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What’s More Dangerous: ‘Probably Carcinogenic’ Herbicide or Argentina’s Government Inefficiency?

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Genetically modified sunflower fields in the province of Santa Fe, Argentina – Image taken by the author.

With the recent demonstrations against agro-giant Monsanto in Argentina, public perception of the multinational in the country has taken a negative turn. At the center of the controversy is the herbicide glyphosate, the main component of Monsanto's Round-Up widely used for weed control in agriculture. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), a World Health Organization sponsored group, recently classified glyphosate as “probably” carcinogenic.

Demonstrations and campaigns on and offline have condemned Monsanto, going beyond glyphosate and advising against the company’s other products such as genetically modified organisms (GMO).

However, Monsanto is not the only company in the country using glyphosate. According to the list of registered products from the National Food Safety and Quality Service (SENASA), many other companies use glyphosate as a component in their products, but their names don’t make it into the debates and protests.

The work of Eduardo Andres Carrasco, a former researcher from the National Council of Scientific and Technical Research, shows that Argentina uses 200 million liters of glyphosate in a populated area of 20 million hectares. The use of Monsanto's products is not limited to this component — Argentina has also adopted the company's farming model, through genetically modified seeds that are glyphosate resistant.

The presence of Monsanto in Argentina is palpable, and recent demonstrations show a growing disapproval. But some wonder, given the health consequences that these and other chemicals have and the lack of response from responsible parties other than Monsanto, if these campaigns could be distracting public opinion from the need to hold government institutions accountable as well.

What happens when the government fails to protect its people?

Argentina has varied and comprehensive legislation concerning agriculture and pollution. In the province of Córdoba, for example, farmers are prohibited from aerial or land spraying of chemicals within a certain distance of populated areas. However, news coming out of that same region indicate that things are not working as they should.

Argentina's Barrio Ituzaingó in Córdoba is today a tragic example of what happens when the government fails to protect people's health from the dangers of added chemicals, even though the case is not directly connected to glyphosate specifically.

In this region, a group of mothers in 2012 won the first conviction in Argentina of a farmer applying agrochemicals from the air by proving its connection with the multiplication of cancer cases in the district. The story and the testimonies of the affected communities were reported by the Argentine news media El Puercoespín:

Aquella mañana de enero una de ellas contó que a su hijo le habían diagnosticado leucemia, y entonces lo que parecía casualidad pasó a ser sospecha, porque en la zona había muchos casos similares. Y allí mismo esas cuatro mujeres, que luego fueron cinco y llegaron a ser trece Madres de Ituzaingó, se pusieron a hacer cuentas […] Con los datos, las Madres fueron al Ministerio de Salud de la Provincia de Córdoba. El Ministerio guardó los datos en un cajón. […] En marzo, una de las Madres consiguió que un canal de TV se interesara. […] “Como hacía diez días que estábamos sin agua, cuando convocamos a los vecinos la gente salió, y en el programa también denunciamos los casos de leucemia. A partir de ese momento, el Ministro recibió a las chicas y mandó a realizar un análisis del agua del tanque”. […] El estudio –era de esperar- dio como resultado la presencia de agroquímicos y metales pesados en el agua. En tiempo récord conectaron el barrio a la red para intentar, tarde, reparar en algo el desastre.

That January morning, one of them said that her child had been diagnosed with leukemia, and then what appeared chance became suspicious, because in the area there were many similar cases. And right there the four women, who later became five and then thirteen Mothers of Ituzaingó, started to do numbers […] With that data, the mothers went to the province of Cordoba's Ministry of Health. The ministry dismissed the case and put away the data. […] In March, one of the mothers managed to get a TV channel interested. […] “As we were without water for ten days, when we called on the neighbors they attended and on the TV show we denounced the cases of leukemia. From that moment on, the minister welcomed the mothers and asked for an analysis of the water in the tank. ” […] As it was to be expected, the study found evidence of chemicals and heavy metals in the water. In record time, they connected the neighborhood to the water system trying, late, to minimize the disaster.

The article also includes the reflection of one of these mothers about the extent of the problem:

No me gusta dar números, porque no somos cifras y alcanza con un solo afectado por contaminación para que se tomen medidas, pero nosotros nos sorprendimos: imagínate que en casi todas las casas había un afectado.

I do not like giving numbers, because we are not figures and it should be enough that one person was affected by pollution for action to be taken, but we were surprised: in almost every house there was an affected person.

Raul Montenegro, who was awarded the Alternative Nobel Prize in 2004 by the Right Livelihood Award in Stockholm for his work in defense of the environment, seems to agree with the ideas that consider the state one of the many responsible parties in the Ituzaingo case:

Porque en realidad, aún existiendo esos productores o ese agroaplicador, si el Estado hubiera asumido su responsabilidad nunca debió
pasar lo que pasó en Ituzaingó […] Hay que tener en cuenta que hay una ordenanza que prohíbe la aplicación de pesticidas en la franja de 2500 metros y que es una zona declarada en emergencia sanitaria. Por eso, si el Estado hubiera cumplido y actuado, desde el año 2002 en adelante no debió haber un gramo de plaguicida aplicado.

Because in reality, even with this kind of agriculture producers or chemical sprayers, if the state had taken responsibility of protecting people's health, the problem in Ituzaingó would have never happened […] Keep in mind that there is an ordinance that prohibits the use of pesticides within 2,500 meters near populated areas and that the area is declared as a health emergency. Therefore, if the state had fulfilled its duty from 2002 onward, there should not have been one gram of pesticide applied in Ituzaingó.

With this case coming to light, why is Monsanto then the only one at the center of recent protests? JM Mulet, who defends the use of glyphosate in his blog, says that there are other more harmful herbicides. According to him, it's partly because the company invented the chemical and also due to the media's treatment of the story, in which Monsanto ends up being the transnational that everyone loves to hate:

¿De dónde sale esta campaña del glifosato cuándo objetivamente hay pesticidas mucho más problemáticos? Se juntan varios factores, pero los principales es que fue un invento de Monsanto, el malo carismático de la película, y que se utiliza para las plantas OGM. Sin estos dos factores nadie se preocuparía por el glifosato como no se preocupa por el glufosinato, que es de Bayer y cuyas plantas transgénicas resistentes no se comercializan todavía aunque son las que utilizo yo en el laboratorio (les falta carisma para que recojan firmas). Y este miedo interesado se alimenta por el hecho de noticias como ésta [noticia divulgada en El País: Los médicos ligan el cáncer de un pueblo argentino a los agroquímicos] que son publicadas a toda plana, pero en cambio cuando llega el desmentido, no se publica.

Where does this glyphosate campaign come from when objectively, there are pesticides that are much more harmful? Several factors come together to explain it, but the key is that it was invented by Monsanto, the charismatic villain, and because it is used on genetically modified plants. Without these two factors no one would care about glyphosate, as they are not concerned about the glufosinate, which is produced by Bayer, whose resistant transgenic plants are not being sold yet, but they are the ones I use myself in the laboratory (I guess, Bayer lacks charisma to inspire people to collect signatures). And this fear created by interest, is fuelled by news like this one, published in the Spanish newspaper El País: Doctors link cancer in Argentine small town to agrochemicals. They published it full-page, but when denial came, it was not published.

53 comments

  • IOnlyRespond ToIdiots

    When you hide your initial trials as trade secrets that would otherwise prove your product causes cancer; when you collude with or bribe government agencies to get unwarranted product approval, when you knowingly poison, maim and kill the unwitting, you get hated.

    • FarmersSon63

      Share with us ONE confirmed illness or death from consuming glyphosate residues. It should be pretty easy, glyphosate is one of the most used pesticides in the world for 40 years.
      Just ONE.

      • MarkDonners

        That is 40 years of rapidly deterioriating public health. The WHO said “probably”, however 17 of the top oncology experts in the world have determined glysophate causes cancer. “Probably” is only a political word, it DOES cause cancer.

        • FarmersSon63

          The other 2 arms of WHO agree that glyphosate is not a carcinogen.

          The EPA. USDA, FDA and Germany’s environmental arm has determined that glyphosate is not a carcinogen.

          I challenge you to prove your statement “17 of the top oncology experts in the world have determined glysophate causes cancer.”

          • Cletus DeBunkerman

            The World Heath Organization has declared Roundup/glyphosate to be a probable human carcinogen. here is the information from the Lancet: http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanonc/article/PIIS1470-2045%2815%2970134-8/abstract

            More from the IARC: http://www.iarc.fr/en/media-centre/iarcnews/pdf/MonographVolume112.pdf

            Purdue Professor Dr. Don Huber explains even though glyphosate is an herbicide, it was first patented as a mineral chelator. It mobilizes nutrients so that your body cannot absorb them. Since glyphosate was also patented as an antibiotic, it does double damage.

            He says: “When you take the good bacteria out, then the bad
            bacteria fill that void, because there aren’t any voids in nature. We have all of these gut-related problems, whether it’s autism, leaky gut, C. difficile diarrhea, gluten intolerance, or any of the other problems. All of these diseases are an expression of disruption of that intestinal microflora that keeps you healthy.”

            So glyphosate, which has been patented as both a mineral chelator and an antibiotic, both of which have tremendous implications, is being used willy nilly all over the world. All the while, the agencies which are supposed to protect public health continue to look the other way.

            The scientific journal Entropy, it was stated: “Contrary to the current widely-held misconception that glyphosate is relatively harmless to humans, the available evidence shows that glyphosate may rather be the most important factor in the development of multiple chronic diseases and conditions that have become prevalent in Westernized societies.”

             
          • FarmersSon63

            Mr Huber makes assumptions without ever conducting a single experiment to verify his opinions. This is why NONE of his former colleagues or any other US agronomists agree with his claims.
            He is old and senile.

             
          • Cletus DeBunkerman

            Dr. Huber has no cognitive problems. That is just a slanderous lie that was conceived by the corrupt GMO pesticide industry disinformation echo chamber who has chosen to slander him because they are afraid of the science he has available to him.

            Your claim that “NONE of his former colleagues or any other US agronomists agree with his claims.” is a total fabrication of the actual reality, and it is a bald faced slanderous lie.

            All you corrupt GMO pesticide industry disinformation goons will stoop at nothing in order to shut up a scientists who’s work conflicts with the corrupt cherry picked agenda driven GMO pesticide industry junk pseudo-science ideology that must be protected form real science and the truth at all costs

             
          • FarmersSon63

            Then name one Agronomist that agrees with him.
            *crickets*

             
          • Cletus DeBunkerman

            Dr. Huber is a soil pathologist.

            Most agronomists are protecting the chemical GMO pesticide industry industrial farming systems that they serve. Most of their education is in industrial farming technologies that rely on cancer causing Roundup laden GMOs. They are not qualified as soil pathologists and are just protecting their own narrow interests and corrupt cherry picked agenda driven GMO pesticide industry junk pseudo-science ideology that must be protected from real science and the truth at all costs.

            Dr Huber speaks the truth so all corrupt GMO pesticide industry disinformation goons must smear and dismiss his real science just as you are attempting to do here.

            Dr Huber has integrity and the courage to speak up, all you have is GMO pesticide industry disinformation echo chamber spin and lies.

             
          • FarmersSon63

            Webster defines Agronomy as: Agronomy is the science and technology of producing and using plants for food, fuel, fibre, and land reclamation. Agronomy encompasses work in the areas of plant genetics, plant physiology, meteorology, and soil science. Agronomy is the application of a combination of sciences like biology, chemistry, economics, ecology, earth science, and genetics. Agronomists today are involved with many issues including producing food, creating healthier food, managing environmental impact of agriculture, and extracting energy from plants.[1] Agronomists often specialize in areas such as crop rotation, irrigation and drainage, plant breeding, plant physiology, soil classification, soil fertility, weed control, and insect and pest control.
            How can a soil pathologist.

             
          • Cletus DeBunkerman

            And, what is your corrupt GMO pesticide industry disinformation goon point?

             
          • FarmersSon63

            That you have no clue what Agronomists do or what the science entails.
            You seem to think the only thing Agronomists do is deal with pesticides. Get a clue.

             
          • Cletus DeBunkerman

            You have no Idea what I know unless I post it here.

            When I think about food safety issues and cancer causing Roundup/glyphosate laden GMOs I’d like to see one study that shows long term consumption of cancer causing Roundup laden GMOs are safe for humans.

            I’m just looking for one ONE Independent chronic toxicity study, done to deduce toxicology in humans, minimum of 3 mammalian species (rodents, pigs, dogs or monkeys) multi generational, that indicates safety in the long-term consumption of GMOs and their associated pesticides. One other caveat and it must be a GM variety currently on the market today

            I suspect we wont get anything like that form an agronomist

             
          • FarmersSon63

            For the 100th time, you cannot conduct toxicity studies on humans, it is against the law.

             
          • Cletus DeBunkerman

            Maybe if you actually read what I posted you would see that you are not even responding to what I said.

            I said: “I’m just looking for one ONE Independent chronic toxicity study, done to deduce toxicology in humans, minimum of 3 mammalian species (rodents, pigs, dogs or monkeys) multi generational, that indicates safety in the long-term consumption of GMOs and their associated pesticides. One other caveat and it must be a GM variety currently on the market today”

            As anyone can see who actually reads I said nothing about toxicology studies on humans.

            Try to keep up mr. GMO pesticide industry disinformation echo chamber clown.

             
          • FarmersSon63

            For the 100th time, can you share with us ONE product in the world that passed your criteria?
            You do not make the rules. Groups of scientists with a much better understanding of toxicology make the rules.

             
          • Cletus DeBunkerman

            For the hundred time, I was not talking about tests on humans.

            This is what I said. “minimum of 3 mammalian species (rodents, pigs, dogs or monkeys)”. Tell me where I said anything about tests on humans.

            The arguments your using don’t even have anything to do with what I said.

            You are trolling me …

             
          • FarmersSon63

            For the 100th time, there has never been a food ingredient tested the way you request.

             
          • Cletus DeBunkerman

            That is exactly my point.

            I didn’t say anything about toxicity studies on humans

            I asked for ONE Independent chronic toxicity study, done to deduce toxicology in humans, minimum of 3 mammalian species (RODENTS, PIGS, Dogs or MONKEYS) multi generational, that indicates safety in the long-term consumption of GMOs and their associated pesticides. One other caveat and it must be a GM variety currently on the market today

            Cancer causing Roundup/glyphosate laden GMOs have been approved for human consumption without any meaningful toxicology testing for possible harm.

            There have been no studies that show long term consumption of cancaer causing Roundup laden GMOs are safe for humans.

             
          • FarmersSon63

            Mr Huber said “Epidemiological patterns show there’s an identical rise in over 30 human diseases correlated with our increased usage of glyphosate and the increased prevalence of genetically engineered proteins in our food.”
            But he did not conduct a single study or show any data to prove his assumptions.
            There is exactly as much proof that these diseases were caused by the increased use of Purell Hand Sanitizer, the use of hand soaps and shampoo, The increase in cell phone usage, the increase in fossil fuel pollutants.
            Not a single one of his colleagues agree with him.
            He is now senile.

             
          • Cletus DeBunkerman

            Apparently his so called colleagues were not a free as he was or didn’t have the integrity he did to blow the whistle on the the corrupt GMO pesticide industry industry genocide scam.

             
          • FarmersSon63

            How can you “blow the whistle” on an industry when you state your opinions and never backing up the opinions with any facts?

             
          • Cletus DeBunkerman

            I provide facts, and people who are reading here can see that I do.

            You have just again proved the point that corrupt GMO pesticide industry disinformation minions will never accept any real science or truth that conflicts with the corrupt GMO pesticide industry junk pseudo-science ideology that must be protected from real science and truth by the GMO pesticide industry disinformation goon squad.

             
          • FarmersSon63

            I said, Mr Huber cannot blow the whistle without proof.
            It goes without saying you never provide any proof, you never have.

             
          • Cletus DeBunkerman

            Dr. Huber, Professor Botany and Plant Pathology at Purdue University can do what ever he want’s to.

            He is not required to jump through corrupt GMO pesticide industry disinformation echo chamber hoops for anyone.

            Dr Huber has the proof. He has not shared it with corrupt GMO pesticide industry disinformation goons like you.

             
          • FarmersSon63

            His opinions will never be considered credible if he cannot prove them.
            And he is no longer a professor at Purdue.

             
          • Cletus DeBunkerman

            His science is credible to everyone but the corrupt GMO pesticide industry disinformation echo chamber minions who will not accept any real science or truth that conflicts with the corrupt GMO pesticide industry junk pseudo-science ideology that must be protected from real science and the truth at all costs.

            Dr Huber holds the respected title of Emeritus Professor at Purdue University. https://ag.purdue.edu/btny/Pages/Profile.aspx?strAlias=huberd&intDirDeptID=10

            Smart people might ask why corrupt GMO pesticide industry disinformation clowns like you are so afraid of Dr. Huber’s science.

             
          • FarmersSon63

            Then show us this “science” he has based his glyphosate assumptions on.

             
          • Cletus DeBunkerman

            I am always happy to offer citations and proof to anyone who askes with integrity.

            You have demonstrated over and over again that you like all the other corrupt GMO pesticide industry disinformation are here to disrupt and spin away any real science or truth that threatens your corrupt GMO pesticide industry junk pseudo-science ideology.

            Look it up for yourself. I’ve got better things to do with my time than jump through disingenuous troll hoops.

             
          • Cletus DeBunkerman

            Ask Dr. Huber. You might get laughed out of the place, but then again maybe he will tell you. Dr. Huber doesn’t suffer corrupt GMO pesticide industry idiots much these days.

             
          • FarmersSon63

            Ask him for scientific proof of his opinions?
            Everyone has been asking and he has no proof.

             
          • Cletus DeBunkerman

            Nope.

            He has not provide his truth to you.

            Get over it.

             
          • FarmersSon63

            He will never be considered a reliable source for scientific information without any scientific proof.

             
          • Cletus DeBunkerman

            All the other corrupt GMO pesticide industry disinformation goons try and talk away Dr. Huber’s science too. Maybe that is why he has been careful about who he shares it with.

             
          • FarmersSon63

            For the last time, he does not have any scientific information to share.
            He simply stated his crazy opinion.

             
          • Cletus DeBunkerman

            Nope.

            Dr. Huber has the science. ether you won’t look at it or he hasn’t shared it with the corrupt GMO pesticide industry disinformation echo chamber you represent here.

             
          • FarmersSon63

            There is none.
            If you found any science backing up his goofy glyphosate claims, share it.
            There is none.

             
          • Cletus DeBunkerman

            Nonsense.

            I am always happy to offer citations and proof to anyone who asks with integrity.

            You have demonstrated over and over again that you like all the other
            corrupt GMO pesticide industry disinformation are here to disrupt and
            spin away any real science or truth that threatens your corrupt GMO
            pesticide industry junk pseudo-science ideology.

            Look it up for yourself. I’ve got better things to do with my time than jump through disingenuous troll hoops.

             
          • FarmersSon63

            Then show us the actual studies and data that backed his claims.

             
          • Cletus DeBunkerman

            Ask Dr. Huber and stop trolling me.

             
          • FarmersSon63

            There is none.

             
          • Cletus DeBunkerman

            All you can honestly say is you don’t know of any, not that there is none.

            He has not provide his truth to you.

            Get over it.

             
          • FarmersSon63

            He only expresses his opinions.
            Again, no proof.
            He is senile.

             
          • Cletus DeBunkerman

            Dr Huber used to be a respected scientist until his work started to conflict with the GMO pesticide industry agenda.

            Now all GMO pesticide industry operatives must try and destroy him to prevent people from finding out how poisonous the GMO pesticide industry agenda is to the health and well being of those who consume the poisons being hidden in their food.

            Maybe you think you can marginalize his work with slanderous lies. All you have done is to again demonstrate the fact that any real science that conflicts with the corrupt GMO pesticide industry junk pseudo-science ideology that must be protected from real science and the truth will be suppressed and the scientist will be slandered and an attempt will be made to destroy his career.

            You and the other corrupt GMO pesticide industry disinformation goons always try to do a lynching of any scientist for has the courage and integrity to stand up to the industry pseudo-science.

            Dr Huber is not senile, I personally know people who have spent time with him very recently and they have affirmed that his mind is a sharp as it ever was.

            FACT is, You are not “debating science” and it is disingenuous to claim that you are. You are using science, selectively, to promote a corrupt GMO pesticide industry political agenda.

             
          • FarmersSon63

            He could put an end to everyone challenging his opinions by providing scientific proof.
            He can’t, because he doesnt have any.
            He simply states his opinion based on no scientific facts.

             
          • Cletus DeBunkerman

            You are desperately trying to cover up the real truth with your corrupt GMO pesticide industry disinformation clown lies.

            Your behavior is turning in to trolling.

             
          • FarmersSon63

            Why can’t you provide his scientific proof then, Clete?
            You are not even trying.

             
          • Cletus DeBunkerman

            Like I said before.

            I am always happy to offer citations and proof to anyone who asks with integrity.

            You have demonstrated over and over again that you like all the other
            corrupt GMO pesticide industry disinformation are here to disrupt and
            spin away any real science or truth that threatens your corrupt GMO
            pesticide industry junk pseudo-science ideology.

            Look it up for yourself. I’ve got better things to do with my time than jump through disingenuous troll hoops.

             
          • FarmersSon63

            That is funny.
            I love to watch you squirm.

             
          • Cletus DeBunkerman

            Troll on ……

             
          • FarmersSon63

            What, no cut and paste like every other one of your posts?

            Here I will help you.

            ” corrupt GMO pesticide industry disinformation clowns and goons”

            What a maroon.

             
          • MarkDonners

            This idiot with “farmer” in his name has been hired on by Monsanto and the propaganda outlet “genetic literacy project”. He gets five cents a word to troll GMO blogs and is amazingly illiterate. He even needs help cut and pasting his immoral lies. But it’s better than his previous job where he was fired.. as a janitor cleaning public toilets.

             
  • MarkDonners

    17 of the top oncology experts in the world have determined glysophate causes cancer. “Probably” is only a political word, it DOES cause cancer.

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