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Reblogged:Latest Glyphosate Smear Misses 80% of Context

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If you are suspicious of glyphosate (aka Roundup) because it seems to keep popping up in the news, let me recommend the most recent debunking of the most recent smear-piece in that particular Luddite campaign to sow ignorance and panic.

Writing for the Genetic Literacy Project, a great resource for this kind of thing, horticulturalist Kevin Folta performs a lengthy and thorough debunking of the Guardian piece, which headlined "'Disturbing:' Weedkiller Ingredient Tied to Cancer Found in 80% of US Urine Samples."

For those pressed for time, let's highlight Folta's quick review of two very important missing pieces of context.

First, the safety of glyphosate is very well-established. On this point, Folta lauds the conciseness of a recent reevaluation of glyphosate by Canada's health department:
Glyphosate is not genotoxic and is unlikely to pose a human cancer risk... No pesticide regulatory authority in the world currently considers glyphosate to be a cancer risk to humans at the levels at which humans are currently exposed.
Second, there is the small matter of how much of this chemical has been detected and what that might mean.
clock.jpg
"[A]nalytical chemists can [detect] glyphosate at a level comparable to ... about three minutes in 32,000 years." (Image by Billy Williams, via Unsplash, license.)
... What is the high level found in the CDC report?

We don't know
. The CDC assessment did not measure how much was there, it only noted if it was detected above an analytical threshold. Present/absent, 1/0, yes/no. Not how much. The author sets up the paragraph talking about high levels when there are no quantitative data. Deception again. Note that no other agency and no other review of glyphosate has found levels of glyphosate in urine or blood anywhere near those suggesting health risk. So, the sleight-of-hand here serves only to promote uncertainty and fear.

What level would pose a danger? What is a "detection"? Analytical chemists have devised amazingly sensitive protocols to detect glyphosate in aqueous solutions like urine. In this case, they can detect 0.2 nanograms per milliliter. That's 200 parts per trillion. What does that mean? That means analytical chemists can confidently say that they detected glyphosate at a level comparable to 200 seconds in one trillion seconds -- or about three minutes in 32,000 years. Amazing! [bold added]
For the curious -- or anyone in need of a real exposé -- Folta gives a bird's-eye view of the past reporting of the activist hack now posing as a journalist at the Guardian.

-- CAV

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