CHOICE membership

A Cancer Council statement on glyphosate = no evidence of harm


#21

Sump oil should not be used as a herbicide. The main problem with sump oil is that it causes land contamination, and if one uses it it will contaminate the land/soil. In some state jurisdictions, the person who contaminates land/soil is responsible for its clean up and the cost to do such could be enormous/prohibitive.

Notwithstanding hydrocardon soil contamination, sump oil also can contain lead, cadmium, chromium, arsenic, dioxins, benzene and polycyclic aromatics. Thse have known health impacts on humans, wildlife and livestock.

About the only non-residual plant killer is steam, boiling water or flaming. Such have their own user risks.

There are many studies looking at the residual properties of glyphosate in the soil. These have shown that the glyphosate disappears quickly after application due to interaction with clay particles.


#22

Yes, we were told not to use dam water when mixing because the clay particles would render the spray ineffective.

But on sandy soils (?) it would not neutralize because of the lack of clay. I believe that there had been a test in the tropics somewhere in the 80’s that found that Glyphosate had leached into the waterways because the island only had sand & no clay particles in it’s soil. Perhaps the word “soil” is a misnomer there.


#23

@phb

Yes, thanks for that. As indicated I don’t advocate the use of sump oil and should have said a little more to discourage other s from misinterpretation of the post. I’ve made an edit to clarify.


#24

It’ll be an interesting development! I have used the stuff heaps of times and I understand they are hammering the makers of Round Up, but there are heaps of companies that use Glyphosate in their weed killer poisons, so to single out one company is interesting.

When I was doing my horticultural studies, I was instructed on how to apply poisons and to monitor quantities, etc. We had to learn the toxicity scale and Round Up came in less toxic to humans than salt!!! So, I find it very interesting that this caused him cancer… But pretty much anything causes cancer now… so it seems!!

If they take Round Up off the shelves of Bunnings, Mitre 10, etc., we’re going to find it hard to have a product that will beat a lot of these generic weeds. It’ll be similar to when they banned Creosote – A product we used to use on exposed timber (and it worked brilliantly) because some “thought” it was bad for you and caused cancer. However, studies have shown –

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has determined that coal tar creosote is probably carcinogenic to humans, based on adequate animal evidence and limited human evidence.[citation needed] It is instructive to note that the animal testing relied upon by IARC involved the continuous application of creosote to the shaved skin of rodents. After weeks of creosote application, the animals developed cancerous skin lesions and in one test, lesions of the lung. The United States Environmental Protection Agency has stated that coal tar creosote is a probable human carcinogen based on both human and animal studies.[79] As a result, the Federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has set a permissible exposure limit of 0.2 milligrams of coal tar creosote per cubic meter of air (0.2 mg/m3) in the workplace during an 8-hour day, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires that spills or accidental releases into the environment of one pound (0.454 kg) or more of creosote be reported to them

A 2005 mortality study of creosote workers found no evidence supporting an increased risk of cancer death, as a result of exposure to creosote. Based on the findings of the largest mortality study to date of workers employed in creosote wood treating plants, there is no evidence that employment at creosote wood-treating plants or exposure to creosote-based preservatives was associated with any significant mortality increase from either site-specific cancers or non-malignant diseases. The study consisted of 2,179 employees at eleven plants in the United States where wood was treated with creosote preservatives. Some workers began work in the 1940s to 1950s. The observation period of the study covered 1979- 2001. The average length of employment was 12.5 years. One third of the study subjects were employed for over 15 years

So with this man blaming Round Up as the cause for his cancer, I think it is a bit of “Who can I blame?!” The reason why so many things are said to cause cancer now is that they cannot truly pinpoint the cause of cancer and why it happens (They can’t even cure it – After receiving billions of dollars to eradicate it!)


#25

The reason they sued Monsanto was that Roundup was the Chemical used, not another brand. Monsanto also developed the chemical in the first place and held the patent for a number of years. Once the patent expired then more companies produced their own brands using the same active ingredient.

That you for many years used the chemical without any known ill effects does not prove the safety of it. That would be like saying “I smoked Tobacco all my life and I didn’t get sick” and then using that experience to say it doesn’t cause cancer when for others it has/did.

The scale is based on the known evidence. When you studied the scale the evidence pointed to the safety level you quote. The case involving Roundup is going to be appealed and perhaps more evidence will be made available during that process. Certainly the Cancer Council CEO has made clear that there may be information held by Monsanto that has not been released, and this could be like the Tobacco and Asbestos Industries concealment of the dangers of their products. Only in time this may be clear if this has been the case.

As to your detail on Creosote, there have been studies of Swedish, & Norwegian workers who dealt with Creosote thar showed “found a standardized incidence ratio (SIR) of 250 for lip cancers and an SIR of 237 for non-melanoma skin cancer”. That study is cited as “Karlehagen S, Andersen A, Ohlson C, ‘Cancer incidence among creosote-exposed workers’, Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment and Health, vol 18, pp 26–29, 1992.”. There is also a Finnish study of similar exposed to Creosote workers that found “elevated risks for lip cancer, SIR = 306, and non-melanoma skin cancer, SIR = 464, were found for round-timber workers” that is cited as “Pukkala E, Cancer Risk by Social Class and Occupation: A Survey of 109,000 Cancer Cases among Finns of Working Age, Karger, Basel, 1995”. Historically it has also been found that Chimney Sweeps had increased incidence of cancer of the scrotum, the reason this is linked is that Soot contains the same chemicals that are in Creosote and as they worked they came into contact with the residues in the soot…

From Safework Australia (The Federal Workplace Health and Safety organisation) is this quote:

"Single epidemiological studies suggested a possible risk for bladder cancer, multiple
myeloma, and lung cancer due to exposure to creosote. Two case-control studies suggested
an increased risk of brain tumours and neuroblastoma among offspring of male workers
with possible creosote exposure.

All of the epidemiological studies were based on qualitative estimations of exposure rather
than on measurements. There is consistent evidence from human studies that creosote
causes skin cancer, but the studies do not allow dose-response analysis"

Creosote is known to increase the way the skin becomes more Photosensitive (ie the way that the skin becomes more sensitive to the effects of Ultra Violet Radiation) and this effect then creates a higher risk of development of skin cancers.

So it has been labelled as Category 1B (May cause cancer) and the IARC report that the Wikipedia article/entry somehow couldn’t find a citation for is easily located and is “International Agency for Research on Cancer, IARC Monographs on the Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risks to Humans, Volume 92: Some Non-heterocyclic Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons and Some Related Exposures, International Agency for Research on Cancer, Lyon, 2010”.

Creosote is dangerous and workers who use it must be monitored to ensure their safety and reduce the risks of getting cancers and a number of other well known effects including poisoning (fatal dose for a child is 1 to 2 grams and in Adults about 5 to 7 grams).

Some cancers are now able to be treated with a large degree of success and others are still difficult to deal with but the results for many have indeed improved. The mechanisms that cause cancer in some cases have been well established but the cures can still be hard to produce. Even Melanomas can now be treated with a much larger degree of success with new drugs that have only become available in the last few years with more still in trials and so not yet released for public treatment.


#26

An interesting article on the Google News website today.

In case the cartoon image did not display, I have copied the image link below.


#27

Let’s face it, we’re all gonna die. What kills us and how will depend on individual factors.

Science does not show glyphosate as a substantial cancer risk. A risk perhaps, but then so’s red meat and even oxygen. Stop breathing and I can pretty much guarantee that you won’t die of cancer. :wink:

Genetics and environment play a vital role in what kills us. I have a relative who was a builder for decades. In his lungs, he has asbestos. It’s encapsulated and inert (so far). He’s now in his eighties. If the asbestos is going to kill him, then it had better hurry up before something else gets there first.

It’s a question of perspective. The courts are not good places for rational perspective.


#28

Without further complete details of the hearing in the USofA we may all be speculating. And the deliberations and request on the jury needs to be clear but remain closed.

One news commentary indicated the case determined the maker of Round-up failed to advise that their product could cause cancer. This is very different to hard evidence on the individual circumstamces, or even what other substances any of us are also exposed to that have a similar possibility of causing cancer.

Some of us even have proven genetic predispositions to certain cancers. Some of these may need a trigger, eg UV and others just time or poor immune system condition.

With an open mind - this appears to open up more vexing questions?

We may risk manufacturers simply noting “may cause cancer under unspecified conditions, do not use if you may be susceptible” and then neglecting any good science to properly understand any risks with a product?


#29

None of those three things are the case.

It isn’t possible to say to one person ‘you will get cancer’ and to another ‘you will not’. But that is the nature of medicine and in fact much of science, it is a statistical game where the statements are going to be more like ‘you have a genetic predisposition to this cancer’ or ‘your chances of getting cancer will greatly increase if you smoke 50 a day’. These probabilistic calls are because living things are like that, there are few causes of death or illness that are as simple and certain as ‘if you fire that magnum 357 into your ear you will die’.

In many cases but not all the mechanism of the cause is known. For example gamma radiation and some toxic chemicals are mutagens. This means they damage your DNA (cause mutations) and in some cases this results in that tissue growing out of control, ie cancer.

Cancer has not been cured but for a number of cancers treatment has advanced to the point where survival rates have improved markedly. Researchers are continuing to make advances, those billions have not been wasted.

The Cancer Council has a nice FAQ and Wikipedia has much material that covers these points and others if you are interested.


#30

@syncretic has some great observations on the risks of living. They are consistant with other observations of how our Commonwealth functions.

Legally why things might be seen differently here.

For any workplace Australian work Place legislation and Australian Standards (AS31000-2009) also provide a framework for assessing risk.

A key principle is to reduce risk to As Low As Reasonably Practicable (the acronym ALARP) or So Far As Is Reasonably Practicable (SFAIRP).

Risk management, awareness and assessment is bound to legal definition and standards for their outcomes. Typically in Australia (state responsibility) it would be the employer who is primarily responsible for any failure to manage risk to the required standards. This does not necessarilly absolve others, eg suppliers, designers, manufacturers etc. Employees also have a responsibility.

It’s quite a complex professional topic that bridges aspects of several disciplines.

In the real world we have examples such as the actions against James Hardy that were taken in one period of time and circumstance. We have another infamously labelled by “The Pink Bats” that is more recent with a different target/s. And over longer time frames concerns relating to duties performed on F111’s or in parts of Vietnam, or even several Nuclear Test Sites.

Our current legal framework appears to accept that life is not with risks, otherwise we would not be able to function. However it is also not acceptable to ignore, mismanage or conceal risk.


#31

"Today’s decision does not change the fact that more than 800 scientific studies and reviews — and conclusions by the US Environmental Protection Agency, the US National Institute of Health and regulatory authorities around the world including Australia — support the fact that glyphosate does not cause cancer, and did not cause Mr Johnson’s cancer.

“We will appeal this decision and continue to vigorously defend this product, which has a 40-year history of safe use and continues to be a vital, effective, and safe tool for farmers and others.”

In 2017, the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority assessed glyphosate as safe to use if label instructions were followed."

Hopefully the almost hysterical response to one court case will be overwhelmed by a rational discussion about the dangers of glyphosate. It may prove to be a problem, but for goodness sake, let the science and facts dominate rather than ‘opinion’. Our world seems to be dominated by ‘opinion’ these days - often totally ill-informed, over the top and based on hatred! Whatever happened to forensic scientific discourse?


#32

Don’t be too sure. Farmers want to continue using Roundup but I read that doctors call Hodgkin’s Lymphoma the ‘Farmer disease’. What’s the bet Roundup comes into this. Time will tell.


#33

I certainly am not hysterical over the result, either way. I do however strongly suggest that taking precautions when using glypho or other garden chemicals for weeds and pest control would be sensible. If later it is proven that what are now termed safe are later found to have a danger then those precautions when using them will pay dividends. If they are safe then no harm beyond some extra clothing and gear having to be used and a little extra washing.

For many many years using Arsenic as a health tonic was recommended (and was promoted as such by the medical establishments of those times), or as a beauty product. DDT was considered safe enough to be dusted on people. Would anyone use them in those ways anymore?

I will be interested to see if further evidence emerges because of the case and appeal/s that may arise or from any other leaks/disclosures. I cannot help but feel some concern such as in the case of smoking and how evidence in that situation was held back or tampered with so that a product could continue being sold almost without restriction. If in the final outcome it is proven to be totally safe then I am sure we will all be happier to continue using it without having to use some protective apparel.

In the interests of disclosure I do use glyphosate in my gardening, I have also used it agriculturally. I do wear protective clothing when using it and find it a very useful product in helping maintain weed control. I will continue to use it but I will also continue to use safety precautions when doing so (this is provided that it remains a relatively safe product to use).


#34

I know that was a figurative question but the answer in many court cases is that the evidence was given to a jury comprised of a random group of lay people accepted to be on the jury because they are exactly that demographic, sometimes filtered to those who do not understand the subject matter at all or to any meaningful depth, and given the evidence they struggle to analyse it through their own ideology, opinions, personal experiences, and so on to try making sense of it, guided by sometimes complex legal instructions they do not well understand either.


#35

With time someone will also need to process all the other possible relationships between working in agriculture and various cancers or diseases. The supposition Round-up or glyphosate based herbicides cause a particular cancer may be far from factual. Agriculture makes use of many products including pesticides and other herbicides considered far more hazardous if mistreated to human health than glyphosate.

The USA has been slower any most instances to stop using or restrict known high risk products on all areas. I too use glyphosate and I also use several other products that require more care for safe use.

Hopefully we can let the science decide with all the facts on the table.


#36

True but by the time science has conclusive results and governments act against the interests of business many many more will be dead. Thing asbestos and cigarettes to name two. Asbestos was labelled deadly decades before it was outlawed and cigarettes…well don’t get me started.


#37

Maybe not you, but so many jump on the bandwagon with confected outrage and hysteria. Glyphosate may well be discovered on further investigation to be more dangerous than considered at present, but control of weeds and improved food production outcomes are at risk from knee-jerk campaigns based on ‘belief’ rather than scientific and rational investigation.


#38

OT but in response to the comment

I am linking snopes so some background is included. I hope ‘we’ would not be so moronic as to follow the USA these days, but this morning’s spill suggests the Liberals have some hard core conservatives and it is not so obvious if they follow the US right extremists or the US right extremists have followed them, over the years.

My choice words on this would never pass the moderator for civility.


#39

Hi all,
Thanks for the discussion so far in the thread. The Cancer Council’s warning on Roundup and a discussion on weed killers and possible health risks in general is a welcome and important discussion.

You may notice we’ve edited a few comments around farming practices, which is not really a consumer issue and a discussion best held outside our consumer forum. We know that Roundup is used by a range of consumers, including farmers and home gardeners among others so the issue is not vocation specific in any case. Feel to get in touch with me if you have any concerns.


#40

There needs to be a direct link between cause and effect. If where is some scientific evidence indicating that there is a potential effect, then there is reasons for concern. With the other examples that you provided, over some time there became links between the agents and potential health risks.

It appears from what I have read that there is currently no evidence (apart from that which is anecdotal) that glyphosate causes Hodgkin lymphoma. While there may be some such evidence in the future (likewise, it may be proven not to be the case), one shouldn’t base one’s view on some posted internet information or from anecdotal evidence (which is the views or opinions of others). If we did this, then one would have difficulty living as everything has a risk with its use/consumption.

It is also possible to do searches on the internet to seek information about something one has heard to to satisfy one’s own curiosity. For example, say your neighbour has many cats, and lives closely to them and become sick with brain cancer. One might think that living so close with so many cats must be unhealthy (I would). As a result of curiosity, one does an internet search to see if the cats cculd potentially have caused the cancer. A quick internet search reveals some ‘startling’ results. Such as this:

Then some other research organisation reviews the results and provides a more balanced report on the facts…

This is one of the dangers of the internet. It has vast sways of information from qualified, expert information through to those which may fit into the ‘crazy conspiracy’ category. If one is seeking information to satisfy ones quest for information, one can can easily be absorbed into some of the later categories as they are usually easy to read and understand. They also contain usually anecdotal ‘proof’ that someone has been harmed by XYZ. One is more like to believe the emotional story of a sick person than the comparatively cold, sterile complex, maybe somewhat confusing and understandable scientific information based on facts.

For those who are interested, the Leukaemia Foundation has a useful summary on HL.