Real science willing to correct mistakes

I likely can’t count the number of times I have spoken or written the words science-based. It is a mantra of sorts. And for good reason.

Technology is the most important competitive advantage for Canadian agriculture. This is how we are going to compete with emerging exporters and key international competitors.

The alternative to science-based is regulations born out of the whims of the latest internet expert. To say that most of these so-called experts are in the category of the snake oil salesmen would be a bit of an insult to the purveyors of snake oil.

Glyphosate is one product the internet likes to hate. The theories abound: glyphosate is responsible for autism, glyphosate causes celiac disease, glyphosate is causing cancer, and so on.

Glyphosate is registered for use in more than 160 countries. There is no major regulatory agency in the world that considers glyphosate a health risk.

The product has been recently reviewed by the European Food Safety Authority, the Canadian Pest Management Regulatory Agency, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the Australian Pesticide and Veterinary Medicines Authority.

All have concluded that gly­phosate is safe for both people and the environment.

Yet doubt was cast on this scientific consensus by the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC).

In 2015, IARC classified glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic to humans.” IARC’s statement has set off a storm of controversy, spawning lawsuits in the United States, raising doubts about the product’s approval in the European Union and opening up potential trade barriers to Canadian exports.

The U.S. lawsuits have brought information to light that call into questions the scientific processes that IARC followed to reach its conclusions. Did IARC first reach a conclusion and then go looking for confirmation?

Evidence coming out of court processes show IARC dismissed results from a draft of its review that was at odds with its final public conclusion.

Reports indicate that the conclusions of multiple scientists, which showed no link between glyphosate and cancer in laboratory animals, were edited or deleted.

Comparisons of the draft report and the final publication show 10 changes that reversed or deleted scientific conclusions that differed from the final publication.

This evidence calls into question both the conclusion reached by IARC as well as the basic scientific process. The agency’s credibility is at stake. But it is more than that. In the minds of the public, the credibility of science-based regulatory review is also at stake.

The processes for all of the regulatory agencies listed above — European, Australian, Canadian and American — are all public. Citizens and scientists are able to see the processes each of these agencies used to reach their conclusions. This is how it should be.

IARC does not share the same level of transparency. Since the revelations in the U.S. legal proceedings, the only statement IARC has made is that the draft versions of its monographs are confidential. This is not acceptable.

IARC must open up its processes and conclusions to peer review. And the agency must be willing to adjust its conclusions if that is the direction that science leads.

Science is a process of examining the facts to determine the best answer we have today. It does not mean that our understanding cannot evolve over time or that our understanding can’t change. An open and transparent process that is willing to review research that might not support current beliefs are key hallmarks of a science-based agency.

The credibility of science and public confidence in science-based regulations depend on agencies, both within Canada and abroad, meeting these basic standards of transparency.

Revelations of recent weeks show that IARC’s processes do not reach this bar. This must change.

Cam Dahl is president of Cereals Canada.

About the author

Comments

  • richard

    Real Science doesn’t need to be willing to correct itself……it is the nature of science…. Real technology always resists correction because of real politik and real agenda……it is the nature of the beast…the nature of greed…….If real science prevailed, dioxins, PCBs, DDT, lindane, BST, antibiotics, mercury, lorsban, neonics and glyphosate as a growth regulator…….would have been nixed long before they did or will be….. Ag addiction to its own mythologies is the only reason science cannot be allowed to prevail…..

  • Dave

    Normally I do support science and our industry. We need chemical tools like glyposate. Glyposate is better than the tillage that would occur if we no longer could use it.

    Although the way Round Up ready everything has encouraged overuse, it’s effectiveness is being limited.

    But the way the crop science industry itself is behaving makes it hard for me to support them.

    Look at the dicamba mess occurring below the 49th,

    Can argue dicamba is needed because of overuse

    Science would say we need more time more evaluation before it was put on the market. The process was rushed. Now that problems are starting to emerge with dicamba tolerant Extend Beans what’s the science based companies doing, blaming the farmers.

    The chem “science” companies are shooting themselves in the foot and making it hard for a normally friendly towards them farmer to support them

    • richard

      Well stated Dave…. but as long as growers are willing to abdicate their personal power to myopic corporate vision they will continue to be hostage to a barrage of magic bullets all designed to create dependencies for life…..Think glyphosate, antibiotics, fungicides, neonics……These are no longer tools, they are addictions….. one trick ponies with one predestined out come…..self destruction. Its either resistance, or intoxification of the foodstream……Growers cannot withstand the first, consumers will not tolerate the latter….. and neither represent progress in any sane world…. We have allowed corporatism and greed to dictate scientific evolution….. Is this the world we want?

    • Harold

      The authority of science is not of the one speaking it. The authority of science is the brick wall that they are standing at. The brick wall is not evidence that nothing exists beyond it, and insanity is assuming that nothing does. Science is never concluded and the thought that it is – is deception. You cannot support science because not even a scientist can. You can only support technology until that technology is proven harmful. DDT technology was supported until the technology was proven harmful. Anytime science cannot answer a question that technology is placed on the market and we and nature are the guinea pigs. The guinea pigs gave science the answer that they did not know and thereafter DDT was banned. When science cannot answer a question – the I don’t know – is the excuse to put the technology on the market and to gain a corporate profit until the “I don’t know” answer is known. .
      What can you support? The first to notice a failure are the first to be called technology denier’s. Of course they are deniers – they are denying that the technology is beneficial and are first to discover its harm. In time – more discover the harm until such a time it cannot be ignored. Our history has many events that speak of this very loudly. Knowing this – just the attitude of the Chem technology industry speaks volumes about their true intent and purpose against their their spoken word. The time proven – You will know them by their actions – is an adage often ignored. You have noticed the attitude. You are supporting technology- not science. To support science you are supporting the brick wall – and most do not even know where that wall is – nor can they dismantle it. The term science has been bastardized to suit the corporation in their attempt to gain profit and control. Should you have profit and control or should they? Is there any equality or the resemblance of? If you choose organic, do you have profit and control and equality with whom? Any trillionaires or billionaires living off of you and your product; comfortable and lavish best of the best private jet carefree lifestyle? I wonder what a slave thought while peering through the living room window of the masters estate. Is your farm the masters back yard? The ease of bequeathing your owned property – the farm – to your son or daughter or family at your will – free and clear – just upon your say so. Who is the master really and why is everyone being punished? You do own it don’t you? Only after the master has been paid in full – by both – and your first class rating doesn’t get you aboard their private aircraft.
      The slave walks away from the widow saying – so what – who cares – because they can say no other.

  • ed

    Agreed. This guy is a paid seal.

  • Harold

    I agree. it is only extremely good BS that has to correct itself over and over again.
    Very few understand that PBC’s, DDT, and etc. and even glyphosate, are not science – they are technology’s and that is why science needs correcting. The Industry technology is not science and they are having a hard time holding on to the BS that it is science. Science is the study of the plant and technology is an application that controls it. Science studies how a weed grows the application of a technology destroys it. “Anti-science” was among their first BS terms.
    How many people are saying “science” when if in fact they are meaning “technology”?

  • alora hughes

    It is essential that research conducted in all areas be transparent and informative. This does not mean that there will not be mistakes, as there is always human error. It is important that if mistakes do occur, they do not try to cover up these mistakes. It is crucial that if an error has occurred and is discovered, then it be re-examined and there be a re-evaluation of the evidence. When several regulatory bodies go against the decision of another agency, it is a red flag that the evidence needs to be looked at again with an unbiased perspective. For science to move forward and not be dominated by policy, we need to ensure that scientific procedure is done by the book. It is easy to point fingers at agriculture companies as there have been recent news stories regarding inadequate research and extremely negative results with chemicals as a result. The important part of this situation that many people fail to recognize is that the company is taking responsibility and trying to right their mistakes. This is all we can ask of companies who are trying to better our agriculture industry and our economy. If they make a mistake they need to try to remedy it in every way that they can. This is what IARC is being called to do. They need to re- evaluate their research and take ownership of their mistakes regarding Glyphosate.

    • Harold

      I am not sure of what you are trying to say. I read your comment and then I started to talk to myself and the following is what I said to myself. ( ALL CAP’s is emphasis – I don’t yell at my self) When you search and find something, that something should be made public. Public means everyone – and everyone – includes scientists and even a homemaker if she wants it. When what you have found turns out to be valueless/harmful then that information should be made public. The discovery that a new found thing does not work – is NOT a mistake – it is a PROPER take. The MISS -take was my original thinking and now evidence has given me -the PROPER take. Tell the public of the proper take so they can dismiss the miss take. Having the proper take – I have to follow the same trail – but this time travel further than I had already done – so I will have to – do again – my search. RE-search. Re – search is the starting of a new search to find something that needs to be found. The search it self does not have to be publicized – only the things as they are being found need to be publicized. I further talked to my self and said; a cover up – is the act of failing to report a failure to the public – an act that has the public believing that the – new found – still holds the same preconceived value. That act is called – CONSPIRE – and leaving the public in a state of unknowing is called – CONSPIRACY . That is an act of breaking a Law that we already have, and unlawful, they should be tried in Court and punished accordingly. I talked further and said; “un-biased perspective”? BIAS means KNOWN, and UN-BIASED means UNKNOWN. How can you have – to a failure – an unknown “perspective”? An unknown-perspective – keeps the failure in its place. Also, how do you “re-evaluate” a failure? A failure is a failure. You “re-evaluate” – by looking elsewhere for a value and when you find it – you apply the new value. Next I said to my self; how does science do it “by the Book”? What “book” are they going by? When they look into the deepest part of space what “book” are they following to do this? When they find something new – isn’t it then that put some thing INTO a book? Doing it “by the book” must mean putting something INTO a book. Those who do not allow a thing to be put into that book are obstructionists and are not allowing its procedure. Proceeds replaces procedure. Then I ask my self – what does “science to move forward” actually mean? Science only means THE STUDY OF; AND NOTHING MORE – is there a book that tells one how to study; or do they inherently know how to study and also know how to turn a page in a book? Then I asked my self, why do “people fail to recognize” – ” that the company is taking responsibility and trying to right their mistakes”? So I checked in with my vocabulary.
      Recognize means re = do again + cognize = notice = do again notice
      Responsibility means re = do again + sponsee = answer + able + I ty = do again answer ability
      mistake means Miss = fail + take/took. = fail take or fail took
      So the question is: why do people fail to – do again notice – that a company is taking – do again answer ably and trying to right their – fail take. Then I said to my self – Company’s do not answer for the failures or for what they have done – so there is nothing to take – re notice -of, so the people then have not failed – the company has. To re notice something you would have to see it again – and again – and again and again, and so forth.
      I stopped talking to my self and I’m asking you this. Why didn’t you say the true “remedy” – The public needs all access to documents that are being kept from them; what exists now is abhorrent. Those who conspired have to be found and Tried in Court. When a miss take is/was given to the public to cover the real take – those who did this should be brought to justice. Scientist’s who are unbiased should be exposed and tried as an accessory or co-conspirators in Court. If we do this the problems will clear up by themselves. I’m wondering why you didn’t say this instead. What held you back?
      My statement is this. Many people have been socially engineered by the corrupt to bastardize their own language. An unbiased scientist is a scientist who has given up the truth for a gain of a monetary reward. A mistake is not a mistake when a truth had been previously known.
      Science means only –the study of. – the study of – the study of – the study of. When you say you trust science, you are saying that you trust “the study of” — “I trust the study of” – “I trust the study of” – “I trust the study of” , and that is ALL you are saying. How can you trust my “study of”? Can you trust my study just because I am studying? Do you trust your kids just because they have a book in front of them to study? Is that trust? I think not. From the study – if a person gives you an object and that object proves to be a value – it then creates trust – and that trust is given/returned to the one of study. Worthy of trust – trustworthy. Each proven value thereafter – creates yet another trust – and that trust again is given to the one who studies.. (the giver of the object) For example, you trust Ford – only after the product has spoken for its self – and not before. Blind trust is called faith or blind faith and it precedes the product speaking for its self. Many are saying that they trust scientists but what they are truly saying is that they have a blind trust/blind faith in scientists when they are saying “I trust science”. How can you return trust an authorless person; the nameless? Do you return trust to mid air; company logo? Now look at all of the social engineering that is all around us and bastardizing us and has led to our failures to the profits of the industry. Nothing written here is in the spirit of tearing any one down. Social engineering is destroying our clarity of thought and we are their victim and my comment is intended to expose it. This is my statement

explore

Stories from our other publications