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Editor’s note: This is an edited excerpt from the introduction to new book, “Herbicides: Chemistry, Efficacy, Toxicology and Environmental Effects.”
Although Rachel CarsonSilent Spring’s epic warnings, general pesticide use, including insects, pesticides, fungicides and other “cides,” around the world has increased fivefold since he published the book in 1962.
Properties that kill poison in glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s block-buster herbicide Roundup, was unknown to Rachel Carson. He died left in the 1970s at Monsanto’s They were discovered by John E. Franz. Since the beginning of the use of glyphosate, Monsanto Site Acquisition that it is safe for humans.
Ever since we published with colleagues Our Stolen Future in 1996, the use of glyphosate -based herbicides increased at least tenfold (until 2014) and more than 100-fold since the late 1970s. It is now the most widely used poison ivy in the world.
“The results of this present study are cause for serious concern about the long -term use, fate and effects of #glyphosate on #manatee population in south Florida. ” @calusawater#TheDefender: SUBSCRIBE NOW: https://t.co/zL66Edfiw5
– Robert F. Kennedy Jr. (@RobertKennedyJr) March 26, 2021
And then came the indictment about Roundup and cancer, and guilty verdicts and multiple punitive damages.
I offer that context to set up the following conclusion: About the time a comprehensive, scholarly book such as “Herbicides: Chemistry, Efficacy, Toxicology and Environmental Effects” was published, written by reliable science expert with no problem conflicts of interest and taking an unchanged, in-depth look at herbicides. I wanted to use it decades ago.
Why should this book be read? Scientists working in this field need to know all the dimensions of the playing field. One dimension is science. But researchers also need to have knowledge of corruption which damaged the science of the herbicide.
They need to develop a nose for what is real and what is not. They must be prepared to detect and prevent “manufactured suspicion,” the phenomenon used by the chemical and toxic industries to undermine scientific evidence of damage. This book is not made to hesitate. However, this is an intentional fact.
Manufacturing skepticism has become common practice in the chemical industry. Many streams of revenue from the sale of successful chemicals can be used in the toolkits of ‘skeptical’ practitioners. Consider these recent examples of industries that use manufactured suspicion to protect against damage complaints: Syngenta and atrazine. Johnson & Johnson and asbestos in talc. The Volkswagen diesel scandal. Monsanto and glyphosate.
A new level of tropical ‘research’ in science has been created: “product defense companies” whose business model is to deliver science that defends products to the interested party by creating sufficient uncertainty. in the minds of the watchdogs they, the regulators, could tell the opposing parties to “come back when scientific approval has been reached.” Expert product defense firms driven by the amount of money to keep the product on the market can delay the “return” opportunity by decades.
Analyst reporter, Paul Thacker, writes in Environmental Science and Technology revealed a detailed plan developed by the Weinberg Group, a company that defends the product, to help Dupont Survive the growing public health scandal circulating around its PFOA plant in West Virginia. This scandal eventually escalated into the 2019 feature film Dark Waters, starring Mark Ruffalo. There is a lesson out there for any company that thinks it has made skepticism. If you lose, you lose a lot. DuPont’s reputation is forever wounded.
There are many cases of wings. The following is a case in point Syngenta in decades of misrepresentation, according to the complainants, the dangers of herbicide paraquat. Plaintiffs ’lawyers also claimed that the documents obtained at the discovery revealed a deep disregard by Syngenta for human life and suffering since the 1960s when Paraquat went to the market. Thousands have died around the world. Those who survived were in grave danger Parkinson’s disease in their old age.
Broken control system
Are these and other transgressions just the work of some bad apple? I don’t think so. I think it’s about the “bad barrel.” The system governing pesticide regulations, including herbicides, is broken. Worldwide, it requires deep structural reform. Making skepticism works and it has been used in many issues going back to tobacco and lead. Perhaps the skepticism is caused too slowly by a phrase. They betrayed science. They abused the law. Their delay has hurt and even killed people.
I have been dealing with artificial skepticism ever since I started in the field of endocrine disruption 30 years ago. This issue has become even more alarming as we learn by 2020 that co-morbidities such as hypertension, heart disease and diabetes, among others. exacerbates the seriousness of COVID-19, and that some of them have endocrine disruption as a possible cause.
Without that skepticism can we make further progress in controlling endocrine-disrupting chemicals? I’m sure the answer is yes. What a piece of COVID-19 Can deaths be prevented by good endocrine disrupting chemical regulations?
Repair a damaged pesticide management system
So how do we fix the broken system?
First, the ties between the regulated community (pesticide manufacturers) and managers are much closer. A revolving door of regulators going to work for the regulated after a government administration is very common. It works the other way, too, by controlling government participation and driving the agenda they pushed while in the private sector.
In 2012, I led a process of writing short-dose and low-concentration effects of endocrine-disrupting compounds. It leads a paper – now cited more than 2,200 times in the scientific literature) – that found that using high -dose testing to figure out the effects of small doses is unscientific and based on errors. hypothesis from the 16th century, literally. As we headed to the publication, we spoke with my writing colleagues with scientists from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to discuss the implications of our conclusions for science management.
Basically, we conclude that the usual practice of testing high doses and extrapolating down to a “safe dose” is unacceptable because different things can happen in small doses. Sometimes those low -dose effects are just the opposite of what happens at high doses. Any standard regulatory review regime can forget the side effects of short doses, and the estimated safe dose can be misleading, that’s just too high.
One of the FDA’s leading food safety scientists explained that we were wrong, because they never saw side effects like that. I objected to “you can’t see that because you haven’t tried that dose.” He said (more or less) “well, that’s true.” A year later he jumped ship with the FDA and started working for a product protection company that earned more than 10x the FDA’s salary, plus a bonus.
So deep structural reform began with a slow slowdown in the revolving door of regulators turning jobs into fixed ones.
But it can’t stop there. Every meeting of a regulator with a stakeholder should be taped to video, and saved in an accessible public database. And by stakeholder, I mean everything, all parts of the table.
Another change: we need at least civil if not criminal penalties for not disclosing conflicts of interest in scientific papers published in relation to management decisions. A recent exposé of The world and Environmental Health News about the hidden conflicts of interest of endocrine disruption experts believe there is a salutary impact on the negotiations leading up to the new (October 2020) Chemical Strategy for Sustainability of the European Commission.
Le Monde’s review of the investigation revealed that the authors of an editorial plagued by debate over how the approach should approach endocrine disruption had a number of undisclosed contradictions. Unfortunately, non -disclosure to the public is very common, and is likely to remain unpunished.
Profound structural change also means changes in how regulatory science is applied. The effects of interactions need to be identified and incorporated into regulations. Likewise, the challenge of short-dose and low-concentration side effects makes the effects unpredictable from typical high-dose experiments used in management science.
The tests used should be modified from traditional toxicological testing to one that is clearly related to human diseases. They need to incorporate 21st century biology instead of experiments designed in the middle of the 20th century, or earlier.
The erroneous dichotomy between active and non -active ingredients exists there is no basis in science in the regulation of pesticides. “Inert” ingredients activate the effect of the active ingredient, and can add effects on their own. Tests on pesticides, including herbicides, should check the toxicity of each product sold.
This brief paper is not sufficient to consider all the structural changes necessary to make pesticide improvement possible for public health and the environment. I touched on a few things that I think are even more important.
Originally published on Environmental Health News.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Children’s Health Defense.