBD

      Exactly! What the heck do they expect. I would love to take criticism for my work as long as it is productive and informative.

      It’s sad that many of these pro GM or by the book folk attack and call names. Science and current knowledge is always changing and very flawed!

      • Denise

        In addition, scientists are being silenced by the very institutions that are supposed to be unbiased in their findings.
        Case in point: United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)
        ecowatch.com/2016/04/12/usda-silences-scientists/

      • Neil Batchelor

        Ad nauseum…

        • AgroforestryTBD

          Current scientific knowledge on the human microbiome is quiet nauseating. I agree. We will continue as lab rats until scientific research continues to evolve and be exposed to the reality of what is true and false. Eat at your own risk we shall say.

    • Sadie

      Which one to believe? The one that isn’t getting paid by Monsanto of course! 🙂 Sadly there are quite a few…

      • Nick Thielen

        yea I mean science failed to get to the moon, and science failed to regularly transplant organs, and science failed to reduce the impact of people on the plant by cleaning up cars, and power plants. Yea you sure cant count on science ….

        • lazylarry

          there is science for good and science for profit, obviously the gmo industry is science for profit

    • Neil Batchelor

      So. You are willing to put more emphasis on the value of someone else’s opinion because they are LESS credentialed than the #1 authority on the subject, and, moreover, generalize science as a whole as a failure because of some unidentified “disasters” . I beg your forgiveness sir, but I believe that [is foolish].

  • SageThinker

    But, you see, Monsanto’s very own data from a 1990 unpublished study by Stout and Ruecker, as shown in these tables in Greim (2015) and the 1991 EPA memo “Glyphosate and Cancer” shows correlation of glyphosate exposure to tumors in rats — specifically pancreatic and thyroid tumors — and yes, some of the thyroid tumors were malignant. You see in the Greim reprint of the data that of 240 rats, 5 of the exposed groups got thyroid cancer and none of the control group did. Sure, the exposure on the order of 100 mg/kg/day is far more than in human diets, but on the other hand, the rates of tumors shown were very high and the nature of cancer is that a prevalence of 10 in 100,000 is devastating, whereas the animal study had 240 animals. So they give higher doses to see if there is an effect. Lastly, the dose-response was not linear in th range tested, thereby indicating that the linear portion was probably below the lowest dose given, so there should have been more studies done. But instead, Monsanto appears to have gotten a waiver from the EPA in the 1991 memo, and the memo was also dissented with by three of the EPA staff toxicologists, which is unusual. And the industry did not replicate the study in question or perform variations on it. So what is going on here? We don’t need in vitro studies to test for carcinogenesis if we look at the animal studies that have been done. The issue is that the industry looked at the data with deep rose colored glasses and then used their influence to get it swept under the rug.

    • Kevin Folta

      Thanks for posting the data. To my eye you show one statistically significant data point that does not exhibit dose-response. The lowest level (that is still massively high) does not show significant effect, nor does the higher level. No dose response, a p value that says there’s a 5% chance that it is due to random chance, and an enormous amount of the chemical is hardly conclusive. In the 26 years since the results did not repeat, not even in the Seralini paper where they did not report thyroid tumors.

      So I think that’s why the data should be considered good, but in context with the appropriate caveats for statistics and reproducibility. Plus, I’m 100 kg. I’d have to eat 12,100 kg of soy (with residues at 3ppm, on the high side) to reach those levels.

      I don’t think you have much to worry about. Glad you feel that their data should be trusted.

      • Rob Bright

        To your eye, a $25,000 grant from Monsanto to fund your “science outreach” is not a conflict of interest, and in no way implies you have any relationship with them whatsoever…

        • Anita

          You can talk about a $25,000 Monsanto gift (not grant–there’s a difference) to pay for refreshments at a series of science communication meetings AFTER you explain what Charles Benbrook did with more than $100,000 from the organic industry. Be sure to include Benbrook’s disclosure of conflicts of interest.

          https://www.geneticliteracyproject.org/2015/10/13/foia-organic-industry-chuck-benbrook-orchestrated-anti-gmo-independent-research-marketing/

          https://www.geneticliteracyproject.org/2015/10/14/foia-emails-reveal-anti-gmo-pro-organic-spin-a-team-led-by-tom-philpott-and-michael-pollan/

          https://www.geneticliteracyproject.org/2015/10/13/foia-10000-charles-benbrook-offered-ramrod-independent-anti-gmo-research-australian-activists/

          • razorjack

            The Genetic Literacy Project is a wholly controlled GMO pesticide industry disinformation astro-turf site. The GLP has a reputation for bad writing, GMO pesticide industry enemy hit pieces, and controlled tightly managed public participation, and lack of ethics. All you will find there is GMO pesticide industry PR based talking points and cherry picked agenda driven GMO pesticide industry junk pseudo-science. Any real science that doesn’t support the GMO pesticide industry agenda will be attacked or ignored. The GLP can not be considered in the same universe with any credible ethical scientific publication. http://ecowatch.com/2016/02/05/genetic-literacy-project-crosses-ethical-line/

          • RobertWager

            Funny how you have been corrected numerous times. It is 501c organization and you know it. …

          • razorjack

            There are many 503c3 organizations that are abusing the IRS non profit rules.

          • RobertWager

            So please forward evidence of such for GLP. We will wait.

          • razorjack

            The evidence is obvious to those who look with an open mind.

            Who is “We”?

          • Rob Bright

            Quoting the industry-funded astroturf site, GLP (aka, the genetic lunacy project) does not do your credibility any good.

            The $25,000 was called a “grant” by both Monsanto and by Folta’s university. No, it wasn’t a research grant, but it was a grant nonetheless, and designated to Folta’s “science outreach” — which is to say, workshops aimed at promoting biotechnology.

            After many complaints and taking a lot of heat for the grant, his University decided to allocate it to another venue — the student food bank, or some such thing.

          • Kevin Folta

            Rob, you also don’t understand what the workshops are for, but you are happy to say negative things about them. They are not “aimed at promoting biotechnology”. Can you tell me what is discussed? Who is the audience?

            It’s sad because the workshops are educational and well received. I fund them essentially out of my own pocket with honoraria that could have gone to me personally. When the company offered to contribute the effort, that was great! I control the content. They have the same interest I do here, to teach scientists how to talk to a concerned public.

            When we lost the donation to the science education program because of activist attacks, it was refilled for the most part by donors. That was really great, and allows me to keep doing the work. Plus, no ties to Monsanto at all, just old friends that work there. They even said, “Folta’s worth more to us if he’s completely independent, so steer clear.”

            So now the public is paying for workshops and the company gets the benefits of an trained population of science communicators. You guys did a great job keeping money in corporate pockets and shifting the burden to public institutions, small donors, and me!

            If anyone is reading this and wants to learn more about the workshops, they are free (I cover costs, get paid nothing) and I’m scheduling after Oct 2016. No openings before.

            http://www.talkingbiotech.com

          • SageThinker

            It’s sad we got off topic here – i would like to see Kevin’s reply about the topic of the 1990 data and the 1991 EPA memo’s lies in the interpretation and what justifies these lies.

          • Matt Cameron

            Genetic literacy project hahahaha give me a break! …

        • Kevin Folta

          Very nice, a false ad hominem agrument. First, what did I say that is factually incorrect? Second, Monsanto never sponsored my research and never paid me a cent personally. None of that donation to an outreach program was used, thanks to activists that threatened me, my family, and university.

          So see if you can focus on issues. You can’t argue data, so attack the scientist. Just like climate deniers, anti vaxers and creationists. You’re in great company.

          • razorjack

            People can see the truth about this issue by reading Folta’s e-mails that were exposed under the FOIA.

            There are 174 documents and they are all here: https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/2303691-kevin-folta-uoffloridadocs.html#document/p84/a237719

          • Rob Bright

            First: It’s neither false, nor an ad hominem attack. It is a factual statement of truth. It’s in print, and you’ve already admitted to it.

            Second: It is stated here to show other readers that your are far from neutral or objective in this discussion. You are a pro-GMO activist hiding behind the guise of independent scientist.

            Stick to THAT issue, and argue against those facts, if you please…

          • Kevin Folta

            Hi Rob, actually it is the definition of ad hominem. See, I commented on the data that Sage posted, providing my interpretations and thoughts as someone that understands experimental design and statistics. Those were my interpretations, and certainly open for challenge. Instead, you chose not to talk about the data, but instead attack me. It is the old story- when you can’t argue evidence that the other person presents, trash the person. Ad hominem.

            I am completely neutral and objective. For 30 years I have interpreted the scientific literature, and am happy to stand corrected if something is disputable. I’m always open to discussion. Let’s solve problems.

            Your tired allegations are addressed here, and of course, I’m always glad to answer questions for anyone reading this thread. Send an email, anytime.

            http://kfolta.blogspot.com/2015/09/recent-events-faq.html

          • SageThinker

            Yes, can we please stay on the topic itself and not go ad hominem? I made a long thoughtful reply and then Rob got us off topic — i would like to hear a response from Kevin Folta about the substance of this conversation, not about allegations about any person.

      • SageThinker

        Thank you for the reply, Kevin.

        “Dose response” is defined here as effect monotonically rising with dosage. That is not a requirement for the data to show toxicity. The dose range tested was probably above the linear portion of a dose-response graph. There was a dose response in that much data shows tumors correlated to glyphosate exposure, and not found in the controls with no exposure. Therefore, there is dose response found, in that exposure to glyphosate appears to cause the tumors (pancreatic and thyroid).

        Secondly, it is not necessary for a p-value to be < 0.05 for a result to be significant in the normal sense of the word, which means that it is important. It appears likely that glyphosate exposure is causing the tumors. It is not "proven" by an arbitrary scientific convention of p < 0.05 in many of the cases, depending on how the data is aggregated, but that is still significant in terms of human safety. It calls for more research. Can you show me this experiment being replicated in the same or slightly modified forms? I haven't found such a replication study yet. If the industry really cared about safety then i would think they'd replicate the study or do a similar one with lower dosages.

        Thirdly, the doses are much higher than normal human exposure — 100 mg/kg/day, order of magnitude. But… the rat population used was 240 rats, and the length of time was 2 years. Both of these are lower than the relevant human exposures. We get glyphosate at lower doses, but in higher populations and for longer periods of time. Therefore, the toxicology model used in the experiment was valid. The rationale is to test at higher doses to see if there is an effect apparent that might occur in human populations at lower prevalence due to the lower doses, but is still very significant. If the rate of pancreatic cancer or thyroid cancer doubles due to glyphosate exposure, that would be a very bad health outcome from the use of the herbicide.

  • SageThinker

    I posted this same comment last night and it was not approved today. Why is that? I had images on the first version of this comment and left them off this time. Here is one of the images i had posted. This is a serious and true comment — not trolling, not lying. It’s real dialog in response to the article itself, so why would it not get posted?

    • Sage,

      I moderate comments left on our website as quickly and efficiently as possible, but I do have other responsibilities…

      Cheers,
      Paul – WP web ed.

      • My comments aren’t showing up either. Paul — are links to studies allowed? — oops. nevermind, just saw it below. Thanks!

        • I’ve been approving your comments, Anne.

          I see them elsewhere on this page – and there are none in my “deleted” pile…

          Cheers,
          Paul – WP web ed

    • Wow, you’ve been upvoted by the usual posse of sockpuppets. As various scientists have already told you, what we have here is findings that are nearly all statistically insignificant. The rats in the study were also exposed to levels of glyphosate that a human would get only if he/she decided to drink it everyday straight from the bottle. …

  • Rob Bright

    Interesting that Giesy was a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. The RSC’s evaluation of GE technology categorically denied that crops produced by it can be considered ‘substantially equivalent’ to non GMO crops, nor can it be considered ‘GRAS’ (generally regarded as safe.) They also stated that GE technologies have not been proven safe. I guess he must disagree with his fellow scientists at the Royal Society of Canada…

    • Shayna Murray

      Well in all fairness the RSC also believes that “Chinese restaurant syndrome” is a real thing…

      • Rob Bright

        Give me a break. RSC is the most reputable science institution in Canada. When they were asked to review the safety of genetic engineering they did a fantastic job. (Of course, their findings were completely ignored, and you won’t find a single pro-GMO activist pointing to their research…)

        • RobertWager

          Like this:

          }“Notwithstanding the limits of current technology, a GM food which has undergone a thorough, scientifically valid evaluation process for allergenicity, with negative results, should be considered at low risk to provoke or induce
          allergic responses and could possibly be even safer than
          a non-GM novel or exotic food which has not been subjected to the same scrutiny”

          Royal Society of Canada-2000

          I use it in every talk I give.

          • lazylarry

            no such study or testing has ever been done, nothing but a bunch of big fat lies

        • RobertWager

          What do you think Health Canada meant when they said:

          “The overwhelming body of scientific evidence continues to support the
          safety of NK603, genetically modified food and feed products in
          general, and glyphosate containing herbicides.”

          http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/gmf-agm/seralini-eng.php

          • Rob Bright

            Health Canada’s statements of claim are as reliable as the FDA’s and EFSA’s. All are as influenced by industry and politics. Health Canada makes as many false, unscientific claims as the FDA and EFSA do regarding GE technologies. To date, Health Canada has never done any research into GMO safety aside from reviewing industry science and reports (which they simply rubber stamp as a matter of ‘business as usual.’)

          • Rob Bright

            Chapter 7, pg 179 of the RSC report first outlines some issues with the term, “substantial equivalence.” Firstly, it is not a ‘scientific’ assessment, but rather a conceptual tool for the food industry.

            “HOW WELL HAS “SUBSTANTIAL EQUIVALENCE” BEEN ACCEPTED?

            The adoption of “substantial equivalence” as a decision threshold has been criticized

            because of the ambiguity and lack of specificity of the term. The failure to define “substantial

            equivalence” clearly was emphasized by Millstone et al. (1999), who also stated that the

            “biotechnology companies wanted government regulators to help persuade consumers that their

            products were safe, yet they also wanted the regulatory hurdles to be set as low as possible”.

            Those using the concept as a screening tool immediately defended “substantial equivalence”, as

            shown by the subsequent correspondence to the journal Nature Biotechnology. For instance,

            Miller (1999) wrote that: “Substantial equivalence is not intended to be a scientific formulation; it

            is a conceptual tool for food producers and government regulators, and it neither specifies nor

            limits the kind or amount of testing needed for new foods”.

            Notably, it does not specify or limit the kind or amount of testing required. So no scientific testing for substantial equivalence.

            Then the report highlights some incompatible ideas about ‘substantial equivalence’ and the ‘novel traits’ created by genetic engineering, creating further confusion about the designation of substantial equivalence:

            “This logical confusion is part of a larger ambiguity in the use of “substantial equivalence”
            in the regulatory world. The ambiguity can be seen in the original OECD formulation of the
            concept: “If a new food or food component is found to be substantially equivalent to an existing
            food or food component, it can be treated in the same manner with respect to safety”. This can be
            interpreted in very different ways.
            In one interpretation, to say that the new food is “substantially equivalent” is to say that
            “on its face” it is equivalent (i.e. it looks like a duck and it quacks like a duck, therefore we
            assume that it must be a duck — or at least we will treat it as a duck). Because “on its face” the
            new food appears equivalent, there is no need to subject it to a full risk assessment to confirm our
            assumption. This interpretation of “substantial equivalence” is directly analogous to the reasoning
            used in approval of varieties derived through conventional breeding. In both cases, “substantial
            equivalence” does not function as a scientific basis for the application of a safety standard, but
            CHAPTER 7 182
            rather as a decision procedure for facilitating the passage of new products, GM and non-GM,
            through the regulatory process.”

            So, ‘substantial equivalence’ does not function as the basis for the application of a safety standard, according to the RSC. But then they go on to show how the SE regulation is further confused and made more ambiguous:

            “In summary, the Panel has identified two different uses of the concept of “substantial
            equivalence”:
            1. A GM organism is “substantially equivalent” if, on the basis of reasoning analogous to that
            used in the assessment of varieties derived through conventional breeding, it is assumed
            that no changes have been introduced into the organism other than those directly
            attributable to the novel gene. If the latter are demonstrated to be harmless, the GM
            organism is predicted to have no greater adverse impacts upon health or environment than
            its traditional counterpart. We refer to this interpretation as the decision threshold
            interpretation.
            CHAPTER 7 183
            2. A GM organism is “substantially equivalent” if rigorous scientific analysis establishes that,
            despite all changes introduced into the organism as a result of the introduction of novel
            genes, the organism poses no more risk to health or to the environment than does its
            conventional counterpart. We refer to this interpretation as the safety standard
            interpretation.
            The Expert Panel accepts the validity of the concept when used in the “safety standard”
            interpretation. We have grave reservations about its validity when employed in the “decision
            threshold” interpretation.”

            Note the final sentence there: “We have grave reservations about its (the term ‘substantial equivalence’) validity when employed in the decision threshold interpretation.”

            Finally, the RSC make it clear that each and every new novel trait must be rigorously tested to demonstrate safety. THIS is what the biotech industry has never followed through on. They rely instead on the ambiguous term ‘substantial equivalence’ to mean both, safety, AND as a point of comparison to traditional crops. No GE crop has ever been rigorously tested for safety. And the RSC is clear that EVERY new GE product needs to be assessed this rigorously.

            “In the Panel’s view, the use of “substantial equivalence” as a decision tool within the
            regulatory process would appear to demand a careful assessment of safety impacts associated with
            any “novel trait” being considered for deployment in a new transgenic variety. If the presence of
            the novel trait can be rigorously demonstrated to be harmless (or the harm does not surpass a
            certain agreed-upon threshold) in the tested genetic/environmental context, the new genotype can
            be considered to be as safe as the original variety from which it was derived during the genetic
            engineering process. The question then becomes one of defining “rigorous demonstration” and its
            implementation.”

            The RSC expert panel then go on to suggest how the ‘substantial equivalence’ model can (and SHOULD) be tested scientifically to ensure it is a valid measure of safety. This would require relevant testing at 6 different levels of inquiry:

            “CAN “SUBSTANTIAL EQUIVALENCE” BECOME SCIENTIFICALLY RIGOROUS?
            The integrated approach suggested above would see newly developed transgenic
            genotypes subjected to intense scrutiny at six relevant levels (genome, transcript, protein,
            metabolite, health impacts, environmental impacts) before they were approved for commercial
            production. The answers obtained from the molecular analyses, in particular (Levels 1 to 4
            above), would speak directly to the validity of the simple linear model of “precise” genetic
            engineering. If these analyses are conducted on a range of existing transgenic varieties and the
            predictions of the simple linear model prove to be valid, that outcome would provide essential
            CHAPTER 7 190
            scientific support for the current regulatory view that the insertion of the transgene(s) has created
            no significant changes in the original variety, other than those predicted and desired. If, on the
            other hand, the molecular analyses demonstrate that the simple model is not valid, the data would
            provide immediate entry points for studying the impacts of the detected changes on human health
            and the environment. The outcome of those follow-up studies will then help determine whether
            the impacts create a significant risk. ”

            None of this testing has ever been done. And it certainly hasn’t been done for every transgenic plant ever created through biotechnology. THIS is why RSC has been ignored by industry, government, and pro-GMO scientists/activists.

          • RobertWager

            And exactly how is substantial equivalence determined Rob? Please tell these folks as you claim to understand it.

          • Harold

            Substantial equivalence is determined by Monsanto. Against the scientists of the FDA, the head to the FDA (Monsanto employee) deemed GMO crops are the substantial equivalence to non-GMO crops. Therefore, there is no separate category for GMO at the FDA. Therefore, there is no substantial equivalence. Do you understand what the contradiction of terms mean. Monsanto holds prominent seats in Canada as well. M.Sc. BS aside, Is it our legacy to our grandchildren, to aid and abet one man (Monsanto) to control the nations food supply. If he controls the seed, he controls food. If he controls food then he controls nations. Its strategic. Monsanto himself said that his company cannot afford to loose one dollar. His seeds ARE his Intellectual Property.(even when they trespass) His criminal past speaks for itself. Canada freely produces its seeds and therefore Canadians own them, and not the Corporation. When Nature “bio-techs”, its seeds, are freely given. GMO is a corporate owned and Corporate controlled food. Imagine the gains if you could poison the earth so greatly that only your seeds would prosper? Corporate Science vs. Earth Science. Let the games begin.

    • RobertWager

      You are quoting a 2000 document and misunderstanding it as well. It is impossible to proven anything safe. All one can do is demonstrate a degree of safety and for GE crops and derived foods there has never been a documented case of ahrm attributed to any GE crop after twenty years and trillions of meals. That is a pretty good safety record don’t you think Rob?

      • Rob Bright

        I’m most certainly NOT misunderstanding it. And no one from the industry or the pro-GMO activist camp dares to bring it up or address it since it challenges every statement of safety they adhere to. Canada’s own government won’t acknowledge the work, even though it was the government that asked them to write the report.

        Corrupt politicians, corrupt industry pseudoscience don’t like the pro-science position the RSC provides.

      • debbie3554

        Ugh…again with the billions of 49 day old chickens… That is not a study proving safety of GE crops. If nothing can be proven safe, why are they being passed off as ‘safe’? There have been documented cases of harm and, as I will always state, GE corn and soy make me sick.

    • RobertWager

      As mentioned you have misinterpreted the RSC position on substantial equivalence. Have a read

      “In summary, the Panel has identified two different uses of the concept of “substantial equivalence”:
      1. A GM organism is “substantially equivalent” if, on the basis of reasoning analogous to that used in the assessment of varieties derived through conventional breeding, it is assumed that no changes have been introduced into the organism other than those directly attributable to the novel gene. If the latter are demonstrated to be harmless, the GM organism is predicted to have no greater adverse impacts upon health or environment than
      its traditional counterpart. We refer to this interpretation as the
      decision threshold interpretation.
      CHAPTER 7
      183
      2. A GM organism is “substantially equivalent” if rigorous scientific analysis establishes that, despite all changes introduced into the organism as a result of the introduction of novel genes, the organism poses no more risk to health or to the environment than does its conventional counterpart. We refer to this interpretation as the safety standard interpretation.

      The Expert Panel accepts the validity of the concept when used in the “safety standard” interpretation. We have grave reservations about its validity when employed in the “decision threshold” interpretation.”

      Since every government regulatory authority in the world that regulates GE crops uses Substantial Equivalence as a safety standard to be determined by testing they in fact support such.

  • John Fefchak

    Is glyphosate really dangerous?
    Well, 30 years ago, according to the link it was…then something happened.
    You decide. http://a.disquscdn.com/uploads/mediaembed/images/2902/6925/original.jpg

    • StopGMO

      Did you forget to post the link?

      • John Fefchak

        The link portrayed the illustration as shown, There was no other information to share. The moderator, therefore, removed the link.

        • The moderator did NOT remove any link, John…

          Cheers,
          Paul – WP web ed

          • John Fefchak

            I apologize Paul, I should NOT have taken the liberty, that it was you.When I pasted the link, the illustration… AND the link BOTH appeared. After a time, apparently the link removed itself.
            JOHN

  • Frank S.

    “Giesy is worried about the state of science because advocates are now using research to confuse the public.”
    This and the lines that follow have got to be the most laughable in the whole,
    slanted, piece.
    This industry has staked its premise on the EXACT practice of, ‘like minded (and funded) scientists’.
    In my mind this disregards any claim that Giesy is the holder of the facts in
    this instance.

    ‘Don’t listen to their science because it’s not better than our biased science.’
    The stance around ‘Science based’ evidence is pure bunk.
    How any times have science changed its mind on what is almost defined as gospel.
    I get that the status quo wants to bury the real facts on toxicity but the truth cannot be ignored forever.
    Meanwhile they are playing with peoples lives.

    In fact they should indeed be very concerned with liability.

  • mk1313

    hire a “like minded” scientist to produce research showing that chemical X causes horrible disease Y. Hmmm, sounds more like the science produced by corporations in support of their products. One of the major issues regarding statements like dose dependency is that it most often fails to account for chronic long term effects or the additive interactions of the numerous chemicals we are exposed to often with synergies totaling more than the individual effects. Sorry, not good enough!

  • Polno

    Anne, are you a reputable scientist with 100s of publication in toxicity and who can look at scientific literature objectively and provide an expert opinion? I think not, if you are quoting such disreputable sources. Don’t be fooled by junk science.

    • SageThinker

      … It doesn’t matter who Anne is, but it matters what any person says, and whether it has integrity. I can look at evidence and evaluate whether conclusions drawn from it are sound or not, and you don’t need to know my qualifications, either. I can explain why the 1991 EPA memo about glyphosate and cancer is based on unsound lies and twisted logic that doesn’t make any actual sense. It’s a smokescreen to clear glyphosate of an apparently real causal correlation to tumors in rats in Monsanto’s own feeding study data. It takes two things to believe someone — (1) that they know what they are talking about, and (2) that you trust them to tell the truth.

    • richard

      If Anne Temple is a reputable scientist how can she also be a fool? Perhaps the disreputable sources are those whose sole agenda is maintaining status quo ignorance. As Einstein once said “There is nothing more pathetic than a man coming by his ignorance the hard way” (educated)

  • Denise

    I think we’ve had the wool pulled over our eyes for quite long enough. People are waking up to the reality that we are killing our rich and diverse environment and destroying the health of our families with stronger doses and increased applications of poisons. Where does it end?
    It’s been a hard lesson but it’s becoming more obvious, by the day, that unless we work with Mother Nature, not against her, we will always lose.
    The Big Agrochemical companies will keep the con game going until they run out of suckers.
    http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/35517-monsanto-s-willing-executioners

  • lazylarry

    the sask govt is a shill for monsanto they love gmo’s and everything that goes with it, this story is a joke, glyphosate is poison and nobody wants it in their food, wake up dodo’s

    • Stephen Daniels

      But you are kinda screwed take the glyphosate away and it’s replaced with tillage and fuel consumption causing climate change .You can’t win for losing unless you think starvation is the answer.

  • lazylarry

    anything gmo is poison plain and simple

    • Stephen Daniels

      Don’t ever get an X ray of your teeth or bones it’s poison plain and simple.

  • BioGuy

    Seneff is a computer scientist. Samsel’s credentials are dubious at best. This paper is just a rehash of their thoroughly debunked 2013 effort. Fail.

  • ed

    Looks like Monsanto took a beating on this one. They may want to go into sh..sh..sh, please don’t mention it self preservation mode. Talking just digs a deeper hole for them.

  • lazylarry

    ban roundup world wide already!! and monsanto et.al

  • lazylarry

    and ban all gmo including the toxin canola