Volatility

January 11, 2016

The EPA and Glyphosate

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In 2015 the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) reviewed the entire scientific record on glyphosate and conservatively decided that the herbicide is a probable human carcinogen.
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This finding contradicts decades of public assurances from the US EPA and Monsanto that glyphosate is safe, and in particular that it does not cause cancer. It calls into question the integrity and the competence of the EPA, which as recently as 2013 reaffirmed its position that “glyphosate does not pose a cancer risk to humans” and licentiously raised the tolerance levels for glyphosate residues* in many foods. This is part of the well-worn regulatory path of mechanically raising tolerance levels for pesticide residues in food in accordance with whatever the manufacturer projects will be the result of a new product or use pattern. For example, let’s go back to the original Roundup Ready approvals in the mid-1990s:
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In final conclusion, Monsanto says that ‘the maximum combined glyphosate and AMPA residue level of approximately 40 ppm in soybean forage resulting from these new uses exceeds the currently established tolerance of 15 ppm. Therefore, an increase in the combined glyphosate and AMPA tolerance for residues in soybean forage will be requested.’ They know very well that adoption of herbicide tolerance crop needs higher safety standards. [Edit: “Higher” meaning allowing higher residues; the safety standard is of course lowered.] In effect, the US tolerance standard of combined glyphosate and AMPA in soybean forage was changed to 100 ppm after they approved the genetically engineered soybean.

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(I highly recommend that entire piece for its details on many kinds of corporate and regulatory “scientific” fraud.)
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[*Suffused pesticide such as glyphosate and its breakdown product AMPA in herbicide tolerant GMOs or neonicotinoid insecticide in pretty much any industrial crop these days, is a premeditated food additive which becomes part of the food by the normal procedures of the agriculture and food systems. Therefore the FDA is required by law to assess and regulate it, including requiring its listing in the ingredients. The fact that the FDA refuses to do so is a typical example of how government regulators systematically break the de jure law in addition to their general gross treachery against the public and environmental health they’re allegedly there to safeguard. Capitalist regulators really have a very different mission. This includes lying about the public health, not defending it. Suffused pesticide is also one of the primary refutations of the FDA’s “substantial equivalence” religious dogma.]
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In the same way that the EPA mechanically raises the allowed poison residue levels at the corporations’ command, so it also has a history of changing its assessments of the carcinogenicity of corporate products in response to changing corporate needs. The most notorious example is glyphosate. EPA knew since at least the early 1980s that glyphosate causes cancer. The evidence was so conclusive that, in spite of EPA’s doing all it could to interpret Monsanto’s own test results in the best possible light, it felt compelled to give the poison Classification C – “Suggestive evidence of carcinogenic potential”.
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In terms of market share glyphosate wasn’t yet a major pesticide at the time of this 1985 classification. But by the early 1990s Monsanto was preparing to bring Roundup Ready crops to market. It was time to whitewash glyphosate’s cancer record more thoroughly. EPA happily complied. Without further ado, with zero new evidence, not even a new round of phony tests, EPA in 1991 changed the classification to Group E, “Not likely to be carcinogenic to humans”. In an example of a common rhetorical ploy, EPA publicists issued an even stronger, more politicized and fraudulent phrasing: “Evidence of non-carcinogenicity to humans.”
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The EPA hasn’t yet issued a position on the IARC report. But based on this history we can expect it will continue to run interference and falsify the evidence on behalf of Monsanto and glyphosate. We’ve already seen act one of the spectacle of fraud in Europe. We can expect the EPA to do the same because it has an intrinsic imperative to maximize poison manufacture and use, what I call the Poisoner imperative. It also joins other agencies in having a mandate to bolster GMOs as an important “growth” (i.e. corporate domination) sector. Then there’s the usual mundane corruption and revolving door motives. And as I mentioned above, EPA’s entire credibility and legitimacy is on the line. It must double down on its lies and stand or fall with Monsanto. To break with the corporation and admit that glyphosate causes cancer would be a tremendous loss of face.
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There is one other possibility. If specially dedicated action groups could effectively propagate the facts about glyphosate directly to the people, evading the propaganda screen of government and mainstream media, and organize pressure groups upon government bodies which have oversight and/or procurement powers with regard to glyphosate to the point that these agencies felt real political pressure, it’s possible that we could not only continue the momentum of municipalities and retailers dropping or refusing to carry various poison products, but that we could even force the EPA to lose confidence in its lies. The EPA has shown a few slight signs of weakness lately. These two first two retrenchments were the direct result of lawsuits, but this latest change of position on neonics and honeybees has been forced by many years of untiring political pressure. Public interest lawsuits as well cannot exist in a technocratic vacuum but depend for their food and oxygen on a broad and committed political consciousness. In the end political action and resolve will decide the battle. In a soon-to-come post I’ll sketch out what kind of action groups I have in mind.
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1 Comment

  1. […] for science or public health, but only at the behest of the corporations. EPA and other regulators mechanically raise the allowed levels to keep ahead of the residue levels the corporation expects based on how much of the poison it […]

    Pingback by Under Pressure the FDA Says It Will Test for Glyphosate Residues In Food | Volatility — February 21, 2016 @ 5:00 am


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