Blog: Glyphosate – into the void?
Published 25 Jun 2014
Lynn Ladbrook, Chief Executive, Breast Cancer UK
“Good science is being ignored, belittled or silenced...poor science is being used to give false assurances.” - that's what Professor Malcolm Hooper; Professor of Medicinal Chemistry at the University of Sunderland, had to say about Glyphosate, at a meeting that I had the good fortune to attend the other day at the House of Commons.
The meeting was hosted by the All Party Group on Agro-Ecology and Chaired by the Countess of Mar. It was also addressed by four highly qualified, highly eminent and highly experienced scientists: Dr John Peterson ‘Pete’ Myers; Professor Don Huber; Professor Malcolm Hooper; and, Dr Michael Antoniou. What they each had to say was fascinating.
They said (and none of them has any reason to dress up the facts) that the chemical, Glyphosate, is not the benign chemical it is made out to be. Instead they showed us graphs, statistics, pictures, headlines, references and citations that strongly suggested that Glyphosate is anything but benign, but instead could well be linked to as many as 32 human diseases and conditions, including breast cancer.
Glyphosate, we found out, (and there were some 50 or so of us in the room) is carcinogenic, mutagenic, oestrogenic, bio-accumulative and an antibacterial. Studies have found that it damages DNA, is toxic to placental cells, blocks tumour suppressing proteins, causes obesity and fuels breast cancer cell growth. Correlations have been made between the rise in Glyphosate use and the incidence of gut and bowl diseases, such as coeliac disease, IBS and Chrones and links have been made between birth defects and exposure to the chemical. All in all, pretty frightening stuff. Even more so when it is made clear that some of these adverse effects are being found to occur not just at high levels of exposure, but at levels one might see in low residues found in food or drinking water.
I say I had the good fortune to be present at the meeting, because I can at least go away and try and take action to avoid it. I will make sure I pull any weeds out that appear in the garden instead of being tempted to spray them with Glyphosate; it’s another good reason to buy organic; and, I’ll definitely be avoiding GMOs which are likely to have been sprayed with the stuff. I can advise my family and friends to do the same and I’ll certainly be providing further advice and information to our supporters and others that visit our website. I’m sure everyone at the meeting will do the same. But, if this stuff really is ubiquitous, then there really is only so much we as individuals can do. Surely, it falls to the regulatory authorities to ensure that unsafe chemicals are prohibited from use – especially where their use will directly lead to it being released into the food chain?
So, what I find particularly frustrating was that, in spite of the quality and integrity of the speakers, the alarming nature of the facts put before us, the credibility of the scientific data presented and the fact that we were in the heart of Westminster, the people who most needed to hear it were simply not present. I noted no-one from any of the Government or opposition front benches present at the meeting, and only one or two MPs.
This chemical - like many others - is used widely because it is described as being safe by the manufacturers. But is there really any independent evidence to back this up? The UK Government and regulatory authorities must do more to investigate and monitor the use of Glyphosate and other problematic chemicals and assess their environmental and public health impacts.
I think it would be staggering - and even potentially dangerous - for such worrying facts and figures to fall into the void. So, if what you’ve read makes you feel angry, why not do something about it? Write to your MP and urge them to take action on Glyphosate and other chemicals of concern. I know I will.
For those who want to find out more about Glyphosate, take a look at these links:
- Fagan, J., Antoniou, M., Robinson, C., (2014); ‘GMO Myths and Truths; An evidence-based examination of the claims made for the safety and efficacy of genetically modified crops and food (Chapter 4 is a good summary of the adverse health effects of Glyphosate)
- Antoniou et al., 2012; ‘Teratogenic Effects of Glyphosate-Based Herbicides: Divergence of Regulatory Decisions from Scientific Evidence’, J Environ Anal Toxicol, S:4 http://dx.doi.org/10.4172/2161-0525. S4-006
- Thongprakaisang S., et al 2013 ‘Glyphosate induces human breast cancer cells growth via estrogen receptors.’ Food Chem Toxicol. 2013 Sep; 59:129-36. doi: 10.1016/j.fct.2013.05.057. Epub 2013 Jun 10.