(TMU) — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has reaffirmed their belief that glyphosate is not a carcinogen, despite initially concluding the chemical was probably carcinogenic.
On Thursday, the EPA concluded a regulatory review of glyphosate and found that the most widely used herbicide in the United States is not a carcinogen. While the latest review reaffirms the EPA’s previous stance on glyphosate, this conclusion marks the first time the EPA has expressed support for glyphosate after several lawsuits resulted in juries ruling that the chemical was in fact responsible for cancer.
“EPA has concluded that there are no risks of concern to human health when glyphosate is used according to the label and that it is not a carcinogen,” the agency said in a statement. A Bayer spokesman told Reuters, “Glyphosate-based herbicides are one of the most thoroughly studied products of their kind, which is a major reason why farmers around the world continue to rely on these products.”
Bayer bought Monsanto and their glyphosate-based product Roundup for $63 billion in 2018 and the company has publicly maintained that glyphosate is not carcinogenic.
The EPA’s ruling that glyphosate is not carcinogenic contrasts with a 2015 study by the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) which found that glyphosate may contribute to non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Aaron Blair, a scientist emeritus at the National Cancer Institute and lead author of the study, told Reuters at the time, “There was sufficient evidence in animals, limited evidence in humans and strong supporting evidence showing DNA mutations and damaged chromosomes.”
The IARC report was published in Lancet Oncology detailing evaluations of organophosphate pesticides and herbicides. The report concluded that there was “limited evidence of carcinogenicity in humans for non-Hodgkin lymphoma.” The evidence for this conclusion was pulled from studies of exposure to the chemical in the U.S., Canada, and Sweden published since 2001.
The researchers found “convincing evidence that glyphosate can also cause cancer in laboratory animals.” The report points out that the EPA had originally classified glyphosate as possibly carcinogenic to humans in 1985. The IARC Working Group evaluated the original EPA findings and more recent reports before concluding “there is sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity in experimental animals.”
Lori Ann Burd, director of environmental health for the Center for Biological Diversity, told Reuters that a connection between the Trump administration and Bayer/Monsanto “doesn’t change the trove of peer-reviewed research by leading scientists finding troubling links between glyphosate and cancer.” The cozy relationship between the U.S. government and the BioTech Industry (Monsanto, Syngenta) has been consistent during the Trump, Obama, Bush, and Clinton administrations.
During one of the recent lawsuits against Monsanto, the relationship between Monsanto lawyers and the EPA was made clear. As Alva and Alberta Pilliod fought to prove that Roundup caused their cancer, Monsanto spokesman William Reeves admitted the corporation has regularly communicated with U.S. regulatory agencies regarding reviews of the controversial Roundup herbicide.
During that trial, lawyers representing the Pilliods played video testimony of Reeves acknowledging that Monsanto executives exchanged text messages with regulators from the EPA. More specifically, Reeves was communicating with members of the board that glyphosate was not carcinogenic for humans. The lawyers also gained access to text messages between Monsanto employees and the EPA.
The text messages show that on June 18, 2015, Monsanto scientist Eric Sachs sent a text message to former EPA toxicologist Mary Manibusan looking for help finding a contact in the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). Sachs was looking to communicate with someone in relation to the agency’s ongoing work developing a toxicological profile of glyphosate, Roundup’s main ingredient. The ATSDR had begun working on the profile after the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research concluded that glyphosate was “probably carcinogenic to humans.”
In another text, Manibusan told Dan Jenkins, Monsanto’s liaison to U.S. regulatory agencies like the EPA, that he may need help “trying to do everything we can to keep from having a domestic IARC occur with this group,” in reference to the ATSDR. By June 23, 2015, Jenkins wrote to his Monsanto colleagues alerting them that Jack Housenger, director of EPA’s Office of Pesticide Programs, would put a hold on the report. “ATSDR Director and Branch Chief have promised Jack Housenger (Director of the US Office of Pesticide Programs) to put their report ‘on hold’ until after EPA releases its preliminary risk assessment (PRA) for glyphosate,” Jenkins wrote.
When questioned about these texts by the Pilliods’ lawyers, Reeves confirmed the text messages were authentic but stated, “I never heard anyone at the EPA say they were going to tell ATSDR what to do.”
When considering the EPA’s latest conclusion that glyphosate is not carcinogenic in humans, it is important to understand the full context of the relationship between Bayer/Monsanto and the government. The relationship goes back decades and should not be taken lightly.
As Reuters noted regarding the new EPA conclusion, “the EPA judgment could help bolster the case for Bayer as it faces thousands more lawsuits from Roundup users who allege it caused their cancer.” Knowing that the EPA and Monsanto are essentially on the same team, is it outlandish to think they might attempt to help Monsanto avoid more lawsuits and multi-million dollar settlements? The evidence makes it clear that Monsanto and government employees have often put their mutual interests ahead of those of the American public.
Biden to Ban Menthol Cigarettes, Citing Health Impact on Youth and Black People
The Biden administration is reportedly planning to propose an immediate ban on menthol cigarettes, a product that has long been targeted by anti-smoking advocates and critics who claim that the tobacco industry has aggressively marketed to Black people in the U.S.
On Wednesday, the Washington Post reported that the administration could announce a ban on menthol and other flavored cigarettes as soon as this week.
Roughly 85 percent of Black smokers use such menthol brands as Newport and Kool, according to the Food and Drug Administration. Research has also found that menthol cigarettes are easier to become addicted to and harder to quit than unflavored tobacco products, along with other small cigars popular with young people and African Americans.
Civil rights advocates claim that the decision should be greeted by Black communities and people of color who have been marketed to by what they describe as the predatory tobacco industry.
Black smokers generally smoke far less than white smokers, but suffer a disproportionate amount of deaths due to tobacco-linked diseases like heart attack, stroke, and other causes.
Anti-smoking advocates like Matthew L. Myers, president of Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, also greeted the move to cut out products that appeal to children and young adults.
“Menthol cigarettes are the No. 1 cause of youth smoking in the United States,” he said. “Eliminating menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars used by so many kids will do more in the long run to reduce tobacco-related disease than any action the federal government has ever taken.”
However, groups including the American Civil Liberties Group (ACLU) has opposed the move, citing the likelihood that such an action could lead to criminal penalties arising from the enforcement of a ban hitting communities of color hardest.
In a letter to administration officials, the ACLU and other groups including the Drug Policy Alliance said that while the ban is “no doubt well-intentioned” it would also have “serious racial justice implications.”
“Such a ban will trigger criminal penalties, which will disproportionately impact people of color, as well as prioritize criminalization over public health and harm reduction,” the letter explained. “A ban will also lead to unconstitutional policing and other negative interactions with local law enforcement.”
Pollution Is Making Human Penises Shrink and Causing a Collapse of Fertility, Scientists Say
With many still scoffing at the idea of rampant pollution posing a threat to humanity, a new study could drastically change the conversation: the chemicals across our environment could be the cause of shrinking human penises.
According to a new book by Dr. Shanna H. Swan, conditions in the modern world are quickly altering the reproductive development of humans and posing a threat to our future as a species.
The argument is laid out in her new book Count Down: How Our Modern World Is Threatening Sperm Counts, Altering Male and Female Reproductive Development, and Imperiling the Future of the Human Race.
The book discusses how pollution is not only leading to skyrocketing erectile dysfunction rates and fertility decline, but also an expansion in the number of babies born with small penises.
While it may seem like good fodder for jokes, the research could portend a grim future for humanity’s ability to survive.
Swan co-authored a study in 2017 that found sperm counts had precipitously fallen in Western countries by 59 percent between 1973 and 2011. In her latest book, Swan blames chemicals for this crisis in the making.
“Chemicals in our environment and unhealthy lifestyle practices in our modern world are disrupting our hormonal balance, causing various degrees of reproductive havoc,” she wrote in the new book.
“In some parts of the world, the average twentysomething woman today is less fertile than her grandmother was at 35,” she also wrote, noting that men could have only half the sperm count of their grandfathers.
Swan blames the disruption on phthalates, the chemicals used in plastic manufacturing that also have an impact on how the crucial hormone endocrine is produced
However, experts note that the proper implementation of pollution reduction measures could help humanity prevent the collapse of human fertility.
Visualizing The World’s Deadliest Pandemics By Population Impact
Humanity has been battling against disease for centuries.
And while most contagious outbreaks have never reached full-blown pandemic status, Visual Capitalist’s Carmen Ang notes that there have been several times throughout history when a disease has caused mass devastation.
Here’s a look at the world’s deadliest pandemics to date, viewed from the lens of the impact they had on the global population at the time.
Editor’s note: The above graphic was created in response to a popular request from users after viewing our popular history of pandemics infographic initially released a year ago.
Death Toll, by Percent of Population
In the mid-1300s, a plague known as the Black Death claimed the lives of roughly 200 million people – more than 50% of the global population at that time.
Here’s how the death toll by population stacks up for other significant pandemics, including COVID-19 so far.
The specific cause of the Black Death is still up for debate. Many experts claim the 14th-century pandemic was caused by a bubonic plague, meaning there was no human-to-human transmission, while others argue it was possibly pneumonic.
Interestingly, the plague still exists today – however, it’s significantly less deadly, thanks to modern antibiotics.
History Repeats, But at Least We Keep Learning
While we clearly haven’t eradicated infection diseases from our lives entirely, we’ve at least come a long way in our understanding of what causes illness in the first place.
In ancient times, people believed gods and spirits caused diseases and widespread destruction. But by the 19th century, a scientist named Louis Pasteur (based on findings by Robert Koch) discovered germ theory – the idea that small organisms caused disease.
What will we discover next, and how will it impact our response to disease in the future?
Like this? Check out the full-length article The History of Pandemics
Republished from ZH with permission.
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