The Saga of Roundup/Chemicals Continues


(stella wood) #1

This will be an interesting story to follow… one that might have major ramifications for the rest of us…


(Jane Jones) #2

(Paul Flinders) #3

Yes, but …… one might say that breathing is carcinogenic1, are we going to ban air?

1] Air always contains dust, exposure to which might cause cancer.


(stella wood) #4

We can do our best to ensure air is as pure/healthy as possible though… surely… :relaxed:


(Paul Flinders) #5

Sorry, slightly irked by this sort of thing. Not because I am especially a fan of Monsanto but because it is all too often bad science and scaremongering.

I would not be especially surprised to find out glyphosate is carcinogenic, many things are - some of which (eg UV light) we gladly expose our bodies to. Many, many people smoke which is a much more potent carcinogen than glyphosate is likely to be.

We should look at our use of all agrichemicals, to reduce risk to the environment and to consumers but to try to ascribe a single individuals cancer to a single risk factor is usually impossible (some are more likely, eg smoking in squamous lung cancer, skin cancer from UV light etc)…

Besides there are more pressing needs globally - such as ensuring that everyone in the world has access to adequate food, clean water, healthcare and the ability to live life without fear of being involved in someone else’s war.


(stella wood) #6

I agree with much of what you say Paul (not Phil)… :thinking::relaxed:

But this chap’s story is not necessarily run-of-the-mill… few folk get soaked in chemicals (I imagine) in the course of their work.

Anyway, it will be interesting to see how things unfold.


(Paul Flinders) #7

It’s likely to be a complex case. It will be nigh on impossible to prove this person’s lymphoma was caused by glyphosate (not that a jury of 12 people with no scientific background won’t find that it was).

But even then products like weedkillers typically have instructions to keep off skin, wash splashes etc just as general safety precautions. So, were I a juror, I would want to know whether Johnson had seen any safety information, had his employer allowed him access to this, had his employer supplied him with any PPE1, was it used - in short I’d be as much or maybe even more interested in his employer’s liability.

If Monsanto had information about the carcinogenicity of glyphosate which they suppressed then that might well be a scandal - of course even that depends how carcinogenic given that almost anything can be carcinogenic in the right concentrations.

1] Personal Protective Equipment


(lorna napthine) #8

Good job those who died or are dying from exposure to certain carcinogenic building materials didn’t have you to defend their corner.These are single individuals who have won cases,even postumously, concerning exposure to a single risk factor.If you really think that to critisize Monsanto is bad science you need to research the whole world of Big Pharma.


(Paul Flinders) #9

Please do not try to infer how I would behave if my job were to act for Mr Johnson in this case from my comments about the science involved. To suggest that I would do so any less than 100% is quite frankly offensive.

Please do not try to infer how I would view the merits of any other case from my comments regarding this one. If it is clear that avoidable harm has been done I will champion the victim and to suggest otherwise is offensive.

Yes, there are recent cases which individuals have won and which I have happened across while browsing. I remember not being convinced that the victory was sound in terms of provable risk factors but I didn’t keep references. If you wish to cite a case I’ll try to comment on it but in the meantime references in this thread have been to one specific case.

Please do not infer what I think about Monsanto (or “Big Pharma”) from my comments specifically regarding Roundup as a carcinogen generally or its role in this case specifically. Do I think Monsanto is an altruistic entity which just has everyone’s best interest at heart and should be defended at all costs - bloody hell no; it is a for-profit company working in a large, critical, business sector which is quite capable of shady practice and buying influence to cover it up.

This case hinges on a couple of things

  • is there evidence that, on the balance of probability Mr Johnson’s NHL was casued by exposure to Roundup?
  • is there evidence that, on the balance of probability, Monsanto knew of a cancer risk from Roundup and suppressed it?

I would add

  • is there evidence that Mr Johnson’s employer failed to provide Mr Johnson information about such risks as were known or reasonably predictable from handling an agrichemical and that they failed to provide him with adequate protective equipment?

Also (added later, I didn’t think of it straight away)

  • is there any other risk factor to which he was exposed which could equally, or more plausibly explain why he developed lymphoma?

US employment law tends to favour the employer and provide much less protection for the employee than EU law so I don’t know how far one might get with taking a case against the employer.

I tried to find some concrete details on the case but what I found did not amount to much - we do not, for instance, actually know what type of lymphoma Mr Johnson is suffering from. NHL is an umbrella term covering several completely different diseases. It has an incidence of 26-27 cases per 100,000 population principally in the 60-70 age group but cases do occur in younger individuals.

It has a few known risk factors and, indeed exposure to herbicides is thought to be one of them.

More generally if Roundup was a significant carcinogen you would expect that farmers (who handle the stuff a lot more than Mr Johnson) to have a higher incidence - and guess what, they do, it’s quite easy to find evidence that exposure to pesticides and herbicides increases risks for both cancer and lymphoma (but you need to understand the difference between relative and absolute risk here) - eg imazethapyr and atrazine are probably carcinogenic in humans (especially the former).

As I said it would not surprise me that glyphosate was carcinogenic - it is a complex organic molecule which acts as an enzyme inhibitor - these things will have unintended biological consequences. But a link has not currently been proven and even if it is it would be impossible to say with 100% certainty that Mr Johnson’s cancer was caused by his exposure to glyphosate.

There’s a smoking gun here but there is no bullet hole.

There is also the fact that individual cases make bad law.


(stella wood) #10

(Helen Wright) #11

Good…Monsanto are a despicable corporation…many years ago I lived in close proximity to a farm…we were designated as an area of special scientific interest…whilst I personally made every effort not to contaminate my land and subject my pets to chemicals the same could not be said of the neighbouring farm…when they were spraying then we would have a spate of local dogs suffering convulsions from walking along the road…several autopsies at the time confirmed glysophate and other supposedly banned substances…when Monsanto were accused of killing the bees they just bought out the bee research centres…

this is from 2008…patent on a pig…


(Paul Flinders) #12

I still don’t think this is sound from the perspective of the scientific evidence.

I suspect, however, that this has been more about giving Monsanto a bloody nose.

I don’t think it sets a good precident.


(David Martin) #13

Weedkiller glyphosate ‘doesn’t cause cancer’ - Bayer

Weedkiller glyphosate ‘doesn’t cause cancer’ - Bayer


(stella wood) #14

It can’t hurt to take another look into things… and to tighten-up on security/safety at the very least… :thinking:


(Helen Wright) #15

Well they are bound to say that…even a fine of that size is just the cost of doing business for them…they really do not care…

The very first “tests” were on a small number of rats for a short period of days before it was released to market…

Farmers use it additionally for spraying before harvesting to dry out a crop…enormous residues then end up in animal feed and animal bedding…a woman in Norfolk uk noticed many problems with her horses when spraying occurred on neighbouring farmland…cushings disease…laminitis…emaciation…to the point she thought she may have to have them all put to sleep…She began her own testing and saved her horses by stabling them when spraying occurred…changing all drinking water (particularly high in residues) afterwards…and changing and then developing her own feed and bedding…she’s one amongst many individuals who see the effects with their own eyes and who know… and who are unlikely to be placated by bought and paid for “reassurances”…


(stella wood) #16

(Helen Wright) #17

Reuters reporting massive share losses…trial notes showing manipulations of data…this was a while back but hopefully many more court cases lined up…


(stella wood) #18

(Helen Wright) #19

Pressure also needs to be kept up against Dicamba…


(Paul Flinders) #20

290 million is not a big percentage of Monsanto's couple of billion net profit but this is more than just the damages awarded in one case - potentially there could be a long line of agricultural workers who have developed cancer of one sort or another waiting to use this as a precedent against Monsanto so it could get very expensive indeed.

Even if it doesn’t it might well be enough to force Monsanto to stop production of glyphosate because of the difficulty of avoiding future law suits.

I’m not saying it was right but be wary of applying today’s standards to the world of the early 1970’s - we are talking a universe apart in terms of regulation and safety standards. A lot of evidence has accumulated in the meantime.

OK, I must admit more than 1ppb in the MMR vaccine did make me sit up and go “Ummm, something to think about” but it is always worth getting these things in context.

For instance did you know that even if you have never handled cocaine you may well have detectable traces on your body https://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/2018/03/22/one-ten-people-have-never-used-cocaine-have-traces-fingertips/

When you can test for billionths of a gram of something surprising chemicals turn up in surprising places.

Also - 2.6ppb in an 0.5ml vaccine is 1.3 nanograms of the stuff really a very tiny quantity indeed - it’s about 1/400,000th of the current exposure limit for a 20kg child and almost certainly much less than the same child would get from eating food treated with Roundup which they do day in and day out, not just the small number of times that they get vaccinated - again not saying that any consumption of the stuff is a good idea, just trying to get things in context.

Read this article: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5705608/

Edit: Corrected above link.