Glypho cancer claims a wake-up call

27 Mar, 2015 01:00 AM
We need farmers to carry on farming, not to be killed off

A VETERINARY pathologist has warned the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) findings on glyphosate should serve as a wake-up call for Australian agriculture.

Matt Landos, who currently works in the aquaculture industry in Port Lincoln, South Australia, says he believes the IARC findings that glyphosate is probably carcinogenic should spark a review of the pesticides approval process in Australia.

“Glyphosate is the biggest product in the market, its use is so widespread, yet there is more and more evidence of the dangers of the organophosphate pesticides, which includes glyphosate.

“I think we need to be looking at the APVMA (Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority) and its procedures in terms of determining the safety of products.”

“This is just another example of the need for change in terms of the way the APVMA makes its decisions.”

Dr Landos acknowledged there had been massive productivity gains by using glyphosate, but said this may prove to be false economy on an overall level.

“If we begin to see increasing rates of cancer and the cost that puts on our health system then that could cost much more.”

However, Adam Blight, corporate affairs manager for Monsanto Australia, which produces the glyphosate-based herbicide Roundup, said Australians could rest assured products used here were safe.

“The APVMA conducts rigorous testing on all pesticides.

“It is technically competent and globally recognised, it is regarded as a world class regulator, so Australians can be confident the food they eat is produced in a safe way.”

However, Dr Landos said reports such as that from the IARC showed residue levels previously considered to be safe could be harmful.

“Australians need protection, and with the APVMA we have one of the slowest regulators to change in the world. With something like the insecticide endosulfan, we were the 80th country in the world to ban it.”

Dr Landos said although there was farmer outcry at the prospect of changing glyphosate regulations, he was not anti-agriculture.

“I believe we need farmers to carry on farming, not to be killed off, and the evidence is there to suggest farmers have higher rates of cancer than the general population.”

Mr Blight countered, saying he had research suggesting the opposite.

Dr Landos acknowledged changes to pesticide use would be difficult, particularly in industries dealing with bulk commodities such as grains, where premiums for low residue or organic products are less or where glyphosate boosted productivity by big margins, but said it needed to be looked at.

“We need the research and development to be looking beyond the narrow sphere of herbicides for productivity gains.”

“There’s non-chemical technologies for weed control such as microwave energy or steam application showing some promise, so we need to ensure work continues on these types of research.”

Gregor Heard

Gregor Heard

is the national grains writer for Fairfax Agricultural Media
Date: Newest first | Oldest first


30/03/2015 2:29:05 PM

You don't have to be a scientist to know that we have all been using it for decades and we are still alive so it must not cause cancer. I used it without a cab on the tractor for at least 10 years and I don't have cancer. Who sprays crops we eat with Glypo anyway? You spray weeds with it not food we eat. It is a non residual herbicide. It hasn't killed the worms yet and it won't kill us either.
30/03/2015 11:12:03 AM

Wtf, you rant about the problems with Roundup and denigrate others who don't agree with you, saying they lack the scientific training. You admit to being an ag scientist, and saying you need to be an oncologist to comment on the subject. I would say that you are a royal hypocrite.
30/03/2015 7:45:14 AM

Ted, the relevant question should not be - is glyphosate a carcinogen. The qsn should be, Does the change in pattern of use of Glyp from fallow application to incrop and therefore higher food residues result in greater rates of chronic illnesses?. There is scientific evidence to suggest its presence in our food causes immune responses in our bodies defences, these can cause chronic diseases such as cancer. This is not the field of AG scientists/chemists, it is about an understanding of chronic illnesses and human medicine, two fields if feel Prof Kennedy does not have the relevant expertise.
Ted O'Brien.
28/03/2015 10:00:41 AM

I'll take Prof Ivan Kennedy's word here. What the reduction in the world's food supply be if glyphosate was banned? Sufficient to cause many millions if not billions to starve.
QLD Farmer
28/03/2015 5:45:17 AM

Percy has hit the nail on the head in my opinion, as a farmer in my thirties the amount of older farmers I see retiring and foreign company's coming in and buying massive swags of farm land is mind blowing. Knowledge is more important than any chemical and if that's not getting passed down the generations then were all doomed in the long run. As for using Glyphosate I don't like using it and have had to start ploughing again due to resistant summer fallow grasses and heading down the stronger chemical road is not going to resolve it long term. A more holistic approach may be needed.
28/03/2015 3:59:35 AM

GLYPHOSATE WILL NOT CAUSE CANCER, and IARC IS WRONG ! International Agency for Research on Cancer ( IARC ) is RIDICULOUSLY IMPLYING that its false-evaluations are somehow being withheld from EPA, Health Canada, and EVERY other science-based regulatory agency in the world. IARC ( a.k.a. World Health Organization ) is NOT a government regulatory agency. It has NO regulatory authority whatsoever. IARC most certainly is NOT a science, NOT a research, and NOT a health organization. Rather, IARC tends to operate as an anti-pesticide & environmental organization.
Fred Haskins
27/03/2015 2:57:51 PM

Perhaps the good Professor should read the Serilini papers. Remember? They all condemned his paper had it withdrawn from the publication with much fanfare, but when the trials were replicated, confirming the results of the original trials, deafening silence. Whether it was the Glysophate or the GM that caused the tumours in the rats who knows, The facts remain those rats eating the GM ration developed horrific tumours. Perhaps the good professor could explain?
27/03/2015 12:03:27 PM

Cancer alone will not be the problem. The age of farmers is the concern. Not everyone can work extremely hard until they reach three score and ten and many farmers are already over that time frame. The next generation has walked away just like peasants children in Singapore which no longer grows its own food. What form of disease would you rather ingest once clean food supply becomes a scarcity, Hep A B C or maybe worse? Any cancer causing properties of Glysophate will not be the problem but weed resistance thus forcing farmers to use more dangerous chemicals.
27/03/2015 10:41:15 AM

There has been a thirty year cover up so it is good that data is finally being acknowledged 03/26/who-glyphosate-report-ends- thirty-year-cancer-cover-up/#.VRT BEdj9mUk
27/03/2015 10:35:36 AM

Ag Sci degree, but to clarify I'm not saying I understand oncology, far from it. At Syd Uni website it says he is a Prof of Ag and Envtal Chemistry, with a strong microbiological emphasis. This is a common problem I find in the field of GM/Chemicals, is a lack of Medical training or at least veterinary medicine. Does the professor have training in Oncology? we are talking carcinogens and human health, not microbes. I think any significant change in diet/exposure warrants study, we lack any independent Austn study, all we do is accept overseas regulators to protect us based on company studies.
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